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Feature Suggestion: Option for Nested Tags to Filter by Parent Tag

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I was surprised to discover that when I have nested tags I cannot find notes within the nesting hierarchy by filtering on the parent tag. For example, if I have parent tag "photography" and child tag "portraits" I cannot find notes tagged with portraits by filtering on photography. This seems like a very useful option which is missing. I may not remember that I tagged a particular note as "portraits" but I know that it falls under the more general tag "photography." It's great if I can remember the more specific tag in which case I get to my note more quickly. But if I don't remember I should be able to find my note by using the more general tag.

 

From browsing these forums I gather that this behavior is by design. Apparently, some people prefer it this way. But I was so surprised at this behavior I thought it was a bug. It would be great if the user were allowed to choose which behavior they prefer.

 

David Salahi

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why not search:

tag:portraits 

 

or

 

tag:portraits tag:photography

 

or 

 

tag:photography

 

Do these not accomplish what you are trying to achieve? 

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Searching for the tag "portraits" works exactly as you would expect. But searching for the tag "photography" does not display any notes tagged solely with "portraits." I could tag the note with both portraits and photography but that would seem to defeat the purpose of having nested tags in the first place. My desire is to be able to display all notes under a parent tag without including the child tags in the search.

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My desire is to be able to display all notes under a parent tag without including the child tags in the search.

 

I have 1,400+ tags, so it is not possible for me to remember them all.

What I did over the years was grouped them using the Parent / Child structure.

 

And to address your "display all notes under a parent" issue, I set up a 3 letter prefix for each of the children.

 

Examples:

 

company

com-adt

com-amazon

com-apple

com-att

 

family

fam-jlb

fam-dlb

fam-beb

fam-pbb

 

personal

per-home

per-payment

per-phone

per-travel

 

jobs

job-abcd

job-defg

job-ghij

 

government

gov-fed

gov-state

gov-county

gov-town

 

insurance

ins-car

ins-dental

ins-home

ins-life

 

etc.

 

Tags for a bill from my car insurance:

com-amfam, ins-car, per-statement

Tags for a payment for my car insurance:

com-amfam,  ins-car, per-payment

 

If I want to see all my government related notes, I search for:

tag:gov-*

 

This works fine for me but a warning: Evernote has not figured out how to transfer the parent/child tag structure if you share your notes with someone else. This is a serious issue if you plan on sharing notes.

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From browsing these forums I gather that this behavior is by design.

This is by design.

Apparently, some people prefer it this way.

Not sure who you're referring to. Personally, I think that it would be useful if the search grammar supported the ability to include subtag searches, and I've posted on it a number of times.

But I was so surprised at this behavior I thought it was a bug.

But since it's by design, it's not a bug.
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jbenson2,

Thanks for the tip. I can see how that works--as long as you set up the child tag names with the first few letters of the parent tags. That would be a way to get what I want although it seems like a kludge. And it gets complicated if you want more than two levels of tags. (I currently have three levels and didn't realize until today that my searches weren't working as expected.)

 

I still think it would be nice to have an option for the software to gather up subtags. As a software developer myself, I can say that it wouldn't be difficult to do. In fact, traversing a tree is a trivial exercise.

 

Dave

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jefito,

I wasn't referring to anyone specific. I just saw another post in these forums which points out other software which works the same way Evernote does (wrt tags). They made the point that the behavior that I and some others think would be natural isn't natural or obvious to all. But yeah, it does seem odd to me that it works the way it does. The way nested tags currently work is not useless. But it's far less useful (to me) than if parent tag searches also included all children tags.

Dave

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jefito,

I wasn't referring to anyone specific. I just saw another post in these forums which points out other software which works the same way Evernote does (wrt tags). They made the point that the behavior that I and some others think would be natural isn't natural or obvious to all. But yeah, it does seem odd to me that it works the way it does. The way nested tags currently work is not useless. But it's far less useful (to me) than if parent tag searches also included all children tags.

Dave

Might have been me who made that point -- GMail's labels work in pretty much the same way as tags do with respect to filtering. The takeaway there is that there is no actual natural or intuitive behavior -- it's really that often what a particular use has been exposed to in the past that feed their expectations. Since GMail is a pretty popular system, it's not unlikely that many users would be familiar with that system, and as a user of Gmail, before I became a user of Evernote, I'm therefore not surprised at how Evernote works. But it would be a stretch to say that what I reported is the same thing as preferring that behavior.

