Nik's Picks: Stikkit

All right, let’s just get this out of the way. This pick isn’t a Mac application, it’s another web application.

However, it’s a web application that works flawlessly under Safari, but doesn’t work perfectly under IE. Happy now? I thought so!

The web site is Basically, it’s an online junk drawer/snippet keeper, just like the thousands of similar programs that have been cropping up on the Mac for the last few years. (And yes, even with every word in there as a link to another organizer/outliner/snippet organizer, I didn’t nearly fit all of them.)

Given the wealth of Mac-native applications, why do I want you to check out Stikkit?

Well, because Stikkit has two advantages that are unlike any other application I’ve found on the Mac:

  1. It will interpret what you type in your “stikkits” and determine what kind of information it is, and categorize it for you.

  2. Stikkit is online. If you work in a cross-platform environment, you use multiple computers, you travel a lot, or you just want to share some of your information with other folks, Stikkit will let you do that.

Additionally, as web applications go, Stikkit is one of the smoothest and easiest to use web applications I’ve found. It can be almost entirely keyboard driven, and it is built to appear simple, although there’s some great power under the hood.

So, here’s how Stikkit works:

You have a bunch of “stikkits”, which are analogous to sticky notes or just little text snippets. (That’s right, text, stikkit doesn’t handle files or images, although you can certainly link to either.) They can be searched or viewed in pre-defined categories, including to-dos, calendar events, bookmarks or peeps (contacts). You can also tag them with as many tags as you want and browse them by tag as well.

But the clever part is how they become categorized.

If I type a stikkit of “Call John”, it will just be a stikkit. If I instead put it down as “Call John tomorrow at 3:30PM”, it will become a calendar entry. If I then add another line and add “Remind me”, I’ll get an email or SMS message about ½ hour before I need to call John, reminding me to do it.

Or, I can go further still, and type:

> Remember to call John McGillicuddy at 3:30 pm tomorrow > > remind me > > John McGillicuddy > > home phone: 800-123-4567 > > email: > > tag as “sales lead” work “McGillicuddy and Son Inc.”

Stikkit will read what I wrote and go nuts, creating a to-do instead of an event with a reminder for 3:30 PM tomorrow; it will also create a “peep” stikkit for John McGillicuddy, containing his phone number and email address; and finally, both the peep and the to-do will get tagged and categorized as a sales lead, something work-related, and something to do with the McGillicuddy and Son Inc. company.

Oh yeah, all the stikkits there will be cross-linked to one another, so I can click on John’s stikkit and see all my meetings, to-dos, and whatever else are related to him.

It’s this cross linking and simple input that really get me excited. As a big GTD fan, I really like to be able to just gather information and reminders and only later process them and do something with them.

Stikkit lets me follow this methodology (I can just put “Call John” for a stikkit and later go back and flesh it out), plus it makes it stupid simple for me to turn it into something much more useful, without any futzing around with my mouse or creating folders or categories or anything. I can pretty much put in just what I would have otherwise written in my notebook and trust Stikkit to figure out what I intended this note to be about.

Other cool Stikkit things include:

  • Any individual stikkit can be shared with anybody else. They get a special URL that gives them access. However, they must register for stikkit to share data. (Which is quick and easy)

  • The calendar can be subscribed to in iCal. (Unfortunately, alarms/reminders aren’t published, nor are to-dos without associated dates.)

  • Just about any part of Stikkit can be accessed as an RSS feed. Not terribly secure, but it lets you throw your to-dos or latest thoughts into a Dashboard widget or something.

  • Stikkit has a burgeoning API, which is hinted at and pretty much undocumented, but it already shows promise.

The downsides? There’s a few:

  • Stikkit IS a text-only system, as I explained above. If you want to store your documents and everything else, Stikkit is not the place for that.

  • Stikkit’s intelligence demos well, but it’s actually pretty persnickity about what keywords it looks for. If you say “tag with…” your tags, it will assume you’re trying to invite those tags to a meeting (as opposed to “tag as…” which is the proper syntax). On the other hand, the “magic words” are intuitive and easy to remember and many have abbreviations for quick data entry.

Still, having tried out Backpack and Zoho Planner, and a zillion Mac apps, I have found Stikkit to be the right balance between quick & dirty and full featured. Mostly I use it as a to-do list for work tasks (no Entourage at work boo hoo), and a place to store URLs I want to look at later, or people I meet in odd places (that I ultimately add to Entourage).

Stikkit is free to use (and it seems will remain free for a while, at least), and continues to expand and grow based largely on user suggestions.

And, if you do like Stikkit, you may want to check out some scripts and services I threw together that make it quick and easy to add large and small stikkits without ever visiting the website.

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Written on January 19, 2007