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gavlew

other (Archived) notebooks vs tags (again!)

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I came to this forum looking for a way to nest notebooks (to more than one level). I see that lots of people have already requested this, and the consensus amongst the advanced users is that everyone should learn to use tags. So I've tried using tagging for the past month and I just don't believe that tags are the most streamlined way for me to organise my stuff. Most importantly I want to have a visual map of where my things are. This is much easier by organising my notes into notebooks. Similarly tagging means that I need to spend time actually writing the tag, ok this only takes a few seconds, but still the whole point of evernote is that it allows you to get your thoughts down quickly without the software getting in the way. It seems strange that if so many people ask for a feature they are told they are using the software in the wrong way. When we studied design at school we were told that the product should be made to fit the user, not the other way around. Why should new users have to learn to use the software the 'correct' way, a way that may not be so intuitive to their workflow. Sure, tags allow you to have tags in multiple categories, but to be honest I don't think its really time effective to put more than one tag per note anyway. I suppose my major grip is that it just doesn't seem that it would be that hard to implement, and for me, and I'm sure lots of other users, it is a major design flaw with this software. Please evernote can you sort this out!

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It's a design decision that was taken some time ago - it is really very unlikely to change.

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I suppose my major grip is that it just doesn't seem that it would be that hard to implement,

No one really knows how hard it would be to implement unless you are intimately familiar with the Evernote code & how it may affect it working on all the other platforms EN lives on.

And no one has said people are using Evernote "wrong". There is no "wrong" way. Whatever works for you is the right way. However, if you're going to use Evernote, you're simply going to have to free yourself from thinking of nested folders/notebooks & use tags. As Metrodon pointed out, it was a design decision by EN & has been that way since it's inception in early 2008. (With the exception of stacks which were implemented a couple of years ago.) Since EN does not post it's roadmap & given that the Mac client was completely redone recently & doesn't have sub-notebooks, it's reasonable to expect EN will not be adding any more tiers anytime soon, if ever.

OTOH, if this is a deal breaker for you, then Evernote is not the product for you.

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I came to this forum looking for a way to nest notebooks (to more than one level). I see that lots of people have already requested this, and the consensus amongst the advanced users is that everyone should learn to use tags. So I've tried using tagging for the past month and I just don't believe that tags are the most streamlined way for me to organise my stuff. Most importantly I want to have a visual map of where my things are. This is much easier by organising my notes into notebooks. Similarly tagging means that I need to spend time actually writing the tag, ok this only takes a few seconds, but still the whole point of evernote is that it allows you to get your thoughts down quickly without the software getting in the way. It seems strange that if so many people ask for a feature they are told they are using the software in the wrong way. When we studied design at school we were told that the product should be made to fit the user, not the other way around. Why should new users have to learn to use the software the 'correct' way, a way that may not be so intuitive to their workflow. Sure, tags allow you to have tags in multiple categories, but to be honest I don't think its really time effective to put more than one tag per note anyway. I suppose my major grip is that it just doesn't seem that it would be that hard to implement, and for me, and I'm sure lots of other users, it is a major design flaw with this software. Please evernote can you sort this out!

Hi. Welcome to the forums!

I get it. Folders (notebooks in Evernote) are a pretty brilliant organizational development in human history. Some cultures used to store scrolls and loose papers in boxes, or they strung papers together to keep them organized, so it isn't a small thing to have reached the point of having folders!

However, Evernote is designed to be your external brain, and so (in my opinion) it emphasizes associations (tags) over hierarchies (notebooks). I don't know if it is "right" or "wrong," but that is how it has been for a few years now, and I don't see it as likely to change anytime soon. This is not because Evernote is ignoring its users (only a few of the 40 million + users are on these forums), but because (like any developer) they have to make design decisions, and decisions by their nature are polarizing -- some will like them and some won't.

So, what can you do? There are lots of resources out there to help make the most of your Evernote account. I have a website, where I explain my approach (http://www.princeton...ganization.html). And, there are plenty of threads about notebooks and tags. Here is one that seems to have generated an especially fruitful discussion: http://discussion.ev...nested-folders/

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I can see where the OP is coming from, and to an extent I agree. Structuring folders is so much more intuitive than tags. The advantage to tags is that they can they can appear in multiple places, but the disadvantage is that they....um, can appear in multiple places.

