For the last few months, I have had an application/service called doo on my radar. I had seen mention of it pop up on Twitter and in blog comments, but I hadn’t written about it because I could never quite figure out what it was exactly.
This morning, while at Starbucks listening to my table-mates argue about whose various body parts hurt the most and how hard it is to remember to press Send when sending a text message, I decided to dig into it a little bit.
What Is doo?
You can think of doo as two different and optional components – a local client that helps you organize and find your documents, and a cloud storage and synchronization service.
You can think of it as a combination of Evernote and Dropbox, but unlike Evernote you can completely use the software without ever having to touch the web service, and unlike Evernote your documents do not get moved inside the application, and unlike Dropbox there is a nice local application to help you organize and find your documents.
The Local Client
Right now there are Doo applications for Mac OS X and Windows 8. As I don’t have a Windows 8 machine at the moment, I will be showing you the Mac version.
You start by connecting Doo to the different document sources that you have.
“Connect” may not be the best word here – basically what you are doing is telling Doo to watch certain folders on your computer. Even though you are “connecting” Doo to your Dropbox or Google Drive folders, you do not need to actually connect it to your accounts if you don’t want to. Nice.
By connecting Doo to the folders on your computer, you are telling it to watch your folders and learn about the files inside them. Your documents are not actually moved or touched in any way. Again, nice.
You can also have it connect to your e-mail if you use a supported service so that it can find your attachments.
Once you’ve told Doo where to look, it will start to index, or learn about, your files. It checks if the files are searchable and if not, it will perform OCR on them. If they are, it will read the OCR information.
Why is it doing all this? You’ll see in a moment.
Finding Your Documents
The general idea of doo is that you shouldn’t need to spend a bunch of time organizing your documents. Let the software analyze what you have, and it will make it easy to find what you need.
Here is how they describe it:
Intelligent algorithms – eg for OCR and auto-tagging – analyze every document. They identify relevant information and automatically make it available to you as intelligent tags such as companies, document types, people, places, file formats, sources and so forth.
I have to say, the way that they do this is pretty cool. Once your documents are indexed, they slice and dice the information in a number of ways. For example, you can view your documents that are associated with a number of major companies.
They also take a guess as to the type of documents that you have.
There are many other ways that it identifies your documents: by Person (if you optionally connect it to your Contacts), by document type, by storage location, by location, by tag, and by date.
When you want to find a document, you can either dig through these different classifiers, or even better just start typing in the search bar.
Because doo applies all these identifiers to your documents, you can build easy search queries.
Now, doo’s identifiers aren’t 100% accurate, but they can get you a lot of the way there, and any mistakes that you find you can fix yourself.
The doo Cloud
As I mentioned, all of the above is accomplished without ever needing to sign up or sign in to a cloud account. All the storage and processing happens locally on your computer. It is also completely free.
If you want to, you can have doo synchronize some of your documents to their cloud service. You can turn this on and off on a folder-by-folder basis.
Eventually, there will be mobile apps that with which you can access this information, and eventually you will be able to pay for extra storage. Since the service is in Beta, everyone gets 25 Gigs free for 30 days. Eventually there will be storage plans as outlined here.
I haven’t played with the cloud stuff much, so expect another blog post on that in the future.
Is doo For You?
doo is a really interesting piece of software, and I could see it helping a lot of people who have documents all over the place and want something to bring it all together.
It would be nice if they added Evernote to their data sources, and it would be nice if you had the ability to select which file types doo indexes. Right now, it indexes images and text files which may be what some people want, but I would prefer the ability to have it just index PDF and possibly Office files. I couldn’t see a way to do that.
Having said that, I found the application very easy to use, and I am looking forward to seeing where they take the service. Since it doesn’t mess with your existing files, it is worth giving it a try and seeing how you like it.