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mlsquires

Evernote silos for each platform?

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I've been using Evernote off and on for clipping, mostly. I've just recently started using it as part of my daily workflow. I use it on Windows, on IOS (both iPhone and iPad), and in the browser (typically Linux). I'm using Outlook on Windows and trying Evernote with it.

The underlying notion of Evernote - a single place to put things that I can access anywhere is great. Today there are a lot more cloud storage products than there were several years ago, so some of Evernote's features aren't unique anymore. But the features and integrations still make it a very appealing product - I like it.

But why oh why isn't there a single "Evernote" product with one set of features that happens to be available on multiple platforms? There are clearly platform-unique integration and look&feel challenges, and bugs are likely platform-unique (because you don't have a full-on common codebase), but notions like hierarchical tags, sort ordering, and different views (list with tags) could be available across platforms.

You can see the silos here in the forums. Rather than have a single "Evernote" forum with ways to indicate that an issue is platform-centric, we have a per-platform forum.

As more and more people are multi-device you folks have a golden opportunity to stitch some things together. I want to use that product.

Michael

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Hi.  I'm confused as to what exactly you're looking for.  It's not realistic to expect Evernote to look the same on an HD desktop screen as it does on a 4.5" cellphone,  and keyboard shortcuts are less than practical on a cellphone,  but they work well on an external keyboard.  And 'swiping' as on a tablet is not available on a huge range of laptops.  Isn't it better to make best use of the special features of each device,  rather than give you a lot of information in ridiculously small type to get it onto a screen?

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On 2/26/2016 at 10:42 PM, mlsquires said:

.....

But why oh why isn't there a single "Evernote" product with one set of features that happens to be available on multiple platforms? There are clearly platform-unique integration and look&feel challenges, and bugs are likely platform-unique (because you don't have a full-on common codebase), but notions like hierarchical tags, sort ordering, and different views (list with tags) could be available across platforms.

....

This is not the first forum post to rue the lack of commonality of the features across all EN supported platforms. To help the developers, if you were to create a matrix of functions down the side and platforms across the top, what would be your must have same functionality (that isn't today) that would float to the top of that matrix?

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gazumped:

There is a data model and functions to manipulate and view that model. I'm suggesting that that model and functions can be (should be) common across all platforms. Then there is a mapping between that layer and the UI elements. As you say, that mapping must be able to leverage UI features and idioms that are platform-dependent to optimize for that platform.

For example, the sort order of names (http://www.sensefulsolutions.com/2010/07/evernote-tag-sort-order.html) is different across platforms. Is there a platform-specific UI treatment that requires those to be different?

In the Windows app the tags are presented hierarchically, have the number of notes linked to that tag available, and don't use color to distinguish facets of the tag. On the iphone the presentation of the tag list is flat and the number of notes isn't displayed. However, the iphone lets me sort by # of notes linked and uses color (apparently) to signal a high-low-medium note count. What facets of those are dictated by platform-specific UI constraints? Obviously some are - but are they as close to common as we can achieve?

csihilling:

Thanks - I assumed that this wasn't a new thought at all - it's pretty obvious once you are in a multi-device situation. I'd be surprised to find out that the product team doesn't have that matrix in their planning sessions.

My guess is that the basic functionality and data model that was originally built was common, but that the implementation language, available libraries, and UI mechanisms were different, such that each platform has a unique codebase. Makes perfect sense - I'm not suggesting that it was wrong at all.

There are two ways to look at the silos: 1) This is what is real on each platform today and I need to justify the cost to add function X to the A platform; or 2) This is our functional model and how users can make use of that function and I have to explain why having it that way on the A platform is bad.

I'm sure that there are user personas (e.g., tag centric vs notebook centric, search vs browse, standalone vs integrated with application X) involved in thinking about the product functionality. It may be the case that platform differences align well with those personas (e.g., iphone users almost always search), such that the whole treatment is different for that platform. Clearly those personas and platform considerations impact the product roadmap.

Having things different has real costs: user documentation needs to be different, application integrations need to be different, testing approach needs to be different, introducing new features or models of interaction needs to be different. As a multi-device user I want those differences to be as small as possible.

 

 

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You definitely get it.  A couple of caveats to the above based on history on these forums.  

  1. It has never been obvious that the matrix existed, or was cost/benefit adjusted if it did.  
  2. From some posts it was clear that the development teams were independent.  

Hopefully this is changing with EN's renewed focus on basics.  

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Just like you can look at a building that has been remodeled over the years or look at a city map and see where the cowpaths were paved you can look at a software system and see how it grew. It is obvious that Evernote made reasonable business/engineering tradeoffs over the years - they are still solvent!

As they continue to grow - # of users, # of platforms, # of integrations - reducing the height of the silo walls will help them. It won't ever be 100% and it definately won't happen overnight, but steps in that direction will pay off. As I say, I'm a happy user now - I just want to be happier. :)

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On February 26, 2016 at 9:42 PM, mlsquires said:

You can see the silos here in the forums. Rather than have a single "Evernote" forum with ways to indicate that an issue is platform-centric, we have a per-platform forum.

Actually there are non-platform forums,
however they lack voting so a request has to be posted in a specific platform feedback forum

Evernote has indicated that they are moving to a common editor (see Forum) which might resolve some of these issues

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