Jon Aquino's Mental Garden

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Saturday, March 12, 2005

GMail as the Notepad of the Web

Today I realized that GMail's latest features make it an excellent replacement for Notepad and other basic desktop text editors. (Use its Save Draft feature so that you can edit your text whenever you want.)

GMail has a number of powerful advantages over Notepad:
  • Filename is optional. No need to think of a unique filename to save under -- just enter your content and go.
  • Search all your past files at once. Try that, Notepad!
  • Spell-checking on demand
  • Load/save your text files from any computer in the world
  • Cross-platform
  • Undo Discard. Ever wish you could retrieve your file after closing it without saving? Now you can:
This is incredibly cool - a viable web-based replacement for basic desktop text editors. Yes, the Web OS is slowly coming together!

PS If you want a GMail invite, send me an email!

Update: We now have a Start Menu for the web!

Update 2: Gmail now supports rich formatting, so we now also have a WordPad for the web:


  • Hm... I thought wikis were the notepads of the web...

    Mats Henricson

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/15/2005 12:24 a.m.  

  • Hmm - Excellent point, Mats. I guess GMail is the private notepad of the web.

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 3/15/2005 12:28 a.m.  

  • I have a private wiki... mostly because noone knows its address, but you can also password protect a wiki, in the same way as you can password protect a webmail account...

    If you want to try a really good one, try vqwiki. It is a no-brainer to install, if you know anything about servlets.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/15/2005 2:43 a.m.  

  • Ditto on the wiki remark -- I have a wiki installed on my laptop, so it's really private. But then it's not accessible from anywhere.

    A major obstacle I see when we talk about moving things onto the web is how you access them when you're not on the net (however rare that may be). I am really interested in desktop software that syncs with web services so everything is tied together.

    Any thoughts?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/15/2005 9:44 p.m.  

  • Hmmmm! Good point John about how to get at your data when offline. Don't have too many thoughts on this right now -- I guess I've always just assumed that an online connection is always available. Anyway, one workaround is to use Google Desktop - then at least you have a searchable cache of everything you've seen in your browser, including comments you've posted and other things you've written. If you had to post to your blog while offline, you could queue up an email to your blog; then the next time you connected, the emails would be sent off and posted.

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 3/15/2005 10:14 p.m.  

  • As a Mac user, I have never used Google Desktop, so I wasn't aware of that option. Sounds promising, although you wouldn't really be able to interact with that cached data.

    The two applications where this is a particular problem (off the top of my head) are text editing (Notepad-style stuff) and calendars. Synchronizing text files could probably be achieved through some type of simple server sync every night, but calendars are harder. What's the solution?

    Email does a nice job with this, by the way. Whether you use IMAP or POP, you're likely to have a server copy of your messages as well as a local copy if you choose to download one.

    For example, I use Apple's heavily on my laptop, but also hit webmail (Gmail included) from time to time when I am away from my computer. If I'm on the road with my computer, but not online, I can always access the archived messages stored on my computer.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/15/2005 11:03 p.m.  

  • John - Being on a Mac, you might not be a Firefox user, but if you are, just wanted to let you know about a cool extension called Slogger that will also cache every page you hit, every time you hit it. Sounds like a lot but it actually isn't too bad with today's huge hard drives.

    I think you've hit the nail on the head: Email. It is becoming clearer to me that email (love it or hate it) is the glue of the web. So perhaps the solution to the calendar problem is RSS for output and email for input? i.e. send mail to your calendar to update it?

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 3/15/2005 11:54 p.m.  

  • John - Being on a Mac, you might not be a Firefox user...

    No, I am a Safari user. I can't deal with the ugly form widgets in Firefox :-)

    So perhaps the solution to the calendar problem is RSS for output and email for input?

    While I think you've got the idea right, I think the implementation is a bit off. Definitely, some type of RSS-like feed would be a great way to keep up with your calendar, and local updates should "sent" (a la email) to the server copy -- but I am not really comfortable with grafting it onto these existing technologies.

    Really good ideas, though... food for thought!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/16/2005 12:43 a.m.  

  • Re the calendar issue: You guys know about / have you tried Sunbird?

    I set it up, and have had it working on and off, but have run afoul of an unfortunate bug. I've just not made a commitment to getting past that.

    But I think this does pretty much what you're interested in.

    At least it tries to!

    Or am I missing something?...


    By Blogger userX, at 3/18/2005 12:09 p.m.  

  • Hi MDW - Haven't tried Sunbird yet. I'd find it cool to go all open-source with no dependency on proprietary products. Unfortunately I don't think Sunbird syncs with Pocket PC's yet, so I'm stuck with Outlook - boo.

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 3/18/2005 12:26 p.m.  

  • <- web-based notepad

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/02/2007 8:34 a.m.  

  • Anon - neat!

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 1/02/2007 9:30 a.m.  

  • Hey guys,

    I share your comments why not use gmailbox as a disk extension 6Gb.

    Had you never used gmailpad?


    By Blogger paul, at 7/12/2009 12:27 a.m.  

  • Hi Paul—I haven’t heard of gmailpad; then again, note that this blog post is four years old :-)

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 7/12/2009 12:38 a.m.  

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