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jhd

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About jhd

  1. Seems like a small thing, but it was this very "we're not fixing it so just live with it" flaw that made me bail for Microsoft OneNote a year ago. I'm anything but an MS shill - they've made more than their share of blunders, but *wow* - the difference in usability is night and day. Formatting is like a mini version of Word, and everything just works. Note taking went from an exercise in frustration to something I do all the time without really noticing - as it should be. Evernote may have jumped the shark: http://www.businessinsider.com/evernote-is-in-deep-trouble-2015-10
  2. Among several chronic frustrations, the remarkably crude handing of formatting was the one that finally frustrated me enough to get me to give up on Evernote. I used it a lot, and depended on it, but in the end it's just too clunky, and it's not getting better. I just today finished moving all of my notes out of Evernote to OneNote with the aid of this small, imperfect, but indispensable tool: http://stefanstools.sourceforge.net/Evernote2Onenote.html ciao, J
  3. So, are all the notes actually stored in html format? I know we can export all of them to html, but are they natively html? If it is, then it's not a requestable feature. I think we can all agree this would come handy. Manually doing the copy-past-back-and-forth is very tedious when it comes to more than a few portions of text I think it *is* a requestable feature. WHYSIWYG editors that work on HTML are difficult to be sure, and most of them (incl. Evernote's) don't work very well when it comes to making cut/paste and formatting work together. But difficult is not impossible. The Windows paradigm of asking *at the time of paste* whether the desired formatting is None, match the destination, match the source, etc. gets it mostly right, because at that moment it's possible to tell which formatting came in with the new content and which was there before. Afterward the distinction is lost. I hope EN has this on their to-do list somewhere.
  4. It's actually not quite like that, though you are correct that a hierarchy presents issues when it comes to synchronization. In fact, modern file systems are not as hierarchical as they might appear, and are much closer to databases in design. For example, on NTFS, HFS+ etc, files are really stored in a flat table. The folder hierarchy is distinct and simply contains references to the files within that table. (HFS+ uses this, for example, to maintain file links and aliases even when the file is moved around the hierarchy.) Most of the issues around a hierarchy involve identity and tree management during sync. Case in point: [A] You have a folder "Foo" with a dozen notes in it. You rename it "Bar", then back to "Foo", so you get back where you started. When you sync, EN doesn't really have to do anything. You start with the same folder "Foo", create a new folder "Bar" and move all the notes in "Foo" to "Bar". Then you delete the now empty "Foo" and rename "Bar" to "Foo". Now to a user, this looks just like [A], since you still have all your notes in the same folder "Foo". Trouble is, depending on how the application does its book-keeping, the new "Foo" folder may be identified as a different folder when you do a sync, and it's tricky to get this kind of corner case right. I never said folders were simple; I just said they were useful --TIm Agreed. EN has said in fact that they use a conventional MySQL database to contain user-level metadata, with pointers to the actual notes (objects) sharded on large cluster. They claim the benefits include getting the ACID characteristics of a RDBMS for doing operations on notes or notebooks, and the scalability of noSQL at the same time, but I think that would not be the case if the hierarchy were a general one. -J
  5. After mulling this for a bit I'm pretty sure that EN built their infrastructure on an object-store rather than a more conventional filesystem. The hierarchical organization many of us are used to is an artifact of the tree structure of many filesystems, and the tagged, flat structure of gmail and evernote are similarly a pretty direct result of their object-store roots. The implementation advantages of objects for a scale-out storage infrastructure are many - a flat namespace means you can scale to very large size, partitioning across server infrastructure is trivial (via hashing), and changes to one object tend not to create ripple effects or conflicts with others. Object stores deal with the problem of simultaneous editing of objects by two users by simply not allowing edit-in-place at all. So, when we ask for "hierarchy", what EverNote's engineers may hear instead is "distributed filesystem" - something which is indeed a very difficult thing to build. And aside from building it, converting EN's user data into such a structure would be prohibitively disruptive. But the association of hierarchy and filesystem in this special case seems to me to be a false one: You could build a hierarcical set of relationships between objects using tag concatenation or something similar, without dragging along all the other cruft that filesystems usually imply. The fact that some (relatively small) 3rd parties have done that seems to show that it's feasible, at least at small scale. One way to think about hierarchy is that by placing a new object in the tree, you've implicitly add a (potentially large) number of tags to it. It occurs to me that since in EN's case the hierarchy is *not* tied to the underlying storage architecture, one could conceivably have the best of both worlds -- a given note could be aliased into multiple hierarchies, just as a given note can have multiple tags. -J
