Jump to content

Sidebar


Recommended Posts

I'm very new to Evernote and have signed up for Premium service.  I have a  question/request.  Wouldn't it be so much easier if there was the facility for a proper folder and notes hierarchy in the sidebar?

 

The Notebook/Notes concept seems odd - and not intuitive to OS X.  As far as I can see, you can create a "stack" with notebooks within it but you can't then put that stack inside another folder.  And yet you can nest folders very happily in the Mac OS - or mailboxes in the sidebar in Mail.  It seems to me that Evernote is a working environment within the Mac OS and should ideally follow the basic rules of the finder.

 

For example, I would like to create two Folders, (or call them notebooks or stacks): WORK and HOME.  Within WORK, I'd like to have folders, (or Notebooks), for each project and, within each project folder, the notes themselves, (plus clips, PDFs, etc).  This would be utterly straightforward in Finder, (or within the mailbox sidebar in Apple Mail), but in Evernote I can't nest in this way, nor display a simple expandable tree structure showing folders within folders in the sidebar.

 

I'm sure there are devotees of Evernote who will tell me why this is a very bad idea but the lack of such a facility has slowed down my migration from Apple Notes to Evernote, as well as restricting the intuitive way I would have preferred to order my work.

Link to comment
  • Level 5*

There's ample discussion on this topic. Search the forums for "nested notebooks", and you'll see.

 

For the record, stacks are not notebooks. Stacks contain only notebooks, and notebooks contain only notes. Your simple case would be handled fine by two separate stacks, WORK and HOME, with notebooks nested under them as appropriate. You cannot however, nest any deeper.

 

I am a devotee of Evernote, and while I won't tell you that fully nested folders are a bad thing, I can tell you that it's not the Evernote way. Personally, I don't miss them.

Link to comment
  • Level 5*

Welcome aboard.  I don't think anyone would tell you it is a bad idea, it has been requested many times in these forums.  Whether EN will decide to implement more layers of notebooks remains to be seen, and they don't publish a road map for such changes..

Link to comment

The weird thing is that I have Evernote open on my screen, with Mail beneath it and a Finder window beneath that.  The Finder window shows an expanded view of folders within folders within folders - the familiar icons - and docs within.  The Mail sidebar show mailboxes inside mailboxes and emails within - using an identical graphical style.  It's familiar and intuitive and, most important, it works.  You don't have to think about whether to click on Notebooks or Notes, you just find what you need in the sidebar and click on it.  It seems almost perverse for EN not to adopt the same approach.  It won't make the extra functionality the app offers any less fresh or original, just allow a more straightforward integration.

 

Or maybe I'm missing something?  Sometimes the perspective of the outsider, (new arrival), can be useful.

Link to comment
  • Level 5*

Again, you are not missing anything. Evernote made a conscious design decision not to support nested folders (stacks were added later on as a visual way to manage many notebooks in a log list). They tend to promote using tags to organize your notes, though you don't need to do that. This is not too dissimilar to the approach that GMail takes, by the way.

Link to comment
  • Level 5*

...and if it's any consolation,  everyone goes through temporary organisational double-vision when moving from a hierarchical folder structure to a flat(ter) database with notes and tags.  It can take a month or two,  but you'll quickly get used to it.  I have the vast majority of my notes in one notebook - I only make new ones when absolutely necessary,  for sharing or temporarily for collating specific information.  Evernote's search features are definitely worth getting to know - you can pick out any necessary data from a large database with a well-crafted search (or two).

Link to comment

I take your point but, speaking perhaps just for me, the reason I decided to migrate from Notes was the inability to properly organise work.  I work on many projects simultaneously and the kind of nested structure in the sidebar I've described would work brilliantly for me - and perhaps for others like me.  Notes uses a flat structure - Folders and Notes - and I was assuming that a dedicated app like EN would allow something a little more complex.

 

But I take the point about the tags.  I need to think about this.

Link to comment
  • Level 5*

I use nested tags for a project organizational structure.  It works well for me.  A tag search for Project.X brings back all the notes for that project as if you clicked on a notebook called Project.X.  FWIW.  Play around some, see if you can find something that works for you.

