The problem with Cloud based note-taking apps

The article in this blog entry was initially published on 2018-12-07 in artplusmarketing.com. We rediscovered it recently and were under the impression, that the thoughts presented there are more than valid in the current times. So we decided to republish it in our blog (of course with the author's permission). So here the original article:

The problem with Cloud based note-taking apps - and the alternative solution that delivered on its promises#


My quest for a suitable Evernote replacement, after the company decided to restrict access to my own data, proved to be a short one. Soon after publishing Five Evernote alternatives, and how to preserve them in brine (this might not have been the exact title), I have settled on one of the contenders from the same list.

TagSpaces, the application of choice does many things right but surely is unbeatable in one particular: Data access.

Cloud (in)security is not always your friend#

The root cause of the problem, which restricted data access is a symptom of, is data storage, and how most cloud-based apps handle this. Cloud storage is mostly transparent these days, and even mobile bandwidth provides mostly instantaneous access to whatever you are accessing, but Cloud storage still inevitably means to store your stuff on remote servers, God(s) know(s) where.

There are, of course, inherent security risks involved. A large-scale hacking attack will most likely target large cloud-based data-centres, where the attackers are most likely to get access to tons of information, some of which might be useful for them. The late scares of meltdown/spectre have also mostly meant mostly your cloud storages were/are in danger. Of course, a responsible provider will secure your data in more than one way, not only by hardening their servers/services but by storing everything encrypted, which is probably the best possible way, until said hackers get their hands on the encryption keys. (Unlikely with end-to-end encryption, but that usually concerns communications. Storage is a more complicated issue, as with multiple devices accessing the same stored data, credentials usually have to be stored somewhere too.)

Naturally, providers and large data warehouses do introduce many fail-safes. While you probably still should not entrust the internet (even if it’s called “The Cloud”) with any sensitive information, large cloud providers are mostly capable of securing your data from theft. Mostly. Remember when 3 billion(!!!) Yahoo accounts had been compromised? That’s how safe your data is. Even the most popular note-taking app, Evernote is not immune to breaches. Nearly 50 million user accounts got compromised just a few years ago, and there is no guarantee it will not happen again.

This, of course, means some malicious person(s) or organisation(s) actively being after your stuff, be it rogue hackers, or your garden variety government agency protecting your freedoms by violating them. While this happens only occasionally, is the way you can access your own data is equally worrying. As soon as you agree to whatever terms the application maintainer puts in front of you, and start storing your files/notes/images/information in a remote location, you have forfeited physical access to, and control of your data. But the issue is broader than this alone.

The middleman, and restricting access to your data#

Cloud storage is only part of the problem and is often no problem at all, or not in itself anyway. There is another, less high-profile, but possibly even more nagging problem is that of the middleman. When you sign up for a service that keeps your data in the cloud, while offering a way to access and manipulate it, you are giving up your right to free data access. While storage providers have no business in restricting your access (in fact, they are interested in you being able to access everything as smoothly as possible), middlemen businesses and their middleware applications will do just the opposite. You will only be able to access your own data through the middleware app, and conforming to the middleman’s conditions. Your notes, ideas, images, documents, files, etc. are all controlled by a third party, and as mentioned above, access restriction did, in fact, happen and can happen any time again.

The lego middleman
Beware of the middleman - image by smartchinasourcing.com

The only real difference between middleware and ransomware is your consent. Ransomware will infect your computer, and hijack your data until you pay, without you inviting it in, unless you accept the fact that not keeping your computer safe is, in fact, an invitation, and so are unsafe online habits. Middleware apps, on the other hand, lure you in and make you hand over your data willingly, with overblown promises of convenience.

Ironically, the promise itself is easier access to your data. This might even be true in a sense, as the app will sync (mostly) seamlessly between your devices. Still, access to your data is far from unrestricted. The middleman would have made you sign disclaimers, terms and conditions, privacy policies, etc., with clauses that will allow them to change their own terms any time. Then they make you pay money for better access to the data you have just handed over. In reality, your access is still restricted while you are forced to use the middleware app, and to access your stuff otherwise would require a disproportionate amount of effort, like, e.g. going through the never seamless process of “exporting” it. All this time you will be continually reinforced in your belief that accessing your data and stuff you have created has never been easier through flashy ads and a wonderful tool of word-of-mouth marketing called hype.

As we’ve all seen from Evernote’s example, restricted data access is only a change of terms away. And what can you do when a provider changes their terms? Accept them, or stop using the service. Naturally, any resemblance to blackmail or ransom is based entirely on… reality. Or is preying on people’s gullibility really more ethical, than using brute force and/or stealth to get their data? Not for me to say, but at least one of these is legal. What a relief… Is a false promise of convenience really worth giving up common sense? Really?

TagSpaces and your data#

And here is where TagSpaces really excels. It does, of course, excel in many other regards (like being cross-platform and open-core), but this is my main point of focus, and the main reason I keep using it too: No backend, no proprietary storage, no cloud, no hype, no restriction on what you do with your stuff and how. It just uses the files from your computer. As it should. Everything you “put into” TagSpaces, you are really just saving on your computer.

