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(Archived) A Hierarchical Folder Man Adjusting to a Tag World

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How do you use notebooks, tags, and stacks? I mean - use them optimally :)

I have info that is naturally hierarchical - i.e., for client #1 I have docs, technical notes, conversation logs, pictures, etc. For client #2 I have the same, etc. Then there's a tree for vendors, then tech ref, blah blah.

So I end up with this tree of tags:

















etc. And of course many other trees of info, etc. Let me point out:

  • [*:12wy3wop]Not being able to have tags with the same name is horribly hacky and belies the "tree" metaphor. Apparently tags are a completely flat namespace with a bit of interface gloss for display.
    [*:12wy3wop]This is really painful if you want to change organization You can't just change a clientName - you have to go through and rename all tags - ugh! (Of course client names don't change often but you see my point in other trees)
    [*:12wy3wop]It's often non-intuitive to see all techOne notes...you have to explicitly tag your notes with parent tags in the tree...i.e., tag it techOne and techOne-database if you want the note to show up in techOne. Ugh! Again, the tree metaphor is not real...

So what do I need folders/stacks for? My understanding of EN is that the only way I can do this kind of tree organization is via tagging, so I do...I now am not sure what I need Notebooks and Stacks for.

Is it fair to say that Notebooks/Stacks are for people with simple organization needs, and Tags are for people who want more structure?

Unfortunately, I haven't found a doc that says "hey, ye users of MyBase or OneNote or nested folders on your desktop, when you come to EN, here's the best way to put your stuff"...just hints I've seen in the forum.

I'm just curious how other people organize and work with EN's design limitations.

Editorial: I love EN, am a premium subscriber, and even have a shirt...I love EN. But I still want true nested folders/stacks within stacks :cry:

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For starters, I would reduce this list to five tags:






Then tag with the client name & docs/technotes/conversations. This alleviates having to create a whole slew of new tags for each client. Just add a new client name tag. Or, if a client name changes, just simply change the one tag for the client's name. Five seconds & you're done.

When you want to search for technotes for John Smith, simply select two tags: technotes & John Smith. That will give you the same exact notes as if you had a sub folder John Smith/technotes.

I would also probably create a parent tag to put all the client name tags under. IE:


John Smith

Jim Nasium

I may or may not actually tag the notes with the client parent tag. (shrug)

This post is something I did for someone else - it may give you some ideas. IE, adapting that write up to your situation, I'd have a client note with all the contact info. In that case, I would tag it with the parent tag of "clients". This would easily give you a list of all your client & nothing more.

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  • Level 5*

There is no optimal-for-all users approach. It's really what works for you, so long as you play by the existing rules.

BurgersNFries' approach is basically what I would do; I worry less about hierarchy, and more about description. There is no semantic hierarchy in the tagging system; the tree structure is for organizational purposes (the "tree metaphor" as you call it is plenty real, but it 's not meant to express hierarchy). But your approach is not uncommon either; user jbenson2's system is a notable example. You may think it a lot of work to tag each note with a number of tags, but as you point out, it's a lot of work as well to rename tags in your system for a simple client name change, probably a lot more work, whereas it's easy in my system; just change the name. And one thing that the current tag system can do that might be hard for a strict hierarchy: you can express a relationship between client1 and client2 easily, but tagging with both.

Re notebooks (not folders) / stacks: I don't really use them heavily. One main notebook for work and personal stuff, one for test scenarios of Evernote functionality, and one small one for note templates. One stack for notebooks shared by others. Notebooks are also the atomic unit for maintaining local notes in desktop clients (i.e. notes that do not sync to the cloud).

Again, there is no one best way to do this.

There is a fair amount of discussion on the topic in the forums (tags vs. hierarchy), and it may be worth you searching it out. There are also suggestions for ways that might make it easier for folks who want hierarchy to operate (I think that enhancing search would help).

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