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Comp

Why doesn't Evernote for Windows support multiple Windows?

Idea

Hello,

As a former Windows programmer, I would love to know why the Evernote for Windows team do not provide multiple Windows / Tabs.  Especially as this has been asked for many times before. Can the team please explain why they don't provide these features, like the OSX version of Evernote?

Fellow users - please do not reply with answers that I have seen in other posts such as:

  • Open multiple notes
  • Use the Web Browser alongside the desktop version
  • I don't think this feature is important (!)
  • ...

I am after a technical explanation and not a subjective answer. Providing multiple windows in Windows is not difficult.

 

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38 minutes ago, briancaldwell said:

Multiple windows works for me. Double click a note from the note list view. That opens a new window, focused on the note.

I use that a lot, myself, but I think that the request refers to multiple instances of the main Evernote window, each with its own note list, etc. 

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Hi.  I'd guess the technical explanation is that Evernote have a gazillion feature requests,  several operating systems,  a bunch of browsers and a finite amount of time,  and haven't gotten around to that one yet.  Having said which the following item was one of the ones listed in a beta of EN for Mac 6.11: 

Support for Tabs on macOS 10.12. Create new tab - File > New Tab. (Not supported on older versions of macOS.)

Don't know if that made it to the release version,  but which suggests that they're in the process of rolling that out across (some?) OS's - likely desktops first.

Oh.  And Evernote don't (usually) comment on whether or when a feature might be released in advance of the public version.

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21 hours ago, Comp said:

I am after a technical explanation and not a subjective answer. Providing multiple windows in Windows is not difficult.

The most technical answer that you can probably expect is that that functionality hasn't risen high enough in their priorities to warrant dedicating developer resources to it. I doubt that there's any actual technical reason for not providing this; they do know how to program for Windows -- they've been doing it for some years now: my oldest notes are from the 2008 Windows client, and they've re-architected the Windows client at least twice since then. I wouldn't judge anything based on the Mac client; the Windows and Mac teams are different, and they often have different priorities (though they certainly need to sync up on issues that affect or are affected by the Evernote service (e.g. the introduction of stacks or reminders); this issue isn't one of those).

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Thanks everyone for your answers so far.

I sincerely hope someone from Evernote replies too as I am still baffled as to why Evernote are dragging their heals over this one. I know from other posts on this topic that I am not alone in (badly) wanting this feature.

Until then, I am having to run two OS's and use a Mac:

  1. OSX for Evernote (!) as I cannot operate Evernote efficiently with just one Window and
  2. Windows 10 (running in Parallels) for my professional work (I am a Windows specialist).

Ideally, I want to do away with the Mac and use a Windows 10 Ultrabook. Evernote (for Windows) is the only thing stopping from making the transition.

BTW the tabbed windows was released and it is a very nice addition to the the already great OSX version of Evernote. Come on Evernote Windows team, you are falling behind :-)

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8 minutes ago, jefito said:

I use that a lot, myself, but I think that the request refers to multiple instances of the main Evernote window, each with its own note list, etc. 

Thank you for correct explanation of what I was trying to say Jefito.

In the OSX version, you can open as many main Evernote windows as you like and this feature is critical for my workflow and productivity.

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1 hour ago, Comp said:

I sincerely hope someone from Evernote replies

briancaldwell is an Evernote employee, as his avatar/badge shows. 

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3 hours ago, Comp said:

I am still baffled as to why Evernote are dragging their heals over this one.

2 words: Technical Debt.

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1 hour ago, dconnet said:

2 words: Technical Debt.

Not sure I'm getting this one....   :wacko:

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1 hour ago, dconnet said:

2 words: Technical Debt.

Ouch. You said the unmagic words. Ok, well, maybe. Depends on what you buy with that debt (I'm speaking generally now). If you go into debt to obtain market share, or to survive, then it might well be worth it in the short term. Sometimes you have to shortcut to satisfy the market and/or management. Doing Things Right the first time is a great idea, but predicting the future is really hard, and you can't always tell what will be important around the bend. And pressure to keep shipping is a real thing, too.

But in general, technical debt is not a great thing long-term. Eventually it catches up, and you need to pay the piper. Good luck, and hope that things sort out soonest...

