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dmetalious

Reason For Folders - Last Attempt

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In response to my earlier suggestion for folders, Dave Engberg said:

So we certainly appreciate the feedback, but I actually think that it's more important for us to come up with better and better ways to Search and Filter your notes, rather than coming up with more elaborate alternate schemes for you to manually organize notes in to buckets (in addition to the list of notebooks and unlimited hierarchy of up to 10,000 tags per account).

Here, I will demonstrate in the simplest terms even a programmer can understand :) why this is so much nonsense. But first, let me make clear, I love tags. They are very useful. I use them frequently. But they are no replacement for hierarchical directories for one simple reason.

Think of the outline for a research paper:

4340078564_aa5c6cf551.jpg

Note the hierarchical structure of how the information is organized. We humans have been organizing our thoughts this way for a very long time. Why? Because that is how we think. Categorically. That is how we organize information - in groups, and sub groups and sub sub groups. That is how particles are classified in physics. That is how species are classified in biology. That is how notes are structured when writing a college dissertation - usually anyway. I know. I teach college.

Cognitively, categorization is not only how we structure ideas, but how we remember them. Indeed, it is the categorization of knowledge and ideas that provide the handles with which to retrieve the memories of those ideas. And notes are nothing if they are not the augmentation of our own memory structures.

So look at the Shakespeare outline. It's got categories(early life, works, later years) and sub-categories like Works>Plays>Tragedies,Comedies, Histories. This formatting encodes information, not just about the data itself, but about relationships to the other pieces of data. These categorical relationships are very important about how we think, understand and most essentially, how we remember.

Now flatten it.

I. INTRODUCTION - (Brief comment leading into subject matter -

Thesis statement on Shakespeare)

II. BODY - Shakespeare's Early Life, Marriage, Works, Later Years

A. Early life in Stratford

1. Shakespeare's family

a. Shakespeare's father

b. Shakespeare's mother

2. Shakespeare's marriage

a. Life of Anne Hathaway

b. Reference in Shakespeare's Poems

B. Shakespeare's works

1. Plays

a. Tragedies

i. Hamlet

ii. Romeo and Juliet

b. Comedies

i. The Tempest

ii. Much Ado About Nothing

c. Histories

i. King John

ii. Richard III

iii. Henry VIII

2. Sonnets

3. Other poems

C. Shakespeare's Later Years

1. Last two plays

2. Retired to Stratford

a. Death

b. Burial

i. Epitaph on his tombstone

What you see is the loss of a great deal of information as a result. Information about the organizational structure of information that you cannot encode with tags. "Search and filter" cannot restore that lost information because it was never there in the first place. 2nd Law anyone?

So, far from a "redundant feature" as Mr. Engberg asserts, I have demonstrated beyond any doubt that the ability to organize one's notes in a hierarchy is, in fact, quite often a fundamental requirement. Not for everyone. Not for every application. But quite often.

Which begs the question, who is your market demographic? Certainly not my college students. I already have enough trouble with their flat, linear thinking. But what of a housewife who snips recipes off the internet. Guess what she wants to do - file them away in categories. Just the way ALL recipe books do. Check it out.

Now finally, Mr Engberg makes the following assertion:

In retrospect, it seems that simple "flat" organizational schemes are good for finding things in a small set of documents.

Browsable organizational metaphors like hierarchies are ok for finding things when your set of documents gets to be medium-sized (e.g. a few thousand). And very large data sets (e.g. all of the notes you might take through your entire life) are better suited to a good Search system.

What Mr Engberg fails to comprehend here is that hierarchies become more essential as the amount of data grows because keeping data sets small and manageable is precisely what hierarchies do! Instead of having to rummage through a thousand recipes to find the one for beef stroganoff, you go to beef>sauces.

"But why not just do a simple search for beef stroganoff?" you are undoubtedly thinking. Here's why, because it wasn't beef stroganoff. It was something else I can't remember the name of. "What was it...? Oh, here it is, beef bourguignon."

You see. This is what those of us who manage gigabytes of data deal with all the time.

So there's a pretty big wrench in your theory Dave even if you ONLY see hierarchies in terms of memory retrieval. But as I demonstrated above, there is so much more to it than how to find information.

Finally, we're only talking options here. If people want to use tags and search, they can. It will be interesting to see how that works for them. I suspect it will go the way of Google's Desktop which as far as I can tell, is a flop. Most people I know hate the fact that they can't store their Gmails in a directory format like Outlook.

The reason why the folder metaphor is persistent is for exactly what I explained above: it emulates the way humans think. Search and tags will grow in prominence, but they will never replace putting your stuff in containers. It's just too easy.

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Folders would be nice - but I've just assumed its not coming :)

Maybe a premium feature :)

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Instead of having to rummage through a thousand recipes to find the one for beef stroganoff, you go to beef>sauces.

"But why not just do a simple search for beef stroganoff?" you are undoubtedly thinking. Here's why, because it wasn't beef stroganoff. It was something else I can't remember the name of. "What was it...? Oh, here it is, beef bourguignon."

Actually, no, I'm not asking why not just do a simple search for beef stroganoff? b/c you can search through EN with beef>sauces just like you can using tags, as well. As someone mentioned in another thread, substitute the word "notebook" for "tag" & there you go.

Search and tags will grow in prominence, but they will never replace putting your stuff in containers. It's just too easy.

Again, which can be done and is done with tags.

So far, not one single specific example has been offered up demonstrating where a notebook/sub-notebook system works & the tag system fails. I asked for that in another thread. Instead, commentaries on the theory of why tags fail seem to be the argument for sub-notebooks.

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Again, which can be done with tags.

Well, to cut in here, here's why under currently implementation, it can't be done well in tags.

If I want to access a recipe I know I added last week, I can't click the recipe tag and get the list of recipes, because the note I want is under recipe -> beef-> sauce, and Evernote won't display things tagged "beef" or "sauce" when I click "recipe".

So what I have to do, apparently, is to have a notebook "recipe" and then, whenever I want a SPECIFIC recipe, scroll down to the bottom tags section after first clicking in the notebook section.

Wait, why can't I just go to the tag section, you ask, and skip the notebook? Well, I can't because who knows what notebook is selected at the moment, based on my previous activity, it could be a public or a private one, or anything that isn't "all notebooks" really. I can't avoid making notebooks, because how else can I see all recipes, without clicking around at all the subtags? (Is there a shortcut for selecting all subtags? Most Evernote users will probably never look at the documentation... I like making ntoebooks, because its a required data element, i can forget to do any tags)

So it's click notebook, scroll down, click tag.

Then I have to "unbranch recipe" "unbranch beef" then click the "sauce" tag- oh wait, that doesn't work, because Sauce is already a tag somewhere else, so I need to go with the awkward tag name "beef sauce", and I have to remember that name when I want to tag something by typing.

So I'm stuck awkwardly having a "recipe" notebook and a "recipe" tag. The Notebook is for seeing all recipes, and the tag is for hierarchy, because I cannot click the "recipe" tag so see what notes are in subtags.

Oh, and have I mentioned that if I do a search, with a notebook selection, and its the wrong notebook, it turns out, the search bar will reset?

so search bar-> whoops wrong notebook, select proper one, retype search, oh, wrong tag? select the right tag, retype search.

