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machine

Another goodbye and some tips

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Just wanted to say goodbye to my beloved Evernote that I have been using as a premium customer since 2011 and had around 10k notes. This was not an easy decision, and I had to do a lot of research and trial and error to find the right tools for my needs which I hope to share here with the community in case someone might find them useful with similar goals.

First of all, why I moved out of Evernote? Here is a small list:

  • I needed a document management system more then a note taking system
  • I was uncertain as to the future of Evernote
  • I needed metadata for my notes, for filtering, search etc
  • I needed a better editor
  • I wanted an app designed for taking hand written notes, using a stylus etc

Before plunging head first into another tool, I did a mapping exercise of what my content was, and how I was using Evernote, and I realized that I was mainly using it as a document management system, there were some notes sure, but mainly it was documents. My use cases involved archiving Bills, bank statements, invoices, receipts, health history, family documents etc. At least 90% of my usage was documents, the rest was notes. The most important thing for me was to have a contextual and chronological order of these documents, for example when (date) a document was published/printed on. That way I could see context and timeline of events leading up-to a certain document. In Evernote, I was using the "Created" column for this purpose, which even though a work around, did the job well. 

Once it was clear to me that my use case mainly was document management, and then note taking, I started looking at various document management systems, both free and paid for. 

I tried LogicalDoc Community Edition in a docker container, it was good, but it lacked a lot of feature in the Community Edition, for example the ability to bulk update metadata on several items, and that was a deal breaker for me. It also didn't had any note taking features whatsoever, so no mobile app etc. I tried a few other tools and eventually found the best combination of tools that worked for me. Say hello to SharePoint Online (or Office 365), yep, I know what you are thinking, that's not a note taking app, nope, it's an enterprise document management system, however it is integrated with OneNote, the other Evernote competitor for notes. 

What that integration means is your OneNote notebook get's stored in SharePoint, and therefore is searchable from within SharePoint. Once you start uploading your documents in SharePoint and start managing your notes in OneNote, you only need to search from one place to find everything. That also means that you will now have to manage your documents and notes in seperate apps, even though they are integrated, they actualy workflow of getting content into this system, is via two different apps, SharePoint (or OneDrive) and OneNote. However, SharePoint offered a whole bunch of other possibilities that were simply not possible with Evernote, for example:

  • Create custom metadata for documents, so for example now I could setup a "Invoices" document library (or notebook) in SharePoint, and give it columns like Invoice Date, Amount etc, this way now I can sort/filter based on those columns
  • SharePoint indexes images (yes OCR), and so does OneNote, it all becomes part of your master index
  • SharePoint does scored or weighted search, unlike Evernote which just displayed the most recent document on the top, SharePoint prioritizes search results a bit like google, bringing the most relevant results to the top.
  • Tags are called Enterprise Keywords in SharePoint (same concept as Evernote, just different lingo)
  • ScanSnap can scan directly to SharePoint
  • Ability to create Wikis, custom web pages, custom styles
  • Ability to take hand written notes in an app (OneNote), and it goes directly into SharePoint
  • For my notes, I use OneNote, or Word, depending on what I am doing, end of the day it doesn't matter, what matters is it's all searchable from a single place.
  • and a lot of other features that I have yet to fully explore

I have tried OneNote before, but it didn't work for me, the reason was simply, I was trying to use it as a document management system, which it is not. Evernote provided both the features in one simple apps, but the downside of that was it never fully offered to best of either. 

As to the costs, I signed up for an Enterprise Licence, which is around $11 CAD a month, a tad bit more expensive then evernote, but I am getting fully office suite and unlimited storage.

I still love Evernote, and I hope things improve one day and I might come back, but as of now, this is my next archive solution. I understand this solution is not for everyone, and you need a bit of technical know how to fully adopt this workflow. Feel free to ask me any questions.

Thanks

 

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On 11/21/2018 at 2:23 PM, machine said:

I needed a document management system more then a note taking system

I agree with this (need document management system), and Evernote seems to be the solution

>>I needed a better editor
>>I wanted an app designed for taking hand written notes, using a stylus etc)

Using Evernote, I'm not restricted to a single editor or format
The Evernote editor is ok for basic notes.  My favourite note taking tool is the Notability app on my iPad; for word processing, I use Word/Pages.

>>I needed metadata for my notes, for filtering, search etc

Evernote has a fixed set of note metadata and an extensive search feature (https://help.evernote.com/hc/en-us/articles/208313828)
edit: further thoughts on custom metdata below

>>The most important thing for me was to have a contextual and chronological order of these documents, for example when (date) a document was published/printed on. ... In Evernote, I was using the "Created" column for this purpose, which even though a work around, did the job well. 

