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deepsky

(Archived) Feature Request: Color Coding "Titles" For Notes

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Hey, the more I use Evernote the more my folders fill with notes.

(I'm thinking that happens to you guys too) ;-)

It sure would be cool (as in "awesome sauce") if we could

"color code" [the "titles" of] specific notes (by right clicking them, and selecting

a color) to mark really important ones "red" or "blue" , etc.

That would make it SO much easier to pick out key notes

at a glance, especially in folders containing dozens and

dozens of notes.

Kind of like Mac OS X lets you color code folders by

right clicking on them.

What do you guy's think?

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What do you guy's think?

I think skins/colors are nice. But I'm much more of a function over form gal, myself. There are a few functions I'd much prefer to see in EN over eye candy.

Since you asked.

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Uhhhmm... this is a "function based" feature request.

(I'm not talking about "eye candy").

What I'm looking for is a way to better manage notes.

Folders/sub-folders definitely help but... within my sub-folders, the

number of notes within can really pile up. Having the ability

to color code "key notes" that one needs to reference regularly

(and thus be able to rapidly pick them out from within a folder)

would increase productivity.

I suspect it's why Apple gives people the ability to color

code folders (within folders).

In any case... some of my sub-folders have dozens

of notes. (I use Evernote for business and personal).

Color coding I think could nicely enhance productivity.

Just my "2 cents"... :-)

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Having the ability to color code "key notes" that one needs to reference regularly

(and thus be able to rapidly pick them out from within a folder) would increase productivity.

What I'm looking for is a way to better manage notes.

Suggest you learn to use tags. Tags (and keywords & accurate titles) allow you to rapidly pick out regularly referenced notes.

In any case... some of my sub-folders have dozens of notes.

Many of my notebooks have thousands of notes.

And yeah, colors are eye candy.

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Tags are helpful... and I use them.

Color coding would be a nice productivity

enhancement (at least for my workflow).

Thanks for sharing your opinion.

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Color coding would be a nice productivity

enhancement.

To BnF's point, if you have a few notes. Many notes across many pages and what's the benefit.

Tag 'em as important, select the tag and there they are. Or alternatively, start the tag with an "*", sort by tag and they will all be at the top of the page.

Color coding notes,In the scheme of things, probably not going to get to the top of the enhancement list, IMO.

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Color coding would be a nice productivity

enhancement.

To BnF's point, if you have a few notes. Many notes across many pages and what's the benefit.

..

Color coding notes,In the scheme of things, probably not going to get to the top of the enhancement list, IMO.

Not every user has several thousand notes in every notebook. EN is more than just a collection or archive of notes for later retrieval. It can be used infinite number ways many of which can have considerably less notes. Color coding can be very powerful for notebooks with up to a hundred notes. And I think a great number of users have such modest notebooks.

I have been a user of the DOS Tornado Notes and the its successor Info Select with many thousands of notes over the decades, only very recently switched to EN for its multi-platform capability. IS did not have color coding for its selector until its mid-life, but after its implementation I found myself quite pleased with this function. I do not use it in my archiving type of notebooks where I have up to one thousands or more notes. It helps tremendously in the use of my more active notebooks where the contents are added and deleted constantly. I spent far more time in these smaller, active notebooks each day than the large notebooks, and my life was much easier with the color coding.

If this is very complex to add, then I agree that thre are other higher priorities such as linkage between notes. But if it is not as difficult, perhaps it could be considered now. A color coded EN desktop may also be more attrative to new users.

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With a little HTML (well ENML but pretty much the same) I think you should be able to create an 'template' as an enex file for each colour note you want and then import these empty templates each time you want a coloured note. Not an ideal option but it should achieve what you want without too much pain.

One thing though is that this will only work on the desktop clients as the others cannot import ENEX files—maybe they can be emailed in?

Let me know if you want some help with this here and we can work through in this thread so others can see how it's done.

Cheers,

S.

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The idea of color coding is best implemented in the title of the notes, not the note itself. So that by glancing the list of titles one can immdiately see the colored notes. When the color is on the note itself, the picure is more complex, losing much of the power of immediate grabbing the colored titles from a list.

Color coding the titles is extremely useful especailly in primitive organizers such as EN. EN has at leat two major deficiencies compared to more matured random notes organizers. (1) Inability to custom drag and reorder the notes, and (2) Inability to sort by more than one column. With color coding of the tile, one can sort (for example, by title) and then peer through the resultant list and spot the color coded items. Even in a full capable program such as InfoSelect, the color coded title lines has roven to be very useful for notebooks with modest number (up to 100) of notes.

