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Evernote vs a wiki

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I need a way of organizing some documentation, mostly reference material, technical documentation, programming API's, etc.

 

Would Evernote be good for that?

 

What are the pros and cons of Evernote vs. a good wiki, let's say either MediaWiki or Confluence?

 

Thanks.

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I need a way of organizing some documentation, mostly reference material, technical documentation, programming API's, etc.

 

Would Evernote be good for that?

 

What are the pros and cons of Evernote vs. a good wiki, let's say either MediaWiki or Confluence?

 

Thanks.

 

Evernote was designed for what you want to use it for. What you always have to bear in mind is that certain information stored in Evernote has a limited shelf life before it needs updating, or it might even be obsolete & is of no practical use anymore.

 

There are Evernote user who never delete anything from Evernote. I personally believe that is not the right way to manage this particular issue because it will eventually cause a lot of info "noise" when you search for something. I believe that one has to actively manage the quality of info that one puts into Evernote on a regular basis. But that is a purely personal choice, because at the end of the day there is no right or wrong way to use Evernote.

 

As for the other apps you mention, I don't know them so cannot comment.

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Pretty sure no-one's done a feature comparison between Evernote and Wiki setups,  but I suspect they'd come out pretty equal - it depends on your individual needs.  You would however have to invest a fair amount of time getting a Wiki up and running,  which would all be wasted if you decided you preferred the Evernote approach after all.  On the other hand Evernote is off-the-shelf ready for you to start saving information immediately,  and if you needed to move your content elsewhere it can be exported pretty easily.  From this point alone I'd recommend Evernote as a first choice. 

 

Having said that - saving code snippets,  especially if you want to cut and paste content into another application,  can be fiddly.  You may want to save the code into an editor then attach the editor files to your note.

 

Another saving grace of Evernote - it costs nothing to try it out and see whether you get along;  give it a shot!

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One drawback I see to using Evernote as a Wiki is the inability to order the notes in a notebook. Even if you carefully title the notes so you can then sort them by title, the sort is lost when you share the notebook publicly. Also Evernote recently dropped the ability to share notebooks and then backpedaled when people complained. I am not sure if it will stay in the long run so I would be cautious of using it as a Wiki.

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One drawback I see to using Evernote as a Wiki is the inability to order the notes in a notebook. Even if you carefully title the notes so you can then sort them by title, the sort is lost when you share the notebook publicly. Also Evernote recently dropped the ability to share notebooks and then backpedaled when people complained. I am not sure if it will stay in the long run so I would be cautious of using it as a Wiki.

 

If this is a wiki for the OP's own consumption,  then unordered pages wouldn't be an issue - just search for the content you need.  If it is meant for others to read,  then the best suggestion is probably to use a 'home page' in the notebook,  with note-links to sub-pages (and back again) and sub-sub pages...  You still have all the power of search,  but you're helping other users by limiting their options as they make more link choices...

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Great comments everyone. I think you're all spot-on with the comments.

 

Yes, ordered subpages and integrated navigation between pages for the purpose of curating shared content is an important aspect of what I'm looking for. I see the logic of tagging vs. hierarchical navigation, but I find it isn't the best solution for organizing pages which are related to each other. I think manually creating the links from the upper pages down and vice versa would be quite cumbersome.

 

This is my main dilemma. I'm looking for something that isn't quite a wiki and isn't quite a notebook, but is something that combines the best of both. I'd also like to be able to re-use content across pages, and place the same page in multiple places (notebooks).

 

I'm thinking of writing my own system to do this because I can't find anything that does it. Atlassian Confluence is probably the closest, but it doesn't have all the functionality I'd like either.

 

Thanks.

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Great comments everyone. I think you're all spot-on with the comments.

 

Yes, ordered subpages and integrated navigation between pages for the purpose of curating shared content is an important aspect of what I'm looking for. I see the logic of tagging vs. hierarchical navigation, but I find it isn't the best solution for organizing pages which are related to each other. I think manually creating the links from the upper pages down and vice versa would be quite cumbersome.

 

This is my main dilemma. I'm looking for something that isn't quite a wiki and isn't quite a notebook, but is something that combines the best of both. I'd also like to be able to re-use content across pages, and place the same page in multiple places (notebooks).

 

I'm thinking of writing my own system to do this because I can't find anything that does it. Atlassian Confluence is probably the closest, but it doesn't have all the functionality I'd like either.

 

Thanks.

