May 22, 2012

Thoughts on Basil (and everything else)

I wrote the following thoughts about three weeks ago and I finally want to get my thoughts out there for the small number of people who might actually read it. Enjoy!

After using Kyle Baxter’s Basil over the last couple weeks, I think I have gained enough of a flavor (pun intended…sorry) for it that I can now post my thoughts. The short version is this: Basil solves a problem that I have had for awhile now and because of this fact, I am decidedly hooked. The fact is that I have used quite a few services in the attempt to do what Basil is doing well: save my recipes for later use, sharing, and changes. First, I started using Evernote for this practice.  Evernote was a great service when I first started using it and I depended on it for all types of reference and media saving, but as I saved more and more items and my folder and tag library got more extensive, the service got slower, which meant I got disinterested. From there, I moved to Simplenote, where I would only save the text of the recipe, but that was cumbersome and again, got slow. Then, I got the bright idea to simply star the interesting items in my Google Reader, but as most of you know searching Google Reader is rather difficult for a service run by the company that built web search as we know it today. Also, I have wanted to lessen my dependence on Google Reader just in case Google becomes bored with it and decides to cancel the service entirely. Finally, I moved to my current model, which is to Instapaper the items of interest until I need it since Instapaper is one of the best ways to view text-based web content on any of the devices I own and I can search bookmarked and archived content with my subscription, which I gladly pay (!). Basil has simply added the long-term repository after saving recipes to Instapaper. Honestly, it is a great workflow as it stands.

That being said, I have a couple things I would love to see in the future. I would really like to be able to save things to Basil or queue items for my later editing and approval from my other devices, whether iOS or OS X”-based; I would gladly pay for this service. I would also like to be able to sync my recipes with other Basil installs like my wife’s or parents’ to share recipes across devices. Currently, sharing via email or twitter is great, but I would love to share updated or changed recipes, especially since my recipes change constantly, and give Kyle more money by forcing my parents to buy copies of the app. I would also like to be able to import recipes from other sources such as Instapaper or Evernote (see above discussion of past recipe repositories) as well as change the source URL after the fact (see workflow, as all the source URLs are now the Instapaper text links). Interestingly enough, I found that I can cut out a step by logging into Instapaper from Basil, but it seems a bit clunkier that I would like. Honestly, though, I think the best thing in the world would be a partnership between Kyle and Marco that would allow for a Basil folder/queue in my Instapaper account to which I would push recipe content only to have them download and open for editing when I open Basil. These are simply idol thoughts, however. I have no idea what it would entail to actually get any of these ideas up and running without a lot of hassle for Kyle or Marco. Even with all of the above, albeit minor, annoyances, the thing that Kyle has done with Basil still stands as a testament to all those that have ideas: do something with them or they aren’t worth anything! Which is the reason why I was moved to write this post. The other thing Basil did, other than give me the perfect repository for my recipes, was to give me an idea for another app I would like to see and someday may write myself.

I like to think of myself as a general connoisseur or as those that know me have heard me say, a connoisseuraus.” I am a self-proclaimed connoisseuraus because I like to know as much as I can about as many topics as I can! As such, I have old dossiers of my current and past loves: cigars, wines, coffee, etc. A dossier application is something that iOS badly needs and something that would benefit a lot of people, but not a dossier in the sense of what is out there currently. Something more akin to a cross between Basil, Instapaper, and Paper by FiftyThree. Different dossiers can be kept within the app, say a cigar dossier, a wine dossier, a coffee dossier, etc, much like you have journals in Paper or folders in Instapaper. A bookmarklet could save items for future testing and experiencing, like Basil or Instapaper. And each dossier would have the ability to archive past testings and experiences for later reference. Exactly like Basil, people would favorite their best experiences. I think the novelty of something like this is the fact that it would appeal to so many people without having to focus on one thing in particular. Dossier by JayRay, the app’s name maybe, could be what each person needs it to be. The only other things I would suggest for this application would be syncing with Dropbox, iCloud, Simplenote, Evernote, or other and the ability to take both typed and written (read: stylus) input.

With that idea in mind and with my experiences with Basil, all I have to say is this: Thank you, Kyle Baxter, for sharing your solution with us and I am excited to see what the future has in store for Basil and your other work.”

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