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EN has at leat two major deficiencies compared to more matured random notes organizers. (1) Inability to custom drag and reorder the notes, and (2) Inability to sort by more than one column.

Evernote shines in the multi-platform arena. I suspect some of the more specialized features in other apps don't port well to a variety of platforms and/or it takes a lot more engineer hours to develop/test/debug. A lot of Onenote users tend to start using Evernote & often complain that ON does this, this, this & this & EN does not. And I suspect that "this, this, this & this" are the features that have prevented Onenote from being on as many platforms as Evernote is.

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Agree every thing you said. I decide to move to EN because of the multi-platform portability. But I have to say that if you ever used Tornado Notes (DOS) or InfoSelect, you will miss them really bad. Even for simlar functions EN takes a lot more steps. I do not think there is any other program that has ever approached InfoSelect in its versality, lightening fast searching, and effortless retrieval and organization. Just hope that some of the most powerful and friendly features can graduatlly find ways into EN. That will make EN a dream product.

A few months ago I suggested in the InfoSelect group to form a new yahoo group called IS-EN to help the IS dieharders to convert. There has been ongoing debates whether we should go for Onenote or EN or just wait until the InfoSelect developers change their mind and adapt new OS and cloud functions. One of the members adopted the idea and the IS-EN group is now up and running.

p.s. I just posted the following in the InfoSelect group yesterday,

"...Any way, I am very pleased with EN after a month or so's use and I am so overwhelmed by the fantastic technical support and near real time Forum interactions with other users and EN employees. Some thing we cannot even dream of as IS users. This aspect alone convinced me that I should stay with EN, as its users and developers have formed such an enthusiastic and dynamic group full of energies. Even though the editing and searching of EN are still way behind IS, I would rather join this dynamic group and share the comrade and helping-each-other spirit with the EN users. Not to mention that EN is way ahead in the ease of web clipping, nested tags, and some other features that I have only read but not used yet. And I am a free subscriber!"

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Glad you posted... that it is precisely what I "meant" but didn't "state" very clearly. It's the "title" of notes I was

referring to when I said I'd like to see color coding. I'll amend my previous post to clarify it.

The idea of color coding is best implemented in the title of the notes, not the note itself. So that by glancing the list of titles one can immdiately see the colored notes. When the color is on the note itself, the picure is more complex, losing much of the power of immediate grabbing the colored titles from a list.

Color coding the titles is extremely useful especailly in primitive organizers such as EN. EN has at leat two major deficiencies compared to more matured random notes organizers. (1) Inability to custom drag and reorder the notes, and (2) Inability to sort by more than one column. With color coding of the tile, one can sort (for example, by title) and then peer through the resultant list and spot the color coded items. Even in a full capable program such as InfoSelect, the color coded title lines has roven to be very useful for notebooks with modest number (up to 100) of notes.

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I would also find it easier to scan through notes if they could be colour coded.

A workaround feature for me would also be if you could make multiple levels of subfolders (ie. subfolders within subfolders).

Maybe I'm just not used to using tags so much but they don't seem as intuitive to the way I use Evernote.

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Color Coding is only eye candy to those who call it that.

To some of us, it is great-to-essential. I use Evernote to store checklists, steps, and records that my organic memory can no longer keep, and that I use EVERY DAY. Being able to color code even a fraction of those notes would expand Evernote's usability for me leaps and bounds.

Highlighting of text might also be nice, but not nearly as much as the color coding.

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This has been on the feature request list for as long as I've been with the company - I put it there, if it hadn't already been :(

However, when adding a feature like this, we have to consider how it will appear on all of the clients. And at the present time, it's not a feature that scales.

If there's a way to do it *right*, it might make it in.

For now, use Nevernote. They let you color your Titles (sort of) ;)

http://nevernote.sourceforge.net/

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I have two shared folders out of about one hundred.

They are coloured blue, as shared folders are and when I was to refer to one of them, they jump right out at me.

This is why colour coding is not eye candy. See how you noticed this sentence? Exactly.

Find the 13th character in this sentence.

OK, now...

Find the 13th character in this sentence.

I am not sure what "not a feature that scales" means. Its seems to be pretty straight forward to me.