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jbenson2,

Thanks for the tip. I can see how that works--as long as you set up the child tag names with the first few letters of the parent tags. That would be a way to get what I want although it seems like a kludge. And it gets complicated if you want more than two levels of tags. (I currently have three levels and didn't realize until today that my searches weren't working as expected.)

 

I still think it would be nice to have an option for the software to gather up subtags. As a software developer myself, I can say that it wouldn't be difficult to do. In fact, traversing a tree is a trivial exercise.

 

Dave

 

kludge? I like to think of it as a work-around. It is second nature to me and it works nicely.

 

Yes, it would be complicated with a 3rd level and probably not needed anyways.

To enhance my search accuracy, I rely on some other tips that have been discussed in this forum.

  • Date coded title prefixes [YYYYMMDD]
  • Consistent and structured titles [date location subject person]
  • Tags all lower case to avoid confusion or dupes
  • Tags have no spaces [hewlett-packard]
  • Keywords and spelling variants added to notes for improved search results
  • Random search code to link a group of similar notes together

Some things might seem easy and obvious to the customers, but I've learned that Evernote's internal clock beats to a different drummer than mine. I've stopped tilting at deaf ears in the windmills of Evernote.

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My desire is to be able to display all notes under a parent tag without including the child tags in the search.

 

I have 1,400+ tags, so it is not possible for me to remember them all.

What I did over the years was grouped them using the Parent / Child structure.

 

And to address your "display all notes under a parent" issue, I set up a 3 letter prefix for each of the children.

 

Examples:

 

company

com-adt

com-amazon

com-apple

com-att

 

jobs

job-abcd

job-defg

job-ghij

 

government

gov-fed

gov-state

gov-county

gov-town

 

insurance

ins-car

ins-dental

ins-home

ins-life

 

etc. etc.

 

If I want to see all my government related notes, I search for:

tag:gov-*

 

 

Thanks again for the suggestion. It seems to be a fairly usable workaround, up to a point. Like DaveS I think it is a kludge (nice word, heard it first today). It is not very user friendly, you have to think VERY carefully how to set this up, because it is very inflexible. More thinking ahead needed, and more thinking while typing a search string. Slowing things down for me. I guess it will get better when I learn search 'language' by heart. I also have to separate a couple of nested branches in hierarchies to make it work for me, which means more top level tags. I started implementing it for a few tag trees where hierarchical searching is essential for me (for example: countries>regions>towns/cities).

 

Btw, the windows desktop client has three ways to search for tags. I rarely use the search field to type a search string. I either use the wonderful almost full screen tag window, where I can see all tags in their organizational structure. Just double clicking on a tag will start a search. Or I use the special tag filter function at the top of the list/thumbnail window. This has autocomplete, and you can quickly search for multiple tags to narrow things down. 

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That's one useful thing about the Stack-notebook relationship. Although we cannot go deeper than a "sub-folder" (Notebook)  housed in a stack, when you click/tap on the stack, it shows you all of the notes in all of the notebooks "nested" within the stack. This is incredibly useful in many circumstances. If, for example, you were writing a book, you could create an EBOOK stack with related notebooks:

  • EBOOK [stack]
    • 1.Chapters      (Numbered chronologically)
    • 2.Reference   (Related Web clippings etc.)
    • 3.Design          (Anything such as design styles, font files, images, AI tutorials etc)
    • 4.Marketing    (Networking, marketing, blogging ideas related to the endeavor)
    • 5.Ideas             (This notebook may contain miscellaneous ideas related to a project captured on the fly by using a mobile app that syncs to Evernote - where one can set a fixed predefined notebook and then tag each idea with a specific "idea tag": iExample1, iExample2, iExample3 etc.)
    • Ebook tasks    (Tasks related to the book, each with a plain reminder so that it shows up in the Reminder list under its respective notebook - that is if one is inclined to use the reminder list feature.)