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Me bein' a glass-half-full kinda guy (I'm happy and drowning rather than miserable with it..) I thought you could take that comment in two ways.  Either EN are in that technical debt* and have to take some time to figure a way around it,  or (my favourite) they are making sure they are trying to avoid being in it - by taking some time to figure the most likely way around it.  Either way the key phrase is "taking some time" which tends to suggest there is NO such thing as 'a quick fix'.  Mostly.

* I'm planning to introduce this in financial circles too - money is only symbols,  right?  ;)

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2 hours ago, gazumped said:

Me bein' a glass-half-full kinda guy (I'm happy and drowning rather than miserable with it..) I thought you could take that comment in two ways.  Either EN are in that technical debt* and have to take some time to figure a way around it,  or (my favourite) they are making sure they are trying to avoid being in it - by taking some time to figure the most likely way around it.  Either way the key phrase is "taking some time" which tends to suggest there is NO such thing as 'a quick fix'.  Mostly.

* I'm planning to introduce this in financial circles too - money is only symbols,  right?  ;)

Well considering the context of the thread, I'm pretty sure it's the former. 

Evernote for Windows is old code that limits future development, and the more investments put into the old code with bug fixing and new features etc., the harder it is to motivate completely re-doing the Windows version from scratch. Such a version would definitely be lacking in features for some time, which would create a huge backlash like it did with the attempt to renew the web version. The article you posted talks about Technical Inflation.

 

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Is it incremental debt or the same debt incurred long ago for the design decisions that resulted in conflicting notes?  :wacko:

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3 minutes ago, gustavgi said:

Well I summed up that article in the part of my post you left out.

Sure, probably sloppy quoting on my part; I don't disagree with anything that you wrote. The article is a classic, and worth reading, and reinforces the part that I left out of the quote. Complete rewrites can be worth it, but you need to really understand the costs. "Tear it all down and build it from right scratch" sounds so simple and appealing, and can be so, so wrong...

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8 hours ago, gustavgi said:

Evernote for Windows is old code that limits future development, and the more investments put into the old code with bug fixing and new features etc., the harder it is to motivate completely re-doing the Windows version from scratch. Such a version would definitely be lacking in features for some time, which would create a huge backlash like it did with the attempt to renew the web version. The article you posted talks about Technical Inflation.

 

Didn't think about Evernote code being old! I am not familiar with Evernote release history (I have only been using Evernote since 2013), but I am familiar with the rather daunting task of having to decide (and convince sponsors) that a code base needs a total rewrite. Microsoft re-wrote Windows code at least twice and it didn't get it right every time (e.g. Vista).

So, I can only guess that Evernote for OSX is newer (?) which is why, IMHO, it is a superior version of the desktop version.

I guess I will have to continue using my MacBook only because of Evernote! At least it means I get to run 3 OS's (OSX, Windows and Chrome) on one machine :-)

 

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5 hours ago, jefito said:

"Tear it all down and build it from right scratch" sounds so simple and appealing, and can be so, so wrong...

Yeah, you need to look down and see only your heels on the cliff before you nuke and rebuild.

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36 minutes ago, Comp said:

Didn't think about Evernote code being old!

Code getting old is often not a problem. Code doesn't rust, after all. And Evernote has been pretty much rebuilt a couple of times that I can recall. Evernote code is not that old.

37 minutes ago, Comp said:

Microsoft re-wrote Windows code at least twice and it didn't get it right every time (e.g. Vista).

Microsoft actually got a lot right with Vista, though there were some problems (as with any OS). Windows is a *huge* beast, and not everything goes into the shiny interface that you see.

38 minutes ago, Comp said:

So, I can only guess that Evernote for OSX is newer (?) which is why, IMHO, it is a superior version of the desktop version.

Whether the Mac client is better or not is a very debatable point. Evernote for Windows gets a lot of things right, and there are features in the Windows client that aren't in Mac. *shrug* But choose the one you like, but don't make the mistake of thinking that newer is automatically better.

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For me it boils down to this: I could use a web browser that doesn't support multiple tabs, but given the choice, I would always pick the ones that offer tabs (and multiple windows).