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Suggest you learn to use tags. Tags (and keywords & accurate titles) allow you to rapidly pick out regularly referenced notes.

IMO, it's disrespectful to assume that someone who would like colour doesn't know how to use tags. A lot of people find it easier to pick out an item visually at a glance if it has colour-coding or some other sort of visual cue to make it stand out, for instance:

  • Mary had a little lamb, its *priority fleece was white as snow.
  • Mary had a little lamb, its *priority fleece was white as snow.

Now, sure, you can sort by tag, but then you lose other aspects of the overview that might be important.

  • *priority a as fleece had its lamb, little Mary snow. was white

Some people want their entries sorted by creation date or some other attribute, but want to be able to scan though and pick out certain subcategories of entry without visually analysing a sea of text.

And yeah, colors are eye candy.

A lot of people who design user-interfaces or road signs would strongly disagree. Lawyers who still work with paper and use highlighter pens or coloured markers don't do it because they think it makes their documents look "prettier", they do it because it makes key points jump off the page more reliably that drawing an asterix next to a piece of black text using a black pen.

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However, when adding a feature like this, we have to consider how it will appear on all of the clients. And at the present time, it's not a feature that scales.

Okay ... so, if there are two problems here: (1) not making the database format more complex (introducing incompatilities), and (2) ensuring that data entered on one platform is available on all the others, then ...

... I suppose that the obvious way to support setting title colours (and perhaps other title attributes) is by leveraging the existing tagging system.

You could have one additional global "display" dialogue box "Display Tagged Entries As ..." that lets you choose, say, eight different tags, and set a display colour (and maybe a style) for each. So you could decide to show every entry tagged "Hospital" in blue, everything tagged "*" in red, or in bold, or in red-and-bold, or whatever.

The order of an entry in the list would decide which rule gets priority in case of a conflict, so you'd need some way to bump an individual colour rule up or down the list.

The advantage of doing it this way is that if you used to have a lot of important "Hospital" entries because you broke your leg, and it's finally healed, and you have no more hospital appointments and no more need to see those entries highlighted, you could delete and repurpose that "display parameters" slot for some other tag without having to delete any tags or lose any information from the notes library. It's purely a display function.

If you have an existing library of thousands of notes that are already categorised and tagged, the system could use your existing categorisation system. If you use "*" for priority, then that could be shown red, but if you use something else, like number rankings or other symbols, then those could be associated with the colour-coding instead. And if a version of Evernote doesn't support the colour-coding, then that's okay, because no actual information is missing on that platform: it's all right there in the tags.

Even better, for the web version of Evernote, you could have the selected eight (or ten, or sixteen, or whatever) tags automatically inserted into the webpage code as HTML class names (like class="ENTag_*" or class="ENTag_Hospital" ), and control the way that those tagged entries are displayed via standard CSS stylesheet commands. So for the web version, the browser would be doing most of the work.

Now, for storage and syncing of the new display formatting commands across platforms ... I'd guess that Evernote probably already has some sort of "hidden folder" for storing notes that isn't usually displayed or searched ... if not, it should be given one. The new formatting information then gets saved as a conventional textfile note within the hidden folder, so that whenever you change display settings on one machine, they change and are stored on all machines, even if a machine runs an old version of Evernote that doesn't understand what they are.

If the system ever get extended to support tag category icons (implemented on the web version as custom bullet icons, again, via the stylesheet), then the icon graphics (default and/or user-defined) could live in the folder, too, and be synced across all machines.

For the format for storing the colour-coding info ... no need to invent anything new, just save it as a stylesheet CSS block or fragment. That means that super-duper-uber-users can hack it and play with new layout styles, and find what works and what doesn't. If some of their ideas are good (say, background colour highlights, or custom outlines), they can be adopted as options on the mainstream version. For instance, you could use the CSS "display:none" option to "stealth" all entries with a particular tag. It wouldn't be secure, but it also wouldn't require any extra code, other than the ability to somehow edit in that piece of CSS text. Perhaps have an "Advanced" button for users who know CSS to manually edit the display styles.

If certain devices have particular display challenges, that hidden folder might also be a nice place to put device-specific stylesheet info -- for instance, you might want the font size to be smaller on a Galaxy Mini. For the "OS-native" versions of Evernote, the software could read and write the key pieces of supported stylesheet info (say, easy things like font colour), even if it wasn't using CSS to display the list.

I think this could be fun.

