The designers guide to digital scrapbooking

January 23, 20102 Comments
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For designers, there are plenty of places to find inspiration around the web. Numerous web sites, galleries and blog posts composed with the end goal of getting your synapses firing.

However, what happens to the inspiration you find on your everyday journey around the web? Commonly these are lost in the ether, as you aren’t generally working on a project at the very moment you stumble over something inspirational online. Fear not – as there are a variety of places online where you can create your very own digital scrapbook, save for later and return to when you most need it.

Ember

URL: http://emberapp.com/

Platforms: Mac / Windows (Littlesnapper Client Mac only)

Pricing: Free Account ($0) / Pro Account ($24 a year)

Features: Mac Client | API | Social Features

Ember offer both a free and pro ($24 a year) account. The free account is ad supported, with 30 saves a month whilst the pro allows unlimited saves, and (yes you’ve guessed it) – is completely advertisement free.

Ember was created by the developers behind Littlesnapper – the screenshot application for Mac’s. Clever move – to provide somewhere online where folks can share and benefit from each others screengrabs, ultimately encouraging more sales of the parent application and this isn’t the first time I’ve noticed their marketing.

Once logged in, the interface is relatively simple to understand. Creating collections first and then subsequent images within collections. The free version however, only allows 3 collections, so choose them carefully. At present I couldn’t find a Windows program for interfacing with their API – so uploading will all have to be done in the Web App. Might as well get yourself a Flickr account if you are on Windows. The main benefit and beauty of Ember comes to life when you are on a Mac, with Littlesnapper talking directly to the web, saving your scraps for later browsing.

If you are simply looking for inspiration, and “what the web is scrapbooking” – you can explore what others are saving easily without signing in or gettting an account.

EverNote

URL: http://www.evernote.com/

Platforms: Mac / Windows

Pricing: Free Account ($0) / Pro Account ($45 a year)

Features: Mac and Windows Desktop Clients


EverNote has been created to facilitate cross platform scrapbooking, and recording of things as you go about your everyday life. We mentioned them previously as one of the apps every webdesigner should consider getting for iPhone. The program is supported on iPhone, Windows and Mac – with data synch facilities between each.

If you find yourself getting design inspiration as you are walking down the street – no problem, evernote allows you to take a snap, and file for later. Once your account is fully setup, you can also begin emailing notes, snapshots, and audio clips to an email address, which posts info to your account – so even if your phone is mobile 1.0 – you can still send info on the move!

One of the maddest things about it is the fantastic OCR capabilities. I’ve seen folks taking screenshots of a newspaper or magazine article, and then retrieving the image based on the words contained within the images. You have to see if for yourself to really appreciate it, but its impressive, even for unclear text. If your find that you get inspiration more often from your surroundings, then Evernote is a must have application.

For those of you not currently on the iPhone train, not to worry – evernote is still mighty useful for scrapbooking purposes. The addition of the Web Clipper plugin for a variety of browsers ensures that you capture online images directly to evernote for later perusal.

Thinking Rock

URL: http://www.trgtd.com.au/

Platforms: Mac / Windows / Linux

Pricing: Free / Open Source

Features: Export to iCal format

Thinking rock is an open source productivity application that lets you store and organise your thoughts. Its a great little tool built on the Java platform – and consequently runs across multiple platforms. As not all of your inspiration is going to be visual in nature, thinking rock fills the gap and lets you jot down ideas and thoughts easily inside different contexts.

Interestingly – Thinking rock is built on top of the “getting things done” framework, a methodology created by the author David Allen – a productivity thought leader. The software is built around the concepts and processes discussed in the book Getting things done.

When a thought is ready to be actioned you can “process individual thoughts” – allowing you to schedule or perform the task or idea there and then. When developing builds I’ve found it useful for reminding me things to check at different stages of development. You may find it useful for recording thoughts and ideas when working on a project, and ultimately for scrapbooking your thoughts.

Pattern Tap

URL: http://patterntap.com/

Platforms: Mac / Windows / Linux

Pricing: Free

Features: Web app focusing on UI design.

PatternTap is a web application which touts itself as an “alternative to css galleries”. They’ve quickly realised the benefits of these as a inspirational resource are one dimensional – so instead have decided to have focus in on user interface design at a more granular level – resulting in submissions paying greater attention to detail.

I’ve used pattern tap on many occasions when looking for that extra bit of inspiration on a project. When you are designing particular bits of a user interface its a one stop shop, with categories for slideshows, forms, introduction text and others.

The login process is relatively straightforward, with a confirmation email being needed to get up and running. Submitting an image requires at this stage to login to the app, however they do state that they are working on PatternTap 2.0 – and that a Firefox plugin for image submission is coming. The upload process itself is simple, with the selection of categories and tags made clear to the user before the upload of the image in question.

Although no all submissions are not guaranteed to be accepted, I’ve never had many problems getting stuff in the gallery – and any designer with an eye for what is hot and what is not shouldn’t have any problems getting work or the work of others collated.

ScrnShots

URL: http://www.scrnshots.com/

Platforms: Mac / Windows

Pricing: Free

Features: API | Windows / Mac Client | Social Features

ScrnShots have a mature web application, with a great little interface. As with Ember, you can browse / explore recent uploads without signing up if you aren’t interested in doing any uploads yourself.  However signing in is a simple process, and doesn’t require any tedious email verification to get up and running.

There’s a complete social network based around screenshots, and you can “favourite” images and add individual contacts whose content you like. This helps to keep the users on their toes, and acts as the mechanics behind the site getting frequent great content.

Another great addition is the API. So if you are a bit of a programming nut, you can integrate with their service. They’ve already taken care of a desktop client for BOTH Mac and Windows. All in all Scrnshots is a great little contender for digital scrapbooking and serves its audience well with social features and great workflow.

Skitch

URL: http://skitch.com/

Platforms: Mac

Pricing: Free

Features: Flickr / FTP integration

Skitch is a Mac only program and you choose to capture from either your workspace or your webcam, then you can additional annotations via text or the drawing tools. You can think of it as a trimmed down photoshop for annotating and sharing screengrabs – concentrating solely on that function.

When you are finished working with your image of choice you can upload directly to the MySkitch.com service, upload via FTP/SFTP, WebDav or integrate with Flickr. Its main strengths lie in its simplicity of use, and you can click on the title bar of any window or desktop and it grabs the whole thing – really quick and easy.

Another great little sharing feature is the embeddable options which allows you to take your Skitches and embed easily in a blog post.


Hopefully some of these will help you out when visually taking clippings from the web – and in turn help you focus on the finer details which make a good design great.

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About the Author ()

Paul is a regular 30 year old web bloke / programmer with a penchant for online marketing. This blog is a personal outlet, with an eclectic mix of articles.

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  1. 5 “read later” web apps to lifehack your bookmarks | February 27, 2010
  1. love a blog of substance! thank you. (you outdid a google search result on a couple of these) smart lists– to the point.

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