Asking about MarginNote's user experience


#1

Greetings,

I am the head of a university writing and journalism program, and my department has been considering a batch purchase of MarginNote apps for our students. My colleagues and I feel that the app accomplishes a lot of what our students do, and would integrate well with their workflow. Having said that, I’ve studied some of the exchanges on this forum and I’m a bit concerned about three recurrent issues that users have raised:

  • Ongoing problems with syncing

  • A lack of responsive answers from MarginNote tech support

  • Few replies from MarginNote support in answers to this forum’s queries

Are these accurate issues that users have experienced? I’m asking in order to determine if users feel that this is a fair assessment. Your answers will enable us to decide whether our department should move forward or hold off on our batch order of MargninNote.

Much obliged.


#2

From my point of view, syncing has always been robust for me and something I’ve never had to think about. I’m currently studying an MBA remotely, and have annotated textbooks with hundreds of annotations each with no problem. I cycle between the Mac, iPad and iPhone version continually as I do a lot of travelling, so obviously this is something that’s important to me.

They recently added the ability to create and sync folders of documents, which may have had some teething issues with extremely large file edge cases. I do note that there have been a few improvements to syncing in the last few releases, and judging by a recent forum post this may have helped.

I believe the development team are based in China, and it seems most of them don’t actively visit the English forums. That being said, I do know there are at least a couple who regularly use this forum to collect feedback - even if they don’t actively respond to threads. I’ve noticed a large number of suggestions that I’ve made here shortly be incorporated into releases, sometimes even the next release.

The app is actually one of the most well-maintained that I’ve used, with updates consistently issued roughly every 1-2 weeks. You can see this in the version history in the App Store. They frequently push out new features in addition to just bug fixes, which makes me believe they actually have a sizeable development team even if they don’t respond actively on the forums. It’s unfortunate that the lack of forum activity from the team makes the app seem a lot less well supported than it actually is.

From a support perspective, it definitely seems like it will continually be developed for the long haul, with the major v3 rewrite having been released last year. The app has also been around for quite a long time (The original MarginNote was released in 2013). This is something I find rather reassuring, given how volatile the iOS app development landscape is where countless apps I’ve relied on have suddenly been abandoned.

I also had a highly positive experience taking part in the Beta for MarginNote 3, where the development team were very receptive to incorporating user feedback. I assume as a potential institutional customer, you probably have your own support needs so I’d suggest reaching out to them directly via service@marginnote.com.

If you ask me, the level of polish and the thoughtfulness in the design of the workflow is probably the biggest testament that the development team are actively engaged with user feedback. As an IT project manager by profession, I think it’s highly unlikely that the app could have simply been designed this well without having been iterated continually around the needs of users.