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other (Archived) Why is EN different on every platform?

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I can understand why the EN UI needs to be slightly different in different platforms to either take advantage of, or accommodate, features of each OS.  But why is basic functionality implemented differently, partially, or not at all?

 

Example:  Like many people, I stacks to organize my notebooks.  These show up as stacks on the Mac, web and IOS platforms.  I also use a set of shared notebooks from a collaborator and I've put those into a stack and it looks like any other stack on the Mac.  But the stack doesn't exist at all on the web or IOS platforms.  Why?  Why does the organizational structure break down when I access my data, which is all in the cloud anyway, from a different platform?

 

Example:  I use tags create as a quick cross notebook organizational tool.  But when I try to use a tag for a shared note, I'm told "Only tags that already exist in this notebook can be used for this note".  What does that mean?  How does a tag get used in a notebook if I can't apply it to a note?  Clearly there is different treatment of the shared notebook/note than my own.

 

EN could be a great tool, essentially a personal or SMB version of Lotus/IBM Notes, but the implementation is maddening.  We want this product to work, we want this functionality, but the developers seem to have a very limited vision with no attempt to create a common cross platform experience.

 

These very forums are evidence of the problem.  Every platform has it's own forum, because the functionality is different on every platform.  This is very odd for a cloud based application.  None of the data resides locally, yet features which must be represented with control information in the cloud, don't make it to every client platform.

 

Setting up tags or stacks on one platform, only to learn that the functionality is not present on another is very counter productive.  EN should enhance productivity, not squander it.  I would like to see a common cross platform experience, or at least common cross platform functionality.

 

Anyone else?

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From a selfish position, no thanks. The Windows environment is fine as it is.

With the big Windows upgrade coming soon, I fervently hope they do not remove stuff (views) like they recently did with the Mac.

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Hi Boatguy,

 

I guess you already know that each platform has a specific team working on it? These teams operate to maximise the best use of Evernote on their specific platforms.

 

I am struggling with your description and problem regarding what you describe as stacks.

 

Obviously there are no stacks in Evernote, but you can group Notebooks under a specific heading. Something I do. The groups I have set up are available in the following devices:

 

Windows laptop

iMac computer

iPad

Android phone

Web

 

So I am not sure why you are not getting this functionality. It could be I have misunderstood your problem?

 

Best regards

 

Chris

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Hi Boatguy,

 

I guess you already know that each platform has a specific team working on it? These teams operate to maximise the best use of Evernote on their specific platforms.

 

I am struggling with your description and problem regarding what you describe as stacks.

 

Obviously there are no stacks in Evernote, but you can group Notebooks under a specific heading. Something I do. The groups I have set up are available in the following devices:

 

Windows laptop

iMac computer

iPad

Android phone

Web

 

So I am not sure why you are not getting this functionality. It could be I have misunderstood your problem?

 

Best regards

 

Chris

 

Each platform can have it's own team of developers since certainly the programming environments are very different.  But that does not necessitate that the core functionality of EN will be different on every platform; it's simply evidence of poor product management and weak leadership.  Unless of course they want to promote EN as half a dozen different products with different features, capabilities and pricing.  The current offering is that EN is one product, with clients on many platforms, because that's what the market wants, access to their notes wherever, whenever.

 

I completely understand that not every platform can necessarily support all the functionality.  For example if a given platform had no audio capability it would not be possible to record audio notes.  But the case I'm questioning is core organizational functionality (stacks and tags) which are not constrained by the platform.

 

EN does indeed have stacks as you can see from a quick search of the knowledge base using the argument "stacks".  And the promise of EN from the home page is the ability to Capture Anything, Access Anywhere and Find Things Fast.  That's not possible if when you look "anywhere" the organizational structure and tools available are different on every platform.  It's an excellent example of the "conservation of complexity" where weak EN product management has allowed the programming staff to push the complexity onto the customer.

 

So it begs the question, why does the product not match the marketing?  Why does EN tolerate having essentially 10 products, each on a single platform, rather than a single product available on 10 platforms?  It's not a rhetorical question, the difference in the ability to organize and access notes on different platforms significantly undercuts the usability of the product.

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Hi Boatguy,

 

I guess you already know that each platform has a specific team working on it? These teams operate to maximise the best use of Evernote on their specific platforms.

 

I am struggling with your description and problem regarding what you describe as stacks.

 

Obviously there are no stacks in Evernote, but you can group Notebooks under a specific heading. Something I do. The groups I have set up are available in the following devices:

 

Windows laptop

iMac computer

iPad

Android phone

Web

 

So I am not sure why you are not getting this functionality. It could be I have misunderstood your problem?

 

Best regards

 

Chris

 

Each platform can have it's own team of developers since certainly the programming environments are very different.  But that does not necessitate that the core functionality of EN will be different on every platform; it's simply evidence of poor product management and weak leadership.  Unless of course they want to promote EN as half a dozen different products with different features, capabilities and pricing.  The current offering is that EN is one product, with clients on many platforms, because that's what the market wants, access to their notes wherever, whenever.

 

I completely understand that not every platform can necessarily support all the functionality.  For example if a given platform had no audio capability it would not be possible to record audio notes.  But the case I'm questioning is core organizational functionality (stacks and tags) which are not constrained by the platform.

