Thursday, June 21, 2012

Zekira Update: Successful Fundraising and New Features

Thanks again to all of you who contributed to our crowdfunding campaign.  We beat our goal, which is not an easy thing for a productivity app considering that crowdfunding is usually used for games and hardware accessories.  But most importantly, we found some really enthusiastic beta users who have already provided us with great feedback and helped us prioritize what we’ll improve first.

Features just added and available soon

In response to your requests, we’ve made a number of improvements.  We are running them though a test cycle now and will be posting Beta 4 with these changes in the next week or so.  We've made it much easier to quickly have Zekira do various sorts of sophisticated searches.  The changes include:

Folder-based filtering. We added a fifth filter to Zekira to help you when you remember that the thing you're looking for came from a specific place on your hard drive or a mail folder.

In addition to filtering the search by folder, you can now right-click on an item to search for everything else that was stored in the same folder as that item.  This is helpful when you suspect that something relevant is stored in the same place as an item you've found.

As in all the Zekira filters, you can combine this with other filters, such as date and time, keywords, etc.

Click anything to search. When you click on an item, we put information about the item and the item’s contents in the blue area at the top of the results window.  The main body of text scrolls so you can quickly see it all without opening the original.  Sometimes you'll see a name word that you'd like to use to start a new search, or add to the current one.

You can now do that immediately by clicking on the word.  Everything in the items displayed is clickable.  Exactly what happens will depend on what you click, and what other keys are held down when you click:

If you click on a word in the body of the item, Zekira initiates a new search for that word. 

If you shift click on a word, Zekira adds the word to the keyword filter with an OR. 

If you option click, we’ll add it with an AND.

Clicking on the metadata (any text outside the scrolling box) will also initiate new searches.  Shift clicking will add the search to the current collection of filters.

Click on... Action Action with shift
Title Initiates new search using word clicked on Adds word to keyword filter panel (joined by OR)
Author, Sender or Meeting Organizer Initiates new search for person Adds person to people filter
Date Initiates new search using date clicked Adds date clicked to date filter
Path Initiates new search for everything in the folder that contains the item Adds folder to the folder filter

Improved Connections slider.  The connections slider now has 11 settings.  The higher the setting, the more items Zekira will find.  The lower the setting, the fewer items Zekira will find. 
Easily Unapply a Filter.  You can now remove a filter from the current search by clicking its breadcrumb (the dark gray icon at the top of the window).  This makes it easier to try alternative scenarios.  The forward and back buttons let you quickly move back and forth between different choices.

Easily Unapply a Filter.  You can now remove a filter from the current search by clicking its breadcrumb (the dark gray icon at the top of the window).  This makes it easier to try alternative scenarios.  The forward and back buttons let you quickly move back and forth between different choices.

Features we're working on

Indexing performance.  Not surprisingly, many of you have some really large archives of information.  Our initial beta releases could not index it fast enough.  We found that we could handle about 40,000 items overnight but that’s just a drop in the bucket for some users.  We made some improvements in the Beta 2 and Beta 3 release, but these are not enough.  This is our number one priority and will remain so until we meet our performance goals.

PST challenges.  While we’ve been successful indexing the context of most PST files, a number of you have files that we’ve not been able to index.  Most of these are older PST files from older versions of outlook.  We found and fixed a couple of errors that stopped the indexing process, but there are still some files we can’t read.  We have more homework to do here as we try to figure out what’s going wrong.  In the meantime, as a work-around, you may try opening troublesome PST files in Outlook and copying their contents to a newly created PST.  We have yet to find a PST file that could not be fixed with this process. 

This problem is difficult to diagnose because we don't have any of these un-indexable files in our hands so that we can pick them apart.  If you have troublesome PST files that you're are willing to share, we’ll be glad to add them to our testing matrix and see if we can figure out how to index them.  We will take special processes to protect your personal info.  Send us a note at to let us know if you can help.

European date formats.  In the spirit of getting the first product to market quickly, we took a few short-cuts around internationalization.  As such, our beta releases only support US date formats so far.  We’ve added support for European date formats to our “to do” list.

Indexing all files.  We got some feedback about files whose contents we do not yet read.  Currently we ignore those files, but several of you asked us to at least include the file in the index with its name and other metadata.  We have that working on a prototype now and will be releasing it in an upcoming beta.

Mac behavior.  We heard that you don’t like the “windows-style” menus in a window, when running Zekira on a Mac.  This was another one of those time to market trade-offs.  We’ve put it on our “to do” list.

Mac data types.  Our initial indexing support on the Mac includes Mac Mail the built-in calendar and the built-in contacts.  You’ve asked us to also support
•    Outlook on the Mac
•    Entourage on the Mac
•    Shared calendars on the Mac
These are all on our “to do” list.

Indexing your cloud data.   In the cloud era, you are more likely to have information stored at multiple locations and in multiple services.  We want Zekira to be the go to place for accessing all that information.  We’re looking to index your Google docs, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Contacts, Google Drive, LinkedIn Account, Twitter and more.

More feedback welcome
The context engine is a new concept.  The Zekira team has spent a lot of time brainstorming ways it can and will be used.  But we don’t for a minute believe we’ve thought of everything.  We know that as more people use Zekira, they’ll think of other ways they want to try to get back to something they remember.  If you wish Zekira would let you do something it isn’t already doing, let us know.  We want your feedback.  You are helping to make Zekira better.