Screenshot of TagSpaces 3
Plenty of tags and spaces, in Tagspaces. (And some clouds too, but in a nice way.

You can “connect up” locations in TagSpaces, to make access a breeze, and then use it to browse your own files. The emphasis here is on your own. You are not forced to use TagSpaces, or to only use that to access your stuff, but simply offered an alternative way, to view and organize your files. And while it’s more than just a note-taking app, it works perfectly as one. You still have photos, audio and video files, text files in multiple formats, you have them in one place with tags and editors, and tons of functionality, while not having to worry about access restriction or data hijacking, or even a change of terms. You do not have to agree, sign up, or register to anything when using it.

What TagSpaces does not do is synchronization. Everything is offline, and the app only handles whatever location is connected. Of course, it can be argued that a note-taking app is not a data syncing app. It can also be argued that separating this functionality (i.e. synchronizing with another app) eliminates the single point of failure most over-integrated services tend to represent. And whoever would argue these, would be right, of course. You can always just use a dedicated service to sync all your data (and not only whatever you have in TagSpaces), which again means more control over your data and its security. Alternatively, can use any Cloud service you trust, as these usually let you do the synchronization on your terms, with the added protection of encrypting your stuff seamlessly for yourself.

This all might sound a little less convenient than just having one app “do everything for you”, but ask yourself this: Would you leave the front door of your house unlocked, just because that makes it more convenient to open it when you get home? Because the same applies when you use online services. Overly convenient usually equals greater risk, and choosing comfortable over sensible basically means inviting malicious actors to do you harm.

I’ve mentioned this to Ilian Sapundshiev, founder of TagSpaces when I told him I’d write about his software. He kindly pointed out that the new TagSpaces (version 3, released shortly after I started writing this) actually allows you to connect an AWS storage (in the paid version at least), so TagSpaces can become a cloud-based app. While that sort of straightforwardness is great, and so is the added convenience, it is even greater that TagSpaces has now become a proof of concept:

You don’t need any middleman, and the middleware app can be unrestrictive. TagSpaces lets you rent your own storage space if you need online storage (making it optional), and allows you to access your data through the software without tying you in. This does not make it mandatory to either use the software to access your data or to store your data in The Cloud, but makes it easier to do both. If you decide not to, you’re free to do so. Also, data access is not subscription based, so you are not paying for data access, but only for software functionality (and updates), and only if you really need the extra fluff. This is how cloud storage access should be done. And how data access should be done. And how any ethical software should operate. No tricks, no ransom. Possibly less profitable, sure, but on whose side are you really? Your own, or on those who want to make you pay for your own stuff?

Almost new clouds in the sky
Clouds can be nice, and nonthreatening, as long as they don’t cover everything

So I keep using TagSpaces to this day, and I’m most satisfied with it. (I even got involved in compiling their user documentation, that is how much I actually use it.) Sure, it does not make me feel like I belong to some elite club, but I’m not here for the hype. It’s simply the most reasonable, ethical, unrestrictive solution I have found to date. And yes, the next article here will be a long-winded review of the software itself, so you’ll know what I mean. Until then, stay secure. And reasonable.

TagSpaces 3.3 released

Ilian Sapundshiev

Ilian Sapundshiev

TagSpaces Core Team

Last week TagSpaces version 3.3 was released. Here you will find the major new features and improvements included in this release.

Reintroducing Perspectives#

One year ago, when we were preparing the major 3.0 release, we decided to postpone the implementation of the perspectives support. Which were a core functionality in version 2.x of TagSpaces. The idea was to migrate one default stable perspective with the two modes for viewing files: grid and list. Now, in this release we reintegrated the perspective support and added on top, two completely new perspectives in the Pro and the Enterprise editions.

Mapique Perspective#

This perspective is useful for showing geo-tagged files and folders on a map. For the visualization of a online map we use the Openstreemap integrated with the popular leaflet javascript library. On the following screenshot you can see how it currently looks like.

Mapique Perspective

You can learn more from the dedicated documentation page in the TagSpaces' documentation or try it directly in the live demo page we have created for the geo-tagging use case.

Gallery Perspective#

The purpose of the gallery perspective is show images, pictures and photos in a presentation mode. There is also a integrated fullscreen mode and support for swiping gestures on mobile devices. This is a screenshot of the gallery perspective.

Gallery Perspective

You can learn more from it's dedicated page in the TagSpaces' documentation.

Mobile mode and PWA#

We optimized the user interface for use on mobile devices. This mode is perfect for using TagSpaces as PWA (progressive web app), which is a major feature of web based TagSpaces Enterprise.

Mobile mode in TagSpaces running as PWA

You can try it live on the mobile demo page

It can be activated for test purposes in tab general of the setting, as shown in the next screenshot.

Switch for activation of the mobile mode

Documentation updated#

In the recent weeks we have update also the TagSpaces documentation. So now it reflect more precisely the new user interface introduced in version 3. Check it out on docs.tagspaces.org.

Other changes#

In this release we made some improvements of the content creation process. These includes a new design of the file creation dialog, which was greatly simplified. Now, the newly create files are opened automatically in edit mode of the corresponding file editors. You can also import existing files from this dialog. In the mobile the Add file button can be used also for taking new pictures.

