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adamwolinsky

(Archived) Feature Requests

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Hi, I wanted to suggest a few features that I am sure would be useful to the Evernote Nation.

1. Is to have a hierarchical and collapsible outlining feature.

2. As more and more users accumulate more and more notes, I think that we need more ways to sort through the madness. One way would be to enable Folders for Notebooks and "Tag Bundles" or "Tag Folders" for tags.

The only place I have seen that utilizes this concept is the program "The Hit List": http://www.potionfactory.com/thehitlist/

I have nearly 4000 notes and about 150 tags. Having these two key features would be immensely useful.

Thanks for a great product!

PS Having keyboard shortcuts or options like "promote" "demote" "collapse all" "expand all" would be very useful as well.

This would be great in the collapsible outlining feature and also anywhere else hierarchical trees are used (tags and perhaps one day notebooks)

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1. Is to have a hierarchical and collapsible outlining feature.

Fror notes, you can do outlining, though there's no collapsibility as yet.

2. As more and more users accumulate more and more notes, I think that we need more ways to sort through the madness. One way would be to enable Folders for Notebooks and "Tag Bundles" or "Tag Folders" for tags.

Folders is an oft-discussed feature (you can search the forum for plenty of points of view). Will they appear? That's not clear. It's certainly something that Evernote is aware of and thinking about, but I think they are working on things that they believe are more important at the moment.

Tags may already be organized into a tree.

~Jeff

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Why don't you create a tag that functions as a folder? That's what i do. It's whole purpose is to give me a better hierarchical structure of the tags. You don't have to assign it to any notes, but of course you can if you want to.

And do you really have so many notebooks, that you need folders form them? Most people found out that it's better for them to keep the amount of notebooks to a minimum and manage their notes by using more tags instead.

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This is an interesting human-computer-interaction question.

I've seen elsewhere that a "tag" permits an item to belong to multiple "folders" and those associations are dynamic rather than static.

As a counter example, let's say you fire up your favorite word processor and dash off a letter to your local city council member complaining about the lack of trash service in your neighborhood. When you save that letter, you're required to give it a file name and ideally, place it within a folder. What names should you use for the filename and the folder? Some people would suggest the name of that council member. Others would suggest placing it within a "trash" folder (which can be misleading). Others would recommend a generic politics or neighborhood affairs folder. Within a traditional hierarchical filesystem, such as that offered by Windows, OS X or Linux, that letter can only have one official name, and be within one actual folder. You can create aliases and symbolic links to that letter of course, but that avenue leads to additional problems.

A tag on the other hand is a way of saying, "whenever I search for the phrase local-politics, I want this letter to show up, regardless of where it's actually located and even if that letter doesn't contain actually the phrase local-politics."

However, I think Evernote's implementation of tags is misleading. The use of the tags panel in the Mac desktop client (at least) and the ability to organize those tags into a tree, implies that you should be using tags to sort notes, as opposed to merely increasing the likelihood of a successful search. In contrast, the iPhone client doesn't allow you to mess around with tags independently of their associated notes. In fact, I can't even find a way to see all the tags I've defined, but I know that if I were to search for local-politics on my iPhone, all notes with that tag will show up.

As such, I'm not sure I'd want to see folders or even refinements of the tag-tree. I think - and I stress this is just an opinion - that the desktop clients need to do a better job of promoting saved search criteria and fooling the user into thinking that a saved search for local-politics is in fact a (virtual) folder containing all of my letters to my local city council. Maybe "Folders" would be a better name for that section than "Saved Searches" and instead of creating a new saved search, you create a new dynamic folder?

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To me the hierarchal and collapsible outlining feature within notes is more important.

Yes it is true that maybe it isn't so useful to have lots of notebooks, and that the way tags are used is misleading.

In The Hit List, there are are two views: one is a hierarchal view of notes that you can put within folders, and then there is a hierarchal view of tags. There is also the ability to create iTunes-like "Smart Searches". Not sure what the best solution is, I just know that I would like to nest and organize to my heart's content.