 

EN does indeed have stacks as you can see from a quick search of the knowledge base using the argument "stacks".  And the promise of EN from the home page is the ability to Capture Anything, Access Anywhere and Find Things Fast.  That's not possible if when you look "anywhere" the organizational structure and tools available are different on every platform.  It's an excellent example of the "conservation of complexity" where weak EN product management has allowed the programming staff to push the complexity onto the customer.

 

So it begs the question, why does the product not match the marketing?  Why does EN tolerate having essentially 10 products, each on a single platform, rather than a single product available on 10 platforms?  It's not a rhetorical question, the difference in the ability to organize and access notes on different platforms significantly undercuts the usability of the product.

 

I agree that Evernote ought to have some of the same basic functionality across platform, especially for the key organizational items like tags, notebooks, and stacks. Everyone has notebooks, many people have stacks, and some people have tags, so any work in achieving parity across platforms will pay off for Evernote and end users. 

 

The good news is that Evernote is getting closer and closer to achieving this, especially with the iOS app, which has come a long ways in the last few months. I don't think Evernote has broken any promises, though, so we'll disagree on that point. As one of the few apps present on every major platform, I think it is a rare case of having a very complex and robust ecosystem that works across everything. Naturally, there are rough spots, but by pointing out each of these and drawing developer attention to them, I think we'll end up with better apps sooner rather than later. 

 

Specifically, I am a little confused about your original problem, but I think it has something to do with the different behavior you see in shared/joined/business notebooks. Compared to a year ago, all three are considerably improved (business didn't even exist) but they have a long ways to go yet. I strongly believe we ought to have shared stacks, and we certainly ought to be able to create, delete, and edit tags within joined notebooks to which we have modification privileges. Ideally (in my fantasy world), we would have shared tags that perform much like shared notebooks, but are more flexible, because they don't require us to cannibalize our notes from their original notebooks and stick them into shared ones. However, I haven't been able to get any traction with this (admittedly) more radical suggestion. 

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GM - Would it be fair to say we're in total agreement that as of today core functionality is either not available or inconsistently implemented (functionality, not UI) when looking across all platforms.?

 

And your view on this is that "it's getting better"?

 

My question is why would core functionality, like stacks and tags in both personal and shared notes/notebooks, not be available on all platforms?   Why introduce a core feature, then frustrate the users by only implementing it on what appears to be randomly chosen platforms?  The frustration comes from a lack of transparency about what exists where.  When I create a tag or stack with the Mac or web client, there is no message that says "caution - this feature is not available on x, y z platforms".  I'm lead down the path of thinking it works everywhere.  Then I discover that it doesn't work on another platform which pisses me off because I've wasted my time on an organizational scheme that won't work on the other platforms AND I have to do my own testing to find out where and how it it might work on other platforms.

 

EN is a productivity tool.  Forcing me to do my own testing to figure out what works and doesn't work cross platform wastes my time and is reduces my productivity.  In the interest of transparency, why doesn't EN publish a matrix of core features and document what does/doesn't work on each platform and what constraints exist?  Why force the users to "discover" the matrix on our own?

 

Transparency, not apologies, would go a long way to addressing my issue.

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GM - Would it be fair to say we're in total agreement that as of today core functionality is either not available or inconsistently implemented (functionality, not UI) when looking across all platforms.?

 

And your view on this is that "it's getting better"?

 

My question is why would core functionality, like stacks and tags in both personal and shared notes/notebooks, not be available on all platforms?   Why introduce a core feature, then frustrate the users by only implementing it on what appears to be randomly chosen platforms?  The frustration comes from a lack of transparency about what exists where.  When I create a tag or stack with the Mac or web client, there is no message that says "caution - this feature is not available on x, y z platforms".  I'm lead down the path of thinking it works everywhere.  Then I discover that it doesn't work on another platform which pisses me off because I've wasted my time on an organizational scheme that won't work on the other platforms AND I have to do my own testing to find out where and how it it might work on other platforms.

 

EN is a productivity tool.  Forcing me to do my own testing to figure out what works and doesn't work cross platform wastes my time and is reduces my productivity.  In the interest of transparency, why doesn't EN publish a matrix of core features and document what does/doesn't work on each platform and what constraints exist?  Why force the users to "discover" the matrix on our own?

 

Transparency, not apologies, would go a long way to addressing my issue.

 

We can't address why certain features take a long time to roll out to all the platforms, as evangelists do not work for Evernote.  If you were to get a reply from an EN employee, it would most likely not be any more definitive than what GM posted. 

 

As far as doing your own testing...that should be a given.  It's called due diligence.  Over the near-40 years I've been in IT, I've sat through many demos & become enamored with an app only to find out in the wild, it may not address all the issues I need it for.  One to one-plus-X hour demos often do not fully mimic the real world issues users encounter.  The best way for anyone to determine if any app (not just EN) will work well for their use (be it business or personal) is to actually use the app in the wild. 

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GM - Would it be fair to say we're in total agreement that as of today core functionality is either not available or inconsistently implemented (functionality, not UI) when looking across all platforms.?

 

And your view on this is that "it's getting better"?

 

My question is why would core functionality, like stacks and tags in both personal and shared notes/notebooks, not be available on all platforms?   Why introduce a core feature, then frustrate the users by only implementing it on what appears to be randomly chosen platforms?  The frustration comes from a lack of transparency about what exists where.  When I create a tag or stack with the Mac or web client, there is no message that says "caution - this feature is not available on x, y z platforms".  I'm lead down the path of thinking it works everywhere.  Then I discover that it doesn't work on another platform which pisses me off because I've wasted my time on an organizational scheme that won't work on the other platforms AND I have to do my own testing to find out where and how it it might work on other platforms.