New file creation dialog

On top of that, we made many other usability improvements and fixed some bug. A complete list of the changes can be found in the changelog.

Flickr Export Organizer

Ilian Sapundshiev

Ilian Sapundshiev

TagSpaces Core Team

According to a recent announcement from Flickr, the users with the free account may lose some of their photos if they don't update to a paid plan. Luckily Flickr is providing a way to export all of your photos and videos together with some meta data including useful things such as tags and albums. So we decided to write a small script, with the purpose of sorting the files in folders and extracting that meta data in a format, which can be later recognized by TagSpaces. The script iterates through all the media files in the export folder and copies the found files in sub folders. If file is part of album, a folder with the album's name is create and the file is copied there. If this is not the case the script create a folder, which name corresponds to the date when the image was taken, and copies it there. In addition to that it parses the provided JSON file and extract the tags, the description and the comments if available. This information is saved in readable for TagSpaces JSON files, in the .ts sub folder of the folder where the image was copied previously.

Exporting your Flickr data#

  • Your Flickr Data - You have to request and download your Flickr data, as shown in following screenshot.
    • Login to Flickr via the web
    • Click on the profile avatar and then select Settings
    • Go to "Your Flickr Data" area and request your files by clicking the "Request my Flickr data".
    • After a while the data is prepared and you have to download all the zip-files locally.

How to export Flickr data

Installing and running the script#

  • You will need a running Node.js environment, which can be easily achieved on Windows, macOS or Linux by just installing it from here.
  • Create a folder where the script will run.
  • Download the last version of the script directly from here or from the release section of this project and place the script export-organizer.js in the previously create folder.
  • Extract all files from all the zip exports in a sub folder called flickerData.
  • Under Windows you can right click on export-organizer.js and choose Open With... (path_to_nodejs\node.exe)
  • Alternatively you can run the script in the Windows, Linux or macOS terminal in the working folder like this:
node export-organizer.js

After a successful run of the script a new folder flickrExport will be created containing your photos distributed in sub-folders.

Resulting structure#

The folder structure before running the script should look like this:

~ your working folder
├── flickrData
│ ├── img_4376_2723423425_o.jpg - image part of Album1
│ ├── photo_2723423425_o.json
│ ├── img_20180823_2723427625_o.jpg - image taken on 2018-08-23
│ ├── photo_2723427625_o.json
│ ├── ... - other media files
│ ├── albums.json
│ └── ... - other profile json files
└── export-organizer.js

After running the script, you will have the following folder structure:

~ your working folder
├── flickrData
│ ├── img_4376_2723423425_o.jpg - image part of Album1
│ ├── photo_2723423425_o.json
│ ├── img_20180823_2723427625_o.jpg - image taken on 2018-08-23
│ ├── photo_2723427625_o.json
│ ├── ... - other media file
│ ├── albums.json - file containing your albums
│ └── ... - other profile json files
├── flickrExport
| │ ├── Album1
| │ | ├── .ts
| │ | | ├── img_4376.jpg.json
| │ | | └── ... other TagSpaces meta data files
| │ | ├── img_4376.jpg
| │ | └── ... other media files
| │ └── 20180823
| │ ├── .ts
| │ | ├── img_20180823.jpg.json
| │ | └── ... other TagSpaces meta data files
| │ ├── img_4376.jpg
| │ └── ... other media files
│ └── ... - other profile json files
└── export-organizer.js

Managing your files with TagSpaces#

After the files are organized, you can create a new location in TagSpaces pointing to the flickrExport folder and open it. Now you will be able to navigate your photos in TagSpaces by albums and see the tags, description and comment you have added to your media files.

TagSpaces showing exported files from Flickr with metadata

Your don't need of course TagSpaces for just browsing your photos by folders. This can be achieved perfectly with the Windows Explorer or macOS Finder, but if you have spend some time organizing your photos with tags, descriptions and comments and want to use this data somehow TagSpaces might be helpful.

P.S.: If you are a TagSpaces PRO user you can even put your photos back to the Internet on a S3 compatible object storage such as Amazon's AWS S3 and connect this storage with your local installation of the product, making your photos available from everywhere.

TagSpaces 3.0 is out!

Ivaylo Stanislavov

Ivaylo Stanislavov

TagSpaces Core Team

Our best work to date is based on React.js and features lightning speed, location indexing, dark theme and more#

Screenshot V3 dark and light mode

The great new TagSpaces 3.0 is out now after it has been in the works for the last year. We overhauled the entire concept and remade it from the ground up. But fear not, it is still the smartest way to organize your files and one of the best productivity app out there. The user interface was redesigned to increase the overall usability and speed of the application. We used React.js, which is a JavaScript library for building modern and fast user interfaces.

