From Palm to Android - Migration Part III: Memos/Notes

Classified in : Android - Tags : Palm, Migration, Memo, Note

So now, it's time to migrate the Palm Memos aka Notes.
Let's break the bad news straight away: I did not find a satisfactory solution as of today.
I use a few different notes applications depending on my needs ... and I hope to be able to get a single solution ... one day.

[Edit: october, 7th 2010]: Snaptic has been rebranded into Catch and so was 3Bananas (I am going to miss the name) !


Looking for an Application

But before looking at migrating you have to choose a Note application ... because as incredible it may seem an Android device does not come with an application to write little memos ! ! ! :-(
That may change, as Google is looking into migrating Google Docs to Android (so they say anyway).

My criteria for a Note application on Android, instead of the obvious (simplicity, working without a glitch, ...) I wanted to have a synchronisation with my Desktop Computer. I often look up things or copy/paste when working on my desktop computer.
These days, everything goes in the cloud ... I am not a big fan, but why not. I have remove all sensitive information from my notes (and put it in Universal Password Manager) so it's not a problem now.
There's only one solution with a software running on Linux which synchronises with Android (via the Evernote web site) and that's NeverNote (the Linux clone of Evernote). All the other solutions are providing a web application (when they synchronise).


The Big Three

These applications have a web application, an Android application (and even an iPhone application), and of course, they synchronise between the web and the mobile application.


Interesting but not using https. Packs up a lot of thing (reminders, to do list, etc) ... hence slightly complicated, but not that much. Quite strong on sharing and connected with social networking: Facebook, tweeter, ...
Not a lot of possibility for rich text (color, fonts, ...).


[Edit: october,7th 2010] Catch was formerly named Snaptic (company and website) and the mobile application was named 3bananas (I am going to miss the name). They were rebranded beginning of october 2010 ... but you can still find the former names here and there including on the company web site.
Simple, works great and has some interesting features : photos, tags, locations  ... but may be too simple (no rich text editing). Tags are words prefixed by #, in the normal text: I don't like this (mixing tags and text, tags visible in the text, and I could use #word).
AK Notepad = Even simpler than 3bananas (no photo, location, ...) but you can sync with Snaptic web application.

There's a beta importer that works with Palm Desktop export (including J-Pilot) ... unfortunately, I did not manage to make it work. It's a shame because that could have been a good solution.

Snaptic probably provides the best notes solution on Android today, for me.


Complete, works well. The only solution with a desktop application (Windows and Mac) interesting with a laptop on the go, without internet -plane, etc-, and the richest text editing (color, fonts, ...)
But the Android application is not really good:

  •  you can not edit a note created on a desktop application (with rich text), just add more text and no rich text editing (this explains that).
  •  the notes are not stored locally but downloaded each time ! :-( That means you need an internet connection to read or browse your notes ... note really acceptable for me.
  •  no easy browsing per notebook, per tag ! :-(

Edit: things have changed with Evernote 2.0 most of these limitations are gone, read my article about that.


The only app Notes application synching with Android, for Linux (otherwise Windows Evernote application + Wine&Linux should work), it works quite well. The latest version is now packaged as a DEB: install is as easy as a few clicks.

No import via web interface or NeverNote, but an external little app in Python: EvernotePalmImporter.
That worked well for me ... after a little bit of testing and correcting ! !
It did not work straight away as the J-Pilot export did not quote the column Private and this program expects it. It took me a while to find this out, but when I did, I only had to do a search and replace in the CSV file to get all memos imported.
Actually, I slightly modified the program so if a memo is private, the tag private is also added to the note in EverNote.

Other notes applications

Note Everything

You can import from Palm Memos, and you can export/import to/from Google Docs. Except, the import-export features, no real added values compared to the others ... still this is a good application.
For the import from Palm, I had to change the charset of the CSV file created by J-Pilot. J-Pilot generated a file with the utf-8 charset, Note Everything could not read the accentuated characters. So I converted the file to a charset ISO-8859-15 by opening the file into OpenOffice Calc, saving it to an ODS file, and then save it again to CSV and choosing the desired charset (ISO-8859-15). After that it was just a question of moving the file to the SD card and running the Import from Note Everything.
The good thing is that all Memos were imported in folder created with the category name: that works for me.

Note (no pun intended) that the export to Google Docs is done note by note, ... so this can not be really a way to import all Pam Memo into Google Docs. More over the folder information is not kept in Google Docs (unfortunately).


Simple note application. Can attach photos. Synchronise with a GoogleDocs spreadsheet: all memos in one single spreadsheet ... that works, but not really ideal (what's happening with the photos).


More a secure database application (to keep all secret/sensitive application) but can be used to store notes as well. This is a commercial application, hence not free but good application: all data is organised in folders. The desktop runs on Windows, Mac and Linux and synchronise with the mobile version.

"The Google Solution"

Obviously, use Google Docs to store your notes in the cloud. You can read the docs but not edit them with the mobile version of Google Docs. Still it's no good if you don't have any web connection.

Enter GDocs: it is posible to edit the notes on your Android using this third party application, that stores the docs locally. It's also a PDF viewer (already have one with HTC) and you can import/export docs to/from Google Docs.

Note that Google Notebook is no longer in active development (and not supported on Android), so no point going down that road.


I would have like to have chosen a single solution ... unfortunately, the notes offer on Android is not really mature yet.
So I use 3bananas when I want to have notes that I can always edit easily on the computer and on Android.
I use Note Everything to read my memos imported from Palm ... and if I modify them I export them to Google Docs.

The future unique solution will probably be Evernote+NeverNote, as soon as Evernote will release a really decent Android application. But at the moment, the Android application is not satisfactory to me, at all.
I have already imported my Palm memos into Evernote (so I now have the memos in a few places ... not good) and I am using NeverNote on the desktop. I am occasionally using the Android application ... I am just waiting for a better application, hopefully soon ... otherwise I will have to review my options.
They are in the process of writing a much better Android application.


Next big article, will be about my choice of Android Applications ... but that will be in a little while.



External Links

A nice post describing, the big three.
Plus, there's also a solution for Apple World i.e. Mac and iOS.

  • There are a few links from Part I that are usefull for Notes too.

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