The list of tags (and notebooks if you choose to file information that way) as an endless list in the left column isn't a very useful way to search what you are looking for.

I am confused about using tags as "folders".

Saved searches I have not experimented with.

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However, I think Evernote's implementation of tags is misleading.
Yes it is true that maybe it isn't so useful to have lots of notebooks, and that the way tags are used is misleading.

?? I have no idea what the term 'misleading' means in either of these two sentences. What could be misleading about Evenote's tags? They're just labels (a la Gmail) or categories (a la MS Outlook). A note either has a tag, or it doesn't; a tag can apply to multiple notes, and a note can have multiple tags. That's it, really. No need to overthink this.

OK, I guess that about the only thing that I can think of that might be misleading is that tags can be organized in a tree, but otherwise bear no logical relation to each other (as in parent-child relationships). The tree is really just an organizational tool; you don't need to have 'an endless list' of tags in the left column. This is not so much different than your average file system where files may be stored in a tree, but need not bear any logical relationship to each other -- it's up to the user to arrange that -- if they want it. It's a more flexible arrangement than requiring subtags to bear a logical relationship to their parents, and enforcing that in Search.

That being said, I think that it would be nice to have tools to help a user enforce parent/child relationship -- I mentioned a different search option above, and it would be nice to have the ability to apply a tag and all of its parents to a note in one operation. Nothing that's critical, but would give the user tools to make tags operate in the way that they desire.

Maybe "Folders" would be a better name for that section than "Saved Searches" and instead of creating a new saved search, you create a new dynamic folder?

'Saved Searches' seems entirely appropriate because that's exactly what they are. We use Search to narrow the mass of notes by specifying criteria, and we can persist useful searches to the Saved Searches list. Seems simple enough.

~Jeff

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Just a quick pre-note: I wrote a long winded response to Jeff and then deleted it. If you tried to quote or respond to that note, I apologize. What I really should have said is...

Jeff implied that the tree metaphor for organizing tags is just a tool and it's up to the Evernote users to decide what they want to do with it. If they want to group and sort their tags into folders, they can. If they'd rather have one long list of a bazillion tags, they can have that too. And we really shouldn't read any more into that.

My counter-argument is that thanks to Windows 95, OS X, Linux and successor operating systems, users have been conditioned to expect very specific behavior whenever they see this kind of tree. As an analogy, whenever experienced drivers see a red octagonal sign, they stop; they don't even bother reading the text on the sign anymore. Imagine the ruckus you'd get if you accidentally replaced the trash can icon in the menu bar with the new note icon.

If users see a tree-like structure, they expect certain features regardless of whether the developer intended to include them or not. I fear that Jeff can scream and yell and threaten all he wants but he's not going to be able to persuade those users to read less into it.

In the interests of constructive criticism, I suggested that if the developer doesn't want to include sub-folders and similar features, then they should either remove the tree metaphor entirely in favor of something else (like a single column list and be done with it), or fool the user into thinking that sub-folders have been implemented. As an example of the former, the iPhone doesn't even show tags independent of notes and I don't see people asking on the forums for it. As an example of the latter, I wanted to point out that my mail program, OS X's Mail.app, has "smart folders" which do exactly the same thing as "saved queries" in Evernote, the two terms are synonyms.

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Jeff implied that the tree metaphor for organizing tags is just a tool and it's up to the Evernote users to decide what they want to do with it. If they want to group and sort their tags into folders, they can. If they'd rather have one long list of a bazillion tags, they can have that too. And we really shouldn't read any more into that.

OK, that's a pretty fair summary. Remembering of course that what tags do and what folders do are quite different.

My counter-argument is that thanks to Windows 95, OS X, Linux and successor operating systems, users have been conditioned to expect very specific behavior whenever they see this kind of tree. As an analogy, whenever experienced drivers see a red octagonal sign, they stop; they don't even bother reading the text on the sign anymore. Imagine the ruckus you'd get if you accidentally replaced the trash can icon in the menu bar with the new note icon.

