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Organization

The problem with using note links for organization...

note links nested tags sub categories organizing structure sub topics

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#1 May

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 07:38 PM

Let's say you have a lot of notes with some tag and want to further organize them by using note links to make an overview note, similar to a table of contents. And you would group notes there in any way you like and etc.

Let's ignore the fact that you can't do it on iPad at all. (except using remote desktop app)


This is what even the blog posts says about note links

"Create a table of contents for a selection of notes.
Whether you’re working on a study guide or planning your wedding, you can use Note Links to get ahead of the game. Create a new note and add Note Links for things like Notes: October, Notes: December, etc. or “Guest List,” “Flowers,” “Vendor Numbers.”"

So far so good.
You have made this overview note with note links and organized it all there really nicely.
Now what you have basically is a tag which has an overview note with all its notes organized there and the notes themselves. It's all in a flat list but you have to look only at the overview note because all notes are there in the form of note links and are organized in categories and subcategories and what not.

But then eventually you added some notes to this tag. And you didn't think about this overview note at the time because it was out of sight.
Then after some time you go back to review notes with this tag. You see lots of notes in a flat list and also an overview/table of contents note with most but NOT all notes listed there. And there is no way to really check what's there and what's not. It's not apparently noticeable.
So things get missed. And you don't even know.
This basically means you have to organize notes in 2 separate places.

One workaround I can think of is using an additional tag for each tag to hide notes which are already organized in some sort of overview note.
For example you have tag "evernote" and then also an additional tag "evernote-organized as note links/organized in table of contents" or something.
Whenever you add notes as note links to an overview/table of contents note for this tag you also tag them as "evernote-organized as note links".
Then after a while you could go back to this "evernote" tag and do a search for -tag:"evernote-organized as note links" to hide all notes which are already organized in some sort of overview/table of contents note.
This would make it easy to see if there are any new and "unorganized" notes in this tag which are missing from an overview/table of contents note.

Basicaly this would pretty much double your amount of tags which is quite an incovenient workaround.

Hopefully you understand what I mean...

This is one and only reason I'm going to avoid using note links for "table of cntents" kind of notes which would have been useful otherwise...

Any ideas?

#2 GrumpyMonkey

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 08:26 PM

I have an "index" tag I attach to all of my "top level" table of contents pages. A search for "tag:index" pulls up all of my directories. I tend to have a bunch of notes in a tag that I DO NOT want in my table of contents (web clippings, etc.) so I prefer to do it all by hand. However, if you did want to have everything in a tag link up, then you could just:

1. open your table of contents separately
2. pull up your list of notes ("tag:category")
3. Select everything
4. Drag notes into the table of contents

All done! Do this periodically and you are always up to date :)

#3 jefito

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 08:31 PM

Tags and note links are basically independent. They have nothing to do with each other. Use tags, or not. Use note links, or not. Don't expect them to work magically with each other. They don't. Use of the the term "workaround" means that a bug exists; there is no bug here.

It would be nice if there were a tool to make a new note containing note links for all notes that match a certain criteria (e.g. have the same tag), but that's beside the point. This is not a bug; they're separate mechanisms. Use appropriately.

Lesson: If you don't tag consistently, then you lose their benefit.
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#4 May

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 08:49 PM

I have an "index" tag I attach to all of my "top level" table of contents pages. A search for "tag:index" pulls up all of my directories. I tend to have a bunch of notes in a tag that I DO NOT want in my table of contents (web clippings, etc.) so I prefer to do it all by hand. However, if you did want to have everything in a tag link up, then you could just:

1. open your table of contents separately
2. pull up your list of notes ("tag:category")
3. Select everything
4. Drag notes into the table of contents

All done! Do this periodically and you are always up to date :)


So basically the solution is you just have to manually re-check everything all the time? :)
What about duplicate note links when you just select everything and drag it into the table of contents for the second/third/fourth and etc. time?

#5 May

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 08:53 PM

Tags and note links are basically independent. They have nothing to do with each other. Use tags, or not. Use note links, or not. Don't expect them to work magically with each other. They don't. Use of the the term "workaround" means that a bug exists; there is no bug here.