What this allows one to do is search within or browse through a specific notebook category (Chapters of a book, for example) related to the broader project... or one could search within or browse the entire stack, which may be useful. If there are too many notebooks within a stack, that might be too broad a category to browse through, so simply create a stack for notes you may want to see together in a broader search or overview. Hypothetically, if we could stack notebooks in Evernote the way we can with nested tags, we might be able to search broader contexts and not just isolated notebooks. We need to plan tagging for better defined categories to be possible... but allowing for nested notebooks (or even just considering notebooks within stacks) would allow for a more focused search even though not planned for, much like in WorkFlowy (an outliner). A search, once "zoomed" in to a parent "folder" (node), is a search within whatever level you are focusing in on all the way down. That would be a cool feature if it were built into tags as well.

 

That's at least one advantage to having notebooks within stacks. Some might not see the use for it, but once you structure Evernote with this dynamic in mind, it becomes all the more useful. 

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Yes; filtering via stack is the only way to search a proper subset of your notebooks all together.

 

The interesting thing -- to me anyways -- is that stacks were introduced as a way to physically manage the notebook list when they expanded to 100 notebooks per account (if my memory serves); that we can search an entire stack is a useful side-effect. I still don't require fully nested notebooks myself, but I'd be interested in something like tags for notebook, which would give the same flexibility as note tags creating cross-categorizations. which I think is a more flexible arrangement than strict hierarchies.

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Would love to see this implemented.

 

I think the prefix is a good solution, but agree it is a kludge (kludge, workaround, same difference) in that you are having to duplicate info that Evernote already has (i.e., if the parent is photography and you put pho: in front, you are duplicating that designation).  The difficulty is if you reorganize or move that item later (or rename some parent title), you now have to do the same thing across the child tags.

 

Just seems like it would be so much easier if I could remember an awesome photo I took of my daughter and I could simply search for the "family" tag under photos instead of having to remember if it was just my daughter (and filed under her name), or of the whole family (and filed at a higher level).  This is just one convoluted example, but it would be extremely useful.

 

As it is, what is the purpose of nested tags beyond shrinking the size of your tags list and making visually drilling into the tag list easier?

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As it is, what is the purpose of nested tags beyond shrinking the size of your tags list and making visually drilling into the tag list easier?

 

I hate to admit it, but the following setup from Michael Hyatt's blog makes sense, especially if you work with a team of people and have multiple streams of income (which I don't). Plus I can't visualize nested tags in iOS.

 

http://michaelhyatt.com/evernote-tags.html

 

I initially breezed over it and jumped to my own conclusions... but upon reading it carefully, it made a lot of sense. Still... it's not the best fit for me... but it should work well for those who might be so inclined. Made me more open to the logic of nested tags (not just as a hierarchy)... but one does have to have a system. One can't just do tagging as a spontaneous and whimsical thing with this setup. It requires discipline or at least very intentional tagging to reap the benefits of searching your stuff in multiple contexts while having a specific tag structure. I thought it was pretty smart. Not for me, but pretty cool nonetheless. 

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It's funny you mention that, Frank, as that website is what lead me to a tag-based system.  

 

I'm just not sure how useful it truly is given the way Evernote currently works.

 

In his example, he has the following in his tag structure (obviously, just a small chunk of it):

 

.what

  .work

    .products

      .conferences

         get published conf

         launch conf

 

So if I'm wanting to get the documents I've generated (or notes I've taken) for a particular conference, I have to either:

a) Know the specific conference

B) Tag it with the conference, but also the parent (and any parent up the chain that I may ever want to use as my "root" for a search)

c) Use other tags in conjunction and hope that they catch what I may want to search by in the future

 

As far as I can tell, there is no way to get all documents from my conferences.

 

I've seen the workarounds, but don't really like them, honestly.  They tend to get more difficult to maintain with multiple levels which leads to a non-sustainable workflow and any tool is only as useful as your ability to stick to it.