Engberg is right that if they just implemented tags, there'd be less complaints, but that doesn't tell the whole story. The current mismash non true hierarchical tags AND non hierarchical notebooks, as far as I can tell, is awkward and poorly designed, , forcing the user to scroll up and down and redundantly click and retype from one part of the user interface to another.

"Pretend you're using google" is simply silly, since last I checked, people didn't add content to google, or take notes with it.

Is anything I said inacccurate? Am I missing anything?

Because, if not, I suspect that this scroll, up, scroll down, nonhierarchical Evernote interface should be taught in design courses on how NOT to do things. It's a mess. I'm hoping that Evernote either fixes things, or the upcoming Onenote 2010 web offers a better solution.

I'd even hazard a guess that the two reasons people choose Onenote over Evernote is 1) wiki like links in Onenote and 2) actual hierarchical organization.

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Is anything I said inacccurate? Am I missing anything?

Yes...

Well, to cut in here, here's why under currently implementation, it can't be done well in tags.

If I want to access a recipe I know I added last week, I can't click the recipe tag and get the list of recipes, because the note I want is under recipe -> beef-> sauce, and Evernote won't display things tagged "beef" or "sauce" when I click "recipe".

Well, if you didn't tag as 'recipe', 'beef' or 'sauce' of course it won't. But that's "user" failure - not a failure on the part of tagging.

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Here, I will demonstrate in the simplest terms even a programmer can understand :) why this is so much nonsense. But first, let me make clear, I love tags. They are very useful. I use them frequently. But they are no replacement for hierarchical directories for one simple reason.

Think of the outline for a research paper:

4340078564_aa5c6cf551.jpg

Note the hierarchical structure of how the information is organized. We humans have been organizing our thoughts this way for a very long time. Why? Because that is how we think. Categorically.

So Here it is in tags:

post-11280-13190606531_thumb.jpg

(Of course, they sort alphabetically, but that happens with folders too.)

The fact is, folders *are* tags. Tags can do everything folders can do, but are slightly more powerful because you can have multiple tags per item.

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Is anything I said inacccurate? Am I missing anything?

Yes...

Well, to cut in here, here's why under currently implementation, it can't be done well in tags.

If I want to access a recipe I know I added last week, I can't click the recipe tag and get the list of recipes, because the note I want is under recipe -> beef-> sauce, and Evernote won't display things tagged "beef" or "sauce" when I click "recipe".

Well, if you didn't tag as 'recipe', 'beef' or 'sauce' of course it won't. But that's "user" failure - not a failure on the part of tagging.

Ah, got you. I certainly realize, BurgersNFries, that you have no connection to Evernote. So its no slight on Evernote when I say, it seems to me, your thinking is like that of Linux enthusiasts who expect people to type esoteric commands in a "root" command shell, and when anyone complains about this, they are told that the problem lies with the CUSTOMER and that people should conform their thinking to the computer engineer's design? And then, the Linux nerds cry and wonder why they only have a 4% consumer market share, and aren't supported by businesses such as Evernote?

Lifehacker did a Onenote vs. Evernote thread a while back, and I noted many people complaining about Evernote's poor organizational capacities. I'm not the only one by any means.

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Ah, got you. I certainly realize, BurgersNFries, that you have no connection to Evernote. So its no slight on Evernote when I say, it seems to me, your thinking is like that of Linux enthusiasts who expect people to type esoteric commands in a "root" command shell, and when anyone complains about this, they are told that the problem lies with the CUSTOMER and that people should conform their thinking to the computer engineer's design? And then, the Linux nerds cry and wonder why they only have a 4% consumer market share, and aren't supported by businesses such as Evernote?

Lifehacker did a Onenote vs. Evernote thread a while back, and I noted many people complaining about Evernote's poor organizational capacities. I'm not the only one by any means.

I suppose if you think you "got me", you did. :shock: I hope it was as good for me as it was for you. (Whatever *it* is/was.) Still doesn't mean if the software (or anything be it a camera, video camera, car, mixer) isn't used effectively that it's the software's (or camera/video camera/car/mixer's) fault.

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So Here it is in tags:

[attachment=0]clip.jpg[/attachment]

Tags can do everything folders can do,

Except, apparently, give you a list of Shakespeare notes without something like 8 bloody clicks all over the user interface.

Did I put that note under family or marriage?

Hmm, well, lets bring it up.

1. check which notebook is selected: scroll up to notebook pane

2. click school notebook instead of personal (don't tell me I can not use notebooks, what if I want local versus sharing?)

3. scroll down to tags. Since everything has to be in one database, the tree is going to be closed so I'm not overwhelmed.

4. expand Shakespeare paper tag tree

5. expand body: Shakespeare's life tag tree

6. expand early life tag tree

7. did I put that note in family or marriage: click Shakespeare's family: click Shakespeare's marriage, oh wait control click or shift click, which does a double select?? Try both?

8. Move over to note list.

9. Possibly, scroll up and down note list.

What's the alternative? A Shakespeare notebook, and if I want something more specific: a redundant Shakespeare tag, with hierarchy, so I'm literally supposed to click "Shakespeare notebook" then go down to tag and click Shakespeare notebook TAGS" and expand it.

User interface design fail.

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Did I put that note under family or marriage?

(shakes head & leaves the thread)

Gee, I'd love to carry on with this (well, not exactly) but (like I said in the other thread) until someone shows a specific example where a note shows up in sub-notebooks but not in tags, I've got other things requiring my time.

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Thanks again for the feedback. We do appreciate that the current UI design isn't intuitive to all users, who expect the first organizational tool (notebooks) to be hierarchical, not the second organizational tool (tags). We do hear the feedback and appreciate the input.

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Not sure if this would make any difference, but I am one of those who agree with the original poster.

I don't have anything against tags. Only thing is, if tagging 'beef' would automatically show the note under the parent "Recipe", i would be happy.

Thanks.

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At the rick of dipping my toe into this controversy...

What Mr Engberg fails to comprehend here is that hierarchies become more essential as the amount of data grows because keeping data sets small and manageable is precisely what hierarchies do! Instead of having to rummage through a thousand recipes to find the one for beef stroganoff, you go to beef>sauces.

I believe Mr. Engberg does not fail to understand your point, but his point might have been lost in the discussion. Yahoo, in its early days, tried to make a hierarchical directory for the web. At such scales, you spend far more time maintaining the organization, or dealing with new organizations that better fit your collection, as the collection evolves. Being a librarian for your own life could become a full time job. At much larger scales, the "Yahoo" strategy seems to become untenable, and the "Google" strategy seems to win out.

- For huge collections, a good organization would be much better than search (it can bring knowledge and insight into a collection). This is your point.

- For huge collections, making a good organization is very very hard, and its often (to access data) better to put pressure on the search technology, as opposed to putting pressure on the librarians. This may be Mr. Engberg's point.