Link to comment
  • Level 5*

I take your point but, speaking perhaps just for me, the reason I decided to migrate from Notes was the inability to properly organise work.  I work on many projects simultaneously and the kind of nested structure in the sidebar I've described would work brilliantly for me - and perhaps for others like me.  Notes uses a flat structure - Folders and Notes - and I was assuming that a dedicated app like EN would allow something a little more complex.

 

But I take the point about the tags.  I need to think about this.

Tags can cut across notebook structures, so things are not quite as flat as you may think. You can cross-categorize by applying multiple tags, which may make things easier for you. You can nest tags, and though you may not be able to exactly replicate complex folder structures (since tag names are unique, they can reside in only one place in the tag tree), you may be able to come close enough. Lots of folks use Evernote so manage their stuff, in a number of different ways. Feel free to ask questions, as there are good ideas available. On the other hand, some folks can't live without a true folder system, so Evernote's no good for them. Horses for courses.

Link to comment

Thank you.  I imagine that, since this was thoroughly - and quite persuasively - aired in 2008, that's a pretty fair indication that EN has no plans to take up this suggestion.  A shame.  It would make a good application really excellent - and more intuitive to use.

Link to comment

A shame.  It would make a good application really excellent - and more intuitive to use.

 

That, too, is debatable. There are proponents on both sides of the fence. However, if you want to mimic nested folders/ notebooks, many people are finding satisfaction with nested tags. If you can wrap your mind around it (and don't use an iOS client as your main platform) you'll find nested tags to operate similarly to the way your Dropbox folders work.

Link to comment

I'm with Frank. Give tags a chance. Suppose you have 10 clients which you would normally have as 10 folders in your work folder. In each of these folders you might have even more folders: different projects, billing, contacts, etc. Under any given folder like billing you might have even more folders like months or years. In Evernote instead you can add tags and search using those tags. The nice thing is that unlike the folder structure if you need to see all the bills you sent out in April of 2012 you can just search for those two tags and it will come up for all 10 of your clients. Compare that to searching down through a folder hierarchy in each of the 10 clients. Depending on the complexity of your structure you might have to click as few as 3 times in each (say client>billing>2012), but with a more detailed structure this could be multiplied exponentially (client>multiple projects>billing>2012>april and so forth). 

Link to comment

We're so programmed with nested folders that it's hard to "think outside of the folder". So much so that we don't see people begging for tags (or using them) in Windows-type systems. Nice that you raised that point again here @Candid... to not overlook the unique benefit of tags: being able to have the same information appear simultaneously in different contexts. Like an electron that can actually be in 2 places at the same time.

Link to comment
  • Level 5*

Thank you.  I imagine that, since this was thoroughly - and quite persuasively - aired in 2008, that's a pretty fair indication that EN has no plans to take up this suggestion.  A shame.  It would make a good application really excellent - and more intuitive to use.

"Intuitive" is a misleading term: we don't come out of the womb understanding computer constructs; it's all learned behavior. We are taught to use nested hierarchies, and we are also equally taught to use adjectives (the linguistic equivalent to tags), if not more so.

Link to comment

Thank you. I imagine that, since this was thoroughly - and quite persuasively - aired in 2008, that's a pretty fair indication that EN has no plans to take up this suggestion. A shame. It would make a good application really excellent - and more intuitive to use.

"Intuitive" is a misleading term: we don't come out of the womb understanding computer constructs; it's all learned behavior. We are taught to use nested hierarchies, and we are also equally taught to use adjectives (the linguistic equivalent to tags), if not more so.

Nice analogy @jefito. We catch on pretty fast that "ugly" can be used in an infinite number of scenarios: ugly interface, ugly hairstyle, "ugly" tag... and then we have those references packaged and ready on the tip of our tongues for when we most urgently need them. So nice to be able to recycle them (adjectives and tags).

Link to comment
  • Level 5*

 

Thank you.  I imagine that, since this was thoroughly - and quite persuasively - aired in 2008, that's a pretty fair indication that EN has no plans to take up this suggestion.  A shame.  It would make a good application really excellent - and more intuitive to use.

"Intuitive" is a misleading term: we don't come out of the womb understanding computer constructs; it's all learned behavior. We are taught to use nested hierarchies, and we are also equally taught to use adjectives (the linguistic equivalent to tags), if not more so.

 

 

Almost everything we do in a civilized society is learned behavior.  Only the most basic needs are transmitted to us via our DNA.  So, we can quickly move past what we knew at birth.