Some years ago I used Tiddlywiki, I don't know how it evolved but it might worth a try.

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If you've not already used it,  have a look at http://www.wikimatrix.org/ to compare the features of all (most?) of the currently available packages.  Some wikis have a native folder structure,  but I don't believe it's common - the expectation is that you would build your own.  If you need the hierarchy angle - plus output to web pages - you could look at Treepad and its clones - I used this product for years.

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Great comments everyone. I think you're all spot-on with the comments.

 

Yes, ordered subpages and integrated navigation between pages for the purpose of curating shared content is an important aspect of what I'm looking for. I see the logic of tagging vs. hierarchical navigation, but I find it isn't the best solution for organizing pages which are related to each other. I think manually creating the links from the upper pages down and vice versa would be quite cumbersome.

 

This is my main dilemma. I'm looking for something that isn't quite a wiki and isn't quite a notebook, but is something that combines the best of both. I'd also like to be able to re-use content across pages, and place the same page in multiple places (notebooks).

 

I'm thinking of writing my own system to do this because I can't find anything that does it. Atlassian Confluence is probably the closest, but it doesn't have all the functionality I'd like either.

 

Thanks.

 

There is an app called The Journal - http://www.davidrm.com/. It is primarily designed for journaling, but in addition to that, it also has impressive note-taking capabilities. There is the hierarchical organisation that  is better than either evernote's or OneNote's. It is as follows:

volume (= notestack Evernote) - category (= notebook Evernote/OneNote) - entry (= section Onenote) - subentry (= note/page Evernote/OneNote) - subsubentry (= subpage OneNote) - subsubsubentry (= subsubpage OneNote) - subsubsubsub ....... as deep as you like (unlike OneNote). You can re-use content across pages & in different notebooks at the same time, and you can make internal & external links. It is highly customisable.

 

Security is good with password encryption for the app, and Categories can also be encrypted. You can install The Journal into your cloud drive. Then you can run The Journal on any Windows computer where you use that cloud drive. The import function allows importing Evernote enex files.

 

I have been using it on a trial basis, primarily for journaling, but also for for other things like research, ..... I will probably purchase it & use it in parallel with Evernote, where EN will be used as a digital filing cabinet to keep documents & records.

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I use it to store and organize almost 800 notes (so far) on technology-related documentation for my job and love it. Searching pulls stuff up almost instantly on any device, and tags allow me to clump stuff together in meaningful ways, versus being stuck putting it in one location. And when another staff member, say, needs that checklist for setting up a new router, I can simply email it to them. Evernote's the most flexible application I've ever seen for getting things in and out of it. 

 

Evernote's great for personal wikis, too, if good mobile/offline access is important. Wikis are websites (at least, MediaWiki or Wikia are), and thus need an Internet connection for access (none that I know of support offline functionality). Evernote lets you sync items for offline access, as well as having a pretty darn good mobile apps, so it's really versatile. I am also a huge fan of the very quick process for making a Table of Contents note. Find all of your related notes, Ctrl+A or Cmd+A, and make a Table of Contents for your notebook, or for related notes, or for anything. If you add a new note, delete the current ToC and take the 10 seconds to repeat the process. I always stick a dateless Reminder on the ToC, too, so it's at the top of the notes list at all times, no matter how I have the notes list sorted.

 

While you can't have notes in multiple notebooks, you can do that with Tags. Tags function almost identically to notebooks, except notes can contain more than one tag (and their hierarchical nature isn't quite true, but Evernote's search grammar is so thorough you can mimic it with a few saved searches). The biggest hurdle over tags, I think, is the mental representation. Treat them like notebooks and they'll behave like them (except for the Stacks aspect). They can even be indented more than notebooks (which can only go into a Stack). Tags can't be shared publicly, but who knows the status of whether notebooks will even be able to do this in the future. 

 

Plus Evernote's Related Notes in the apps, as well as when searching Google if using the web clipper, are very handy. All of this adds up to Evernote being a pretty decent wiki, if you're the flexible organization type.

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Kevin, the mechanics of how to do it, vary on each of the clients, but it's simple one Note listing clickable, internal Note Links to other notes. And no, it's not a 'Premium only' feature. Everyone can do it!

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Note links: do not put them in your unsynched notes because sooner or later, when you have to do a database refresh, they will get broken.since there is not a master cloud copy available to preserve the GUIDs in the event of a problem. I speak from recent experience.

