VoodooPad: The Structured Junk Drawer

Every day you process loads of information: due dates, notes to self, phone numbers, and serial numbers to name a few. Almost all of this information is miscellaneous, and has no real place to go.

What usually happens is one of the following: a) Your desk is yellow from sticky notes or b) your computer’s desktop and your folder hierarchy are bogged down with the virtual post-it note, text files. What’s needed is an easy to follow system, that you can easily reference.

VoodoPad from Flying Meat Software is a text editor rolled into a personal wiki. It’s a place to dump all your information, no matter how obscure. File types are not an object either; pictures, folders, PDFs, URLs, and applications all can be put in your VoodooPad. This application is elastic, it can stretch to meet your needs, and shrink accordingly.

The User Interface

The User Interface

How It Works

At the most basic level, you create pages. Pages are like individual text files but contained in your pad. These pages link together, via page names. For example, I create a page for one of my contacts. It has some basic info, name, phone number, picture. Now, in another page I have an index of all my co-workers, I write that contact’s name and automatically a link will be created.

Whenever you click on their name, you are taken to their page. You can also drop in different types of files, to create an searchable index. Pictures can be pasted in as well, allowing the entire image to appear rather than just a link.

The Palette

The Palette

The Palette

VoodooPad’s right-hand man. The palette shows you all the information about your page, document.

  • Backlinks – From this menu you can see all the pages that point to the page you are on.
  • Document Info – In this menu you can see how many pages are in your document, set the homepage, toggle four different options for the page, and all the files and links in the document itself.
  • Event Scripts – Here you can choose a script to run when something happens in the document. For example, when the document closes.
  • Page Info – This is the control panel for the page you are on right now. You can see the word count, when the page was created and when it was last modified. The most powerful feature of this menu is the ability to create aliases. You can make other words that VoodooPad will turn into links, that point to the current page.
  • Pages – Simply a list of all the pages in your document.
  • Recent Views – This is a list of the pages you have viewed recently.
  • Script Runner This lets you run a page as an AppleScript.
  • Tags – Here you can assign tags to your pages, allowing you to find them easier. You can also browse existing tags.
  • Tasks – VoodooPad displays all the things its doing.
  • Type – The place to go for all your formatting needs. Line spacing, color, font and more
  • Updates – See all your latest page revisions here

Syncing And Export

VoodooPad has powerful syncing built in, with support for WebDAV and MobileMe. Getting your document to sync is a snap!

First, go to: File -> Synchronization Setup. You enter your WebDAV URL, or click “use MobileMe.” You can also set up an iPhone friendly web site to go along with it. Your document can be exported in nine different formats. A few of these are Word, HTML, and XML.

Searching

Searching in VoodooPad is robust and very useful. With a few keystrokes you can effectively search every page of your document. The search bar sits in the menu, waiting for a search query. Your search results are given a relevancy score, and are ranked accordingly.

Clicking on the search result brings a preview of the page on the bottom half of the window. The word that you searched for is highlighted with a bright yellow animation, and then fades.

The Extra Bits

The Bucket

The Bucket

You can script VoodooPad in 3 different languages, The old classic AppleScript, Lua, and Python. VoodooPad features a quick-entry window, known as “The Bucket.” A quick stroke of the keys will summon it. You type in your notes and select the document and page for it to be applied to.

Your document can be browsed just like your web browser: multiple windows and tabs. Clicking on a link while holding down command will pop it open in a tab. Adding shift to that combo brings a new window open. VoodooPad also lets you sketch right onto a page. Though, I wouldn’t attempt much with it, without a tablet.  You can adjust the brush size and color for some fairly detailed images.

Sketch

Sketch

You have the option to encrypt pages, but not your entire document. That is reserved for Voodoopad Pro.

Going Pro

VoodooPad comes in three different varieties: free, normal, and pro. Free has limits, and pro has some extra features. I’m going to go over those now.