  6. Thanks eric99 - I think that's just what I will do. I haven't used EN enough to know what a tag tree is, but I'm off to find out. Those whose Ire I've (unintentionally) raised seem to have missed the point that hierarchy and tags are orthogonal - one does not preclude the other, and you can have either, or both. But failing that, one way to view (and emulate) a nested hierarchical organization is that it just implicitly puts one tag on every new item by virtue of where in the hierarchy you put it. After that it's just down to whether the U.I. lets you see the hierarchy. Best, -J
  7. Wow. Clearly I've inadvertently stumbled onto a religious issue hereabouts. i wonder why a discussion about the digital equivalent of how best to sort one's sock drawer sparks such passionate denouncement of an alternative approach. >Jefito: "The way that I understand GMail labels is that they are stored in a hierarchical fashion" I don't think this is the case. I believe Google's method is, that in lieu of a folder hierarchy like Folder1 Folder1.1 Folder1.2 Folder1.2.1 They instead create a "label" (i.e. tag") for each explicit folder, where the tag is a concatenation of the folder label, e.g. tag1 = "Folder1" tag2 = "Folder1/Folder1" tag3 = "Folder1/Folder2" tag4 = "Folder1/Folder2/Folder1" While the contents are still stored (I believe) flat, with this method, sorting and displaying them in a hierarchy is easy, since the location in the hierarchy is implicit in the construction of the tag. Search can be constrained to a single folder, but not to a folder tree. Metrodon: So thanks for the "my way or the highway" sentiment, but could you explain (if you know) why Evernote is so averse to hierarchy? Does it violate some other fundamental premise of their value proposition?
  8. Thanks for the responses > Jefito: I get that some people like a completely flat organization accessible only via search, and using tags as search aids. I don't. But the point is they aren't mutually exclusive - there is no reason I can't tag and search things stored in a hierarchy. But actively preventing me from using a hierarchical organization is, to me, unnecessarily restrictive. Google is an interesting case in point. It's a company constructed on the fundamental belief that search solves all problems, and gmail under the hood has tags but not folders. But interestingly, they allow a hierarchical organization of mail via tags that does a good job of emulating folders, yet retains the key benefit of tags, which is the ability for a message to be in multiple places in the hierarchy at once. This is a fine solution, and something Evernote could do too. >Burgers... No, you're never forced to rediscover a hierarchy, because you aren't forced to use it. You're welcome to throw everything in a big pile and search it if you like. Or, with a Gmail-esque implementation, if you can't remember which tags you've used to refer to something in the past, you can use the hierarchy to remind you.
  9. I'm a frequent Evernote user, on multiple platforms. I depend on it, and I desperately want to like it. But it frustrates me every single time I interact with it. I write this in the hopes that I'm just missing something. To me, the most transformative benefit that came with storing things digitally was the availability of an arbitrarily deep hierarchy. No longer did I have to limit myself to a sheaf of notes stapled together inside a manila folder inside a file drawer. I could create a lush hierarchy that let me quickly navigate to my current area of focus, and brought complete freedom to subdivide that focus, or not, as deep or shallow as I chose.* Here's the key: When I add a note, I may not remember how I've organized things in this "region" of my brain precisely. I want to see that organization explicitly, so I can decide where the new information belongs. If there's already a note on this topic I may want to add to it rather than force myself to look in two places for it. If there are related ones that are diverging into multiple clusters I may want to split them. Throwing my new note into an unsorted pile and hoping search can find it later feels like throwing it away to me. Evernote is a big step backward from files stored in filesystem folders in this respect. I acnowledge all the powerful data entry tools that come with EN -- that's why I use it. But in terms of organization we're all the way back to manila folders (Stacks) containing sheaves of paper stapled together. Why? What's so hard about putting notes in a folder hierarchy? Is there some downside to this that I can't see? -J * I fully recognize that tags are in one sense more general than a folder hierarchy in that they allow a single item to be associated with multiple organizational nodes. But that strength is also their weakness -- they don't allow you to rediscover the hierarchy as you navigate it.
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