 

EN is a productivity tool.  Forcing me to do my own testing to figure out what works and doesn't work cross platform wastes my time and is reduces my productivity.  In the interest of transparency, why doesn't EN publish a matrix of core features and document what does/doesn't work on each platform and what constraints exist?  Why force the users to "discover" the matrix on our own?

 

Transparency, not apologies, would go a long way to addressing my issue.

 

I'd say we are in agreement that key features are inconsistently implemented across clients (could anyone disagree with this?), that it should be more consistent, and that users shouldn't have to do the legwork themselves. However, as BNF said (and I have said as well http://www.christopher-mayo.com/?p=127), the situation is that you must do this work on your own at the present time. I hope that Evernote will create some kind of super table that shows all of the features so that people can easily see which features are available where. I've thought about doing it myself, but I am a little too lazy, and a little too busy to do it on my own dime. It turns out that it takes a bit of time and effort to keep up with all the changes!

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As far as doing your own testing...that should be a given.  It's called due diligence.  Over the near-40 years I've been in IT, I've sat through many demos & become enamored with an app only to find out in the wild, it may not address all the issues I need it for.  One to one-plus-X hour demos often do not fully mimic the real world issues users encounter.  The best way for anyone to determine if any app (not just EN) will work well for their use (be it business or personal) is to actually use the app in the wild. 

 

 

Absolute nonsense.  I don't know where you've spent your 40 years in IT, but here is an example of professional product marketing for a similar product:  Lotus/IBM Notes

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Very nice thread. I've been thinking a lot on this topic recently for two reasons:

  1. the release of reminders - why the hell release it only for some platforms? 
  2. As a paid user and a Linux user I would like to see true and *consistent*cross platform application.

I think Evernote should stop playing favoritism on platforms. The OS is not so relevant anymore. I do understand the business side of it - bottom line, Mac users are paying for the premium version more than Windows users. But creating an inconsistent experience is not helping the business model.

 

I am a more technical user so forcing some of complexity of the application on me doesn't bug me too much. For example, when they allowed searching through my documents I was elated... but in order to search effectively I had to learn which mime type I wanted to search through. I just asked for help on the forums and I got it but it still required some leg work. Most people though are not like me.   I want Evernote to survive because I rely on it in my professional life. So I definitely think they should start shielding user from the complexity - while of course allowing the technical types to get knee deep in it. 

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As far as doing your own testing...that should be a given.  It's called due diligence.  Over the near-40 years I've been in IT, I've sat through many demos & become enamored with an app only to find out in the wild, it may not address all the issues I need it for.  One to one-plus-X hour demos often do not fully mimic the real world issues users encounter.  The best way for anyone to determine if any app (not just EN) will work well for their use (be it business or personal) is to actually use the app in the wild. 

 

 

Absolute nonsense.  I don't know where you've spent your 40 years in IT, but here is an example of professional product marketing for a similar product:  Lotus/IBM Notes

 

Oh man.. I like you a lot :)

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As far as doing your own testing...that should be a given.  It's called due diligence.  Over the near-40 years I've been in IT, I've sat through many demos & become enamored with an app only to find out in the wild, it may not address all the issues I need it for.  One to one-plus-X hour demos often do not fully mimic the real world issues users encounter.  The best way for anyone to determine if any app (not just EN) will work well for their use (be it business or personal) is to actually use the app in the wild.

 

Absolute nonsense.  I don't know where you've spent your 40 years in IT, but here is an example of professional product marketing for a similar product:  Lotus/IBM Notes

 

If Lotus Notes works so well for you, then great.  IME/IMO, they were more of a PITA.  And apparently, you've not demo'd much software to be used by you or your users.  Or else you were incredibly lucky.  I do not entrust any (ANY) software wholeheartedly unless & until it's passed a trial stage. 

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Very nice thread. I've been thinking a lot on this topic recently for two reasons:

  • the release of reminders - why the hell release it only for some platforms? 
  • As a paid user and a Linux user I would like to see true and *consistent*cross platform application.
The client release thingy has been explained by Evernote staff, heather for sure, and also Dave Engberg. The different teams are largely independent, and that's so that one team's releases aren't dependent on those of other teams. Obviously they do need to sync up to some degree, particularly where note format and API are concerned; for example, when reminders first appeared in the Android betas, they would get clobbered if you edited the associated note in Windows and synced back -- that doesn't happen now, as far as I've been able to tell, so some cognizance of reminders is in place behind the scenes, even if the UI isn't ready. So Windows users (I'm one) lose out on first appearance of this particular feature this time.

One guess is that reminders on the Windows client are currently delayed due to a much-rumored big UI change, a la Mac 5. I have no actual reason to believe that that's true, though.

So while I do wish that Evernote had more consistency across its different clients, and it would be nice if features released across the board all at once, I do understand the dynamic...

I think Evernote should stop playing favoritism on platforms. The OS is not so relevant anymore. I do understand the business side of it - bottom line, Mac users are paying for the premium version more than Windows users. But creating an inconsistent experience is not helping the business model.

... and I don't see any obvious favoritism in terms of new features; sometimes they come out on one platform first, sometimes another. I sure don't see any bias towards the Mac -- after all, the Windows client generally is looked on as more powerful than that of the Mac in a number of respects, flexibility of note viewing probably being the biggest one.