It would be nice if there were a tool to make a new note containing note links for all notes that match a certain criteria (e.g. have the same tag), but that's beside the point. This is not a bug; they're separate mechanisms. Use appropriately.

Lesson: If you don't tag consistently, then you lose their benefit.


The problem is not that the tags and note links are independent. The problem is that note links and notes are also independent... When you have a list of notes and a note with those notes organized inside it - there is no way to tell if all notes are there... Everything is independent. You end up with 2 lists to check and maintain.
So why even bother making the overview/table of contents note in the first place then?

So basically your point is that this is not how note links are supposed to be used - and I agree.

I just wanted to see if there are some workarounds for this that I might have overlooked because it could be a very nice way to use them otherwise and it's even mentioned in the evernote blog...


#6 jefito

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 09:16 PM

The problem is not that the tags and note links are independent. The problem is that note links and notes are also independent... Everything is independent.

Not really. Note links are not independent of the notes that they link to: if you delete the note, the note link is invalid. Notes are not independent of the notebooks that contain them: if you delete the notebook, the notes contained in it are also deleted. Notes are not independent of the tags they contain: if you move the note to another notebook, then the note still contains the tag. Tags contained by a note are, however, independent of the note links pointing to that note: remove the tag from the note, and the note link stays the same. That's just how they work.

So basically your point is that this is not how note links are supposed to be used - and I agree. That's why I decided to avoid using note links for organization as much as possible.

Your choice; no problem there.

I just wanted to see if there are some workarounds for this that I might have overlooked because it could be a very nice way to use them otherwise and it's even mentioned in the evernote blog...

There's no workaround, because there's nothing broken here. They're independent by design, regardless of what you think that the Evernote blog implies. Sure, you can use them to create a table of contents, but that's nothing to do with tags. As I said, there are interesting things that could be done by manipulating tags and note links, but I wouldn't want them to be related by default.

I'm not sure what you want: a note that contains note links to all notes that contain a certain tag? OK. So then you add the tag to a note, and you want a new note link to appear magically in the table of contents? Nope -- ya gotta do it by hand.
~Jeff
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#7 jefito

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 09:38 PM

I can't envision any way to do this, short of adding Evernote some convoluted new search operator. I think it's just filter on the tag, and make a new table of contents.
~Jeff
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#8 GrumpyMonkey

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 02:02 AM

I don't understand the problem here. Delete all of the information in your index note, select all of your notes from the tag, and drag them in every once in a while to keep up. Everything is organized. Everything is included.

#9 May

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 08:31 AM

I don't understand the problem here. Delete all of the information in your index note, select all of your notes from the tag, and drag them in every once in a while to keep up. Everything is organized. Everything is included.

If I delete everything and then drag all notes into the note then...
https://www.evernote...2a1abaebb19e66e

#10 GrumpyMonkey

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 03:41 PM


I don't understand the problem here. Delete all of the information in your index note, select all of your notes from the tag, and drag them in every once in a while to keep up. Everything is organized. Everything is included.

If I delete everything and then drag all notes into the note then...
https://www.evernote...2a1abaebb19e66e


true. then, i guess the system won't work for you. and, i don't know of any software that could populate such a list automatically, because they wouldn't know where to put it.

if you want to adapt to the evernote system, and want to keep your way of organizing, then perhaps you could re-title everything so that it goes in order with "3aka3an" at the beginning of notes in that list and "Cornacne" at the beginning of notes in that list, and so on, and so forth (i don't have the Cyrillic keyboard installed, but you see what I mean).

anyhow, i think you'll have to put in time weeding and tending to your garden of notes no matter what program you are using, and i personally don't mind doing this by hand.

#11 May

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 03:56 PM

Basically the conclusion I've made so far - note links are great, but not for organizing notes. They are the most useful only for referencing/citing some notes inside a note.

#12 May

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 08:35 PM

So after giving this even more thought - my conclusions are:

 There are different ways to organize notes and even though they all achieve the same outcome at the end of the day - they all have a different/independent workflow processes in each case. 