What’s new:#

  • Location indexing. File and folder indexing procedure is started in the background on the opening of a location. This ensures a high-speed location search, once the indexing is done.
  • Tree like navigation for the folder structure in the location manager
  • Added support for colour themes. We are starting with a dark one, but more color themes will follow.
  • Preview support for PSD and TIFF files - For our creative users, and all of you out there who want to be able to look at their PSDs and TIFFs without opening them
  • Preview support for DOCX files – Basic visual representation of your texts, enough to quickly pinpoint the right file
  • Playing mode for audio and video files. You can now choose between loop all, loop one and no loop modes. In addition to that, you can now deactivate the auto-play of media files. This is useful if you tag lots of media files and don't want TagSpaces to play every file automatically.
  • The interface of the app is now zoomable, you can adjust the zoom level according to your screen size and resolution from the main toolbar of the desktop app
  • The main toolbar is now hidden by default to reduce the visual clutter. You can always invoke it by pressing the ALT key.
New navigation
The redesigned main navigation of the application

What’s new in the PRO version#

  • PRO: Added support for cloud-based locations. As a pilot cloud service, we have chosen to integrate Amazon Web Services S3 support (AWS). It is now possible to connect Amazon's S3 buckets directly to TagSpaces. The bucket will appear as a regular location, where you can browse, preview, tag and manage files, without syncing the bucket locally.
  • PRO: New advanced search features like searching by file type, searching only for folders or searching for untagged files. We can now show files tagged with any of the preselected tags or show only files and folder containing all of the tags.
  • PRO: Watching for changed files and folders is supported now per location. TagSpaces is monitoring file and folder changes in the currently opened location and reflects changes of the files or folders automatically in the user interface.

What's changed?#

  • New main navigation and left panel in the application. The main panels of the application are now resizable.
  • We have extended the file and folder description functionality.
  • The search algorithm was re-implemented to include typos and probabilities in the results. For example, if you search for “Stink” instead of “Sting,” the search algorithm will also show results for “Sting.” The tags search defaults now to any tags, which means that TagSpaces will show now files containing any of the searched tags.
  • Currently only one perspective with a list and a grid view is available, this replaces the list and grid perspective from v. 2.
  • You can now mix for one file, without issues file name and sidecar based tags.
  • The desktop keyboard shortcuts now can be disabled
  • Once generated, thumbnails for image files such as JPEG, PNG, etc. will be continuously shown and not generated every time. When TagSpaces 3.0 creates the thumbnails, it will use the EXIF data to display the orientation of the file properly
  • Geo tagging will be available later
  • As we announced before the Firefox and Chrome web clippers were also completely redesigned this year. One amazing new feature to improve your workflow is the screenshot of the visible page area when you bookmark or clip content. The screenshot is saved along with the bookmark and is shown later as a thumbnail in the preview area of the app.

New free features#

We like to help you organize your files and folders, and we have decided to move the following features from the old PRO version to the new Free version:

  • sidecar file tagging is available now also in the free version
  • deleting files to trash is not PRO only feature anymore
  • collecting of the used tags in a separate tag group is available in the free version

Migration from version 2.9#

Since TagSpaces does not use a central database for the tagging information, there is no need for migration of your files. You just have to open your folders containing tagged files with the new TagSpaces and the tags will be there. There are thought some things such as the Tag Library you may want to migrate in the new version. Unfortunately due to the complete rewrite of the application, there is no automatic way of doing this. But there is an easy way to have your "old" tag library in the new version 3.0. of TagSpaces. Please follow these steps in order to achieve this.

  • Before installing the new version, start TagSpaces 2.9.x and go to the tab general in the Settings
  • Find there the button "EXPORT TAG GROUPS AS JSON" and press it. This will create a JSON file containing your complete Tag Library
Exporting your Tag Library from version 2.9
Exporting your Tag Library from version 2.9
  • Install or start the new TagSpaces and go to the Tag Library area. Press the 3-dot menu from there and select "Import Tag Library" menu item. This will start the import wizard.
Importing a Tag Library in version 3.x
Importing a Tag Library in version 3.x
  • After successful import, you will find the "old" tag groups in the tag library of the new TagSpaces.

In closing#

TagSpaces 3.0 is a bold new application that will help you better organize your files and boost your productivity. We are keeping all the good stuff from TagSpaces v2 and adding a modern, intuitive user interface and new indexing features. As usual you can get the Free and PRO versions here.

New TagSpaces Web Clipper

We are done with the re-work of our web clipper browser extension. Yay! We are very excited because now it supports both Chrome and the newest version of Firefox! It is already up, so you can download it now.

TagSpaces Web Clipper is a powerful tool that lets you collect digital artifacts from web pages faster than you can say “Hey, Siri”. It can save whole pages or selected parts. Two clicks and you are done. Everything is safely stored on your computer.

Start TagSpaces Web Clipper and enjoy#

browser extension

Click the Tag button on your web browser. Edit file title – Leave the default web page title or create your own

Get playful with Tags#

browser extension

Add tags to your day and organize everything. From ‘read later’ to ‘for my mother-in-law’, the sky's the limit.