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12 hours ago, Comp said:

For me it boils down to this: I could use a web browser that doesn't support multiple tabs, but given the choice, I would always pick the ones that offer tabs (and multiple windows).

Regarding tabs, some rumors suggest that Windows will support tabs natively for all applications soon. But it will not bring anything that let's you have two main windows of Evernote though, only a faster way to switch between note windows.

http://www.windowscentral.com/windows-10-tabbed-shell

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15 hours ago, Comp said:

For me it boils down to this: I could use a web browser that doesn't support multiple tabs, but given the choice, I would always pick the ones that offer tabs (and multiple windows).

Right -- I don't think that anyone's saying that this isn't a valid request; not sure that I'd use it, but that's just me. But the bottom line here is that it seems that they appear to have the intent to offer this (per @dconnet's comment), but  haven't done so yet., for whatever reason. Hectoring them about why they haven't delivered on feature X, including this one, doesn't really accomplish much in general. Anyhow, this topic has gotten way sidetracked, and I hope that your feature gets implemented soon (particularly if it means that dconnet has wrestled the beast of technical debt" to the ground)...

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8 minutes ago, jefito said:

(particularly if it means that dconnet has wrestled the beast of technical debt" to the ground)

Mental picture of the week!!  :D

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34 minutes ago, gazumped said:

Mental picture of the week!!  :D

LOL!! I just did a google image search for "wrestled the beast of technical debt", but almost everything is wrestlemania - not the image I'm looking for... However, at the bottom of that search, I found @briancaldwell's forum picture!

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On 4/27/2017 at 1:25 PM, Comp said:

Didn't think about Evernote code being old! I am not familiar with Evernote release history

If I told you that some of the Windows code was 14 years old, would you believe me?

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On 4/25/2017 at 1:21 PM, Comp said:

I am after a technical explanation and not a subjective answer. Providing multiple windows in Windows is not difficult.

Syncing.  A guess for sure, but if so would seem to put the change in the bit more then not difficult category.

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10 hours ago, briancaldwell said:

If I told you that some of the Windows code was 14 years old, would you believe me?

I'd believe it, from some experience with several large-ish and long-lived code bases. Not sure that I think of that as particularly old, though. As I say, code doesn't rust, and if it's lasted this long, it's either because it works correctly, or it's so mysterious that no-one dares to touch it. I'd lean towards the former; it's not a great idea to throw away stuff that works, after all. As the application I work on is currently at version 18, I'm guessing that some of the original code still exists somewhere in the code base, though I haven't worked there since the beginning.

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On 4/29/2017 at 0:41 PM, jefito said:

it's either because it works correctly

The issue is that when some of the code was originally written, it was done with certain assumptions - "NO!!! We will NEVEREVEREVER implement <feature>!" Guess what... That's where the technical debt accrues.

I'm not going to address feature requests or timelines, etc - but let's just say many of the things mentioned in this thread (and others) are actively being researched...

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2 hours ago, dconnet said:

The issue is that when some of the code was originally written, it was done with certain assumptions - "NO!!! We will NEVEREVEREVER implement <feature>!" Guess what... That's where the technical debt accrues.

I do remember some rather firm statements about some of the more popular requests, but priorities and requirements can change, and sometimes you need to bite the refactor / rearchitecture bullet. I have definitely been there. My take is that you design for what you know / assume today, because it's hard to design for every scenario, and you may wind up implementing things that never get used, and waste that time. Anyhow, good luck with any new features; hopefully they're not too painful to pull off, but hey, Evernote is already really handy for my purposes -- I use it every day, at work and at home, so any improvements are icing on an already tasty cake.

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As a Mac user forced by my new job to use Windows 10, I just stumbled across this "feature'" of the Windows version and was surprised by it.  Having multiple Main Evernote windows open is super helpful and the lack of this ability would actually kill a weekly workflow I do at home on my Mac (basically building a weekly schedule/menu from my recipe notebook).  As a longtime Evernote Mac user this is super-painful on Windows for sure.