That being said, I am not opposed to having the ability to organize things. But I probably will not use it, as I find my OCD nature will waste more time maintaining an organizational structure, than I gain back from the benefit of having said structure. For ex, I have a box filled with receipts that I keep for each year. Maybe once a year, I need to slog through all the receipts to find something specific (for a return, for warranty info, etc). This might require 3 hours of work. If I had maintained a structure, I could probably find it immediately. But maintaining a structure would take 5 minutes each week, consuming a total of 4.3 hours of my life. So, a net loss. Its better to dump my wallet into a box at the end of each week, than try to put receipts into envelopes by category or something, each week.

Take the analogy to EN where (because of OCR) a search does not take 3 hours, but a few seconds. You have to really, really consider the cost/benefit analysis of maintaining organization, because even taking a few seconds to move things into the proper place of your hierarchy now and then will probably amount to a net loss. (Well, I suppose if you consider your time to have 0 value, the cost comes out to 0).

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After reading through the thread, allow me to offer a polite suggestion.

The only drawback (in MY workflow) from not having a pre-defined structure, is that I need to know in advance what I want to search for. Sometimes, like the example above, a set structure lets you see at a glance how all the different parts fit in and relate to each other.

Here's my suggestion for the earlier example.

If you create a note for the Shakespeare outline as presented above.. tagged with something like "outlines", with the note title being the name of the play, you would then have the structure available to you visually. From there, you can jump to search to find the note which contains the text you're after, either with the intitle: parameter or with a plain search. The benefit of this method is that you might come across useful notes that you don't appreciate are useful until they're presented to you in this way. There have been many occasions where I type a search and it results in a long-forgotten note popping up that is often more useful than the note I thought I wanted.

Though Evernote have been clear about the unlikely inclusion of sub-folders, they have also been hinting at an upcoming "intra-notes links" function. If this does become a reality, you could essentially replicate a sub-folder style by linking to the relevant notes within the note containing your outline.

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Take the analogy to EN where (because of OCR) a search does not take 3 hours, but a few seconds. You have to really, really consider the cost/benefit analysis of maintaining organization, because even taking a few seconds to move things into the proper place of your hierarchy now and then will probably amount to a net loss. (Well, I suppose if you consider your time to have 0 value, the cost comes out to 0).

csgrad818, You do have a point. However, I think for me, I feel it depends on what sort of note-taking you are doing, and for what sort of task. I'd imagine if you were doing a term paper or a novel, many people would find it useful to have a hierarchical view of what's going on. You need to have a tool to "see the big picture" if you will.

Also, search doesn't necessarily help if you are not sure what you are looking for.

I make clippings of interesting articles, I might want to browse them by subject. I'm not always, necessarily looking for something specifically. I might want to browse my articles on politics if I'm looking for insight into a recent election. The word "politics" might not be in an article on politics... I either would have to come up with a bunch of "or" statements, which could yield false hits, or make sure I type "politics" into each web clipping, which is no easier than tagging it at the time of clipping.

All in all, I'd feel safer just adding a "politics" tag at the time of web clipping, but I wish it was easier to view "interesting articles" including politics- and narrow down to just politics if I wanted.

Its more natural for me to do it this way, at any rate. Also, Evernote 3.5 currently is rather slow with searching on my database, the software folks might fix this in time, but, at the moment, its a lot quicker to click a tag or notebook

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I believe there has been plenty of evidence provided in this and many other threads as to why ENs pseudo tag hierarchy does not work for many users for SOME of their needs. BurgersNFries disagrees everytime the issue is raised. Clearly EN meets most of our needs or we'd be somewhere else.

The volume question above: I doubt that anybody needs to put all their notes in a hierarchical structure all of the time. The ability to do it SOMETIMES is what is required.

The Shakespeare example: in a PROPER hierarchy once created you just need to browse that hierarchy and drop your object into the appropriate one. Just one. With tags, currently, you have to add the tags above as well. Forget one and the hierarchy is broken. This is the fundamental feature that is missing. Parent tagging would solve this (see my post in viewtopic.php?f=30&t=14845&start=25) and be more powerful than sub-notebooks.

Of course the other main reason for a working hierarchy is that thats how many people work. Meet them their and bring them forward. There'll be a greater take up of EN.

It would be comforting to see a response from Evernote on Parent Tagging.

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Like some others on this thread I want to be able to browse my notes in a hierarchy but let's all be clear what we're asking for. What we are asking for are UI changes and NOT changes to the semantics of the existing EN tags. Dan7000 was absolutely right, folders are tags (or rather, folders are a particular subset of tag semantics). Any hierarchy you come up with can be implemented using tags by assigning a tag to every uniquely-named non-leaf node in the hierarchy and then tagging every leaf node with the tag of all parent nodes for that leaf node. (The root node is invisible here because it is the notebook itself).

The issue here is that the UI is clumsy because you end up needing to type fairly long tag descriptions and search terms to get what you want. I worked an example on this on another thread (viewtopic.php?f=30&t=15015#p58999) that I hope illustrates the limitations of accessing notes in a tag-based hierarchy using the current EN tools once it has been created.

Essentially I'd just like some extra tools in EN to help here, namely (i) the ability to optionally set the tag system so that tagging a note can also automatically add all tags between that tag and the notional root node and (ii) a tool that browses graphically through the tag hierarchy building the appropriate "tag: tag: ..." search term as one descends down the tag hierarchy. These two things will provide full hierarchical abilities without any changes to the EN main database structure or the EN search engine. A database would be needed to capture the hierarchical structure of the tags themselves but that pretty much exists already (except that the same tag can't currently appear more than once in the tag hierarchy) but this database is totally decoupled from the main EN database.

- Julian

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Of course the other main reason for a working hierarchy is that thats how many people work. Meet them their and bring them forward. There'll be a greater take up of EN.

It would be comforting to see a response from Evernote on Parent Tagging.

I'm really surprised, come to think of it, that there's no way to even right click on a parent tag and see an option like "select all sub tags" or some sort of shortcut. If there was, I'd at least try a mostly tag only organization.

Surely this can't be difficult to implement on the desktop? The tag relationship is already being stored in some form, isn't it? It's just a manner of an option for the client to select multiple tags without forcing the user to click them all. Its actually kind of weird if this basic option is missing from the program.

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+1

I'm using evernote since the first version. Four things which made evernote unique for me where: flexible categorisation (with subcategories/intersections/automatic parent category assignment), portability, templates and per note encryption. From the version 3 a new and a very handy feature was added - evernote online and synch. That was handy but the main four are simply gone...

- No flexible categorisation anymore. Just tags which are handy but not for everything

- No more portability in 3.5

- Templates are gone

- Per note encryption is not supported by online version

I find it sad that these fantastic features which where available in the early version and attracted a lot of users are just gone and for no good reason...

I'm seriously considering to go back to Evernote 2 or find some alternative because while online version is handy and all the new features are nice but I do not see any progress with folders/subfolders or subnotebooks and portability disappearance seems to have caused by a technical issue of relying on .NET framework so it will probably take a while to fix it.

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I find it sad that these fantastic features which where available in the early version and attracted a lot of users are just gone and for no good reason...

Interesting that people tend to think the items they miss are simply "gone and for no good reason".