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Note links: do not put them in your unsynched notes because sooner or later, when you have to do a database refresh, they will get broken.since there is not a master cloud copy available to preserve the GUIDs in the event of a problem. I speak from recent experience.

By unsynced notes, I think you are referring to local notebooks.  I too "discovered" this during a recent support encounter, but that said, it was the first time I ever had to rebuild the database in 6 or 7 years, so I had a pretty good run.  I have 10K+ notes in local notebooks and have no idea how many notes include links so I just update and fix them when I stumble across them.  So far not many but it would be nice if I didn't have to do any.  Support was aware that I had local notebooks.  It factored into the problem that we were fixing but they didn't think to tell me that links would be broken and I didn't think about it enough to realize it myself.  It turns out that I created a bigger problem by breaking links than I actually fixed by rebuilding the database.  If I had known that links would break, I would have held off on the fix we tried.

 

All that said, I still use links for local notes but am more aware now.

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Oh, okay. Note links. Got it. I thought you meant there was some kind of "Insert Table of Contents" feature, similar to what you find in Microsoft Word.

 

This just gives you a flat set of note links, unless you indent and format them yourself, right? It's not like a hierarchy or anything, not that Evernote would be able to do that since it doesn't have any information from which to build a hierarchical ToC. Except maybe scanning through the tags and auto-building a ToC from tags. But that would be weird. Tags are orthogonal to the content, so that wouldn't make much sense.

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Note links: do not put them in your unsynched notes because sooner or later, when you have to do a database refresh, they will get broken.since there is not a master cloud copy available to preserve the GUIDs in the event of a problem. I speak from recent experience.

By unsynced notes, I think you are referring to local notebooks.  I too "discovered" this during a recent support encounter, but that said, it was the first time I ever had to rebuild the database in 6 or 7 years, so I had a pretty good run.  I have 10K+ notes in local notebooks and have no idea how many notes include links so I just update and fix them when I stumble across them.  So far not many but it would be nice if I didn't have to do any.  Support was aware that I had local notebooks.  It factored into the problem that we were fixing but they didn't think to tell me that links would be broken and I didn't think about it enough to realize it myself.  It turns out that I created a bigger problem by breaking links than I actually fixed by rebuilding the database.  If I had known that links would break, I would have held off on the fix we tried.

 

All that said, I still use links for local notes but am more aware now.

 

 

Yes, that's exactly how it went with me too. I am surprised that

  • this deterioration of the database happens in the 1st place
  • Evernote have not got a standard instruction about note links in local notes

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Oh, okay. Note links. Got it. I thought you meant there was some kind of "Insert Table of Contents" feature, similar to what you find in Microsoft Word.

 

This just gives you a flat set of note links, unless you indent and format them yourself, right? It's not like a hierarchy or anything, not that Evernote would be able to do that since it doesn't have any information from which to build a hierarchical ToC. Except maybe scanning through the tags and auto-building a ToC from tags. But that would be weird. Tags are orthogonal to the content, so that wouldn't make much sense.

 

You can create a hierarchical with EATags, a 3rd party app especially developed for that.

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I guess I don't view Evernote and Wiki's as at all the same thing.  There are some very simple wiki's (some mentioned) which in terms of information storage and presentation are somewhat more analogous.  

kevind3207 the two you mention are far more in the serious wiki camp.  I might include foswiki.org as well.  (for ease of entry maybe try a VM, or Portable version

For personal documentation and occasional sharing, I make do with the Evernote limitations.  The mobile, offline, webclipping, and some of the 3rd party apps make it useful enough.  I used to use Foswiki for the purpose (at least corporately).

 

There are still lots of other uses that Evernote won't get anywhere near to if you aren't leaning hard on the Evernote strengths.

In particular for documentation I'd still be looking at a Wiki.  Some of wiki strengths are in the area of data repurposing.  Write once, use anywhere.  Where you can see it start to get valuable if you want to write something that will be included as an internal reference, an external help document, a FAQ entry, included in documentation for multiple product versions with different theming/branding.