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39 minutes ago, Brian Spolarich said:

As a Mac user forced by my new job to use Windows 10, I just stumbled across this "feature'" of the Windows version and was surprised by it.  Having multiple Main Evernote windows open is super helpful and the lack of this ability would actually kill a weekly workflow I do at home on my Mac (basically building a weekly schedule/menu from my recipe notebook).  As a longtime Evernote Mac user this is super-painful on Windows for sure.

Presumably your weekly schedule/menu is in one note, so why not create that and open it in a separate window, and then use the main Evernote window to navigate items you want to put on your weekly schedule?

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As a concrete example of why multiple main windows are required:

I implement a custom version of GTD in evernote. I use tags and saved search/shortcuts to keep everything separate.

I have the following main contexts:

  • a 'gtd' tag with multiple notes[lists] (actions, projects, waiting-for, incubating, horizon[2-5], to-read, already-read, and a few others). These live in 'Cabinet'
  • an 'Inbox' notebook to capture everything (ideas, forwarded emails, etc)
  • a 'Cabinet' notebook for long term storage that I keep track of via search and note links

Part of daily / weekly processing means going through my inbox notebook to decide where that item should go.

  • Single action? ->
    1. add to Actions List
    2. delete original note from inbox
  • Multiple step project? ->
    1. create a named note for that project, store in cabinet notebook
    2. copy note link into Projects List (sometimes Waiting-For List)
    3. Decide on first physical action, add to Actions List
    4. delete original note from inbox
  • Incubate idea / project? ->
    1. (optionally) create named note, store in cabinet notebook
    2. put note link / idea on Incubating List
    3. delete original from inbox
  • Reference material? ->
    1. Create text / pdf version and store in Dropbox-based filing cabinet system (which I would LOVE to put in Evernote, but my mind works the way a filing cabinet does -- alphabetical and nested layers, so a plain old file-system works best)

Note that each step above in green text is a step that requires switching contexts between inbox notebook and my GTD note list. And it's not simple enough to "why don't you just open the notes you need to put things into in separate windows?" Because notice that notes can end up in multiple different places. If I had open notes for then my screen would be filled with between 2-8 separate note windows, and I don't know ahead of time for any given item which notes the content will ultimately be residing in.

If I could have two separate main windows, then I could obviously avoid this switching, saving me lots of time and mental energy. The whole point of the GTD system is to get things and processes OUT of your mind and let the tools handle it. Without separate main windows, I have to keep it all in mind... :blink:

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Can't comment on the practicality of getting two Evernote windows,  so this is just another 'workaround' -

  • Save all possible variations on note and notebook as 'template' notes and export them to your desktop as (for example) 1-step_project.enex, m-step_project.enex, reference.enex etc.
  • Click on each enex icon to open the appropriate note version in a new note,  which will already be tied to the correct notebook.
  • Copy,  Paste and Edit content as required
  • Tag each note with your list names - 'Actions' / 'Incubating' etc;  then set up a search for those tags and save it as a favorite in Shortcuts.

I do something similar with various note types,  so have an 'Evernotes' folder on my desktop to hold the templates.  They've been tweaked somewhat as experience suggested more or less content was required.

To see your lists,  run a saved search from Shortcuts.  Add date parameters to include or exclude given periods,  checkboxes to include or exclude 'done' (or not done) processes,  and add/ remove tags on individual notes to 'move' between lists.

I don't know your full process,  so that might or might not be feasible in practice.  Just offering a suggestion.  ^_^

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In addition to what @gazumped said:

Shortcuts as described above can be shown in your toolbar, making them easier to access.

If you're bipping back and forth between your Inbox and Cabinet alot, then using the forward/back history functionality might help -- these are arrows you can add to your toolbar, or use the Alt+ArrowLeft and Alt+ArrowRight keyboard shortcuts. E.g., go to Inbox, select a note, go to Cabinet, do something; to get back to Inbox, you can now use Alt+ArrowLeft, and then you can use Alt+ArrowRight to move to Cabinet. 

I'd keep the various list notes open in separate windows to make it easier to add items to them.

I use template, too, but I keep them as notes in a separate notebook, and use Copy Note to make a copy on the appropriate notebook.

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Multiple windows works for me. Double click a note from the note list view. That opens a new window, focused on the note.

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