Note Histories make Evernote Premium viable as an electronic lab notebook

Available only to Premium users, Evernote offers a feature called “Note History”. Essentially, it’s version control for digital lab notebooks. It takes a snapshot of notes a few times a day, unobtrusively, and in the background. This gives us two advantages as a lab notebook, for which the integrity of the content is important.

Firstly, it provides a verifiable history of any particular note. As changes are made to it, approx. 1/4 day snapshots can be viewed in sequence to transparently note any changes that have happened. If there are any forensic investigations needed, the snapshots provide a good starting place. (If they would allow a snapshot per sync, that would be even better, but I’m guessing that would take too much space.)

Secondly, because of the tracked history, I can actually track the progress of a note as I update it. For example, I usually write down progress pertaining to each computational experiment in a single note. If the experiment (computational or wet-lab) that takes more than a few days to complete, I can go into the note histories to get a sense for how things are progressing in a time-stamped fashion. I have also used TextExpander to help me time-stamp my thoughts as I add them in (that will be in a separate post).

If Evernote can make (1) diff/merge and (2) real-time collaborative editing capabilities for notes, that would really bring their “single workspace” idea up one notch!

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