My problem in this particular case was that I wanted to mix and combine 2 completely independent mechanisms and get the best out of both worlds, i.e. tags (because they are easy and convenient to assign) and note links (because they are great for browsing) but it just doesn't work like that.

As jefito mentioned, I came to similar albeit slightly different conclusion

Organizing your notes with different methods when there is no real reason to - might lead to problems because if you don't use your preferred organizational method consistently(wether tags,keywords,note links, random codes), then you lose its benefits.

The bottom line is I really had to either use note links to organize notes or tags and sub-tags to organize notes. Mixing them or combining them doesn't work and most importantly - there was no point to.

It takes a lot more steps to actually organize notes with note links (instead of just citing/referencing some notes with note links) compad to using tags and sub-tags.


"The problem is that note links and notes are also independent... Everything is independent."

"Not really. Note links are not independent of the notes that they link to..."

Yeah, not everything is independent, sure, that was an overstatement. But my point really was that while "Note links are not independent of the notes that they link to" - those notes themselves are independent of the links that point to them.

To actually connect both notes with note links you'd need to edit them both and paste different links in both.
It takes a lot of steps
it requires switching between different notes.
Moving things around (organized with note links) would actually require editing 3 notes at a time.

It's just an inconveniet process, that's why I wanted to mix/combine it with tags...


Tags on the other hand do not have those problems because whenever you assign a tag to a note you're making a two-way connection, i.e. you connect both: the note to the tag and the tag to the note with one step only.

Hope this makes sense.

So that's the problem with using note links for organization (to replicate folders or tree structures). They're just not convenient to use for organization, they're really useful to cite/reference some notes but not to actually organize them into any structure.

They don't add any structure / structural metadata to notes at all unless you take a lot of extra manual steps and then it's still too cumbersome to maintain.


The ultimate bottom line - the problem with using note links for organization is that you only reference/cite one note inside another note instead of actually connecting both notes. The cited/referenced note itself isn't organized. Note links are useful in some cases to reference/cite some notes but they're very cumbersome as a main organizational method.

You can organize the note itself additionaly or not - it's up to you, but if you want to mix and combine organizational methods, i.e tags and links then you have to also keep in mind that they're completely different and independent approaches.


#13 JMichael

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 02:33 AM

May, again I'm coming late to another party (just discovered this forum), so you may have already moved on from the issue you are addressing here.

I did have a few thoughts that may, or may not, be of some help.

It seems to me that Note links are just like web page links, so they can be used in the same manner.

If you are trying to organize a collection of Notes, like you would for say, a user's manual, then you have to manually build the TOC.
You can have a top-level TOC with Note links in the master Note, and then in each of the linked Notes have more links to subtopics, if needed. BTW, I have created a tag named "Master" just for this purpose. Also, I often enter one or more links under a title of "See Also" like you often see on support articles.

You can also use Note links to reference key related material, that, while you could find it with a tag search, it is more convenient to just provide a direct link where you would likely need it in the future.

So, I don't think it is necessary to keep updating your master Note with new links.
Add a link only when it is important, which you will probably know at the time you are creating/capturing the new Note.

To be more helpful, you can also add a remark in your master note providing the specific tags/search expression to search on in the future. So, if in the future, you go to your master note and think there might be more related notes, copy/paste the search expression into the search box.

Here's an example of how I use Note links:

For each piece of HW or SW that I buy, I create an "Asset" Note.
  • It has a tag of "Asset", and a number of other tags according to the nature of the item
  • The note is created from a template that has standard "fields" in a table that I fill in
  • I add links to all important Notes that are directly related:
  • Order confirmation
  • Invoice
  • User's manual
  • Tech Specs
  • Reviews
Thus when I bring up any "Asset" Note, I have quick access to key info.
As time goes on I may very well create other Notes that are about this item. I tag it appropriately, but do not worry about creating a link for it back in the master Asset Note, unless I think it is important (recall, major issue, etc).
Let's say that other reviews, or support articles are published on the Web for this item, and I have captured them as Notes.
I can always do a tag search, along with the model name as text to find all my Notes.
So I might do a search for "tag:review MacBook Air" to get all reviews, including ones after I had created the Asset Note.

Hope this helps.
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