 

I am a more technical user so forcing some of complexity of the application on me doesn't bug me too much. For example, when they allowed searching through my documents I was elated... but in order to search effectively I had to learn which mime type I wanted to search through. I just asked for help on the forums and I got it but it still required some leg work. Most people though are not like me.   I want Evernote to survive because I rely on it in my professional life. So I definitely think they should start shielding user from the complexity - while of course allowing the technical types to get knee deep in it.

The mime type business could be made easier. Even technical types don't want to wade through complexity all the time. Not sure what this point has to do with the rest of your comment.

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I will put a slightly sharper point on this thread.  I have a small premium group.  I would enlarge that group significantly, but I'm not willing to do the research to figure out the features which will reliably work across all platforms.  Nor am I willing to be the EN apologist and explain to everyone why the product works so unpredictably as they change platforms, or when they attempt to assist a collaborator using a different platform.  That's not a good use of my time and there are other ways to share the information we need to share that are consistent across platforms which don't require an on site apologist and support person.

 

Features like stacks, which is already just a band aid for a fully nested hierarchy, or tags, which could provide great hyper linking so that meta structures can be created that are not hierarchical are very basic, but aren't even implemented across all platforms.

 

EN has enormous potential for both personal, group, SMB and enterprise applications, but it's not ready for prime time.

 

Note to EN:  Allowing 10 groups to develop 10 products and then trying to market them as one is inhibiting your revenue growth.

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Ok, I've read a bit of the threat without being moved a little bit, so I will plainly put on some solutions that might (not) work for EN (be aware that I don't use EN as whole, just Clearly).

  1. Make a library: Yeah, just make the back end as an library and build over that for each and every platform. That's what extensions/addons do for browsers, so let's think a bit about it.
  2. Don't try to make many things half-asset and just do the necessary right: Ok, we want to sell features, but it's better a tool that lacks some shady features that only find place in some niches while the gross of your users have to come up with a lot of problems about the basic main functionality?
  3. The users can give solutions too! I know all developers hate the "client from hell", but some of them have nice ideas and approaches to problems that anyone couldn't think of. Also, encourage users to report errors, give feedback, test upcoming releases (you have beta releases, no?) and suggest actual code work.
  4. I will update this list later. Not that I lack ideas but just none came into my deprived of sleep mind now. Also anyone can add some ideas too, since where there is a problem there's also a solution, no?

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Don't see a lot of point to this discussion to be honest - if you're a professional user you do due diligence on your software and use whatever fits your needs with the lowest risk profile. If you're a run of the mill user you use what's conveniently available until you find something better.

 

In neither case do you try to browbeat a software house into materially changing some or all of its products because they don't fit your use case.

 

The economics of the trade work on the basis that a software producer has a product that costs serious money to change and can easily lose a lot more serious money if existing users don't like a new version, it's going to look at all the requests for change it gets and do its own risk analysis as to whether or not to react,  and when.

 

So it's good to comment,  but pretty dumb to expect any sort of immediate 'yes!' or '-nah' reaction.

 

Likewise you may disapprove all you want of the company's overall strategy,  but unless you happen to own a significant portion of its stock,  it's likely the company will consider it knows its own situation and business a lot better than any outside commentator...

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Don't see a lot of point to this discussion to be honest - if you're a professional user you do due diligence on your software and use whatever fits your needs with the lowest risk profile. If you're a run of the mill user you use what's conveniently available until you find something better.

 

In neither case do you try to browbeat a software house into materially changing some or all of its products because they don't fit your use case.

 

The economics of the trade work on the basis that a software producer has a product that costs serious money to change and can easily lose a lot more serious money if existing users don't like a new version, it's going to look at all the requests for change it gets and do its own risk analysis as to whether or not to react,  and when.

 

So it's good to comment,  but pretty dumb to expect any sort of immediate 'yes!' or '-nah' reaction.

 

Likewise you may disapprove all you want of the company's overall strategy,  but unless you happen to own a significant portion of its stock,  it's likely the company will consider it knows its own situation and business a lot better than any outside commentator...

I fully understand the economics of the software business, especially a subscription based business like EN.  And I don't expect a reaction at all from EN.  What I don't understand is the economics of being an unpaid evangelist (aka apologist) for the company.  Is that a tag that EN assigns people who make a lot of posts, or is it something you sought out?

 

Where I disagree with you is on the value of providing feedback to a developer / company.  Developers of all sorts spend a fair amount of money on focus groups and user testing; these forums are a dramatically less expensive way to gather customer feedback, though clearly less structured and challenging to quantify.  I believe that EN monitors these forums and uses it as customer input, though of course they ultimately make up their own minds what to do.  If in fact they rely on evangelists to summarize the feedback for them, they are practicing some very false economics in expecting to get something for nothing.

 

The purpose of the post, and the question posted, is to learn whether customers who use multiple platforms are happy with the inconsistent implementation of core features.

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I can assure you that if you noticed any smidgeon of apology in my previous post,  it was an unintended typo; and a web pro like yourself won't need my help to find a few of the many definitions of "evangelist" that don't include that concept in any form. I'm active on this forum to help users find work-arounds for common problems,  and steal any good ideas I find to add to my own Evernote activities. The economic pay-off is in the fact that I still learn new things after a few years of 'power' usage.  And I get to show off in a nice way.