Choose the saving action#

browser extension

  • Save complete page – You can save the whole page in one single MHTML file, preserving the original design. Saving in this format is possible only in Chrome browser.
  • Save editable page – Clicking on this button, will try to extract the main content of the page. If some images are in the extracted content they will be embedded in the HTML file, so you don't have to take care anymore of images saved separately from the main HTML file. In addition to that, the URL of the original website and the date and time when the page was saved is also embedded in the created file. This information can be displayed later in the Desktop version of TagSpaces. Original design of the page will not be preserved by this action, but a screenshot of the visible area of the page can be included in the HTML file. This embedded image will be used the TagSpaces Next for creating a thumbnail of such HTML files.
  • Clip selection – Saves only the selected content as one HTML file. The rest of the functionality is similar to the previous action.
  • Take screenshot – Saves a screenshot of the visible page area as a PNG file. Tags representing the current date and the source URL of the web site are added automatically to make later organizing and finding even easier for you. See the following screenshot for more details.
  • Create bookmark – TagSpaces Web Clipper can create a URL file for the current webpage. Bam! TagSpaces is your new bookmark manager. URL files are supported directly in Windows and Mac OS.
  • Download file - This button appears only if the current browser tab is displaying just an image, a pdf or a video file. As the name suggests clicking on this button will start the download of this file.

browser extension

Get TagSpaces Web Clipper:#

Once you have all your content clipped and tagged neatly organize everything on your own terms, on your own devices, free of cloud, login and registration with TagSpaces Desktop.

Great new TagSpaces desktop app and other goodies

WE ARE BACK!#

Great new TagSpaces desktop app and other goodies#

Hello, TagSpaces community,

We have been silent for the last 6 months but we are still here! We haven’t gone under! Au contraire, we are working our bottoms off on an extensive overhaul of the TagSpaces desktop and Android app and the accompanying software of the TagSpaces ecosystem.

Here is where we are:

Thanks to your input and buckets of coffee we are now in beta phase for the TagSpaces App. We have integrated your numerous ideas in a symbiotic state with our own vision of how the product should look like. And we can certainly state that it is turning out to be amazing.

Here is why we are drooling over it. We have completely re-implemented the app using the latest web technologies like React and Webpack. We have re-imagined the user interface with many usability improvements.

We know that customization is your thing and that’s why TagSpaces App will now be able to support user interface themes. We are starting with light and dark, but hey, that is just the beginning. More will be added later.

theming screenshot

Not only is TagSpaces community an organized bunch of people but also a creative one and that is why we added support for TIFF and PSD files. You can now access that summer vacation collage, preview it and please, finish it already.

Since we have churned out large amounts of code, some of it was discarded, some of it held and/or added to the existing product. The results were carefully reviewed and we are now in a special state of mind. We can honestly say that there is a general improvement in speed and performance.

We couldn’t have done this without you, so we are still relying on your input. Here are a couple of questions that you might find interesting:

For the browser extension, we were thinking of adding of a screenshot of the currently active tab when you save a page as HTML. The screenshot then can be used as a thumbnail while organizing your snippets of different pages. Should we go on and add that to the TagSpaces Desktop App and TagSpaces Web Clipper?

By the way have prepared a new version of the TagSpaces Web Clipper, supporting again the Firefox browser. Here is a screenshot of the slightly redesigned user interface:

browser extension

We are thinking of adding geo tagging functionality to the web clipper, allowing you to save for example a screenshot of a map together with it's geo information (latitude and longitude).

What do you think of it and how would you use it? Please share your thoughts or comments here, on our dedicated email address: ideas[at]tagspaces.org and our Trello board

Last but not least, we call it TagSpaces Next for now and we are expecting to relaunch it in about 3 months. We will release a testable beta version in 4-6 weeks. In the meantime, you can GET TagSpaces 2.9 to start organizing your files. You will be prompted for an upgrade when the newest version is released.

Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest info plus tips and tricks on using TagSpaces and organizing your files.

Tagspaces 2.8 released

The TagPaces team is happy to announce the release of the 2.8 version. This version has some interesting new features, usability enhancements, and several bug fixes.

Summary#

UI Improvements#

Redesigned List Perspective, with folder support#

The List Perspective has a redesigned, more streamlined interface, that allows easier navigation, and fits more information on one screen.

  • The rows have become narrower, fitting all essential information and elements on a single line
  • An indicator now shows the active sorting mode in the header row

  • Show folders - List perspective can now show subfolders. To use this feature, enable it from the FAB menu of the perspective.

Then just double click the folders to navigate, single click will select a folder. Subfolders are shown on the top of the list, when enabled.

Hint - Folders in grid perspective Folder navigation has been possible form Grid Perspective since TagSpaces 2.6. When enabled from the FAB menu, subfolders show up as the first tiles on the grid list. You can single click a folder to navigate. The addition of folders to in list Perspective compliments, and completes this feature.

Moved folder tags after the subfolders in the folder navigator#

In order to enhance the browsing user experience on folder, we have moved the folder tags after the list of subfolders.

Disabled editing of descriptions on click#

Due to the need to open links, folder and file descriptions can only be edited after explicitly selecting "Edit".

New features#

Restore original tag groups with one click#

This functionality is available in the Settings menu now, and can be usefull if you have deleted some of the standart tag groups such as the Smart Tags.

Vietnamese language support#

Thanks to Transifex user dd721411, we have added now a Vietnamese language support.

Firefox webclipper improvements#

The webclipper now generates .url files. This functionality can be started from the new save bookmark button in the Firefox web clipper.