It's apparent that the EverNote of 1.x & 2.x is a different animal than Evernote 3.x That's unfortunate for those who loved EverNote 1.x & 2.x It's my understanding EverNote 1.x & 2.x was Windows only, so many/most features were probably only available on Windows. It's also my understanding that Evernote (lower case n) 3.x & service split from another company & their focus is (IMO) to be multiplatform & to be as universal as possible on those platforms. So to say something is "gone for no good reason" is speaking about something you really don't know about. You may not like or agree with the change in focus and it's obvious that many people don't. But that's the way it seems to be.

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Additionally, check this article out: http://www.geardiary.com/2010/01/13/eve ... hil-libin/

Here's a quote:

Libin came on during the summer of 2007. It wasn’t a good time for the company. They were effectively operating hand to mouth and the future was not at all clear. Libin saw the vision and embraced the concept behind Evernote but discovered a company whose survival was far from assured. Fast forward to today and the finances of Evernote look entirely difference. Revenue is growing quickly. Premium Users are now growing faster than free users and the conversion rate from free to premium users (key to the company’s business model), while still growing slowly, has increased in speed. Now, instead of worrying about whether or not they will have money for next month’s payroll, they are able to talk in terms of five year plans. In fact, they expect full cash profitability in a bit over a year.

So it would seem EverNote 2.x would have likely met it's demise by now anyway. Many loved it. But not enough to pay the bills. I'm sure that's no consolation for those who love & miss EverNote 2.x What I am trying to point out is that maybe the current company focus/dev team isn't so bad. They are just like we are. If the money isn't coming in to pay the bills, you need to change something.

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EverNote 2.2 was a Windows shareware utility that was used by a small number of "power users", with very few paying customers. While we were certainly happy to have a few thousand highly dedicated users who loved every obscure power-user quirk of our software, this was not a viable business by any stretch of the imagination. Burgers is right that the choice was either to shut down the business or to build something useful to a wider community of people willing to pay enough to cover our costs.

We shifted our focus to a network service with a "freemium" business model. A number of dedicated 2.2 power users told us this was a terrible decision, EPIC FAIL, etc.

In retrospect, I'm very happy that we were able to continue Evernote by shifting our focus. I read every post on this forum to get the opinions of the small dedicated group that voice their views and suggestions. But I'm also the guy in charge of our service infrastructure, so I know that several times more people used the Evernote service today than ever touched EverNote 2.2. And more new people started using Evernote today than ever paid for EverNote 2.2.

So I have piles and piles of aggregate data about how/when/where people use Evernote. This tells us when people are "voting with their feet" for one of our clients, features, etc. So I appreciate the views of people who disagree with some of the changes we have made, but I can also tell objectively whether these changes result in increased or decreased usage. And, so far, we've been very pleased with the results from the 3.5 client.

Thanks

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To the employees of Evernote: to what percent satisfied are you with being able to get information out of your product? Do you honestly see shortcomings in being able to organize and locate information, or are you happy with it and see no need to improve bringing information to the top?

I've read this many times: you guys have done a great job of making it incredibly easy to put information in. I don't hear that nearly as often when it comes to finding information. I echo the sentiment on both accounts.

Perhaps a webinar (though that could get ugly), or even a screencast of how you guys sift through thousands of notes to find the one note you're looking for, or even notes of similar topics, would be helpful to us. I'm a regular tag user, but I can tell I'm not using them correctly as my tag list is starting to get a bit lengthy.

Please know - I would be LOST without this product. It holds so much information for me... but that's what is starting to make me nervous. I'm just concerned I may not be able to find pieces of information in the future due to a mistake/omission I make in tagging a note. I'm willing to deal with what I see as shortcomings in the programming as compared with MY workflow because I at least know it's in there somewhere... if I just spend enough time looking for it.

Please educate us in a visual way (demonstrate) as to why tags are the end-all be-all and why everything else is simply inferior.

Thank you for your time.

Brian

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We certainly see lots of room for improvement, and are making small changes to make it easier to find your notes all the time.

For example: the desktop clients are adding auto-complete suggestions that match your existing tags when you type in the search box.

Thanks for the suggestions

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We certainly see lots of room for improvement, and are making small changes to make it easier to find your notes all the time. For example: ... ... the search box.

For me that sums up the whole debate quite well. It's great that you're constantly making improvements (to searching) but please don't forget that some of us also sometimes like to browse to our data (e.g. via a hierarchy). I get the impression that there's an underlying feeling within Evernote that search is good and browsing is bad (I'm exaggerating slightly for effect) and so >90% of your effort and attention is directed towards search capabilities. I'm not arguing that the balance shouldn't be for the majority of attention to be directed towards search, but not to the exclusion of almost all browsing capabilities.

For mobile devices where typing is an operation that it is good to avoid where ever possible (especially on phones like the iPhone that don't have a physical keyboard), or for people like me who use the mouse way more than the keyboard even when using my main PC, browsing is often a more finger-friendly way to get to a piece of information that the user needs.

- Julian

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I find the tags a problem since the concept is flat and there is no inheritance. I had expected that child tags would inherit the parent tag, too, since they obviously are in that family.

Not only are the tags awkward to keep up-to-date as priorities change, but when I have had corruption problems, they seemed to stem from sorting tags.

Once a Evernote notebook gets up to any size at all, I find that it turns into a mess. Updating and organizing tags becomes a nightmare. I had thought at on time that dragging and dropping tags between parent tags would update them all, but, no, it seems that I have to work through the tag interface or type tags into the tag space.

Searching is no substitute for hierarchy. This deficiency has prevented me from using Evernote enough to justify moving up a paid account as I had expected to do by now.

Dropbox has made my hierachical note software available across machines and displaced evernote for most of my notekeeping. Evernote does have the web interface, and that may be handy for some, but I never seem to need it. I do need a hierarchical organizer, though.

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Note the hierarchical structure of how the information is organized. We humans have been organizing our thoughts this way for a very long time. Why? Because that is how we think. Categorically. That is how we organize information - in groups, and sub groups and sub sub groups. That is how particles are classified in physics. That is how species are classified in biology. That is how notes are structured when writing a college dissertation - usually anyway. I know. I teach college.

Cognitively, categorization is not only how we structure ideas, but how we remember them. Indeed, it is the categorization of knowledge and ideas that provide the handles with which to retrieve the memories of those ideas. And notes are nothing if they are not the augmentation of our own memory structures.

Look, folders are OK. I use them every day of my life, in file systems and my browser bookmarks. But it doesn't work for everything, and it doesn't necessarily scale well. So let's try to get some terminology in order: using categories to classify knowledge is not identical to using hierarchies.

Easy example. I have a red ball. Using a strictly hierarchical classification system, where does that ball go? In the tree under Toys? Under Things That Are Round? Or maybe under Things That Are Red? I don't think that this fits nicely into a tree structure, yet it seems perfectly suited for tags (e.g., "red", "round", "toy").

Another example, relevant to the browser bookmark problem (confession -- I haven't yet gotten around to tagging my bookmarks, and this one bites me pretty often): My bookmarks tree has a branch for Software, and under that, a subbranch for Development, and under that, subbranches for individual languages, e.g. C++, JavaScript, HTML, etc. SO I read an article that discusses techniques of manipulating HTML using JavaScript. So where in the hierarchy does this go? A bit of a tossup, really. With tags, of course, it's no problem.