 

If your purpose here really is to find out whether users are happy with inconsistent implementations,  you have definitely been wasting your time.  It's a given that everyone thinks it would be far more convenient if every platform was -as far as technically possible- identical in its presentation.  Probably even Evernote feels the same way.  However it ain't going to happen in the short or (probably) medium term,  so I repeat - I really don't see the point of the discussion. 

 

Evernote will have noted the comments you've made (they don't rely on anyone to spoon feed the content) and -maybe- they'll improve things with the next version,  or the one after that...  but of course they don't publish route plans or delivery dates,  so we'll just have to wait and see.

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What I don't understand is the economics of being an unpaid evangelist (aka apologist) for the company.  Is that a tag that EN assigns people who make a lot of posts, or is it something you sought out?

And I'm afraid I don't see the economics of trying to get answers by calling people names.

But since you ask, Evernote offers the title to folks who regularly try help out other users in their user forum. People so offered may accept or not. Can't speak for others, but I didn't seek anything like that out.

Not everything is about money.

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First, I was actually curious how the title's were applied since my own appears as "Alliance Lackey" which sounds faintly related to Star Wars and doesn't sound that flattering but is presumably assigned by the Forum software under the direction of some EN support person.

 

With regard to "apologist", I didn't consider it name calling, but rather a statement of fact.  My experience on these forums is that evangelists are very quick to defend EN whenever any poster makes a critical comment.  They are what Tom Wolfe called "flack catchers" which do the dirty work for EN.  This thread is an excellent example.  It is somewhat critical of EN and it has drawn out three evangelists, one who calls the thread a waste of time.  I was not looking for "help" which is the purpose of evangelists per jefito, yet two evangelists were drawn to the thread to defend EN.  The thread has essentially been highjacked by the evangelists.  If the only role of the evangelists is to provide help, there was no need to participate in this thread as I was not seeking help.

 

It's also interesting that I have received three personal messages from users who were in total agreement with the OP, but are apparently unwilling to be seen as critical in a forum.  This is called "self censorship" and is generally considered a bad thing in an open society.

 

Of course evangelists also provide useful assistance to users, many times while trying to rationalize why the customer's poor experience is the customer's fault.  But it should be obvious to everyone that the amount of support necessary is inversely proportional to the quality of the design/implementation and the degree to which the developers have ignored the "conservation of complexity".

 

Which brings me to the point that was missed by gazumped,  Of course the UI and presentation must be different on different platforms with different sized screens, input devices, etc.  But the core functionality should be available on all platforms and work in a predictable manner.  The ability to nest notebooks within notebooks (aka Stacks) is one example of such functionality.  It does not exist at all on some platforms or exists only partially (e.g., for presentation while the ability to edit/create is not available) and is not consistently implemented.  Just an example.

 

My question, is whether other users believe the inconsistent implementation of core functionality confuses them and their collaborators, undercuts the usefulness of the product, decreases the value of our subscriptions, increases support cost (driving the need for evangelists) and ultimately reduces EN's market penetration.

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First, I was actually curious how the title's were applied since my own appears as "Alliance Lackey" which sounds faintly related to Star Wars and doesn't sound that flattering but is presumably assigned by the Forum software under the direction of some EN support person.

 

With regard to "apologist", I didn't consider it name calling, but rather a statement of fact.  My experience on these forums is that evangelists are very quick to defend EN whenever any poster makes a critical comment.  They are what Tom Wolfe called "flack catchers" which do the dirty work for EN.  This thread is an excellent example.  It is somewhat critical of EN and it has drawn out three evangelists, one who calls the thread a waste of time.  I was not looking for "help" which is the purpose of evangelists per jefito, yet two evangelists were drawn to the thread to defend EN.  The thread has essentially been highjacked by the evangelists.  If the only role of the evangelists is to provide help, there was no need to participate in this thread as I was not seeking help.

 

It's also interesting that I have received three personal messages from users who were in total agreement with the OP, but are apparently unwilling to be seen as critical in a forum.  This is called "self censorship" and is generally considered a bad thing in an open society.

 

Of course evangelists also provide useful assistance to users, many times while trying to rationalize why the customer's poor experience is the customer's fault.  But it should be obvious to everyone that the amount of support necessary is inversely proportional to the quality of the design/implementation and the degree to which the developers have ignored the "conservation of complexity".

 

Which brings me to the point that was missed by gazumped,  Of course the UI and presentation must be different on different platforms with different sized screens, input devices, etc.  But the core functionality should be available on all platforms and work in a predictable manner.  The ability to nest notebooks within notebooks (aka Stacks) is one example of such functionality.  It does not exist at all on some platforms or exists only partially (e.g., for presentation while the ability to edit/create is not available) and is not consistently implemented.  Just an example.

 

My question, is whether other users believe the inconsistent implementation of core functionality confuses them and their collaborators, undercuts the usefulness of the product, decreases the value of our subscriptions, increases support cost (driving the need for evangelists) and ultimately reduces EN's market penetration.

 

I suppose you are counting me in there somewhere in your Evangelist tally, but I didn't see it as an "attack" by you, so I didn't see anything there for me to "defend." In fact, I thought we concluded that you and I have several points of agreement. Personally, I'd like to see as many people as possible posting here, and I welcome any comments. 

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Which brings me to the point that was missed by gazumped

 

I agreed with the guy (on one point) and he still trashes me.