VoodooPad Pro comes with document encryption, a master password for you data. Individual pages can also be encrypted for even more protection. Triggers are another pro-only feature. Basically, it is a way to tell VoodooPad what to do when things happen. Check here for some more info on the subject.

Additionally, pages can be assigned meta data in the Pro version. These, the developer’s page says, are especially useful for triggers and scripting. The final feature of Pro is the built in web server, for sharing your document over your local network.

Decrypting a Page

Decrypting a Page

The Gripes

I enjoy VoodooPad, but I do have a few issues with it. First off, I really do not like it’s interface. The blue and grey is a little depressing! In addition, often when I try to close VoodooPad, it hangs and crashes. More often though, when I am trying to log out, VoodooPad is prone to causing the operation to cancel. This can get very frustrating.

Summary

Overall, VoodooPad is an easy to use, functional application. The first couple of times you use it you may not see the benefits. But as you add more and more information into it, you begin to unconsciously refer to it.

This is a double edged sword, though. When the app is slow or crashes, it can be annoying to  have all the information you need in it. To see VodooPad’s usefulness, you need to let it grow. Feed it your data and you will see what it can do. VoodooPad comes with in three varieties: Lite, which is free, Normal, which is $29.95, and Pro which is $49.95.


  • http://www.macosxscreencasts.com Zettt

    VoodooPad is still awesome! I’ve used it for collecting all my stuff needed for writing my diploma. I think I should ask Gus if I can do a screencast about this program.
    Many people out there may be interested…

    • http://neatnesscounts.tumblr.com Harold

      A screencast/how-to would be great. I’ve had the app for quite awhile but haven’t used it much simply because I wasn’t wrapping my head around how it works. I would like to do a hyper-linked book using VP but would like to know more about how it works and what kind of distribution is possible besides html. There was some interest in the SCO forums but no screencast as far as I know.

  • http://www.macafarian.com Justin

    My thoughts on VoodooPad changed a lot since I wrote this article. That 7 should be an 8!

  • http://gusmueller.com/ Gus Mueller
  • Hugh L

    Dude — I’m sorry but I gotta say this review reads like a homework assignment. Lately, I feel like VoodooPad Pro is the only recent software purchase that has been worth the money. It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that Gus has already responded asking for bug reports. You make a good point entitling the article “VoodooPad: The Structured Junk Drawer”, in fact I was wondering if someone had actually written an app review lately that doesn’t seem like its been phoned in. I’m too busy right now to elaborate on this but as someone who owns a copy of VoodooPad Pro, here are a few things worth adding…
    1) You didn’t mention the FREE iphone companion application that allows you to read your VP docs on your iphone.
    2) Rather than explain the usefulness of the extreme scriptability of VP & moreover VP Pro, you elect to hyperlink to the support documentation on Flying Meat’s wiki ? WAIT—I’m sorry your choice to provide a hyperlink instead of explaining the features elucidates the point I want to make. This review does not even begin to cover the features of VP & VP Pro. Your review irks me greatly because it seems to do the opposite of what I would hope you aim to do in writing about the app — inspire someone to at least take the software for a spin. I apologize because I know my tone here comes accross as abrasive but this article is frustrating to someone who is fiercely loyal to FM & Gus because of how well the software works and how much he genuinely seems to care about that.

  • http://www.macosxscreencasts.com Zettt

    I will do review on this ASAP. Already contacted Gus for a license. Voodoo Pad seems to have grown very much since the last years.
    Once the review is done (screencast) you may like to link it?

    (Oh BTW Mac.AppStorm team: Please contact me if you see a chance that our video are being built into your posts. Maybe we could get some set like “Screencast by Mac OS X Screencasts and post written by Mac.Appstorm. You can safely delete the last line!)

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  • Alex

    I really like Yojimbo compared to VoodooPad. Both are information organizers but I feel Yojimbo is superior

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  • jack

    I tried yojimbo. Came back to voodoopad. My favorite app ever created for the mac.

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