Additional features#

  • Added last changed date to the CSV export
  • Enable content search in webdav edition
  • Export tag groups as JSON with unique id’s, for easy reimporting
  • Removed deprecated nwjs support from the project

Changes in editor and viewer extensions#

Internal links support#

Internal links in MD and HTML documents and in file and folder descriptions can now be opened.

This for now means links to headers within the same file. In a MD file, you would reference a header the following way:

# Header title
...
[Link to header](#header-title)

In HTML, this means the usual anchor references, where you'd have to manually add anchor points, but this is not confined to headers. This works much like in any standard HTML document.

<a name="anchor-point"/>
...
To go to the anchor-point, click <a href="#anchor-point">here</>

Note: File and folder descriptions can be formatted with markdown, internal references will therefore follow the markdown style formatting.

New RTF viewer extension#

TagSpaces now opens RTF - rich text format files with the help of the new viewerRTF extension. Rich text documents can be viewed, but not edited or created.

Select or deselect all checkboxes in HTML editor#

A convenient new feature in the HTML editor allows for selecting deselecting all checkboxes at once.

TagSpaces PRO improvements#

  • Added thumbnail generation for text based files such as MD, TXT, JSON, XML, JavaScript and others
  • Fixed the black background of HTML thumbnails

Bug fixes#

  • Fixed issue preventing creating new files
  • Fixed CSV export of the file list in Chrome
  • Fixed issue with handling paths containing % in the name
  • Fixed issue with loading files on startup
  • Fixed issue with removing multiple tags

Using TagSpaces with Cryptomator - An Encrypted Evernote Alternative

Ilian Sapundshiev

Ilian Sapundshiev

TagSpaces Core Team

Evernote's recent change in its pricing plans, restricting non-paying users to only two machines, have been an eye-opener to many. Even though the cloud-crazed hype is trying to convince us otherwise, with all the marketing tools at its disposal, keeping your private data in the cloud, and especially via vendor-locked solutions such as Evernote, had never been a good idea. With such vendor-locked, proprietary services, you do not own your own data, and have no control over its storage, meaning access to your own notes might be severely limited at any time, as it happened just recently.

TagSpaces had long been offering an alternative, self-hosted note taking solution. Its capable RichText (HTML) and MarkDown editors and previewers can easily replace proprietary software, the plain, flat-file storage paradigm allows total control, and unrestricted access. With the help of third party cloud storage providers, such as Dropbox or Google Drive, you can also easily keep your notes in sync.

Keeping your own files in your own cloud account is undoubtedly a better solution, but it still does not alleviate the problem of storing plain files on other people's computers (which is what servers, and the whole "cloud" really are.) To be reasonably safe, the best bet is to encrypt your data, before sending it off over the Internet.

Encryption made easy#

Encryption might sound daunting to the everyday user, and rightly so. It is a broad topic, there are many solutions, and implementations, often targeting the advanced user, or even the expert. If you just want to secure your notes, it might seem like a little too much work of work. And of course we all prefer an instant solution. This is where Cryptomator comes into the picture.

cryptomator logo

Cryptomator is a free and open source, transparent, client-side encryption solution, which makes encrypting your cloud hosted files effortless. The cross-platform software is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and as an executable Java .jar. The platform is absolutely service agnostic: Your encrypted files can be used with any cloud storage provider, as the encryption/decryption happens on your local machine, with as password provided by yourself. Cryptomator integrates into your OS's file system, making encryption as easy as a drag and drop operation in your file manager. How much easier could it be?

Your encrypted Evernote alternative#

From a note taking perspective, the solution to replacing Evernote with its access-limit, vendor lock, proprietary file format, and "cloud only" approach (meaning "no Internet, no work", unless you buy premium, of course), is really simple with TagSpaces, and any cloud service you prefer. Add Cryptomator to the mix, and your notes are also secured.

Setting up your encryption solution#

First you will need to install Cryptomator, which is as easy as downloading the latest version for your platform from the Cryptomator download site, and running the installer. Next, you will need to connect a new vault, which in Cryptomator's terminology, means a folder that you connect to the software to create a virtual drive.

To connect a new vault:

  • Open Cryptomator
  • Click on the "+" icon on the lover left corner, and
  • Select "Create new vault"
  • In the file chooser, navigate to the local folder that is synced with your preferred cloud service
  • And type a name for your vault.

Once you're done, your new vault should show up on the side pane of Cryptomator's main screen. The vault is now there but not functional, until you set up a password. this password will be used to generate the encryption keys, ensuring that you can easily encrypt/decrypt any file in the vault on ,multiple computers.

  • Enter, and confirm a new password
  • And press "Create Vault"

new vault added

Now your new vault is ready to use. To unlock it, you need to enter your password. In the "More options menu underneath, you can change the drive name to whatever you like, and opt to save your password, so that you will not need to enter it on the local machine, each time you want to unlock it. This might be good for single user computers, but you should remember it's always a security risk to store your passwords.

unlock encrypted vault

As you enter your password, your vault should be unlocked and automatically mounted on your system. Your File Browser application will most likely fire up, showing your vault mounted as a new dav network drive. You can just begin to copy or move files and folders onto this drive, and they will be instantly encrypted by Cryptomator, without you noticing anything. To you all the files and folders will appear as if they were stored in their plain for mat on your file system.