In any case, it should be easy to see that categorization is a more general term that includes both hierarchies and tags (and probably others). Folders are certainly useful, but tend to be somewhat rigid and unforgiving -- if you misclassify an item (easy to do when there's ambiguity) then it becomes very hard to find. On the other hand, they tend to be easy to implement and use. They lend themselves nicely to the old familiar drag'n'drop metaphor.

So look at the Shakespeare outline. It's got categories(early life, works, later years) and sub-categories like Works>Plays>Tragedies,Comedies, Histories. This formatting encodes information, not just about the data itself, but about relationships to the other pieces of data. These categorical relationships are very important about how we think, understand and most essentially, how we remember.

Sorry but this example is tragically comical, due to the fact while Shakespeare's plays are traditionally pushed into the various categories, most of them are a mix of tragedy and comedy and/or history at least. There's certainly a great deal of humor in Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet, and tragedy in Richard III. Do we then start adding branches like Plays/Tragedies/Comical elements, Plays/Tragedies/Historical elements, and so on? I thin't think that this scales well.

Anyways, it's at least worth noting that use of hierarchies is just one way of categorization, and tagging is another. Hierarchies are definitely *not* the only way that knowledge can be classified (despite what you assert), and neither are tags.

Finally, we're only talking options here. If people want to use tags and search, they can. It will be interesting to see how that works for them. I suspect it will go the way of Google's Desktop which as far as I can tell, is a flop. Most people I know hate the fact that they can't store their Gmails in a directory format like Outlook.

Ugh. I have given up on using folders in Outlook as being counterproductive, and by far prefer the GMail approach of tagging, which can be implemented in Outlook using a feature that's called, surprise, surprise, "Categories".

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Sorry but this example is tragically comical, due to the fact while Shakespeare's plays are traditionally pushed into the various categories, most of them are a mix of tragedy and comedy and/or history at least.

His example is that of a research paper, in which he' presumably classified Shakespeare plays into 2 or 3 categories and would want to organize his notes in such a way. It's a real world example of how someone might want to use Evernote, not an abstract philosophical argument.

Wikipedia classifies them as Tragedies, Comedies, or Histories. If a whole lot of people find this categorization useful, what's the problem?

In fact, breaking things down into simple hierarchies is a way of dealing with information overload. Creating a million tags does just the opposite.

If I was writing a paper, I could tag every Shakespeare play with 50 different "tags".

but this probably isn't useful to me, and would create information overload.

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Creating a million tags does just the opposite.

If I was writing a paper, I could tag every Shakespeare play with 50 different "tags".

but this probably isn't useful to me, and would create information overload.

If you're creating a million tags or even wanting to tag something with 50 tags, you're definitely overtagging. If you think of tags as folders, yes, there will be times when some folders/notebooks may overlap & you have to pick one. Tagging allows you to include them in all. IME, overlaps only should involve 2-3 tags b/c you can still filter by keywords contained within the notes themselves. Using the red ball example, if you make sure the words red, round, toy are in the note, then even if you plug it into a notebook called MISCELLANEOUS & don't tag it with anything, you can still find it with a search of red or round or toy or any combination of those three search terms. IOW, you don't need to tag a note with every single word you may think you'd want to use to find it.

But if you were having a hard time deciding which notebook out of 50 to put your note in, you're definitely over categorizing.

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Creating a million tags does just the opposite.

If I was writing a paper, I could tag every Shakespeare play with 50 different "tags".

but this probably isn't useful to me, and would create information overload.

If you're creating a million tags or even wanting to tag something with 50 tags, you're definitely overtagging.

I'm not, I was responding to Jefito's idea that the Shakespeare plays could be multi genre. People might find 3 categories works just fine for their purposes.

My point was , say, if a funny bit in Macbeth makes it get the comedy tag as well as tragedy, as well as history, as well as fantasy, this could be overwhelming. It might be easier to use a simple categorization scheme, "comedy" "tragedy" and "history" to organize your paper.

I suspect if I was writing a Shakespeare paper, depending on the topic, I might use those three categories with no overlap.

If I was classifying my fiction collection, I might use 10 or so genre tags, and classify some books with multiple genres.

I think if I was just writing about Shakespeare, I might prefer the simpler, hierarichal organization. if I was thinking about "all of literature" I'd use a more tag-like setup.

Different organizational models for different projects.

I might not want to organize my tax records the same way I organize my holiday shopping list. Etc.

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@Dave

You may be interpreting your statistics accurately, or you may not. I do know that they are notorious for supplying misinformation - Abe Lincoln was said, "Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics!"

E.g. More Evernote take up of 3.5 may be due to more recommendations of Evernote on the Net. It could be due to people upgrading because its the latest version, and sticking it out despite its shortcomings. Or both.

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@Dave ... It could be due to people upgrading because its the latest version, and sticking it out despite its shortcomings. Or both.

I can confirm that at least one of the above class of users most definitely exists. I have EN on my main PC and my laptop. If I try new stuff then it's usually on my laptop so I have 3.1 on my desktop PC and 3.5 on my laptop.

At the moment I try not to use EN too frequently on my laptop because I hate the thought that that it is sending 3.5 usage statistics to EN making me look like a happy upgrader but I do use it now and then so as to be able to form a reasonable impression of 3.5 and any upgrades that EN make to it. I could downgrade my laptop to 3.1 but it makes sense to keep it on 3.5 so that if I read of any enhancements that look interesting then I can conveniently do an auto-update to have a look so unfortunately I will continue to add to the 3.5 user count even though I wouldn't count myself as a 3.5 convert.

- Julian

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Different organizational models for different projects.

I don't disagree with this.

I was mainly pointing out what I see to be incorrect assertions in the original post, namely that humans always organize knowledge hierarchically, and that categorization is hierarchicalization.

If EverNote could only provide for one of these, then I'd vote for tags, as they are potentially a more powerful concept. As it is, hierarchical organization is not completely absent, since you can always organize hierarchically inside a single note (probably fine for creating a short paper on Shakespeare, per the example). In terms of organizing notes hierarchically, though, there's not much there. Yes, you can make hierarchies of tags, but if you make tag 'B' a subtag of tag 'A', then EverNote doesn't seem to be able to impute that notes tagged with 'B' inherit the 'A' tag as well (unless you tag them with 'A' explicitly). I'm not sure whether that's a drawback or not; I've only begun to experiment with hierarchical tags.

So far, I don't find not having a lack of global hierarchical structuring tools a burden.

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I suppose if you think you "got me", you did. :shock: I hope it was as good for me as it was for you. (Whatever *it* is/was.) Still doesn't mean if the software (or anything be it a camera, video camera, car, mixer) isn't used effectively that it's the software's (or camera/video camera/car/mixer's) fault.

No Mr. Evernote apologist, I suppose not - but it is Evernote's fault for doing a bad job of documenting how tags should be used if they're supposed to be the major organizational thread of this application. The manual has one page devoted to them. Not to mention that Evernote's tagging is horribly implemented.

The post you replied to was spot-on. It's ridiculous to expect consumers to understand that they need to create some massive tag hierarchy in order to do some simple organization, especially if it's not explained to them up front.

This is why Apple has enjoyed so much success in their consumer electronics business. They make things for PEOPLE, not nerds. They assume that if a user doesn't understand how to do something with a device or in application, it's the manufacturer's fault, not the user's.