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I think this could be fun.

Whoa, it's all just so simple. A hidden folder just solves everything. Who knew?

So, ok -- being a little disingenuous here. Prefer to walk before I fly. Just a simple ability to associate a title color with a tag would probably suffice, without complicated rules. If you apply tags that associate with different colors, you get what you get -- based on a simple arbitration scheme with no user controls or very simple ones.

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@Eric Baird On your point 1) about the note storage format...

I think it could withstand a little evolution. After all one day we'll get Due Date which will be a change. This is a kind of HTML, though wrappered. It's not necessarily a BIG problem to evolve the data model. But obviously the clients and third party apps would need to be able to handle it. Perhaps the vendors (and I'm not one) need some notice of an evolution.

Martin

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Suggest you learn to use tags. Tags (and keywords & accurate titles) allow you to rapidly pick out regularly referenced notes.

IMO, it's disrespectful to assume that someone who would like colour doesn't know how to use tags.

Since EN has never indicated that they'd be introducing the ability to color code notes, I offered a reasonable/viable way to do what the OP requested using capabilities that EN currently has. Nothing disrespectful about that at all.

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You could have one additional global "display" dialogue box "Display Tagged Entries As ...

(snip)

If you have an existing library of thousands of notes that are already categorised and tagged, the system could ...

(snip)

Even better, for the web version of Evernote, you could ...

(snip)

Sounds like a system that would create more confusion than help.

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This has been on the feature request list for as long as I've been with the company - I put it there, if it hadn't already been ;)

However, when adding a feature like this, we have to consider how it will appear on all of the clients. And at the present time, it's not a feature that scales.

Could you expand on why it doesn't "scale"?

You are already using colored text in the Snippet view. So it would seem fairly striaight forward to change the color of the Title in the Snippet.

Clearly you can set the color of text in both the Windows and Mac platforms.

It would be a big help even if the setting of the Title color was initially limited to the Win and Mac platforms.

There are many features not in the mobile platforms, and I suspect there will always be some differences.

Thanks for considering this request.

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We are endeavoring to not add new features that will not eventually be added amongst all platforms.

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We are endeavoring to not add new features that will not eventually be added amongst all platforms.

I don't think a lot of people really get how hard it is to support a multitude of platforms that are continually changing/updating as well as a multitude of configurations within each of those platforms. Similar to ziplining, If I was in my 20's again, I may consider it a challenge & fun. At 55, I consider it a nightmare & something I prefer to not do, if possible. But I'm glad EN is up to the challenge (of the platform issue...IDK their take on ziplining.) My "second brain" has evolved over the years from a paper Daytimer to a $15 Casio thing from Walmart to a Sharp Wizard to a Visor Handspring (or two) to a Palm PDA (or four) to an iPhone (or two) as well as a KFire & iPad. Many transitions were fairly painful. Well, unless moving from one Palm to another. Or one iDevice to another. In recent years, the single constant between Windows desktop/netbook, iPhone, iPad, KFire & web has been Evernote. It's so nice to have so many things I want to remember that remain in a single place that is accessible from the various devices/platforms.

I know many people have complained of the iOS RTF problems. But for me, I've encountered no problems between notes on my Windows desktops/netbook (where I do most of my EN work), my iPhone, Kindle Fire & iPad. OTOH, I've probably not had the problem b/c I'm more concerned about the notes themselves than the formatting. (If I need specific formatting, I'll use Word or Publisher.) I'm glad to see that EN's focus remains what drew me to EN & has caused me to evolve into an EN junkie. "Remember everything. Capture everything. Access anywhere. Find things fast."

And Happy New Year!!!

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We are endeavoring to not add new features that will not eventually be added amongst all platforms.

Well, I'm sure the brains at Evernote can figure out how to make color Titles across all platforms.

Thanks.

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Sounds like a system that would create more confusion than help.

Colour-coding-by-category seemed to work rather well on DateBk(5?) scheduler for the colour Palm organisers. This'd be essentially the same system as the Palm, except that the listing of tags to be assigned colours would also represent the ranking in case of any conflicts, so you'd need a way to move entries up and down the list to change their priority. That's about the only difference.

I'm having trouble recalling using any piece of PC diary software that didn't have a colour-coding or highlighting system (didn't even Lotus Organiser do it?).

Color coding in the "listing" pane also seemed to be used on every email program that I recall using for the last few years.

