Onfolio: outstanding Web research tool

One of the most common problems with Web browsing is keeping track of what you look at. And when you actually are researching something on the Web, keeping your results organized is really hard. Over the years we’ve used all sorts of tools for this purpose, but we just found a new one that is da bomb. The tool is Onfolio from Onfolio Inc.

Onfolio is a utility for noting or capturing whole Web pages or fragments of pages. It organizes your saved Web content as folders in “collections,” all of which can be searched. And for those of you working collaboratively, Onfolio lets you publish your saved contents in various ways, which we’ll discuss in a moment.

After a quick and painless install, Onfolio’s services can be found in the Explorer Bar (that’s the optional pane to the left of the main browser window) in Internet Explorer. Onfolio splits the Explorer Bar into a row of buttons at the top with two sub-panes below.

The buttons provide file functions (create, modify and delete collections, as well as export and import saved content); edit functions (operations on individual saved content items); publishing services; help options (including a “Suggest a feature” — more products should have this); and Web page content capture options.

You can capture content as links, entire pages or, if part of a page is highlighted, as a “snippet” with or without its current formatting. You also can add comments as you save, and Onfolio automatically records the source of the captured material.

The top sub-pane has tabs; the first tab shows the collections, folders and subfolders that store your saved content, and the other tab presents the search dialogue. If you select the collections tab in the lower sub-pane it lists the items that are in the currently selected folder, and if you select the search tab it shows the results of a search.

Onfolio’s publishing facilities are very powerful; you can publish individual items, folders, collections or search results by e-mail. For an even more polished delivery you can create custom reports using Onfolio Publisher, which comes with Onfolio Professional Edition. The Professional utility provides an editing environment in which you can drag and drop saved items onto a report page, add comments and links to other resources, and add contents and graphics. You then can publish Onfolio reports as Web content (Onfolio Publisher automatically creates the folders, files, hyperlinks and even a Rich Site Summary (RSS) feed).

Onfolio Publisher is an impressive and sophisticated tool. It contains all the content-formatting commands you’re likely to need (bulleting, lists, text attributes and the like), spell checking and preview in browser support. It also can create an e-mail with the report attached, save the report to the local file system or launch an built-in FTP client so you can publish the report (and its associated RSS file) to a Web server.

Interestingly, Onfolio reports are MIME Encapsulation of Aggregate HTML Documents (MHTML) files, which means they have the content of items embedded in them.

Onfolio is terrific, and the only thing we could hope for is that the firm extends Onfolio’s features to allow for the capture of content from other applications, such as the Microsoft Office suite. Onfolio also is an exceptional value at only US$30 for the Standard and US$80 for the Professional Edition.

Save your thoughts to backspin@gibbs.com.

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