This is not about trash cans and stop signs. This is about tags, which are, by the way, not folders (the metaphor is that tags describe, folders contain). Even so, with file folders (which is, I guess what you're referring to), OSes do not enforce any logical relationship between members of a folder tree. You, the user, get to store things as you choose, move things about, and so forth. What exactly is the behavior that the user is supposedly be missing, anyway?

If users see a tree-like structure, they expect certain features regardless of whether the developer intended to include them or not.

And they get them with tag trees too, in nearly every respect that I can think of. Again, please specify these features that you believe are missing.

I fear that Jeff can scream and yell and threaten all he wants but he's not going to be able to persuade those users to read less into it.

'Scream and yell and threaten'?!?!? I repeat: ?!?!?

In the interests of constructive criticism, I suggested that if the developer doesn't want to include sub-folders and similar features, then they should either remove the tree metaphor entirely in favor of something else (like a single column list and be done with it), or fool the user into thinking that sub-folders have been implemented.

What, and have to re-educate the ~4 million existing Evernote users who are already familiar with 'Saved Searches', a descriptive name, in favor of a 'Smart Folders' (or 'Dynamic Folders') concept that actually stretches the 'folder' metaphor beyond its common usage? Even if Smart Folders were a better term, which I don't believe, and which you admit is only equivalent, I don't think that that would be a great step forward. If it works, don't break it. Don't turn everything into folders.

To boil things down: Tags are not folders; there are no folders in Evernote. You don't store notes in tags, you store notes in notebooks. Tags merely describe notes. And not everything presented in a hierarchical fashion is a folder.

~Jeff

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To boil things down: Tags are not folders; there are no folders in Evernote. You don't store notes in tags, you store notes in notebooks. Tags merely describe notes. And not everything presented in a hierarchical fashion is a folder.

That's what I find a bit annoying about evernote! We are only able to use one level of organization (in notebooks) the other implied level is that of tags but when you are within a notebook you don't see the tags that are used only in this notebook! Thus you have to switch to the tags section and guess which tags could have been used within the current notebook!

But if there would be a way to "sort by tags" within a notebook (like you sort by name or date) then suddenly you have the notes in a grouped view! You see the notes within a notebook that have the same tag, thus allowing a true second level of organization within notebooks!

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To boil things down: Tags are not folders; there are no folders in Evernote. You don't store notes in tags, you store notes in notebooks. Tags merely describe notes. And not everything presented in a hierarchical fashion is a folder.

That's what I find a bit annoying about evernote! We are only able to use one level of organization (in notebooks) the other implied level is that of tags but when you are within a notebook you don't see the tags that are used only in this notebook! Thus you have to switch to the tags section and guess which tags could have been used within the current notebook![/qote]

There actually is a way to do this, perhaps not obvious: Select your note book. Select all notes in the notebook. Now Press Ctrl + Alt + T to bring up the Assign Tags dialog. Enable the 'Hide unnassigned tags' checkbox, and you'll see all of the tags that are used in that notebook, in either Tree or List form (there's a radio button that allows you to choose that).

But if there would be a way to "sort by tags" within a notebook (like you sort by name or date) then suddenly you have the notes in a grouped view! You see the notes within a notebook that have the same tag, thus allowing a true second level of organization within notebooks!

In the Windows client at least (and maybe the Mac client), you can sort the note list by Tags, though that just sorts by alphabetically by the first tag in the alphabetically sorted list of a note's tags, so maybe not that useful. Interesting that the Mixed and Thumbnail views have grouping by dates, size and title, as that would probably be pretty appropriate for tags, too, and extended to List View. Still, this is a little problematic when you can apply multiple tags to notes -- I think that Outlook just makes groups based on single categories, and emails that have multiple categories are shown in multiple groups.

~Jeff

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I fear that Jeff can scream and yell and threaten all he wants but he's not going to be able to persuade those users to read less into it.