I use the subject date field, and also prefix the note title with the subject date
For example:   2018/11/23 Journal -  Friday

For myself, there are additional requirements

- Scripting; I use Mac AppleScript
- Documents are stored and accessed in native format
- Easy export data

>>I was uncertain as to the future of Evernote

I'm equally uncertain (cue Que Sera Sera)
The import point is that I can easily export my data when necessary

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On 11/21/2018 at 11:23 PM, machine said:
  • For my notes, I use OneNote, or Word, depending on what I am doing, end of the day it doesn't matter, what matters is it's all searchable from a single place.

This is what I do with evernote as well, I use the EN native editor, Word, Exel, end of the day it doesn't matter, what matters is it's all searchable from a single place.

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On 11/21/2018 at 3:23 PM, machine said:

 I still love Evernote, and I hope things improve one day and I might come back, but as of now, this is my next archive solution. I understand this solution is not for everyone, and you need a bit of technical know how to fully adopt this workflow. Feel free to ask me any questions.

Thanks

Horses for courses.  I also use EN as a document management system, in addition to GTD and general note taking/remembering.  I became paperless with EN.  Over half of my 40k notes are PDFs.  Different use case I suppose, but I haven’t had any particular meta data issues, adjusting created date from time to time is about it.  It is getting a bit monolithic at 20 GB, but performance is still great and I like everything in one place.  Frankly, I have more issues with how the company is run than how the software runs.  Good to know there is a potential alternative should things go south.  Thanks for that. 

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OneNote just never worked for me.  I don't like the layout or any of the workflows I tried. Document storage there was minimal, but had many things I didn't like.  The SharePoint aspect sounds like a lot work, maybe not too bad once setup.  Also, maybe not too bad if managing yourself for only your stuff.  My experience when used in enterprise system is lots of giggles and groans with performance and reliability. Also like having a few tools outside the monopoly. Despite the occasional wart I come across I still feel like Evernote is one of the best all round software tools I've ever used. 

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23 minutes ago, Gear64 said:

I still feel like Evernote is one of the best all round software tools I've ever used. 

I think Evernote might fall short in the "all around" software tools category.
imho  It does excel at multi-platform document storage/retrieval, and the editor is more than adequate for basic notes.

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Maybe general purpose would have been better description. The editor is more than adequate for my needs which are capture go, capture go, capture go.  When it's time to breath and organize, the organizational capability is awesome.  The search and retrieval are awesome. I use it adequately for project management, task management, notes, and doc storage. The import feature is very efficient. Forwarding mail to Evernote is very efficient. The web clipper is adequate. The screen capture from mobile is adequate, the screen capture from desktop more than meets my needs. I manage my receipts for business expenses. I use it to mock up screenshots for tutorials. I use it for grocery shopping, running errands, travel itineraries, travel logging, workout plans, workout logs, etc.  I'm still finding new uses. And it's more than adequate across every platform that I use ios, android, windows, Linux (well, just adequate through browser). 

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56 minutes ago, Gear64 said:

... I use it for grocery shopping ...

Ditto for it all but grocery shopping.  Wunderlist seems to work better for me and my significant other.  Coupled with some PhraseExpress shortcuts for efficiency.

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Thank you for this. I used to use Evernote for everything and I was an Evernote evangelist. Now, I use different applications for different things, and I hardly use Evernote at all. 🙁 I am back looking for a particular solution, and it seems no application is really good at what I want, but I’ll come back to that. I am an attorney in solo practice with only one practice area, and despite the advice of the people who sell legal practice management software, I use general use applications and have a paperless law practice (except for the fact that I just have to scribble notes on a physical pad sometimes and I immediately scan them and shred the paper version.) I use icloud’s new Document management system for document storage. I pay the $.99/mo for more storage. I use OneNote for all of my case notes, including in-court notes, scanned paper notes, screen shots of text messages, audio files of voicemails, any and all notes of case activity. I like OneNote’s user interface better than Evernote’s. OneNote works great for my use, but there are a couple drawbacks for some of my other needs- OneNote will not allow stacked notebooks and notes to the extent that Evernote does. (I have not found any notes application that is worth a darn that will allow stacking like Evernote does.) Also, once I put a photo into a note in OneNote, I can’t put it back on my device, or anywhere, unless I make a screenshot. I do a lot of screenshotting, and a lot of changing format from image to pdf and from pdf to image, and moving documents and images from one application to another. Evernote remembers that an image is an image, and it will let me put that image anywhere I want. It doesn’t matter much for my purposes, except for genealogy... which is why am a back looking at Evernote.

