As part of my efforts to improve my productivity, I’ve been looking for tools that can help me during research. One such tool is The Cafe Society’s Trails, a useful Firefox add-on that can collect and edit text snippets and images from the web, and structure them into a clean booklet layout that you can then easily share with others.
Once installed, Trails stores the text and images that you clip onto pages that it calls “spreads.” These are viewable in a sidebar (via View->Sidebar->Trails or a keyboard shortcut). You can create as many spreads in your booklet as you like, and they can be can be set up as one-, two- or three-column pages.
Adding content to your booklet is done via some new Firefox context menu items: As you’re browsing, highlight some text or select an image and right-click to select to add it to your booklet. Before text is added to the spread, it pops up in a window giving you the opportunity to edit it. Content can be deleted and edited after insertion on the page, too. Trails automatically puts the URL a particular snippet or text or image came from below each piece of content on the page, as well as recording the time and date that it was clipped on.
Once your booklet is complete, it can be printed, exported in PDF format or published to the Trails Public Library online.
As a note-taking tool, Trails is nowhere as powerful and flexible as more full-featured, multi-user solutions like Evernote or OneNote. However, it does fit seamlessly into a Firefox-based workflow, and as the booklets that it creates are nicely-formatted and can be exported as a PDF, it makes for a very easy way to share well-presented research with colleagues or clients.
Trails can be downloaded from the Mozilla Add-Ons repository.