Recently, I’ve been using the trial version of Onfolio a software for collecting research from your Internet browser. I installed it after reading about it on Robert Scobble’s blog. As an MBA student who constantly searches the web for important, critical and sometimes trivial time-killing info, this is an excellent tool. In fact it is so good, it should be mandatory for all MBA students. I’m done with the trial and I’ll be purchasing it. So, you will see some ideas on what’s the deal with Onfolio and how it can be made into an even greater product. The comments on Robert Scobble’s blog above indicate a lot of confusion among people about what Onfolio does. Yet, you get hooked on it after installing it and using it. This is a product that can be replaced by a feature, but a product that will gain a lot of traction from a first mover advantage. As I describe below, it needs to keep upgrading with tighter integration both on the desktop and online to become a key product for individuals/students. It may be a tougher sell for the enterprise.

First, it allows for easy capturing of information from IE into a folder of collections that you can organize. Why isn’t this a glorified Favorites folder you ask? Because Favorites suck and we all now it. Favorites would have been great if everyone followed the rule on the Internet of creating permanent links. This is rule went away with the internet bubble when session-id’s started popping up and ruining permanent links on websites. The other problem is that you often need a snippet of critical info on the web page that’s not cluttered with stylesheets, images, banners and other mindless stuff (ok, not all mindless, but usually it is). Best of all, Onfolio can save a copy of the web page, a snippet of info, or download the PDF or other documents you are viewing into its own collection. Unlike dealing with annoying file names or other ID numbers on PDFs, Onfolio lets you add your own title and Comment/Note for each item you collect. Then, search your collection, refresh your memory and browse back to what you need. It also saves the searches used to arrive at your destination page, you publish the collection on a website or as an RSS feed, etc. I can go on and on, but just try it, it’s truly worthy replacement for Favorites.

Where does Onfolio fit in? It fits into the research process that most of us, especially students, do on the Internet. It’s mo is that you spend time researching stuff, collecting info and then refer to Onfolio for retrieval when compiling your work. So, plan, research, collect, then write. This is different from other methods of research: Start writing, make brief research escapes to confirm, collect or identify info, then go back to note taking. This process follows a more random, unplanned research process. Which is where Microsoft’s OneNote would come in. [Speaking of OneNote, I’ll post my ideas on this problem. Hint: tables anyone?]

The problem with this process is that OneNote doesn’t have a browser and doesn’t collect the research I do there, so what’s the use in this method. There’s no integration between the two methods, and yet there are powerful tools for each component. Some tools need refinement, but their integration is not on level that would make it truly seamless. Onfolio could attach itself to all Microsoft Office products for easy perusal. Then it could also collect the links between it’s Collections and the documents where you are using these links, creating a sort of mini-Google on your desktop. And that’s just the beginning…