The other day I downloaded the trial version of Microsoft OneNote. I am amazed how quickly this has become one of those necessary apps. My boss told me about it and I thought, well it is probably good, but more for Tablet PCs. And yes, it does work with Tablets very well, but what it lets me do is brainstorm digitally. I can't sit down and write out how my next web application is going to work linearly. I do think object orientedly, in clusters of functionality. And once those are down, I figure out what I am going to need to built that function. So I have been mapping out my applications this way for years, usually with just a pad and a pen. OneNote lets you work that way on you PC.
So say you figure out you need two functions. One named myName and the other named yourName. Now we have the functions, what else do we need. Well maybe to create a superClass over the two functions because they have name in common. Well how do you write that out in Word? And once you have it written down, how do you move the text around to show relationships?
Well OneNote, works with textboxes, so you just click in the note space and start writing. And say, does that need to be higher in the document? Grab it's header and drag it up, or left or right.
When I work, I have Web Browser open to Google. I like to reference articles and blogs I have read, that have great information or ideas. How do you include that in your Word document. Add Hyperlink right, well with OneNote, you simple drag the URL from the address bar into the OneNote notespace. Or an image, drag that in too!
Okay, what if you don't want to type, you just want to, I don't know, talk about it and have that in your notes. OneNote can handle that too. It can record audio and have that linked in your document.
I test lots of applications, and very few of them, get in to my, required tools category, but OneNote has done that rather quickly.