It's getting a bit ridiculous that the only answer Evernote has to the growing chorus of user demand for subnotebooks is: "You're using the software wrong. Use it the way we want you to, rather than the way that seems logical to you."

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Here, I will demonstrate in the simplest terms even a programmer can understand :) why this is so much nonsense. But first, let me make clear, I love tags. They are very useful. I use them frequently. But they are no replacement for hierarchical directories for one simple reason.

Thank you so much for this post - you are so incredibly spot on with this well-thought out argument. Unfortunately, it seems to be falling on deaf ears. I use tags frequently as well, too frequently apparently, because I was using them as metadata, not as folders.

Where, pray tell, in the documentation does it say:

"You should think of tags as folders, because we are going to stick with a flat hierarchy for data organization. While most programs use tags as metadata to enhance search and retrieval, we treat tags as the only way to introduce hierarchy into the organization of your notes."

It doesn't. And that's how (premium) users like me have ended up with over 1000 notes in dozens of notebooks, with hundreds of tags that I'm now trying to organize into some sort of pseudo hierarchy, because it's painfully obvious that sub-notebooks are not on the horizon. Unfortunately, organizing hundreds of tags is really, really hard because of Evernote's horrible UI for tag management. Not to mention, that the tag tree itself is only a pseudo-hierarchy, and there is no option for child tags to automatically inherit their parent tags.

I guess all of us users clamoring for sub-notebooks are just plain stupid because we don't use the app like the engineers intended but never documented.

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What I do not understand is why I can't make my own decision in using folders or tags or both. I think it is in the interest of every user to be able to make that decision for him or herself. Some people are used to folders, so why don't let them use folders if they like. For myself I really would like to use some folders or groups to prevent a long list of different notebooks on the left that I cannot overview in one screen. It would help me to just make some groups like, personal, study etc.

One example is when holding a diary. I will not tag every day with different tags, I just want to write in the diary.

When I would like to browse my diary just to overview it, I don't like to use tags to browse it. In that case I would like to just open a folder with my different diaries and browse that one I like at that moment.

I certainly don't want when searching for something else for my study to come up with something in my diary.

Now it's only one major notebook holding several notebooks together. It would be nice to have some levels deeper, like with folders, groups, so it is not necessary to use different logins.

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What I do not understand is why I can't make my own decision in using folders or tags or both. I think it is in the interest of every user to be able to make that decision for him or herself. Some people are used to folders, so why don't let them use folders if they like. For myself I really would like to use some folders or groups to prevent a long list of different notebooks on the left that I cannot overview in one screen. It would help me to just make some groups like, personal, study etc.

Well for one thing, you can't use folders because they're not provided. I don't know the real reason for that, but I could guess at a couple of the issues: a new data format with folder support needing to be rolled out to all of the various devices that EverNote supports and the attendant compatibility issues, plus making folders, tags and notebooks all play nice together in the UI for all of these devices plus Search plus APIs. It may be a philosophical thing (some companies are like that); it may be a resource thing (takes a lot of work to design, implement and support major infrastructure changes). Whatever. I'm a developer myself, and I try not to guess too much at what's going on under the surface of another company's tech decisions.

By the way, it's not always the developers who make these types of design decisions; there are often other stakeholders who weigh in, with more or less force or ability to influence the ultimate decision. This includes UI, marketing, even QA. The takeaway is that you now have notebooks and tags, and you should try to work with them, and not fight them. Which leads me to:

One example is when holding a diary. I will not tag every day with different tags, I just want to write in the diary.

When I would like to browse my diary just to overview it, I don't like to use tags to browse it. In that case I would like to just open a folder with my different diaries and browse that one I like at that moment.

I certainly don't want when searching for something else for my study to come up with something in my diary.

Why not just tag each diary's entries with the name of the diary? E.g. 'Work Diary', 'Personal Diary', 'My Secret Diary', etc. Write an entry, tag it with the appropriate diary tag (Hint to EN: this is where auto-tagging could come in really handy). Then instead of needing to browse to your diary's folder, just select the diary tag from the Tag listing in the UI, or Search for it (e.g. tag:"My Secret Diary"). You can then browse the individual entries to your heart's content. If you want, you can make a 'Diary' tag, and nest your individual diary tags underneath it; maybe that will give you that old folder feeling.

~Jeff

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Well for one thing, you can't use folders because they're not provided. I don't know the real reason for that, but I could guess at a couple of the issues: a new data format with folder support needing to be rolled out to all of the various devices that EverNote supports and the attendant compatibility issues, plus making folders, tags and notebooks all play nice together in the UI for all of these devices plus Search plus APIs. It may be a philosophical thing (some companies are like that); it may be a resource thing (takes a lot of work to design, implement and support major infrastructure changes). Whatever. I'm a developer myself, and I try not to guess too much at what's going on under the surface of another company's tech decisions.

By the way, it's not always the developers who make these types of design decisions; there are often other stakeholders who weigh in, with more or less force or ability to influence the ultimate decision. This includes UI, marketing, even QA. The takeaway is that you now have notebooks and tags, and you should try to work with them, and not fight them.

Thank you for a well thought out post. I also don't try to guess at why other companies do something one way or another. If their product works for me, I use it. If it doesn't work for me, I move on & look for something that will. Most companies make the big decisions based upon a lot of input & requirements. Some of the requirements are hardware limitations, OS limitations, financial limitations or owner/manager limitations. I do know that most (all?) successful companies don't make the big decisions on a whim or to purposely annoy their customers (users.)

Which leads me to:

Why not just tag each diary's entries with the name of the diary? E.g. 'Work Diary', 'Personal Diary', 'My Secret Diary', etc. Write an entry, tag it with the appropriate diary tag (Hint to EN: this is where auto-tagging could come in really handy). Then instead of needing to browse to your diary's folder, just select the diary tag from the Tag listing in the UI, or Search for it (e.g. tag:"My Secret Diary"). You can then browse the individual entries to your heart's content. If you want, you can make a 'Diary' tag, and nest your individual diary tags underneath it; maybe that will give you that old folder feeling.

That's exactly what I do. I keep a journal. The journal entries may pertain to a medical issue (tag with "journal", put in "Medical" notebook), or something regarding the care of my elderly mother (tag with "journal", put in "Mother" notebook) or our pets (tag with "journal", put in "Pets" notebook.) If I want to browse the entire journal, I search all notes tagged with "Journal." If I want to see only the ones pertaining to a medical issue, the search is only on notes in the medical notebook, tagged with "Journal." If I sort them by date created, I can then follow what was done in what order.

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+1 for folders. I can't stand this app without them. I like to be organized and this is not helping.

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+1 for folders. I can't stand this app without them. I like to be organized and this is not helping.

I think that your current options are to learn how to use tags and notebooks (which ~can~ help you to be organized), or to keep using software that you can't stand.

What is it that you're trying to to that's not working out?

~Jeff

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+1 for folders. I can't stand this app without them. I like to be organized and this is not helping.

I think that your current options are to learn how to use tags and notebooks (which ~can~ help you to be organized), or to keep using software that you can't stand.

What is it that you're trying to to that's not working out?