 

Hundreds, maybe thousands, of times a day we respond to the world around us based on what is intuitive -- which is based on our previous experience with similar objects/things.  We all expect doorknobs to work in a certain way based on how almost every other doorknob we ever used works.

 

Computers and user interfaces are really no different.

 

Here's a great example:  Windows UI and Mac UI have both long established, and used, standard keyboard shortcuts for cut, copy, and paste.

So, CTRL-X in Windows, and CMD-X in Mac, is very intuitive for "cutting a selected text/object" to anyone who has used a computer for any length of time.

 

Both Mac and Windows OS use hierarchical folders, and have since the very beginning.  So, by definition, hierarchical organization of our files (our information) is intuitive, because that is what we have been using for a long time, and still do to this day.

 

So, it is completely reasonable that we might expect a PIM like Evernote to offer hierarchical organization of our information.  This in no way negates the high value of also using Tags.  They just serve different purposes.

Link to comment

 

 

Thank you.  I imagine that, since this was thoroughly - and quite persuasively - aired in 2008, that's a pretty fair indication that EN has no plans to take up this suggestion.  A shame.  It would make a good application really excellent - and more intuitive to use.

"Intuitive" is a misleading term: we don't come out of the womb understanding computer constructs; it's all learned behavior. We are taught to use nested hierarchies, and we are also equally taught to use adjectives (the linguistic equivalent to tags), if not more so.

 

 

Almost everything we do in a civilized society is learned behavior.  Only the most basic needs are transmitted to us via our DNA.  So, we can quickly move past what we knew at birth.

 

Hundreds, maybe thousands, of times a day we respond to the world around us based on what is intuitive -- which is based on our previous experience with similar objects/things.  We all expect doorknobs to work in a certain way based on how almost every other doorknob we ever used works.

 

Computers and user interfaces are really no different.

 

Here's a great example:  Windows UI and Mac UI have both long established, and used, standard keyboard shortcuts for cut, copy, and paste.

So, CTRL-X in Windows, and CMD-X in Mac, is very intuitive for "cutting a selected text/object" to anyone who has used a computer for any length of time.

 

Both Mac and Windows OS use hierarchical folders, and have since the very beginning.  So, by definition, hierarchical organization of our files (our information) is intuitive, because that is what we have been using for a long time, and still do to this day.

 

So, it is completely reasonable that we might expect a PIM like Evernote to offer hierarchical organization of our information.  This in no way negates the high value of also using Tags.  They just serve different purposes.

 

 

Nicely explained. So "intuitive" is relative. And also it's relative to whether someone is a beginner with Evernote or not. In the beginning, nested folders might be the most obvious missing ingredient in trying to imitate our workflow elsewhere... but later on, tags could possibly become more intuitive if one cares to venture into new territory, tinker and become comfortable. A learned trait/ skill/ concept. 

 

I learned about tags in Evernote... and now I use tags in most of my other apps, including WorkFlowy. Tagging was not intuitive to me as an EN newbie... but now it's second nature. Here's a recent post of mine using tags in WorkFlowy, which might illustrate the most basic idea behind tagging, which carries over to EN and other apps:

http://www.productivitymashup.com/blog/2015/3/6/workflowy-moving-organizing-decluttering

Link to comment
  • Level 5*

The claim here is that tags are somehow unintuitive while hierarchies are. I claim that tags (as adjectives, and also possibly nouns in normal languages) are every bit as intuitive, if not more so, than computer folders, as most of us learn language before we learn about computer organization. Had early computer organizational structures been imbued with tag-like organizational abilities (not unlike Outlook of today, or GMail, or even the failed WinFS), then tags might be seen as being more "intuitive" than they are viewed today. Instead, we're largely trapped into this find-by-location-in-the-tree mentality rather than find-by-description-or-property because our file systems are generally weak. But even so, we search the web (a far larger space than our relatively tiny note databases) largely without needing to search it hierarchically (thank you Google). We search it by content.Tagging gives us a means of attributing our own conceptual frameworks over otherwise explicitly organized notes, without needing to fit each note into a pre-ordained box in a tree.

Link to comment
  • Level 5*

The thing I don't get is why people want to argue against hierarchical organization.  Sub-Folders/Sub-Notebooks and Tags are complimentary.  Tags, like in the Evernote implementation, are a flat organization of Notes, i.e., search of parent tags do NOT include any of it's child tags.  The Tag hierarchy in Evernote is for Tag organization ONLY, and has NO effect on Notes.