 

Unfortunately, after my initial post here I ran across the hoards of other posts asking about this and they seem to generally be given an attitude of "everyone doesn't want this so you should just use something else" which kind of made me step back - mainly because I feel this could be done in a way that would allow those that want it to use it and those that don't to remain relatively unaffected (I honestly can't think of WHY you would have a nested tab that you DIDN'T want to show contents from children tags).  Maybe it is due to the way my mind works as a developer, but when I see a child tag, I immediately think of it in an "...is a..." type of way - "launch conf is a conference", "a conference is a product/event/etc.", but this seems fundamentally different from how the Evernote team views them (which again, makes me wonder how people that DON'T want this put in place are using nested tags - a mutually exclusive parent/child relationship seems unusual to me, but I would really be interested - in all sincerity - in hearing from folks that do not want this addition).

 

But it seems unlikely that this will ever change, so I'll continue to try and find ways to lay things out that work around this limitation (Evernote may not call it a bug, so maybe they'll at least go for that term).

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Unfortunately, after my initial post here I ran across the hoards of other posts asking about this and they seem to generally be given an attitude of "everyone doesn't want this so you should just use something else" which kind of made me step back - mainly because I feel this could be done in a way that would allow those that want it to use it and those that don't to remain relatively unaffected (I honestly can't think of WHY you would have a nested tab that you DIDN'T want to show contents from children tags).  Maybe it is due to the way my mind works as a developer, but when I see a child tag, I immediately think of it in an "...is a..." type of way - "launch conf is a conference", "a conference is a product/event/etc.", but this seems fundamentally different from how the Evernote team views them (which again, makes me wonder how people that DON'T want this put in place are using nested tags - a mutually exclusive parent/child relationship seems unusual to me, but I would really be interested - in all sincerity - in hearing from folks that do not want this addition).

I don't really know of anyone who actively doesn't want this, though I think that some folks would rather that Evernote work on their own feature requests wishes than this one.

My take on this is that Evernote doesn't supply the functionality (neither does GMail with their similar "labels", for that matter, at least as best I've been able to tell), so you either find a workaround if you need it, or decide you don't need it, or find a different product. I don't generally need to use tags in this way, but I've recognized for awhile that having the ability to exploit the hierarchical organization of tags in search would be a useful bit of functionality (here, for example, https://discussion.evernote.com/topic/15173-shouldnt-selecting-a-parent-tag-search-child-tags/?p=77833.

I general, I use nested tags as an organizational tool just so I don't have a big long tag list, but then again, I rarely refer to the tag tree anyways. But the organization is a little rough: since tags are just words, they can mean different things in different contexts, and I sometimes tag accordingly. Having one overloaded tag name living in one or another part of the tree makes little difference to me.

But it seems unlikely that this will ever change, so I'll continue to try and find ways to lay things out that work around this limitation (Evernote may not call it a bug, so maybe they'll at least go for that term).

They may not even view it as a limitation; it's certainly not a bug, since a bug is a violation of specification, which you already know since you're a developer. It's a feature request, and it's valid, for sure.

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Thanks jefito -

 

For the time being, I'm just trying to keep my nesting shallow and include the parent & child tags on each item.

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It's funny you mention that, Frank, as that website is what lead me to a tag-based system.  

 

I'm just not sure how useful it truly is given the way Evernote currently works.

 

In his example, he has the following in his tag structure (obviously, just a small chunk of it):

 

.what

  .work

    .products

      .conferences

         get published conf

         launch conf

 

So if I'm wanting to get the documents I've generated (or notes I've taken) for a particular conference, I have to either:

a) Know the specific conference

B) Tag it with the conference, but also the parent (and any parent up the chain that I may ever want to use as my "root" for a search)

c) Use other tags in conjunction and hope that they catch what I may want to search by in the future

 

As far as I can tell, there is no way to get all documents from my conferences.

 

I've seen the workarounds, but don't really like them, honestly.  They tend to get more difficult to maintain with multiple levels which leads to a non-sustainable workflow and any tool is only as useful as your ability to stick to it.

 

Unfortunately, after my initial post here I ran across the hoards of other posts asking about this and they seem to generally be given an attitude of "everyone doesn't want this so you should just use something else" which kind of made me step back - mainly because I feel this could be done in a way that would allow those that want it to use it and those that don't to remain relatively unaffected (I honestly can't think of WHY you would have a nested tab that you DIDN'T want to show contents from children tags).  Maybe it is due to the way my mind works as a developer, but when I see a child tag, I immediately think of it in an "...is a..." type of way - "launch conf is a conference", "a conference is a product/event/etc.", but this seems fundamentally different from how the Evernote team views them (which again, makes me wonder how people that DON'T want this put in place are using nested tags - a mutually exclusive parent/child relationship seems unusual to me, but I would really be interested - in all sincerity - in hearing from folks that do not want this addition).