You can also lock the vault any time from within Cryptomator by pressing "Lock vault"

lock vault button

This will unmount the drive and make the vault's contents unacceptable to anyone locally. When you unlock the vault, you will have full access again.

If open the folder where your vault is stored, you will only find encrypted data, inaccessible from outside Cryptomator's virtual device.

Adding it to TagSpaces#

To complete your setup, download and install TagSpaces for your platform, if you have not already done so.

You can now easily access your vaulted files from within TagSpaces:

  • Make sure Cryptomator is running and the vault containing your files is unlocked.
  • Mount the drive, if you have to (although this should happen automatically)
  • And connect it as a new location in TagSpaces.

connect-new-location-button

connect-vault-to-tagspaces

Important note: You should not be adding the folder in which the Cryptomator vault is located, but rather the virtual dav network drive, which Cryptomator creates. If you need more information about how to mount a drive, you should consult your operating systems's documentation, although Cryptomator should handle this step for you automatically.

Now you can access all your notes inside your Cryptomator vault from within TagSpaces, wile storing them encrypted for both on- and off-line use. If you now synchronize the folder with your cloud service of choice, you can rest assured that your files are safe, private and always accessible, without having to worry about the next policy change from Evernote, or any other proprietary cloud based note taking service.

TagSpaces 2.7 released

The TagSpaces team is happy to announce the release of TagSpaces 2.7. The newest version has several significant new features along with a number of improvements and bug fixes.

Major new features#

Cryptomator support#

TagSpaces now works with Cryptomator, allowing the use of TagSpaces as encrypted Evernote alternative with the cloud provider of your choice. Cryptomator is an open source, client-side encryption solution for your desktop. It provides a transparent virtual drive, with drag-and-drop support, that get encrypted and safely stored in the cloud service of your choice.

  • Set up a new Cryptomator vault in your local cloud folder through the Cryptomator desktop app.

cryptomator screenshot

  • To use it with TagSpaces, just connect a Cryptomator "vault" folder as a new location, and start using it. No additional setup is required.

  • To access from multiple machines, sync your local cloud folder with the cloud service of your choice, import the vault in the Cryptomator desktop app, then connect it as a new location in TagSpaces.

Note: Currently Cryptomator can be used only with the desktop version of TagSpaces. Please consider the current state of the integration as experimental.

Unified Directory and File Properties area#

From v2.7, the file and directory properties can be accessed the same way, by clicking on the         icon.

properties_interfaces

The unified interfaces offer File information (1) including File path, Size, File name (as it appears in the file system, including tags), and Last modified date, while the Directory information (2) is currently limited to Directory path.

Underneath the read-only information bit, you can manage tags on both directories (3) (PRO) and files 4, and add a directory (5) or file description (6) (PRO). Directory and file descriptions also support markdown syntax.

Hint: Adding and editing directory tags and descriptions, along with file descriptions are only available in TagSpaces PRO. As a new feature, the community edition now supports displaying existing descriptions for both files and directories, and also directory tags in a read-only format.

UI Improvements#

Showing the count of tags in a tag group only if it is collapsed#

Only collapsed Tag Groups will display the total number of tags. If you open a tag group, the number should be hidden, wheres if you close it, the number of tags will be shown.

taggroups_count_on_collapsed

Save the windows state, size and location for the next start of the app#

Previously TagSpaces started with a default window size. TagSpaces 2.7 will now remember the last window placement and size, so that if you resize the app to better suit your needs, it will remember its size the next time it is started.

F5 now reloads application#

The previous shortcut for reloading the hole application was the same as for reloading the currently open document (Ctrl+r). the key combination's behavior would change depending on the context. now it1s clearly differentiated, whereas pressing F5 will alwqays reload the whole application.

Hej, hvordan har du det?#

Danish language translations are now available, thanks to Transifex users aputsiaq and 9400dk.

Note If you wish to contribute, you can access the TagSpaces translation project here

Under the hood improvements#

Migrated to electron 1.4.14#

Electron 1.4.14 offers greater stability and better performance across all platforms, besides making the application "future proof" and easier to migrate to newer versions later.

GFM linebreaks for markdown editor and preview#

Standard markdown handles line breaks unintuitively, as only a double space before line break would add a hard line break. GitHub Flavored Markdown (GFM) does away with this behavior, where a single newline will behave as a line break, just like most people would expect when editing a document. TagSpaces MarkDown editor and preview now use GFM line breaks instead of the standard behavior.

Cap max result to 2000 in Settings instead of setting the limit to 0#

A previously erroneous/misleading behavior, where entering a too high number for Limit files found to in the settings would cause it to reset to 0, had now been fixed. The cap value is now 2000, meaning the setting would reset to this value, would the user attempt to set anything higher.

setting_results_cap

Improved search performance#

The search algorithms have been re-written, to provide a noticeable performance improvement on large directories. Search should deliver results much faster now

Note: Very large directories might still cause slowness in search and general application performance

Fixed form validation issues in the dialogs#

Form validation is now properly handled, to avoid issues like not being able to edit tags.