 

"Alliance Lackey" - and I'm an "operative" - anyone sensing a theme here?

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With regard to "apologist", I didn't consider it name calling, but rather a statement of fact.  My experience on these forums is that evangelists are very quick to defend EN whenever any poster makes a critical comment.  They are what Tom Wolfe called "flack catchers" which do the dirty work for EN.  This thread is an excellent example.  It is somewhat critical of EN and it has drawn out three evangelists, one who calls the thread a waste of time.  I was not looking for "help" which is the purpose of evangelists per jefito, yet two evangelists were drawn to the thread to defend EN.  The thread has essentially been highjacked by the evangelists.  If the only role of the evangelists is to provide help, there was no need to participate in this thread as I was not seeking help.

Your "fact" is in fact pure myth. Just because you posted first doesn't make it your thread. You are not the only person to ask a question here -- if you bothered to take any pains at all to notice, my first post here was in reply to rimez, not you. When you started calling evangelists names, that deserved a response, not for Evernote's benefit, but because you are just plain wrong about what evangelists do here. And btw, you actually did get an answer to the question that you posed about how people become evangelists.

 

 

It's also interesting that I have received three personal messages from users who were in total agreement with the OP, but are apparently unwilling to be seen as critical in a forum.  This is called "self censorship" and is generally considered a bad thing in an open society.

If people don't want to post publicly on the forums, then that's their business. I don't discuss the PMs that I get, because they're, uh, private. PMs prove nothing.

 

 

Of course evangelists also provide useful assistance to users, many times while trying to rationalize why the customer's poor experience is the customer's fault.

Gosh, thanks for the nice back-handed compliment there.

 

My question, is whether other users believe the inconsistent implementation of core functionality confuses them and their collaborators, undercuts the usefulness of the product, decreases the value of our subscriptions, increases support cost (driving the need for evangelists) and ultimately reduces EN's market penetration.

The simple answer to this is "probably yes, to some degree"; the size of the effect is, of course, not measurable in any practicable way, and I probably think that it's less than you do, but so what? But see? Stick to real questions rather than name-calling, and you might get real answers.

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@Boatguy: thank you for very clear and well defined views! I have the exact same experience as you, and I appreciate very much the time and effort you have put into your posts. I really wish Evernote to succeed, as it has very nice functionality, but the negative development with version 5 and the strange differences between platforms make it very difficult for me to recommend the product.

 

Why the evangelists feel a need to defend EN against any criticism is very strange to me.

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Why the evangelists feel a need to defend EN against any criticism is very strange to me.

If you think that that's all evangelists do, you are very much mistaken.
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Why the evangelists feel a need to defend EN against any criticism is very strange to me.

If you think that that's all evangelists do, you are very much mistaken.

 

I don't think that at all. I know that the evangelists help out very much -- I've been helped many times by them/you. This makes it all the more strange to me that several evangelists so often feel a need to defend EN against criticism.

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OK....so a lot of people (esp., the Evangelists) have been offended by boatguy. Though I agree that he was being a bit rude in singling out the Evangelists, who for the most part are quite helpful (except one, who never seems to help but only attacks people - constantly), he is right that you guys do tend to pounce on anyone who says anything remotely negative at all about EN.  If you don't like what he says then ignore him. If the thread is as useless as you believe it is, then it will go away and be buried deep in the belly of the forum. 

 

Personally, I think this is great topic. As *it is* obvious that the EN staff do, from time to time, visit the forum, it's completely legit to express frustration with the way the development of EN is going in the hopes that the EN staff will take notice and perhaps make some changes - not immediate, but long term maybe. 

 

I also completely agree with boatguys statement: 

Note to EN:  Allowing 10 groups to develop 10 products and then trying to market them as one is inhibiting your revenue growth." 

 

One of the reasons for his statement is that he's working with groups of people through EN (premium users) who, it appears are working on different platforms. With each platform, there's different functionality  This seems to have caused some issues for him and as a result, so he's not able to widen that group of people - that would require research (and likely workaround development) which he doesn't have time to do. Hence his references to the law of conservation of complexity (btw, thanks so much for pointing out this law to me, it'll be VERY handy in my line of work). 

 

The one thing boatguy doesn't do however, is provide suggestions on how to clean up this mess. At least, I didn't catch that one, apologies if I am wrong. But then, why should he? That's the job of the EN product team right?

 

In my opinion, I think that EN should start aligning the web client to the desktop clients. For example, why not use the chromium (not chrome) for the basis of a native desktop ( web based) application? Something like this is being done by Reditr right now. Then there's the packaged apps being offered by Google (works in Chrome and Chromium). 

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OK....so a lot of people (esp., the Evangelists) have been offended by boatguy. Though I agree that he was being a bit rude in singling out the Evangelists, who for the most part are quite helpful (except one, who never seems to help but only attacks people - constantly), he is right that you guys do tend to pounce on anyone who says anything remotely negative at all about EN.

My "pouncing" post in this thread began with "I agree that..." I was not offended by boatguy, and I cannot find anywhere in my posts (perhaps I wear grumpy-colored glasses) where I was attacking him. In fact, as I noted above, we are in large part in agreement. I'd recommend that we don't lump developers, users, evangelists, or anyone else into undifferentiated categories. We are all people with differing opinions, personalities, etc.

