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Webjimbo Makes Yojimbo Data Web-Accessible

Adrian Ross has released Webjimbo 1.0, a Web-based interface for Bare Bones Software’s Yojimbo organizer software, enabling both a view into stored items and the capability to update some of that data. (Neither Adrian Ross nor his software have a direct connection to Bare Bones.) Webjimbo is a compact Web server that runs on a Mac with a launched copy of Yojimbo. Webjimbo preserves a lot of Yojimbo’s look, feel, and interaction by using AJAX Web technology. (AJAX combines JavaScript and XML to send and receive information between the browser and Internet applications, like a Web server, as well as to update parts of a Web page without
reloading it.)

Yojimbo centralizes and organizes the variety of content that we accrete in using the Internet. You can print PDF documents from any application directly to Yojimbo, drag PDFs straight in, create notes and encrypt them, add Web site and other passwords, note serial numbers, and organize bookmarks. Yojimbo can also create static archives of Web pages. (We reviewed Yojimbo 1.0 in “Let Yojimbo Guard Your Information Castle,” 2006-01-30; it’s now at version 1.4.)

The program has become a constant resource for me, as I split my time and usage among a home office (a living room couch) and a real office. Yojimbo can use .Mac synchronization, which enables me to keep everything both centralized in the program and distributed among my computers. In fact, I had written Rich Siegel, head of Bare Bones and a friend of TidBITS, a few days after getting my iPhone to ask when a Web-based version of Yojimbo would make my life even easier given the iPhone’s poor storage of passwords; he noted that the independently developed Webjimbo was already well into beta testing.

Webjimbo is simply a Web server that uses AppleScript behind the scenes to expose data from Yojimbo. While you can view PDFs inline within Yojimbo, Webjimbo provides them as downloads, which can be viewed inline in a browser if you have the appropriate Acrobat plug-ins. Encrypted notes and passwords can’t be edited in this release; similarly, encrypted Web archives can’t be viewed.

The server requires an IP address that’s reachable from the places you want to access your data. On a local network, that’s not a problem, but it’s likely that you would run Webjimbo to access Yojimbo’s data store remotely. That won’t work for many users, because you must have a routable IP address, something most home Internet service providers charge extra for or don’t even offer.

If you use an AirPort base station or other gateway to handle access among multiple computers for a home broadband connection using DHCP and NAT to assign addresses, you could be out of luck in this release. Some remote control systems – such as LogMeIn and CoPilot – connect a client application with a central server to allow access to computers behind such gateways. (I write about some ways around this annoyance in “Take Control of Your 802.11n AirPort Extreme Network” if you’re using a 2007 model of the AirPort Extreme Base Station.)

Ross could choose to add such support on a subscription or other basis in the future; it’s not technically difficult to create such servers and linkages, but it requires full-time operational support, just like a hosted application. It could also be tied into Skype, which provides application hooks for traversing gateways.

On the security front, Webjimbo does a good job keeping Yojimbo data private. First, the software requires that you set a password for the server, rather than just using your Mac OS X account password. You could set the Webjimbo password to be the same, but that would reduce security.

Second, because Yojimbo doesn’t allow access to its encrypted notes and passwords via AppleScript by default, you must choose to enable that access. You can turn on access via scripts to notes or passwords or both. (The settings are in the Security tab of Yojimbo’s Preferences dialog.)

Third, Webjimbo allows only SSL/TLS connections from a browser, providing strong encryption for data in transit – this is especially critical for iPhone users, as the iPhone lacks a simple way to secure an entire data connection consistently. (See my Macworld article, “Securing Your iPhone’s Traffic.”) Ross took a shortcut here, using a self-signed certificate; this can save considerable expense on his part. These certificates can’t be validated via information that’s pre-loaded into Web browsers, and your browser will throw up a warning the first time you access a Webjimbo server. You can choose, depending on the browser, to accept the validity of the certificate
once or for subsequent connections. (For more on self-signed certificates, see Chris Pepper’s “Securing Communications with SSL/TLS: A High-Level Overview,” 2007-06-25.)

While Webjimbo is primed to be an iPhone-focused application, development started before the iPhone and associated developer information was released, and Ross promises an iPhone-optimized version in the future.

Ross charges $29.95 for a single user license of Webjimbo and $49.95 for a five-user household license. It requires Yojimbo, which Bare Bones offers for $39 for a single user, $69 for up to five users in a household, or $29 for a single educational user.

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