Updated links#

  • The User Ideas site had been moved to a trello board, which allows for better visual organization of tracking of ideas and feature requests

  • The new Tagspaces Documentation Website is now live. The new site runs on GitBook, and features more detailed and in-depth documentation than the previous version.

Other improvements#

  • Improved onboarding for the chrome extension. Now user is properly prompted about enabling user's file access.

Screenshot showing how to enable the file access in chrome

  • Corrected the loading of meta data in the Android app

Bug Fixes#

TagSpaces 2.6 released

Ilian Sapundshiev

Ilian Sapundshiev

TagSpaces Core Team

Welcome to the 2.6 release of TagSpaces. There are a number of significant updates in this version that we hope you will like, some of the key highlights are described bellow:

New features in the PRO version#

Geo Tagging#

In this version we have added the smart tag geo-tag. When you apply it to a file, the dialog from the following screenshot will appear. Here you see a map from OpenStreetMap and you can select geo coordinates of any location somewhere in the world.

Geotagging in TagSpaces


Configure the thumbnails size and format#

We have added also the ability to configure the size and the file type of the create thumbnails. Now you can choose between PNG and JPG file types. For the thumb size you can choose between several sizes from 100 to 1000 pixel, limiting the height or width of the thumbs depending on which one is bigger.

screenshot showing the configuring of the thumbnails size and format


Note: For compatibility and performance reasons, when you change the thumbnail image type to JPG, the thumb is still saved with PNG extension.

In addition we have improved the generation of thumbnails of PDF files. Now the generated preview is taking the whole size of the thumbnail regardless of the PDF size and scaling.

New features in the standard version#

The core of the application also has been extended with the following features:

New tray menu with some new keyboard shortcuts#

The desktop versions for Windows, Mac and Linux now feature a system tray icon and menu. Offering you quick access to some common features of the application. For most of these feature we have configured a global keyboard shortcut, which are available even if the application is running in background.

screenshot showing the new tray menu under Ubuntu Linux


Tag color management#

Now in the edit tag group menu of a tag group you can change the default background and default text colors for the tags in this tag group. You have here the ability to change the colors of already added tags in the tag group, just check the 'Apply color change to all tags of the group' and the new colors will be propagated to these tags.

Changing the default tag colors in a tag group


In addition you can now change the general tag background and text colors for all tags in the application, for which no color is already specified. This can be achieved in the tab General of the Settings.

Changing the default tag color in the settings


Editor for date and time related smart tags#

We finally added a editor for date related smart tags. Now by editing of a date tag (e.g. 20140310), the application will recognize it as a data and will open Date tab of the edit tag dialog. Here you can conveniently choose a new data if you wish.

screenshot showing the editor for date and time related tags


Minor changes in the application core#

In the following list you will find some other minor changes in the application core.

  • We have added few new keyboard shortcuts for opening the currently selected file in TagSpaces enter, open the currently selected files with the default external application ctrl + enter and deleting the currently selected file delete.
  • A keyboard shortcut ctrl + s for saving the currently edited files was added.
  • A switch for always starting the application with the opened tag area was added
  • Arrow keys are now moving the selection of the current opened files in the grid and list perspectives
  • Added GIF to the list of supported image extensions for creating thumbnails on the fly.
  • Adding a new plus menu for creating the standard file types was added in the top middle area of the application.
  • We have added a 64bit an RPM package, allowing an easy installation on rpm based distributions such a Red Hat or Fedora

New features in the extensions#

Many of the extensions were extended with some new functionalities, which can be found here:

New image viewer#

The Image Viewer extension was completely reimplemented with the use of the great [viewer.js] library adding many new features such as horizontal and vertical flipping of the image, gray scale mode, different background

short movie showing the new viewerImage extension


Readability mode#

In order to increase the readability of the content, we have added in MHTML Viewer and HTML Viewer extension the ability to change the background color of the content and font size. You can also switch between serif and sans serif font.

short video showing the readability mode in action


In the Image Viewer and ImageSwiper Perspective extensions you have now the ability to change the background color of the extension.

Sorting and grouping functionalities in Grid Perspective#

The main menu of the Grid Perspective has now these new menu entries:

The extension menu of the grid perspectie


  • Sort Files - opens the sorting dialog, where you can sort the files by various criteria such as file name, size, last modified date and other.
  • Group Files - opens the grouping dialog, where you can group the files by their date, month, year. More interesting is the ability to group your files according to their tags from one tag group. The following screenshot shows the grouping by tag group functionality on files, which are tagged with tags from the tag group Priorities.

File grouping in action grid perspective


Markdown preview#

We have added markdown preview functionality in the editorText extension. The markdown preview can be started from the menu item Markdown Preview of extensions main menu.

Markdown preview in editorHTML


Minor changes in the extensions#

In the following list you will find some other minor changes in some of the application extensions.

  • We have added support for reading emails in EML format, allowing the preview and tagging of emails exported in EML format.
  • The viewerHTML has now the ability to find the source url in a HTML file created with the Chrome extensions or the Firefox addon and offers the menu Open source URL, which opens it in the default external browser.
  • On some extensions the print functionality was broken, now this is corrected
  • Tags are displayed now in the ImageSwiper perspective

As always we will be happy to get some feedback about our new release, so feel free to comment.