I like how you are getting more specific with your recommendations for changes that can be made. Personally, I think that Evernote has taken a number of steps in the right direction by unifying some aspects of the interface such as the user settings buttons on each client. Of course, I am concerned about terminology, UI elements, and other aspects of the apps that are still not unified, but I expect we will get there.

What concerns me the most, though, is the lack of parity among the apps. If you are using the Windows app, I think you have 16 sort options right now, but if you are using iOS, you only have 3. It might not seem like a big deal, but if you rely on reverse sort, and build your workflow around it on one app, and then try to use your account on iOS or Android, your workflow falls apart.

It is reverse sort for me, stacks for some people, and un-editable saved searches for others. The point is that if a core feature like this is lacking in one app, it might as well not be present in any of them, because Evernote is supposed to be able to work seamlessly across clients. I do hope that Evernote addresses this in the future. I've been requesting improvements for several years now, and we have actually lost sort options on iOS, so I'm not sure I am being very effective! However, like boatguy, I hope that by raising the issue I can at least keep it on the radar.

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My question, is whether other users believe the inconsistent implementation of core functionality confuses them and their collaborators, undercuts the usefulness of the product, decreases the value of our subscriptions, increases support cost (driving the need for evangelists) and ultimately reduces EN's market penetration.

No. While I think that consistency across platforms could possibly be nice (or it might not be if it results int the software "fighting" the native OS), I don't find anything particularly confusing about the current situation. It's consumer software, not organic chemistry (that's confusing). I regularly use four different platforms, teach people how to use Evernote (and other software) across a couple of those.

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I don't think that at all. I know that the evangelists help out very much -- I've been helped many times by them/you. This makes it all the more strange to me that several evangelists so often feel a need to defend EN against criticism.

I don't "feel a need" to "defend" Evernote. It seems you think if someone disagrees with you, they must be wrong. Another POV... I don't know why some people "feel the need" to regularly be critical of EN rather than state your opinion & move on. I also don't know why some people "feel the need" to criticize the evangelists. We all are much more helpful than every single user who has criticized us & we all have posted criticisms of Evernote. But for some reason, we are targets for a select few.

So...having said all that, I suggest this thread get back & remain on topic or else it will be locked, since it's now veering OT & non-constructive.

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Long time evernote user, not-so-long-time forum poster. 

 

With respect to the original question regarding the disparity in "core" features and functionality between platforms and whether users find this confusing, I'd like to toss in my two cents. 

 

First, I primarily use Macs and iOS devices. I very rarely use windows. I sometimes access Evernote through the web interface. 

 

While clearly there are some differences in the available "core" functions between platforms, it is evident that Evernote has tried to achieve some degree of consistency throughout particular ecosystems. For example, the general functions available on the Mac client and the iOS client are pretty consistent (except insofar as iOS operates in a touch environment that is heavily sandboxed which has some implications for how it operates). This means that although I work on several different platforms, there is a  degree of consistency that ensures I do not get too confused.

 

Second, you (Boatguy) say that you do not see notebook stacks in the web interface. However, I see my stacks in the web interface. Perhaps you are experiencing some other issue that is preventing you from seeing stacks?

 

Third, As I understand from your (Boatguy) description, being unable to add tags to notes in shared notebooks is not a platform issue because you don't indicate that it happens on a specific platform, just that is happens in general. So that is a separate issue. 

 

As you (Boatguy) yourself recognize, developing across platforms is challenging. Implementing core functionality should be a priority because, as you say, they are core functions. However, the definition of "core" is not self-evident. Stacks are important but not core. You can organize notebooks without stacks, and yes, it may get unruly but this doesn't necessarily change the actual operations or capabilities of the software. Whether your knives are in a drawer or in a knife block doesn't change how the knife functions, just how they are positioned spatially. So there is some potential for debate about what should be implemented immediately on all platforms, and what can be added over time, as time allows. 

 

Fourth, Clearly evernote has made efforts to create reasonably unified features across related platforms. While there are likely many users who split their time somewhat evenly between say, Mac OS and Windows, there are probably many more who spend the majority of their time on one OR the other. While the former group will inevitably struggle, for the latter who I imagine constitute the majority, they simply have to get comfortable with their platform and its quirks. 

 

I can see how this could be difficult if you are collaborating with users who are on other platforms, e.g., if you are primarily a Mac user while your collaborator is primarily on Windows. However, much of the issues you bring up relate to specific organizational techniques and strategies. Your collaborator on Windows may be less miffed about not having stacks because that may not be part of their organizational strategy. This shouldn't be a problem unless you  are the leader of a collaborative group and you have chosen to impose some organizational scheme that depends on these features that are missing on all platforms, although I doubt that this situation is reflective of reality. 

 

So to answer the original question: No. I do not find disparate features across platforms confusing. Many of what I consider to be "core" features (e.g., sophisticated searching, the very presence of my notes and their content, the ability to view their content) are already available across platforms. The other stuff, such as the way that notebooks are visually represented (e.g., in stacks or not) are not, in my opinion, core features, even though I do use them. 

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With so many evangelists here, could someone explain how "titles" are set in the forums?

 

And then to the original topic.

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Scott asks a good question.  My group also uses primarily Mac/iOS so let me point out a couple of specific issues, stacks and tags.  Both are used to organize, find and quickly access information (and of course there are other tools for that as well like searches).