 

There are a number of organizational needs that really require a hierarchy.  The most obvious is:  Client --> Project --> Sub-Project --> Task.

Tags help identify issues, technologies, people etc that cut across Projects.

 

So, IMO, the optimum tool is one that supports both hierarchal organization and tags.

 

Now, having said that, I fully understand that Evernote does NOT really support hierarchical organization.

So, if you want to use Evernote, then you must be willing to accept the limitations, and make maximum use of tags.

 

I use Evernote for research and general note taking (like for meetings and conference calls), and other tools for Project management.

Link to comment
  • Level 5*

 

A shame.  It would make a good application really excellent - and more intuitive to use.

 

That, too, is debatable. There are proponents on both sides of the fence. However, if you want to mimic nested folders/ notebooks, many people are finding satisfaction with nested tags. If you can wrap your mind around it (and don't use an iOS client as your main platform) you'll find nested tags to operate similarly to the way your Dropbox folders work.

 

Yeah, easier to use based upon learned behavior might be more appropriate, if you are a hierarchist.  Going slightly technical here, if you cut your teeth on third normal form constructs, inverted lists and tag structures make all the sense in the world, to a tagist.  Again a learned behavior.  

 

In the interim of EN providing the capability, a pure hieracrchist who REALLY wanted to use EN could mimic a folder structure by simply creating a nested tag stack of "Notebooks" and be willing to do the incremental work required to do searches.  Structurally it would look like folders, but functionally it would lose a bit within EN.  But I would use tags before I went there.  Though I might test it since it wouldn't be that hard, beyond waiting tor the tag updates to sync.   :huh:

Link to comment
  • Level 5*

 if you cut your teeth on third normal form constructs, inverted lists and tag structures make all the sense in the world, to a tagist.  Again a learned behavior.  

 

You are so funny, csihilling, continuing to throw out these database terms which have no relevance here, and few will understand or appreciate.

 

"Third normal form" has to do with database design, and has almost nothing to do with how end users need and want to organize their data.

Link to comment

 

 if you cut your teeth on third normal form constructs, inverted lists and tag structures make all the sense in the world, to a tagist.  Again a learned behavior.  

 

You are so funny, csihilling, continuing to throw out these database terms which have no relevance here, and few will understand or appreciate.

 

"Third normal form" has to do with database design, and has almost nothing to do with how end users need and want to organize their data.

 

 

Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock. - Will Rogers
Link to comment
  • Level 5*

I have no quarrel with hierarchical organizational schemes in general. I use them, when appropriate, if they're available.However, Evernote doesn't really have them, and that's evidently by conscious design choice. But that's not really the point...

 

As it turns out, Evernote does have tags, and the claim is occasionally made that they are "unintuitive", as it was here. If "intuitive" means "learned behavior"  (I got no argument on that point), and if normal use of language includes such things as adjectives (and speaking from a Western language point of view, of course), then I maintain that we are all actually pretty well equipped to use tags as a means of organization, because we do it all the time in our normal discourse. If we're not accustomed to doing that in the context of computers, for whatever historical reasons, then that's because they are not as available as hierarchies (though they're certainly not unavailable even to plain old computer users). Even so, that's just another behavior that can be learned, and subsumed into our basic computing toolset. In other words, tags, labels, keywords, categories -- call them what you like -- ought to be every bit as "intuitive" as hierarchies.

 

So sure, it's fine to advocate for adding notebook hierarchies or whatever. Just don't call tags "unintuitive". They're not.

Link to comment
  • Level 5*

There are a number of organizational needs that really require a hierarchy.  The most obvious is:  Client --> Project --> Sub-Project --> Task.

Purely as a side note, but an example like this -- as specified (i.e. way underspecified) -- does not require a hierarchical structure such as is proposed. It can be pretty easily handled by at least a couple of existing features of Evernote. Using tags would be one possibility, and a titling scheme would be another. In fact, a purely hierarchical approach might be inconvenient for this example; for example, if a project was being done in collaboration with two separate clients.