~Jeff

I posted here because I really like the idea of the app being able to access my notes online, on any pc , and on my phone. The tags just don't cut it. I've tried them and it doesn't help much. It's not the same as folders and sub folders, you can't have a tag within a tag.... All the tags are in one huge long list. If I click a folder it doesn't just show the tags inside that folder, it shows all tags and they add up to a huge long list. I'm imported my notes from onenote and tried to use it but I feel lost in there. It's not organized the way I would like. I can't separate personal notes from work notes or customer notes. All the tags are bunched together.

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Is there an option when exporting from onenote or importing into Evernote that allows you to ONLY map the onenote folders to Evernote tags?

And then you'll probably need to drag and drop the tags around, back into the hierarchy you are used to.

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I posted here because I really like the idea of the app being able to access my notes online, on any pc , and on my phone. The tags just don't cut it. I've tried them and it doesn't help much. It's not the same as folders and sub folders, you can't have a tag within a tag.... All the tags are in one huge long list. If I click a folder it doesn't just show the tags inside that folder, it shows all tags and they add up to a huge long list. I'm imported my notes from onenote and tried to use it but I feel lost in there. It's not organized the way I would like. I can't separate personal notes from work notes or customer notes. All the tags are bunched together.

If you're using 3.5, tags can be nested in the tag list. try it: Drag a tag onto another tag, and voila, it now appears as a sub-tag of the the tag you dropped it on. So yes, you can organize your tags in a hierarchy rather than a big long list. It sounds as though you are looking for three main categories: "Personal", "Work" and Customer". Fine -- make tags with those names, apply them as appropriate, and have them be the root of three tag hierarchies in your tag list. You can make tags for individual customers, say, and have those tags underneath your "Customers" tag. You can follow the hierarchy down to select the customer you are interested in, and only the notes tagged with that customer will appear in the list.

~Jeff

p.s., As to your note that EverNote shows all tags in a folder (did you mean notebook?), it's true; I think that displaying only the tags that exist in a folder was suggested as a new feature just recently.

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I've been using Evernote since 6/30/08 as a free member.

I just upgraded to paid so I could sync notebooks with my business partner.

I had 15+ notebooks covering several things with subordinate titles to deal with the hierarchy.

Notebook1

Notebook1A

Notebook1B

After reading some of these threads I decided to give hierarchical tagging a try.

Holy *****...I wish I would have been doing this all along.

Batch-tagged notes in several notebooks and I consolidated my notes into 5 notebooks.

Now, as I create a note, I type a few characters and add one or more tags.

What is AWESOME is that the note can be in one or more tag hierarchies so I can easily find it no matter how the data is associated.

I work with a lot of sports teams. Now I can tag them by level of play, sport and geographical location.

My tag hierarchy has

> Sport

> Location

> Type (level)

With as many subtags as necessary to identify every nook and cranny of my data.

Now I can drill into either one and find the lists I need.

My suggestion: Think outside the box and try tagging.

I will never go back to hard-coded hierarchies again.

I'm glad to be a paid subscriber to help keep Evernote's doors open.

I recommend Evernote as the single most practical piece of software I use...especially since 3.5 has some basic HTML/formatting for notes.

Now I'll only use Google Docs for actual docs...and not for trying to keep track of everything.

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What is slightly less awesome is that Evernote's apparent hierarchy is a fake. It's a GUI mock-up of a hierarchy.

To use your example, if Evernote had hierarchical tags, you should be able to click on 'Football' (Sport), and Evernote would show you all the notes under that tree, even if they were only explicitly tagged with one of the subordinate tags.

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What is slightly less awesome is that Evernote's apparent hierarchy is a fake. It's a GUI mock-up of a hierarchy.

To use your example, if Evernote had hierarchical tags, you should be able to click on 'Football' (Sport), and Evernote would show you all the notes under that tree, even if they were only explicitly tagged with one of the subordinate tags.

... which would be awesome, but it's not how Windows folders work. And it's not how tree view works in any application I am aware of. In Windows Explorer, as in other standard hierarchical applications, when you click a folder, you get just the list of items in that folder -- you don't see the items in all of the sub-folders.

Thus, EN tag hierarchies already work the way that standard hierarchical information management systems work. Sure, adding inheritance might be a good idea -- but that doesn't mean that EN's hierarchy is "a fake."

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... which would be awesome, but it's not how Windows folders work. And it's not how tree view works in any application I am aware of. In Windows Explorer, as in other standard hierarchical applications, when you click a folder, you get just the list of items in that folder -- you don't see the items in all of the sub-folders.

Thus, EN tag hierarchies already work the way that standard hierarchical information management systems work. Sure, adding inheritance might be a good idea -- but that doesn't mean that EN's hierarchy is "a fake."

A fair point in relation to one aspect of GUI layout (what happens in a tree view when you click on a node). But by 'fake', I mean that the so-called 'hierarchy' is mocked-up from the GUI. Subordinately-tagged notes have no true relationship with the superordinate tag (whereas files really are 'inside' of the superordinate folder). Evernote's tags are fundamentally flat.

You can see this by trying to have subordinate tags of the same name, within different superordinate tags. You can't, because the hierarchy is faked up in GUI terms only.

For example, just about every project I ever start has an "Intro" subproject. This cannot be modelled with ENs tags, because they are uniquely identified by name, unlike a true hierarchy. So, to quote:

Thus, EN tag hierarchies already work the way that standard hierarchical information management systems work

just isn't true. All "standard hierarchical information management systems", including filesystems, allow subordinates to have the same names as subordinates in different parts of the tree. When I click on Proj1->Intro, why on earth would I want to be presented with items from Proj2->Intro?

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But by 'fake', I mean that the so-called 'hierarchy' is mocked-up from the GUI. Subordinately-tagged notes have no true relationship with the superordinate tag (whereas files really are 'inside' of the superordinate folder). Evernote's tags are fundamentally flat.

You can see this by trying to have subordinate tags of the same name, within different superordinate tags.

Yup. You got it. This is the whole point I've been banging on about for ages. This is a GUI issue, not an issue that tags aren't powerful enough, if properly applied, to create hierarchies.

If I have to resign myself to living without full GUI support for hierarchies then my life would get a lot easier if EN at least made the one change to allow the same tag to appear multiple times within the hierarchy.

I realise that I would still have to manually apply the tags for all of the "containing folders" above a note and, if I wanted to see the contents of a "folder" I would have to build a search term that filtered against all of the tags for all of the "containing folders" for the "folder" that I'm interested in, but at least I could do this. Right now, by not allowing a tag to appear more than once in the GUI, I can't conveniently have "Personal/Travel" and a "Business/Travel" folder and have the hierarchical GUI display of the tags accurately represent what is going on since I have to decide whether to nest the "Travel" tag under the "Business" tag or the "Personal" tag but I can't have it appear in both places.

- Julian

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@Julian, I agree it would be more powerful for the tags to be truly hierarchical, but it seems to me EN tags are flat. To make them truly hierarchical would require a fundamental design change in EN. I can't see that happenning any time soon. Why not just include a distinguishing name in the common tag? e.g. "Business Travel" and "Personal Travel". If there was a proper hierarchy, in order to distinguish the 2 "travels" you would need to use the hierarchy itself. You can't just add a tag of "Travel" and expect EN to know which one it is! So, having "Business Travel" and "Personal Travel" tags in your current hierarchy is not going to take any more effort to apply the tag. Just drop your note onto the appropriate tag.