 

But it seems unlikely that this will ever change, so I'll continue to try and find ways to lay things out that work around this limitation (Evernote may not call it a bug, so maybe they'll at least go for that term).

 

Hey cochranjosh (Josh). First off... if you are related to the John Cochran that appeared in Survivor season 23, that would be really cool. My all time favorite contestant!

 

I get exactly what you're saying. You know what would be incredible? Have the ability to nest notebooks and search from any parent notebook down, kind of like with WorkFlowy, where you can, to use their terminology, "zoom in" to a specific context and search for contents at any point from that "node" down. Like a stack allowing us to search all notebooks housed therein. 

 

I can't see myself using Michael Hyatt's setup because it doesn't fit my needs. But, I thought it was pretty smart, specifically because a note can be found within the "who", "what" and "when" hierarchies simultaneously. After I didn't read the post properly the first time, I asked a question to which he had already given the answer in the actual post, but gave me another more detailed example in the comments section:

 

"I’m not sure I follow you, Frank. I try to use as many tags as is necessary but no more than I have to. 

For example, I had a call with my trademark attorney last week, I attached the following tags to the note I created: “meeting notes,” ”^lannie (his name),” “get noticed! theme,” “platform university,” “life plan manifesto.” 

The “meeting notes” tag is nested under my “.reference” tag collection. The ”^lannie” tag is nested under the “.who” collection. The last three are nested under “.what => .work => .products” and then the type of product. 

This all takes a hundred times longer to explain that to do, but hope that helps."

 

He can access his note in at least 3 different contexts: "reference",  "what" or "who". He could also give it a tag from the "when" collection. So he's not necessarily tagging his notes with all the parent tags up the chain from a child tag. That's not really the focus. Also, the "what", "When", "who" and "Reference" tags are not actually tags that he uses. They are just sort of place holders to nest other tags under. He is not tagging his notes with a child tag plus all the tags up the chain as you mentioned... and as I had also previously assumed. That would just be overkill, unnecessary and most likely confusing. So, as I mistakenly thought, he is not trying to use a parent tag to search for any notes tagged with tags nested under it. That would be crazy... but what he does do is leverage tags as they were intended (apart from a nested hierarchy) to find a note within multiple contexts or associations. 

 

If he wanted all notes/ documents from his conferences he would simply click/ tap on the "conference" tag... because all conference notes would be tagged as such... plus it might be tagged with some tag nested under the "who" category, etc.  Basically he is using tags as he would use notebook categories, PLUS using tags for different contexts. It is really simple, although it took me a while to wrap my head around it, because I was of the frame of mind that is was not so smart... but I had not walked through the steps carefully to really want to understand the logic. I was really trying to find all the holes and flaws in it, quite honestly. I thought I might expose a flaw in the system through some questions in the comment section, but that just put it out there that I had in fact not read the article... I had just skimmed through the screenshots to see what I was "not missing out on", haha! 

 

Having said that, it was mostly a mental exercise for me. I don't envisage myself using his structure... ever. But it is much smarter than I had originally anticipated. I gave a detailed  list of advantages of notebooks over tagging in the earlier comments, pointing out how in many cases it was absolutely necessary to have at least more notebooks than he currently did... but actually, to my surprise, each of the points I raised were actually dealt with in the article, may be inherently part of the system, or else could easily coexist with what I had laid out for notebooks. At least that post taught me to give other methods a fair hearing, whether I intend to use them or not :-)

 

I use WorkFlowy for some things I find need to go within a hierarchical structure, such as the outlining of books, where you can drill down as much as you need to and then "zoom" in. Would be awesome if nested tags could work that way too... but i doubt that would happen, and I realized that is not what Michael Hyatt was trying to imitate. He does emphasize in the post that it is not for everyone, but I do respect what he wangled out of his Evernote structure.

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The current windows version now supports tag inheritance.

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