Link to comment

Somehow, inadvertently, I seem to have prompted a rather philosophical debate about the nature of the human thought process with my naive beginner's question.  I'm afraid I'm not qualified to participate - and perhaps my use of the term "intuitive" in this context was unhelpful?  (It tends to be used in a much narrower sense in the Mac magazines I read - to relate to a computer app which is easy to use, without resort to the manual, because of one's previous interface experiences.)

 

But, setting deeper philosophical considerations aside, it seems to me that these approaches are not mutually exclusive.  EN could have a folder structure AND nested tags.  Then the individual user could decide whether to use one, the other, or both.  I've been using the app quite intensively for just a few days and feel hampered by the lack of the familiar filing structure.  I wish the app offered it.  I certainly wouldn't wish to deny the tagging system of organisation to others - just offer an alternative for those who might wish to use it.

 

But, given that this matter was thoroughly aired in 2008 and no such hierarchy has been forthcoming throughout the subsequent 7 years, it seems likely that the coders responsible for EN have decided that this is not something they wish to include.  End of discussion, I would've thought?

Link to comment
  • Level 5*

 

There are a number of organizational needs that really require a hierarchy.  The most obvious is:  Client --> Project --> Sub-Project --> Task.

Purely as a side note, but an example like this -- as specified (i.e. way underspecified) -- does not require a hierarchical structure such as is proposed. It can be pretty easily handled by at least a couple of existing features of Evernote. Using tags would be one possibility, and a titling scheme would be another. In fact, a purely hierarchical approach might be inconvenient for this example; for example, if a project was being done in collaboration with two separate clients.

 

 

IME, it is very rare to have one project serve more than one client.  For 99%+ of the projects, it is only for one client, or for internal purposes.  But even if this did happen, it would be easy enough to resolve.  You could either create a "client" that is the combo of the two separate clients (in fact, they might have formed a joint organization for this purpose), or you could assign to one client and use Tags  or Note links to refer to the other client.

 

But let's not be distracted by a rare case.  For the very large majority of cases, a hierarchical organization for Client --> Project --> Sub-Project --> Task works best.  As I stated above, I would also be using Tags to identify cross-cutting categories.

 

However, I am not a "hierarchy purist" as some have implied, not by a long shot.  I'm all for using whatever tool, or approach, that works best.  In spite of it's lack of support for a full hierarchy, I find good use for Evernote many times a day.  But I don't use it for project management.  

 

Finally, just to make sure no one misunderstands, I'll repeat what I said above:

 

Now, having said that, I fully understand that Evernote does NOT really support hierarchical organization.

So, if you want to use Evernote, then you must be willing to accept the limitations, and make maximum use of tags.

 

I use Evernote for research and general note taking (like for meetings and conference calls), and other tools for Project management.

 
Link to comment
  • Level 5*

@kosmo: Indeed, Evernote *could* offer both a hierarchical storage structure and a tagging structure. I think that most of us understand that. And after nearly 7 years, it's not the end of the discussion (though it seems like a leading indicator in terms of Evernote's interest in implementing such a thing); they could turn around and pop out nested notebooks tomorrow; also, it's not a bad thing for people to request it. But if and until that time comes, the best thing, it seems to me, is to try to help users who haven't grokked using tags (and other Evernote strategies) how to use Evernote better, as it exists today. Sometimes, just a hint is all it takes; on the other end of the spectrum, some folks are never going to want a system that doesn't offer fully nested notebooks; there's really no answer to that except "Ëvernote is probably not the product for you". Me? I don't miss them in the least; I only have a dozen notebooks in my personal account anyways, and a few less in my work account, with some shared back and forth.

Link to comment
  • Level 5*

Again, it is not required to make "maximum use of tags", whatever that means. Some people don't use them at all, opting for titling schemes or plain text search or plain old unhierarchical notebooks. 

Link to comment
  • Level 5*

Perhaps a "good use of Tags" along with the other organization elements of Evernote would have been a better choice of words.

My main point is that if you want to use Evernote, then you must be willing to accept the limitations, and mostly use other techniques.

 

Of course, you can still use Stacks and Notebooks in a hierarchical manner.  For example, you could have a stack for each client, and then a Notebook for each project.  But this does have a limitation that you can have only 250 Notebooks, so if you are very successful you might soon run into that limitation.  A good problem to have, I suppose.   ;)   But then you already know my solution:  use something else for project management.  I have recently discovered, and really like, Apptivo.com.

Link to comment

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...