For years (more than a decade, in fact) I have kept all my notes in a free-form textual database called Idealist. Originally developed by a division of Blackwells, the program was sold on to an outfit called Bekon, which produced an impossibly buggy version before disappearing without trace. At the time, the lack of any upgrade route didn’t matter very much to me since Idealist was for a long time simply the fastest, most flexible and most stable database I could find that actually did the job I needed it to do.
Sadly, Idealist has been showing its age for some time now. While its flexibility (including the ability to modify fields and record types on the fly) and its very efficient automatic keyword indexing remain superb, it suffers from its inability to handle rich text, its lack of Unicode support and its virtual lack in internet connectivity.
So, reluctantly and after a long period of examining possible alternatives, I have finally abandoned it in favour of Ultra Recall by Kinook Software. First impressions are very positive. I have been able to import several hundred story ideas and my entire bibliographical database without much difficulty. The next step is to import more than 20,000 notes and quotations! (If I have read the Ultra Recall manual correctly, it should then be possible to link those notes and quotations with the relevant references in my bibliography much more easily than was the case in Idealist.)