Preview: Scrybe organizer pushes Web 2.0 limits

Generating buzz about new software is relatively easy for established companies: Just look at the interest surrounding the public betas of Adobe Photoshop 3 and Microsoft Vista. But what if you're a startup with a Web 2.0 service -- and based solely on a YouTube demo, people were so enthralled they even offered payment for a login to the closed beta? I actually found that deal presented on Scrybe's forum, and n

Put simply, Scrybe is a Flash 9-based, open-standards calendaring and personal organizer, and it's packed with every bit of eye candy and fluid interaction Flash developers can muster. For example, in the Planner view, calendars zoomed and contracted as I clicked from day to week to month. While Scrybe's interface is a model design, that's only a small reason for all the attention. The rest is because it delivers a user experience and features that are often beyond anything else I've ever used.

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Consider just one aspect of the calendar, a function called GlobalTimez. When I opened the details of a meeting, Scrybe displayed four world clocks so I didn't have to calculate the time for participants in Europe and Asia. Further, the software will display a secondary time zone alongside your daily planner appointments.

This attention to detail extends throughout. Type "Dinner at 6 p.m." anywhere in your calendar day and Scrybe automatically places the appointment in the 6 p.m. slot. I added tasks in the same way to my to-do list (called PowerLists). Similarly, information in different contexts is effortlessly linked: Drag an item from a to-do list to the calendar and it becomes an event with all the associated reminders.

ThoughtPad, the second main application, lets you assemble notes and Web clippings -- complete with links, images, and files. As with tasks, you label notes to keep them organized. A Bookmarklet let me highlight text and images on Web pages and the content was added to my ThoughtPad -- while I used a simple rich-text editor to add my own comments. Moreover, a preview at the bottom of ThoughtPad let me easily navigate forward or backward through my notes.

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One important aspect of Web 2.0 apps that Google and others haven't mastered is offline access, which Scrybe nails. The service made a local copy of my data, let me work disconnected, and then automatically synced changes when I reconnected. Yet what's most intriguing is the low-tech, yet brilliant PaperSync. Scrybe provides three elegant print formats that you can fold in less than 20 seconds to take your data anywhere.

There are some features missing from the phase two beta I tested, most notable calendar sharing. Scrybe indicated they are evaluating iCal, hCal, RSS, SSE, and e-mail for this feature (planned in the next beta cycle).

Even incomplete, Scrybe teaches the established players a lot about Web 2.0 innovations. While I'd love mobile capabilities (currently the interfaced requires a 1,024 by 768 pixel resolution screen), there's enough here to make me give up my Microsoft Outlook Calendar and abandon Google Calendar.

Scrybe Phase 2, Beta

Availability: Mid-February

Pricing: To be announced

Verdict: Scrybe's online organizer melds Web 2.0 innovations with new approaches to traditional functions, including printing. With a minimalist design and attention to detail characteristic of Apple products, Scrybe should find a home with business and professional users faced with planning complex schedules and capturing notes -- especially anyone needing to work offline