 

With EN's benefit of starting from scratch within the last five years, both stacks (aka folders) and tags (as well as notebooks themselves) can and should be implemented as meta-data, they need not require any modification of the underlying notes themselves which can be stored entirely flat.  Stored as meta data, their functionality is not very complex to implement across multiple platforms.

 

With regard to specific inconsistencies across Mac and iOS:

 

Mac:  Stacks can be created, edited, notebooks added to them, notebooks removed.  They cannot be shared, though the notebooks within them can be.

 

Shared notebooks can be placed into entirely different stacks by each person who can access them, but the organizational scheme of the stacks is unique to each user so there are no collaborative organizational schemes beyond notebook (i.e., notes grouped at one level only).

 

Tags can be created, assigned, deleted, etc.  Tags can be viewed and deleted, but not created or added by someone who shares the note.

 

iOS:  Stacks can be viewed, renamed and deleted.  They cannot be created, notebooks cannot be added nor removed.  Apple showed us how to group apps into folders five years ago so we know there is at last one UI alternative that will work even in the limited space of an iPhone.

 

Tags can be viewed, added and deleted, but not created.

 

The inconsistencies seem to be totally arbitrary.  I can delete a tag on a shared note, but not add one?  Etc., etc.

 

I have to run, look forward to comments.

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Scott asks a good question.  My group also uses primarily Mac/iOS so let me point out a couple of specific issues, stacks and tags.  Both are used to organize, find and quickly access information (and of course there are other tools for that as well like searches).

 

With EN's benefit of starting from scratch within the last five years, both stacks (aka folders) and tags (as well as notebooks themselves) can and should be implemented as meta-data, they need not require any modification of the underlying notes themselves which can be stored entirely flat.  Stored as meta data, their functionality is not very complex to implement across multiple platforms.

 

With regard to specific inconsistencies across Mac and iOS:

 

Mac:  Stacks can be created, edited, notebooks added to them, notebooks removed.  They cannot be shared, though the notebooks within them can be.

 

Shared notebooks can be placed into entirely different stacks by each person who can access them, but the organizational scheme of the stacks is unique to each user so there are no collaborative organizational schemes beyond notebook (i.e., notes grouped at one level only).

 

Tags can be created, assigned, deleted, etc.  Tags can be viewed and deleted, but not created or added by someone who shares the note.

 

iOS:  Stacks can be viewed, renamed and deleted.  They cannot be created, notebooks cannot be added nor removed.  Apple showed us how to group apps into folders five years ago so we know there is at last one UI alternative that will work even in the limited space of an iPhone.

 

Tags can be viewed, added and deleted, but not created.

 

The inconsistencies seem to be totally arbitrary.  I can delete a tag on a shared note, but not add one?  Etc., etc.

 

I have to run, look forward to comments.

To piggyback on this, you can put joined and business notebooks in a stack on one machine, but (last I checked) they are pulled out and displayed out of order on iOS. I abandoned the structures; there wasn't any point in organizing if it was all going to be undone. It didn't bother me too much, but it does seem like something that could irk people.

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With so many evangelists here, could someone explain how "titles" are set in the forums?

 

And then to the original topic.

 

We're changing them to something a bit more generic soon.  Around 2 years ago we moved forum software, and, being a bunch of geeks (all of our conference rooms are named after video games) for kicks we used a naming scheme related to the sci fi tv show Firefly.  The names are based on your post count, and after reaching a certain number you set your own.  The particular names occasionally cause confusion, so we're kicking that in favor of a more regular naming scheme alongside the rollout of localization.

 

Carry on :)

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With so many evangelists here, could someone explain how "titles" are set in the forums?

 

And then to the original topic.

 

We're changing them to something a bit more generic soon.  Around 2 years ago we moved forum software, and, being a bunch of geeks (all of our conference rooms are named after video games) for kicks we used a naming scheme related to the sci fi tv show Firefly.  The names are based on your post count, and after reaching a certain number you set your own.  The particular names occasionally cause confusion, so we're kicking that in favor of a more regular naming scheme alongside the rollout of localization.

 

Carry on :)

And so, another nail is put in the Firefly coffin. I don't think there is a power in the 'verse that could bring the show back, though :(

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With regard to "apologist", I didn't consider it name calling, but rather a statement of fact.  My experience on these forums is that evangelists are very quick to defend EN whenever any poster makes a critical comment...Of course evangelists also provide useful assistance to users, many times while trying to rationalize why the customer's poor experience is the customer's fault.

 

 

@Boatguy: thank you for very clear and well defined views! I have the exact same experience as you, and I appreciate very much the time and effort you have put into your posts. I really wish Evernote to succeed, as it has very nice functionality, but the negative development with version 5 and the strange differences between platforms make it very difficult for me to recommend the product.

 

Why the evangelists feel a need to defend EN against any criticism is very strange to me.

 

...he is right that you guys do tend to pounce on anyone who says anything remotely negative at all about EN.

 

It's good to see people speaking up about this, though not doubt we're all deluded ;).  It's the #1 reason I limit my participation here and often have a bad attitude when I do post, as I've said before I can't imagine how many thousands of people it has driven off.  This is the only business forum on the Internets where I know if I post negative or frustrated feedback, I'll instantly be told how I'm using it wrong, or exaggerating, or the feature request doesn't make sense.  Here comes the irony...cue the response telling me I'm wrong..

 

My encounters with EN employees on the other hand have always been overwhelmingly positive, but unfortunately they take a back seat in these forums.

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