By Deane Barker on April 18, 2004

Onfolio: An interesting new app for organizing information you find online. It’d be better, I think, as a Web-based app rather than a client tool. Watch the Flash presentation here for the quick skinny.

My question is, is there a need for this product? In the end, this seems like a hot-rodded Favorites list. Is there a big functionality hole there that we need to fill? Check out their usage examples to see what they’re targeting.

On another note, is $29.95 is standard Web-related application price these days?

Onfolio is a PC application for collecting, organizing and sharing information you find online. Fully integrated with Microsoft Internet Explorer and Office, Onfolio has tools for capturing a wide range of content including links, text snippets, images, web pages, and documents. Onfolio lets you organize and find captured content quickly and easily. And with Onfolio, you can easily share your research in documents, presentations, emails, and research reports.

Onfolio almost reached the status of shiny object, and, consequently, a trial install. However, I just paved and reloaded this machine, and I don’t want to clutter it up with junk (actually, if truth be told, my wife ordered me not to clutter it up with junk).

(Besides, they used the word “seamless” in the presentation, and that’s a big red flag right there. If anyone ever uses “seamless” and “robust” together, dispatch a hit team to their corporate headquarters immediately.)

I do, however, want to give Onfolio props for a well-done site packed full of information about the product. The Flash demo is good, the usage examples are enlightening, and their FAQ is uncommonly well thought out.

Example: my biggest issue with software is, where are you keeping my stuff? They actually provide an answer in their technical FAQ:

The data you capture into Onfolio is all stored in an Onfolio collection file (.cfs). By default collections are stored in the My Collections folder of your My Documents directory. Onfolio collections are databases that can contain saved content, annotations, folders, etc. When you open a file that is in a collection, Onfolio temporarily makes a copy of it in you temp directory so it can be opened in your browser.

In the end, however, no non-IE support, no API, and a relationship to Windows that’s perhaps a little too close (the only report format seems to be MHT) will make me pass on this one.



  1. Hi, I’m one of the developers at Onfolio.

    Sorry to hear you’re passing on our product. I can definitely appreciate not wanting to clutter up a pristine machine though. Maybe you’ll consider giving us another look in a couple of months when your Windows installation has suffered a little more entropy.

    If you actually try our product, I think you’ll quickly understand why we couldn’t possibly have built in Flash. We allow a lot of UI gestures, such as dragging and dropping entire folders of collected data right into Word documents, that you simply can’t do with Flash. We also have to do a lot of heavy lifting to properly capture local copies of web pages (i.e. downloading the associated images, style sheets, recursing into frames, etc.). Onfolio is much, much more complicated than online bookmark managers like Furl, if that’s what your mental image is. (No disrespect to the Furl guys… we just have a lot more code to write.)

    One thing that definitely separates us from Favorites is the ability to richly annotate and search the items you’ve captured. When you’re saving dozens of new pieces of content a day, as many of our users are, these features become invaluable. Also, there isn’t a great way to repurpose the links you’ve stored in Favorites, i.e. send them in a useful format to other people on your team. Onfolio is great at this; you can use our built-in report editor (Pro version only), or drag and drop any content from Onfolio right into an e-mail, Word doc, filesystem share, whatever. Again, you sort of have to try it to appreciate it.

    As for providing an API, we are investingating this for future releases. For now I’ve created a utility called cfs2xml that lets you export data from your Onfolio collection into XML, including all of the files and web pages you’ve captured. You can either consume the XML directly, or use XSL to transform it. You can read more about it on my personal blog, http://blog.joecheng.com.

    Maybe you can get a friend to install Onfolio and let you try it. You might be surprised how useful it is!

    -Joe Cheng

  2. You know, while I was writing this, I just knew we would hear from someone who works at the company. Feedster has enabled these guys to just watch for the name of their product to come rolling across the RSS feeds, and they can pounce on it.

    You can’t snipe and hide anymore, which I suppose is a good thing.

  3. Hi,

    While doing some research for this months Central Georgia Macromedia Users Group meeting I realized it would be great to have a quick way to sort and present the data I’d collected. I had saved some bookmarks for later reference for the group. I happened to remember this product and quickly downloaded the trial. I didnt even have to give an email address, and in five minutes I had a working connection to my server and was publishing my findings to organized annotated pages.

    So the meeting ended up also being a showcase for Onfolio.


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