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Whoa, it's all just so simple. A hidden folder just solves everything. Who knew?

So, ok -- being a little disingenuous here. Prefer to walk before I fly. Just a simple ability to associate a title color with a tag would probably suffice, without complicated rules. If you apply tags that associate with different colors, you get what you get -- based on a simple arbitration scheme with no user controls or very simple ones.

Yep, basic colour-coding based on a short and manageable list of selected tags and their assigned colours would do it for me. All the other stuff is about future-proofing and extensibility, and looking toward the next generation of organiser software that combines EvernoteyStuff with diary/scheduler management.

Right now there's probably not a heck of a lot of point in applying icons or "exotic" formatting to tags while we're using the column list view (IMO), but at some future date, either Evernote or a third party will want to try applying alternative views (including "Diary" views) to an Evernote-style database, so that instead of using two mobile organiser systems (say, Evernote and CalenGoo), we can do it all from a single database (perhaps with alternative front-ends, perhaps not).

If that future is going to be based on an Evernote database (rather than on Google Calendar or some other cloud service), then Evernote need to start planning right now on how the features that people demand from a scheduler are going to be implementable on top of an Evernote database. Defining CSS as the storage format for user-selected display styles seems to me to be a good future-proofed approach, even if the "conventional" Evernote clients are only going to be using the colour info. Icons and advanced styling come in handy when you're looking at a six-month or one-year diary compacted onto a single smartphone page, and there's no room for legible text.

Re: the "hidden" notebook - I don't suppose that it even needs to be hidden if users don't mind seeing an additional "system" notebook cluttering up their list. If we're only dealing with a small number of selected tags, you might not even need the tag colours to be synced, you might have an Evernote app on your home machine highlighting things like "Home DIY", and have the copy on your work phone highlighting only things like business meetings. But the advantage of standardising is that it stops the Evernote community fragmenting, and the advantage of synching is that it encourages standardisation.

I guess we'd need to put some thought into whether colour schemes need to be synchable, and whether other system settings should have device-specific variants in the same system folder. It might be nice to have every device's preferences backed up centrally, and a system folder/notebook might be a useful way to do that.

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We are endeavoring to not add new features that will not eventually be added amongst all platforms.

Well, I'm sure the brains at Evernote can figure out how to make color Titles across all platforms.

Well, since declaring the colour of a bit of text that you want to print to a screen area is not exactly rocket science, and since Evernote isn't exactly targeting one-bit b/w displays, the only way that I can think of that this would be a difficult and platform-dependent thing to implement, would be if the native Evernote clients don't actually draw the NoteList from Evernote's own code, but but instead populate and manipulate a third-party "Outline List" widget that then draws the list.

That, hypothetically, might mean that the developers have had to use different third-party "Outline List" widgets for different platforms, and the widgets might not have the same features, and might not make it easy to dig down to deep functions, like setting the colour of a single entry.

Dunno, just guessing. it might explain, though, why screenshots of the Mac version show the Notes List as having user-definable font size, while the Windows version doesn't have that feature. If the native apps used Evernote's own code to draw the panel directly, the same upper-level redraw routines should be running on both platforms, and there'd be no obvious reason why font size was only selectable on the mac version.

If that's not the reason, then ... I'm at a loss as to what the problem is, or why it should be difficult drawing coloured text on a colour-screen OS.

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The shorter conclusion to draw might just be that this not a high or even medium priority for Evernote.....,

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Perhaps so. However, priorities do change at Evernote. Several times Evernote employees have thanked people for posting a request for features that have already been requested.

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Yup, social skills and and the ability to communicate politely are highly valued.

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Yup, social skills and and the ability to communicate politely are highly valued.

Evernoted for future reference.

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I think everyone has to admit that color coding sounds fine. Why not? Thanks for making the suggestion on the forum deepsky. The real problem is probably whether or not to actually spend time changing all of the platforms to accomodate it (see Heather's post about only adding features that can be supported across platforms).

I suspect the lively debate stems from a difference between those who want to remember everything, and those who want to organize everything (obviously not mutually exclusive). I am probably more of the former, and have no strong feelings about it either way. I doubt I would use the feature if we had it.

I suppose I can think of a lot of features I would like to see prioritized over color-coded tags. Offline tags (why offline folders but no offline tags?) would be pretty high on my list.

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Happy New Years everyone! Thanks for the suggestions and constructive discussion. Thread closed and off-topic comments removed.

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