 

  • A wiki tends to let you inline include pages or parts of pages on other pages.  Either by a manual selection or a pattern/rule/query selection.
  • Those includes can present the data as it was, or message it into other forms.  Maybe a table, maybe as dynamic fields in a form which collects data and creates new pages.
  • It allows the ability to App-ify data.  Take a form input to collect information and save it in a structure that you can then query out into many different forms.  Static pages become a queryable database.  Not a stretch when you think that MediaWiki and Evernote are already built on SQL databases (indeed it gets odd with Evernote to be so abstracted from database functionality with our notes).  Foswiki on the other hand saves each note as a human readable text file.  Foswiki does things with text files, that I can only dream of some decade being able to do with my static note pages in Evernote.
  • Show different parts of content depending on who the viewer is.
  • Dynamically generated table of contents; in a note based on your subject headings, with linking. Or Dynamic Indexing to groups of pages, and/or content in pages.
  • Add additional functionality through plugins

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Oh, okay. Note links. Got it. I thought you meant there was some kind of "Insert Table of Contents" feature, similar to what you find in Microsoft Word.

 

This just gives you a flat set of note links, unless you indent and format them yourself, right? It's not like a hierarchy or anything, not that Evernote would be able to do that since it doesn't have any information from which to build a hierarchical ToC. Except maybe scanning through the tags and auto-building a ToC from tags. But that would be weird. Tags are orthogonal to the content, so that wouldn't make much sense.

 

If you select a group of notes, normal windows Shift - Left Click, a menu will appear.  Select Create Table of Contents Note and you will get a numbered list of the notes in your selection titled Table of Contents.  The list is numbered from top to bottom of the selection, I think.  You can move them around after that if you like.

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One drawback I see to using Evernote as a Wiki is the inability to order the notes in a notebook. Even if you carefully title the notes so you can then sort them by title, the sort is lost when you share the notebook publicly. Also Evernote recently dropped the ability to share notebooks and then backpedaled when people complained. I am not sure if it will stay in the long run so I would be cautious of using it as a Wiki.

 

If this is a wiki for the OP's own consumption,  then unordered pages wouldn't be an issue - just search for the content you need.  If it is meant for others to read,  then the best suggestion is probably to use a 'home page' in the notebook,  with note-links to sub-pages (and back again) and sub-sub pages...  You still have all the power of search,  but you're helping other users by limiting their options as they make more link choices...

 

This only works if they keep the shared notebook feature. They pulled it and then put it back when people complained, so I am not sure if they will keep this functionality. I would go with a wiki system in this case.

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I am having the same dilemma. Currently using Wkidot and Evernote and they are now both out of sync.

 

Pros of wiki:

  • It is visible to the world very easy
  • Easier to create links and menus
  • Seems a bit more organised
  • Is Google searchable.
  • Provides more readable URLs

Pros of Evernote

  • More easily searchable from personal device
  • Doesn't need a connection to read/write notes
  • Doesn't need any setup/CSS/HTML to write a note
  • Change is easier

 

There are some tools that publish to weblogs which is another option to publish from Evernote to the web.

 

By using Evernote I have all the features of a wiki except proper world wide visibility. If I can solve that then I am happy.

 

I will probably write a tool for it. Anyone interested?! 

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I'd certainly be interested in wiki-style visibility for EN notes...  let us know how you get on with this!

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In the meantime...

 

Did you know that each list (bullet point) in WorkFlowy has its own unique URL that you can use as an internal link on mobile device, desktop and web alike? Now that's a personal wiki if there ever was one. You pinpoint precisely where you're linking to. 

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In the meantime...

 

Did you know that each list (bullet point) in WorkFlowy has its own unique URL that you can use as an internal link on mobile device, desktop and web alike? Now that's a personal wiki if there ever was one. You pinpoint precisely where you're linking to. 

 

I hate it when people point out interesting stuff I didn't know about software that I use.. :P   How d'you do that then?  All I can see is the 'share' option...?

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Copy the actual URL in your browser's address bar for any list you're currently in. It works internally in that it will not open up another tab/ window when clicked on. Works across all platforms.

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Now I do hate you.  :)

 

 

It's pretty cool stuff. Other apps let you do similar things with PDFs -- you can jump directly to page 202 in a 300-page PDF, for example. Crazy convenient. I know that Evernote is doing a lot of exciting stuff with presentations and so forth, but I also think these small, but beautiful features are worth developing as well. Evernote "can" work as a wiki, and it does. But, apps that allow for wikilinks and more targeted jumping around within a personal wiki really show how much more potential Evernote has to develop as an "external brain."

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Its sort of an unsupported feature of Workflowy though isn't it? I think somewhere in their forum they talked about links to individual bullet points, and were at pains to say that the link wouldn't necessarily stay constant if you moved the bullet point around.

 

That being said, I use this because it is so useful (although I use workflowy to evernote links much more).

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