Data, Information, and Knowledge Management Software - "What software should I use?"

  A primer on data, information, and knowledge management software tools

Feature Comparison Chart:

What each data, information, and knowledge management software package can and can't do

This chart covers major features that most knowledge workers need. It will give you a broad-brush indication of whether a tool will meet your needs:

Suggestion: This table is big. If you have Microsoft Office, right-click on the table, and choose "Export to Microsoft Excel". Then you can manipulate it yourself: sorting, searching, removing columns that aren't relevant to you, etc.

Software:
Text or Visual Based
Handles RTF Text
Handles Images internally
Handles Audio/Video internally
Visual Mind Maps
Visualizes
Data and information
Organizes data into Categories
"Googles" Your Hard Drive
Can export data /
Handheld capable
or link?
Can handle
e-mail
attachments?
Powerful internal search
Compresses Data
Saves Webpages
Text-based Tools:                
-
       
Zoot
Text
No
No
No
No
No
Yes
No
Yes / No
Limited
Yes
No
Limited
Brainstorm
Text
Yes
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
OneNote
Text
Yes
Yes
Yes
?
?
?
?
?
No
?
Yes
No
ReadyNotes
Text
Yes
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
ADM
Text
Yes
No
No
No
No
Yes
Yes
?
?
Yes
No
?
Info Select
Text
Yes
Yes
No
No
No
Yes
No
Yes / Yes - with purchase
of palm version
Yes
Yes
Yes
?
Ariadne
Both
Yes
Yes
No
No
Yes - Calendar
No
No
?
?
Yes
?
?
AskSam
Text
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
No
Yes - Keywords
No
Yes / No
Yes
Yes
?
?
Personal Knowbase
Text
Yes
No
No
No
No
Yes
?
?
?
?
?
?
Informaizer
Text
Yes
No
No
No
No
Yes
?
?
?
?
?
?
MyInfo 2
Text
Yes
Yes
No
No
Yes - tables
Yes
No
Yes / No
?
Yes
?
?
MyBase
Text
Yes
Yes
No
No
No
No
No
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Treepad
Text
Yes
No
No
No
Yes - tables
No
No
No
Only Enterprise Version
Yes
No
No
Texnotes
Both
Yes
Yes
No
No
Yes - Calendar & tables
Only date/time
No
No
No
Yes
No
No
General Knowledge Base
Text
Yes
No
No
No
No
Yes
No
No
No
Yes
No
No
Infohandler
Text
Yes
No
No
No
Yes - Calendar
Yes
No
Yes / Yes - Pocket PC
?
Yes
No
No
Ultra Recall
Text
Yes
Yes
No
No
Yes - tables
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes


Visual-based Tools:

- - - - - - - -
-
-
-
-
-
The Brain
Visual
Yes
No
No
Yes
No
No
?
No / No
?
?
?
?
MindManager
Both
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
?
?
No
?
?
Inspiration
Visual
Yes
Yes
Audio - Yes
Yes
Yes
No
No
Yes / No
?
Basic
?
?
Mindmapper
Visual
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
No
No
?
?
No
?
?
SmartDraw (drawing)
Visual
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
No
No
Yes / No
?
No
?
?
Snag-it (screen capture)
Visual
No
Yes
No
No
No
No
No
Yes / No
?
No
?
?
NoteMap
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
Haystack
Both
Yes
Yes
?
Yes
Yes
Yes
?
?
?
?
?
?
FreeMind
Visual
Yes
No
No
Yes
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
Axon
Visual
?
?
?
Yes
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No

Content Savers:

- - - - - - - -
-
-
-
-
-
ContentSaver
Visual
Yes
Yes
No
N/A
N/A
Yes
Yes
Yes / No
?
Yes
?
Yes
Scopeware Vision
Defunct - Company has gone out of business
Everdesk
Text
Yes
No
No
No
No
No
Yes
?
?
Yes
?
?
eGems Collector Pro
Both
Yes
Yes
No
No
No
Yes
Yes
Yes/No
?
?
?