In the past, I used Evernote extensively to store genealogy notes and documents and photos, and websites. It worked GREAT as an organizer of hard to organize stuff of all types. I had notebooks for surnames and notebooks for places and notebooks for events like civil war battles. I had stacks. I bought the premium. What drew me away from Evernote was the difficulty I started having with copying or exporting or sharing notes. Evernote always wanted to give me a link instead of the substance of my note. I started being hesitant to put anything into Evernote because Evernote owned it from then on and held it prisoner. You had to come into Evernote to visit the content. Also, for many reasons I stopped putting much effort into genealogy for a while. I let my premium lapse long ago.

Now, I still have my genealogy library in Evernote, and I also have a small genealogy library in OneNote, but it is not satisfactory because of the way it handles photos and the limited stacking. I also have a small genealogy library in my iOS “Notes” (I have a seldom used MacBook Pro and I do EVERYTHING on iPad) but it is not satisfactory because of the limited stacking. I also have a small genealogy library on iCloud, but it I just documents and photos and I cannot make notes unless I make them elsewhere and convert them to a pdf or image. In other words, I have just been sticking stuff everywhere (except Evernote) for years. That needs to stop and I need to get organized again. The problems are, I don’t really want to pay another monthly fee and I would need Evernote premium because genealogy requires a lot of uploading. I was also wondering whether Evernote stores images in high resolution, because I am looking to store best quality versions of old family photos. That question is what brought me to the forums and I have not found a recent answer yet, but I have seen a lot of people saying that Evernote was never meant to be a place to store important high-quality photos. Also, the question raised above about Evernote’s future worries me. 

To state the obvious, no one application does it all well. Also, it seems there are applications for document and/or photo storage, and there are applications for notes and research and journaling, but there is no application that combines those two areas of functionality well.

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8 hours ago, DTLow said:

I think Evernote might fall short in the "all around" software tools category

"All-around" actually seems pretty apt, in my eyes. It doesn't imply that Evernote is best-in-breed in all categories, just that taken as a whole, it's easily "one of the best", as @Gear64 put it. For me, who doesn't need presentation or even much in the way of fancy formatting, it's great. It can capture information, articles, screen caps, research notes etc easily and pretty well, and allows me to organize in flexible, useful ways. Reminders fill the bill for me in terms of project management, and cross-platform help to ensure that I have what I need wherever I am. It just seems best suited for what I need, without necessarily being the best at everything.

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On 11/21/2018 at 2:23 PM, machine said:

Create custom metadata for documents, so for example now I could setup a "Invoices" document library (or notebook) in SharePoint, and give it columns like Invoice Date, Amount etc, this way now I can sort/filter based on those columns

I doubt Evernote will implement "custom" metadata, just the general set; title, notebook, tags, dates, ...
My work-around is an integrated spreadsheet

In my processing, I copy receipt notes to a spreadsheet for number crunching (expense reports, budgeting, ...)
In this example
- Details is the note title and a link to the Evernote note.
- I have columns like Date, Amount etc; parsed from the note title, tags, and other metadata

215607788_ScreenShot2018-12-01at21_47_46.png.87560bcb33dd7e798d6bd33cdbc52288.png

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If I can piggyback here, I will add that I'l giving up Evernote after 5 years just because my iPhone can't upgrade to iOS 11 and Evernote can't be installed on earlier versions. Millions of iPhones arund the world are in the same situation, I find it rude that the thousands of owners who used Evernote are left on the side of the road.

 

Other softwares keep up downward compatibility, why didn't Evernote do the same?

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3 hours ago, Pchev said:

If I can piggyback here, I will add that I'l giving up Evernote after 5 years just because my iPhone can't upgrade to iOS 11 and Evernote can't be installed on earlier versions. Millions of iPhones arund the world are in the same situation, I find it rude that the thousands of owners who used Evernote are left on the side of the road.

 

Other softwares keep up downward compatibility, why didn't Evernote do the same?

Sounds more like an Apple weakness...

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23 hours ago, CalS said:

Ditto for it all but grocery shopping.  Wunderlist seems to work better for me and my significant other.  Coupled with some PhraseExpress shortcuts for efficiency.

Ironically, my wife still like paper lists, so that means screen capture with iPhone, then use annotate to cross them off:)

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Took me a while to convince my wife to change over, but now she instructs me to add things to the list.  Her phone only appears to be able to check the things off, not add them.  🤷‍♂️  But I am not complaining!

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Regarding shopping lists, I use Out of Milk (not to be confused with Remember the Milk), which allows us to add to a shopping list and then sync so the other person sees the update. It's the one thing (shopping lists) that I could never get to work well in any task management or note management system.

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