THE END OF EVERNOTE AS A HOLISTIC DATA MANAGEMENT TOOL?
— A CRITICAL REVIEW OF EVERNOTE 6.11 BETA FOR MAC
Here is a consolidate version of my review of Evernote 6.11 beta for Mac.
It has been posted in the ECC group originally.
If you use Evernote Business on the Mac desktop app or if your clients do: please read this post.
The 6.11 beta release, if it makes it to production, will profoundly change your workflows and your client's workflows. The stakes of this 6.11 Mac desktop release are much larger than just technicalities or functionality improvements for all using Business accounts.
My point of view is that the split between the business and personal account which is proposed by this release is deeply problematic. I argue that it changes in fact the very philosophy of Evernote.
I find that the issues raised by several people who tested the OS 6.11 beta release so important for the future of Evernote (at least on Mac) that I encourage you to test the release, also thinking of the implications for your clients, and give your feed-back, to confirm or infirm the arguments that are made here below.
In case your fear: it is easy to come back to the 6.10 version once you have installed the 6.11 beta. It give details on how to install the beta version easily and go back to current stable 6.10 at the very end of this post.
You can see and take part in the full discussion about the release in the official forum, where Evernote asked for feed-back: https://discussion.evernote.com/…/102925-evernote-for-mac…/…
There, you will find comments and similar reactions of others and you can post your own comments and thoughts.
MAJOR IMPLICATIONS OF THE RELEASE
1. A MAJOR SHIFT IN EVERNOTE'S PHILOSOPHY
I think that the main problem is the shift of data philosophy implied by what comes with beta 6.11. I do not think that this is intended, however in practice Evernote is a new reality with this OS release for myself and, as the reaction shows in the forum, for many intensive Evernote users.
I use Evernote to manage all my knowledge, all my contents, all my work, and my thoughts. My life as whole.
Evernote 6.10 (and earlier) gave me a clear cut (sufficient for me, even if it may not be the case for some larger corporate businesses) between business and personal, with the split stacks system, the tabs to manage/view the notebooks separately and the ability to easily search in one part or the other.
However, the ability to search my whole account, to have internal Evernote links across personal and business, to be able to work with all my stuff together in one single desktop view was what made Evernote superior to so many other applications. This was amazing and an integral part of the way many of us work.
Evernote 6.11 Beta comes with a different philosophy, where data are not longer accessible together, but they are segmented in two completely separated buckets. You have to close one account (personal or business) to switch to the other account. The button to switch is easy to use, but still you have to leave an account to access the other.
To say it with other words, the greatest force of Evernote is its ability to integrate in one desktop pane/view everything that belongs to my world (business and personal). To separate things will weaken drastically the capacity of Evernote allow for creative, cross borders workflows, in an age where data overload is the key problem to address.
Separation of data exploitation is not the way. A user should be able — I believe so — to see and manage all his or her data in one place.
2. NOT POSSIBLE ANY MORE TO SEARCH YOUR WHOLE DATA
Since your personal and business data are no longer combined together in Evernote desktop, you cannot perform a search that will look in all your data. You can only do a search in the current account (business OR personal) that is currently active.
This means that unless you know for sure where a piece of data is, you will have to perform to searches to find it.
3. WEAKENING THE CAPTURE CAPABILITY OF EVERNOTE
As explained in details by Stacey Harmon in her comment in the forum, the new notes which are created comes in the personal default notebook (except those manually rooted from the web clipper to a BUSINESS INBOX ad hoc notebook).
This means that the yet unprocessed content of our current work day will land in the personal view while you are mainly working in the Business account/view.
Even if a system would be implemented that allows to root newly created notes either to the business or personal default notebooks, this would mean to think and select for each note where it should go. This would weakened Evernote as a capture tool, because life comes at us fast and the things do not come for business only or personal only during the day. They come all mixed up together and in the fire of action, it is not always possible to pre-process where they belong.
Capture has to be automatic, like a ninja-reflex. Capture, capture, capture, and then review at the appropriate time in the day, where there is some time. Chris O'Neil himself insisted in a recent conference in Brazil that to make capture more frictionless is a goal for Evernote. My opinion is that this split weakens the capacity to use efficiently the data captured during the day, since it is difficult to get those new input on the business side (think to it: no more drag-and-drop and no more select a business notebook form your INBOX to send your new inputs where they belong in your Business account.)
Having to email things using to different email address to two different Inboxes, to root new clips to two different inboxes from the web clipper and the Evernote help capture tool, etc. would make things very complex in practice.
4. YOUR EVERNOTE DATA LIVES IN TWO SEPARATED BUCKETS
This aspect makes it simply not possible for me to work with this release. My workflow typically involves opening a bunches of notes in separates windows and also full-screens with the whole Evernote pane using much space on the three large screens I use to work. If I have to find a info in the other account, or if I simply want to do a search in the other account to make sure this info is not there, all my current business windows will shut down.
Actually, trying this release out revealed me how much, how often I go back and forth to use data from personal and business. I understand that this is certainly not the case for everybody, but I think that many small business owners are using extensively both accounts during their work day.
5. THE BEST OF THE TWO WOLRDS?
To finish on a positive note: I know that Evernote development team meant the best and that they do a great work.
The question now is to know if there is a way to implement this sharp split as an option (that could be selected from the Admin Console and not as the default), as was suggested in the forum thread by somebody else.
I think that if the problem is that larger corporate businesses want to have this sharp split for data control reasons (I understand their needs), it should yet be remembered that employees are always able in the real world to copy paste things (or screen shot in any case) around or export-import notes if they want to. In fact, it is not possible to prevent this, if the employee want to do this intentionally. Therefore the only questions that seems to matter is how to prevent that employee do it unintentionally.
Trying (once more, it is not possible) to make Evernote a tool that would prevent employees to transfer data from one side to the other would kill Evernote (and all the joy of it.). However, there must be ways to help employees know they are breaching a company policy when moving content from business to personal. An optional alert saying "your are moving content to your personal account" could be useful. In parallel, there could be (for those business that really care about this) an option to audit the transfer of content from one end to the other. Like an audit tool that allows to see what business content was exported (in any way) outside the business account.
My point is that there certainly is other paths to fulfil the demands of data segmentation and retention of large businesses that could be put in place (at a additional premium price for those business if necessary). To lock-down Evernote would kill the holistic aspect of Evernote and weaken some collaborative features it currently has. This would be a bad deal for a great myriads of people and small businesses.
Happy new year to all!
I am confident Evernote will become even more amazing in 2017!
I am available to help with ideas for solutions.
HOW TO INSTALL BETA TO TEST IT AND HOW TO LATER COME BACK TO 6.10
I have switched back to the 6.10 release. I explain here how to install beta and how to later go back to 6.10, in case you agree with my conclusions.
To install the beta version:
you have to go to preferences > updates and there accept the "Updates to beta versions when available". Then the beta version will be available for install.
To go back to the 6.10 version: 1. Install (or launch) AppCleaner (it is free: https://freemacsoft.net/appcleaner/)
2. Drag your Evernote app from your application folder to the AppCleaner Pane.
3. Download Evernote 6.10 for Mac from Evernote.com (link to download in footer, on the left).
4. Re-install the app
5. Open the app: all you content will sync and re-build from Evernote server
Warning: The rebuild does not include Local Notebooks or unsynced notes.
Also, you must be aware that AppCleaner removes your whole local Evernote database on your mac. (Do a backup if you are anxious. I did not, I now Evernote keeps my data safe on their servers.)