Apple / Macintosh Products:

- - - - - - - -
-
-
-
-
-
Tinderbox
Visual
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
No
Yes
No
Yes
No
Yes
No
Yes
OmniOutliner
Visual
Yes
No
No
No
No
Yes
No
?
?
Basic (?)
?
?
Idea Keeper
Text
Yes
Yes
Yes (?)
No
No
Yes
No
?
?
Yes
?
?

Features - categories defined:

1. "Text or Visual based" - this means that the focus of the data management system is text based rather than visual. For example, when you create a quick outline of 10 things to do in a project, some of which are subordinate to others, does the software prompt you to enter each item separately into a list-like hierarchy structure or does it prompt you to enter items into a visual flowchart, organization chart, or graphical outline? The first is a text based. The second is visual based. Text based tools are fast, efficient, and data is highly organized. Visual tools are slower, inefficient, and data is not necessarily organized logically.

2. "Handles RTF Text" - Text based tools don't like RTF - bold, highlights, fonts, colors, etc. This stuff complicates it because the underlying core of the software is a text database.

3. "Handles Images" - This is important. A text-based tool simply will not be able to import, input, or manipulate images. It may be able to link to them, but not actually interact with them. A visual-based tool will allow you to grab a picture off the net and put it next to an item in the flowchart you just created.

4. "Handles Audio / Video" - Similar to Images, a visual based tool will allow you to embed a multimedia file right into whatever you are working on. The link must be to a dedicated, internal copy of the sound or video file, not just a link to a file previously accessed or on the Internet. In other words, a tool that actually handles the sound or video file. In this day and age of 250gb hard drives, multi-terabyte RAID hard drive arrays, internal handling of multimedia should happen.

5. "Visual Outlines" - The software can allow you to create and manipulate outline information visually. For example, after inputing your ideas via a keyboard into text "blobs" you can move them around with your mouse and attach them in various orders and hierarchies, patterns, and relationships.

6. "Visual Mind Maps" - For the creation of mind maps, the software is almost transparent - it supports your work by visualizing your thoughts around a central idea with linked off-shooting concepts or ideas. The key difference between mind maps and visual outlines is that the process of creating mind maps is an idea capturing process where the software facilitates seamless and transparent entry so that the user is not held up by the software.

7. "Visualizes Data and Information" - The software takes existing relationships between data and visualizes them or finds new relationships and creates a visual display of the relationship. An example is a text-based calendar versus a visual calendar. Another is the creation of a flowchart from spreadsheet data.

8. "Organizes Data into Categories" - The software allows or forces groupings of data into logical sets. A freeform, visual diagramming tool, for example, won't be able to group and relate "blobs" of text data using a logical organization. They may be related or visually linked, but not categorized and not searchable.

9. "Googles your Hard Drive" - The software can delve into all the files on your computer, catalog the files, and delve into many types of files and pull out data or information.

10. "Can export data / Handheld capable or link?" - Using data and information from one software package in another is imperative. Users should never be locked into a proprietary format that is not "exportable" to another hardware or software tool or data format.

11. "Can handle email attachments" - If the software works with email as a raw data material, can it access email attachments?

12. "Powerful internal search" - Can search across any type of data and information that has been internalized by the program. Does so quickly, pulling out most relevant items it found, and ranking the items based on highest possibility of being the most useful or relevant compared to the search parameters.

13. "Compresses data" - Does the software store the data in a non-compressed, openly accessible data format or in a compressed data format that cannot be easily converted or accessed outside the software?

14. "Saves web pages" - Is there a one-click feature that grabs everything on a web page and stores it - text, photos, and/or the HTML code (perhaps), etc.?

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Credits:

The following people contributed to this document: (Thanks for your contributions!)

This is a continual work in progress. Please e-mail with your thoughts so we can help others find the tools they need to be productive knowledge workers. Your name will be included in the Credits for any contribution you can make. Latest update: July 2005. This document or any information on it may be copied freely. As a courtesy, please reference this site as your source for anything you copy from here. Thank you.