For Evernote though, I do believe the tagging system makes more sense. I would argue that storing data in folders makes more sense for large files, not for smaller "notes" and "scribbles" that you'd typically find in Evernote. If your plan is to use hierarchical notebooks I would almost suggest flipping over to Dropbox or using a file system as you'd see on your PC or Mac.

The advantage of tags is that you can quickly scroll through ALL of your notes without having to look inside each notebook you may have.

Like I said, I hear where you're coming from - believe me. That's why I've adopted the keep-it-simple-and-use-the-least-amount-of-tags-and-notebooks theory. Everything goes into one or two notebooks, my tags apply to high-level categories (House, Car, Receipts), and then the search function guides me from there.

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Personally, I would like to see multilevel structuring like folders as well. I think tags are fantastic and have the benefit that a note can belong to multiple notebooks. I do use multiple tags on each note so I can access them via different themes and searches, but I there are times it would be useful for me to have subnotebooks.

Not a deal breaker for me as I love Evernote, but a LOT of people do ask for the feature so it would be worth taking these voices into consideration rather than treating people who like a multilevel structure as people who need to "get over it." It is a valid user experience feedback.

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It's a valid request. It's been a valid request since I started visiting the forums four years ago. It just doesn't seem to be a direction that Evernote is interested in going towards. Maybe the fact that they've been able to grow so quickly in that time without notebook hierarchies is validating their design choice. Or maybe they're just plain not interested in doing it. As I say, it's still a valid request.

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I came to this forum looking for a way to nest notebooks (to more than one level).

Maybe if you specified how you're wanting to organize your stuff someone could suggest a way to use the existing level of nesting along with tags to help you. You could use naming conventions for nested notebooks, for instance, to bring more specificity to notebooks.

Did you know you could nest tags? Maybe that could help....

Essentially you've told us, "I want to use a screwdriver as a hammer" instead of telling us, "I want to build something that looks like this and I want to build it with this screwdriver." Totally different approaches and only one can yield you any helpful information.

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They came up with stacks, so it might be possible to have nests. It seems that each notebook has a pointer to a stack.

In order to nest, each notebook would have to be on a chain, hopefully chained both ways.

Should not take a lot of extra space, but it would add to the PC cpu overhead each time a folder was referenced.

Or, it would probably still need the pointer to the head of the chain, and a count of it's position within the chain.

Moving folders and other operations would then be more complicated, or cpu intensive, depending on the db size.

It would surely take extra PC cpu, and it would cause the folder area on the left of the screen, depending on your view, to take up more horizantal room, as the folders were displayed, etc., unless they used a +, but kept all the folders in line, opening them one at the time, sort of like the favorites folder. But then, if you opened a stack with a lot of nested folders, they would flow off the bottom of the screen, and could become a scrolling nightmare. Hmmm.

But then, nested favorites work pretty good on the left of my IE8 browser.

Of course I have not addressed how search would ever work in a nested environment. Hmmm again.

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Hi all, thanks for your welcomes, and coments.

Just in case anyone is thinking 'well if you don't like it don't use it' I actually love Evernote, it has completely changed the way I organise my stuff, and I could now not image being without it. It is because it is so useful, and because it is now so integrated into my life, that the lack of this feature, is so frustrating. It has made me look elsewhere, but so far I havn't found any real completitors that offer the sync between phone and computer.

BurgersNFries: No one really knows how hard it would be to implement unless you are intimately familiar with the Evernote code & how it may affect it working on all the other platforms EN lives on.

Of course you are totally right, any opinions as a user are pure guess work, but having worked at some software development companies, I know how relatively simple features/problems can go unchanged release after release, for many reasons other than difficulty with actually implementing the code. I simply cannot believe that from the programming side implementing this on the desktop version can be that difficult, I mean, if they can have one level of nested notebooks, why not two?