??? I have no idea where this came from??!?!

I've not had the time to read through all your lengthy posts. I would suggest that you may have more help if your posts were more concise. Only the people who's names are in red are EN staff. The rest of us volunteer our time to help here. I'm on several times throughout the day, in between the rest of my life. When I see a post that takes more than a page, I often skip it b/c of time constraints. Just sayin'... :)

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I didn't even know you could nest tags. That is very useful.

You should of course be able to nest Notebooks as well. I don't care if it is called a "folder" or anything else. I just need to be able to collapse items, otherwise you are punished for using too many notebooks.

Having keyboard shortcuts or options like "promote" "demote" "collapse all" "expand all" would be very useful as well.

Thanks for your help.

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You should of course be able to nest Notebooks as well. I don't care if it is called a "folder" or anything else. I just need to be able to collapse items, otherwise you are punished for using too many notebooks.

"Punished" is hardly the appropriate word. The tags vs folders debate is not new & has been discussed at great length in other threads so I'm not going to get into details here here. In short, there really is nothing you can do with sub folders that you can't do with tags. Please read the existing threads, if you're interested in learning how this is done. It does take a bit of thinking outside the box.

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I didn't even know you could nest tags. That is very useful.

I'm glad that I made at least a little bit of sense on the topic. :)

You should of course be able to nest Notebooks as well. I don't care if it is called a "folder" or anything else. I just need to be able to collapse items, otherwise you are punished for using too many notebooks.

I am guessing that you'll see nested notebooks eventually (emphasis on 'guess', but over time, many notebooks in a flat list isn't very user-friendly); I know that Evernote is very aware of the desire for this. Whether they come as true subnotebooks (e.g., search a notebook, and you search all of its subnotebooks as well) or just as a visual organization (discrete, but shown in trees), is anyone's guess.

Having keyboard shortcuts or options like "promote" "demote" "collapse all" "expand all" would be very useful as well.

I think that there are a number of tools/operations that could be added to make tag management easier.

Thanks for your help.

You're welcome.

~Jeff

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Thanks for all of the feedback.

We have two organizational metaphors that you can use to manually organize your notes (in addition to searching for them based on content or implicit attributes).

One of the organizational metaphors (tags) is hierarchical and "many to many", since a note may have multiple tags and vice versa.

One of the organizational metaphors (notebooks) is flat and "one to many", since a note may only be "in" a single notebook.

We've heard a lot of feedback from users that start with notebooks, but then want a hierarchical metaphor and don't want to switch over to tags. We appreciate that input, and we're investigating allowing you to put notebooks in groups ("stacks") so that you can separate your work from your home, etc. This is a big project that crosses all of our products, so isn't something we can slap together quickly.

Thanks for the feedback.

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I haven't heard a lot of requests for collapsable in-note outlining before. It sounds like an interesting idea, but would be a bit of work to support across all of our different platforms, since each has their own rich text editing engine (based on some third-party HTML editing engine like WebKit).

Thanks

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<>>

I am an avid user of Lightroom for my digital photography, and I agree with the poster quoted above: In lightroom, what the poster describes is called a "smart collection". It is a defined set of criteria, that once created, automatically "finds" the notes with that criteria. It has a title, and when you click on the title, it shows you all files with the required criteria. Smart collections CAN be nested as well, which gives you the flexibility to use membership in a smart collection as part of the criteria for another.

Dawn D. in NJ

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I am an avid user of Lightroom for my digital photography, and I agree with the poster quoted above: In lightroom, what the poster describes is called a "smart collection". It is a defined set of criteria, that once created, automatically "finds" the notes with that criteria. It has a title, and when you click on the title, it shows you all files with the required criteria. Smart collections CAN be nested as well, which gives you the flexibility to use membership in a smart collection as part of the criteria for another.

Saved searches provide much of the same functionality as the "smart collections" you describe, except that they are not nestable (which would be keen, I agree).

~Jeff

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