However I think your point about the other platforms is spot on. Maybe the problem is how would you design this for the interface of the iPhone/Android version? I can see that creating a GUI where the user is able to expand out notebooks ad infinitum could be a problem on a limited phone screen. In fact it seems that nested tags are not supported on the phone app (all the tags display in a list, not a hierarchy) so this may be the case.

BenjPhoto: Maybe if you specified how you're wanting to organize your stuff someone could suggest a way to use the existing level of nesting along with tags to help you.

Thanks for response Benj, I'm a lecturer, I teach 3 modules per semester, each module has 12 classes. Currently I have a notebook for each class, a notebook stack for each module, but then I like to group them by year, so I've run out of nested levels. My workaround is to include the year into the name of the stack, which is fine, but I now have about 30 (and growing) stacks listed down the side, which is rather clutered. Maybe it's a small grumble but it's not that small if you consider that one of the main points of using evernote is organisation. I could use nested tags, but then I would have to include at least 3 tags per note.

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I also teach classes, and in my case I have a single notebook. It really isn't that big of a deal to organize it. In my case, I do it by titles, and I've already linked to that in my earlier post. You could also use a tag hierarchy like:

bio101

bio101-2012-fall-mod01

bio101-2012-fall-mod02

bio101-2012-fall-mod03

bio101-2013-spring-mod01

bio101-2013-spring-mod02

bio101-2013-spring-mod03

Every note would get two tags: bio and the one for the semester that you taught the class. Alternatively (I would be more partial to this), you could just use one tag, and then use the YYMMDD at the beginning of each note so that everything lines up chronologically. A saved search for "tag:bio101-mod01" would show all of the mod 1 classes you have taught arranged in order from most recent to least (with a title sort).

bio101-mod01

bio101-mod02

bio101-mod03

Of course, I can't end without mentioning how I actually do it, which is using no tags at all, so that each note is: "YYMMDD spring bio 101 mod 01 meeting 01." A search for "intitle:13* intitle:"spring bio 101 mod 01" would yield the same results as the tags above, but with none of the hassle of actual tagging. If you did want to tag later (maybe for archival or browsing purposes), you could do it by bulk by just selecting these search results and applying a tag.

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Hi gavlew,

Welcome to the forum.

Always an interesting debate when this comes up.

Requesting a feature is good, but don't let it stop you using the software!

The important issue is to look at software such as Evernote and decide if it solves your problem. It does seem as though you have already done that.

The next thing is to work out what the limitations are and find a work round for those limitations. You will find if you look outside the box that 'tags' will probably solve your problem. But, because you have never worked that way before it can be hard to see it. I may be wrong, but nonetheless it is worth being open minded to yourself about what you want.

I have mentioned this before (must Evernote it, so I don't have to type it out next time). I used to sell quality control software back in the day of floppy discs. Two discs cost about £25k. A lot of money even by today's standard!

Customers would often ask for a feature in the software that was not there. A bit like asking for nested notebooks! My reply was always the same, yes we can put it to the team to see if it is an often requested feature at one of our monthly meetings. But if you want it now, the cost will be in excess of £250k to add it in! The reply was always one of shock. But of course if you use a team to write something NOW it costs a lot of money. It may be of use to others and may be added as some date. But remember, that the percentages of potential users will need to be high to add feature that will probably take 6 months plus of testing to make sure it works!

Or!!!

'You could work within the limitations of the software!'

Hope that helps.

Best regards

Chris

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but I now have about 30 (and growing) stacks listed down the side, which is rather clutered.

It seems then that your major complaint is that you have too many classes to look at running down the side. Seems like all the more reason to use tags and then use searches for filtering, assuring that you'll only see the notes for a given class in a given time period.

If you think of it as actual notebooks (or other books) and stacks you wouldn't complain that there was no way to stack a stack within a stack of books..... Nor would you complain that you can't stack a shelf inside another shelf on a bookcase. You could also view it as file cabinets and folders with many folders in a file cabinet but not multiple folders inside other folders inside other folders..... If that helps you get your mind around it. Sometimes how we think about a thing overshadows the thing itself, most often to the detriment of that thing and our relationship to it.

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