But of course using Ctrl-Shift-T (EN 3.1 and prior, not 3.5) you can enter "Business", or maybe even less text, and find "Business Travel" quickly. I wonder what you would actually gain in useability for this particular part of hierarchical behaviour if EN implemented it?

I started out firmly in the Folders camp. But the more I use tags only as a Folders replacement the more I see there is not a lot of difference between true Folders and EN pseudo-hierarchical tags. Nothing that I particularly miss.

(I'm far more concerned about EN continuing their historical addiction to dropping really useful functionality when they produce a new release)

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@Julian, I agree it would be more powerful for the tags to be truly hierarchical, but it seems to me EN tags are flat. To make them truly hierarchical would require a fundamental design change in EN.

You are correct that EN tags are flat but to allow hierarchies requires exactly zero change to the fundemental EN design, the structure of the core EN notes database and the search algorithms are totally unaffected. The only change is to offer some extra modes in the user interface to help users create and browse hierarchies.

Why not just include a distinguishing name in the common tag? e.g. "Business Travel" and "Personal Travel". If there was a proper hierarchy, in order to distinguish the 2 "travels" you would need to use the hierarchy itself. You can't just add a tag of "Travel" and expect EN to know which one it is!

The easiest way to create a hierarchy with tags is to tag business travel notes with the two tags "Business" and "Travel" and to tag personal travel notes with the tags "Personal" and "Travel". The tag structure is still flat but one can view one's business travel notes (for instance) by executing a search "tag:Business tag:Travel". Right now clicking on the "Travel" tag will cause EN to apply the search string "tag:Travel" to the database. If some hierarchy options were available for the tag display in the left-hand pane then it would be simple for EN to apply the search string "tag:Business tag:Travel" if the user clicks on the instance of the Travel tag nested under the Business tag in the UI and to apply the search string "tag:Personal tag:Travel" if the user clicks on the instance of the Travel tag nested under the Personal tag in the UI. It is important to understand that these are still flat tags, the "Travel" tag is the same tag in both cases, it is just that the UI is providing the context, depending on where in the UI that the user clicks, in order to determine what superior tags should be automatically appended to the search term.

(I'm far more concerned about EN continuing their historical addiction to dropping really useful functionality when they produce a new release)

Apart from the disappearance of the tape view I'm not concerned with anything else but I completely understand that other people feel differently. Even for hierarchies, I mostly care about it for mobile devices because I primarily create content on my main PC and store it on my phone to access it and getting to the note I want by browsing a hierarchy is a lot more finger friendly that typing long search terms involving tags.

- Julian

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Tags are not folders.

A tag says "I describe". A folder says "I contain".

Tags are flat, but give great flexibility (a note says "I have this tag, and that tag, but not that other tag"). Folders are structured, but relatively rigid (a note says "My place in the firmament is fixed; I am here, and nowhere else. Now find me.").

That EverNote allows the user to organize tags in a hierarchy is a convenience; a tag is still not a folder. You can currently take your flat list of tags and organize it into a tree, but that does not imply that a subtag inherits properties from its parent, as it would in a hierarchy. Nor should it, I've come to believe. Tags stand alone; you either have the property, or you don't. Attempting to use tags in a folder-like way will lead to frustration. The Business / Travel vs. Personal / Travel problem seems easy to solve with tags: Ctrl-click on "Business", Ctrl-click on "Travel". Does it scale? I think so.

Having said that, I think that tag support could be beefed up. Auto-tagging, better search grammar (I don't think you can use 'OR'), or anything that promotes attributing notes easily and correctly.

As for tags appearing in multiple places in the tag tree, not sure yet. There's no logical reason they can't: there's no real intrinsic folder-y semantic stuff resulting from a tag's position. A question: if we have hierarchy A/ B / C, could we also have at the same time another hierarchy C / B / A? Why not?

I can envision a special operation (or maybe a configurable mode) whereby clicking on a subtag select notes that are tagged by that subtag and all of the tags above it in the hierarchy -- this is just shorthand for auto-multi-selecting the tag and all of its ancestors (but then how does multi-select work? What if I ctrl-click in a different hierarchy?). I can also see where we'd want to retain the current behavior: just show me all notes that have that tag regardless of its parent tags (with the current multi-select behavior). Of course, two options means greater potential for user confusion --> need for more user support.

~Jeff

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jefito is spot on. I love tags, but they can't replace folders. Trying to force people to use tags (which can't fully replace folders) just doesn't work. If you don't want to use sub-folders and prefer to tag everything, no worries -- just don't use it. I can't see why some people should be forced to use an organization scheme that doesn't work for them, though. :-)

I have two main problems with tags. One is to do with my workflow, and one is how they're organized.

1) I'm trying to digitize all my paper, scanning everything in that I've got in my overflowing filing cabients. If I get Evernote to automatically import and upload documents I can put them in my default notebook, and then as I sort/name/tag them, move them to the folder that identifies what it is (a bill, receipt, etc. Yes, I know I can use tags to represent that, let's ignore that for now). That way, I know what I've processed, and what I haven't.

If I use tags to replace folders, how can I tell what I've processed (tagged) and haven't tagged? eg. I have one big notebook with 1000 documents, and I filter on the "receipts" tag. I get 200 results; how do I know that that's *all* the receipts I've got? how do I know I haven't mistagged one thing I scanned one day, and tagged it as an "tax invoice" instead when it should have gone in with the "receipts"? (my apologies, I'm using colloquial australian terms -- 'receipt' and 'tax invoice' are interchangable here). If I had some folder structure that identifies the type of each note that's going in, and each note can be one and only one of those types, it would keep me happy.

(an alternative would be to be able to define your own metadata "attributes" for your notes, eg. I could make a "type" attribute, which defaults to or or something, then I can populate the attribute metadata definition with a bunch of different types - receipt, bill, letter, etc. At least it's some metadata value that I know *every* note has (even if it's whatever default value I set, which I could use as "unsorted"), and every note can only have one value.)

2) Tags are grouped and structured badly.

As others have said, selecting a tag doesn't select all subtags, which I think it should. However, I can see both sides of the argument, and I see a potential solution: tag collections. Not being sub-tags of other tags, but actually having a "folder" (which I'll call a "collection" for ease of terminology) which itself isn't a tag, and can't be applied to any note, but simply is a logical grouping for some different tags. Eg. a "sport" collection, which then contains a bunch of different sports (football, baseball, etc.). If you select the "sport" collection, it just selects all the subtags for filtering. It's not logical to tag something with just "sport" (well, to me at least, I'm sure someone else would disagree and do it in their method), but it's a good tag grouping name.

(heh, that last sentence there describes most of the problems here: people just like to organize/structure/sort their info differently. Trying to shoehorn everyone into a single method just doesn't work; why not provide a range of tools/methods, and let people do what's right for them? People already do different things to suit themselves, and have to implement strange methods to work around the restrictions of the software -- how many times have you seen someone propose a solution to another's problem with something like "ok, just make sure you title all your notes in the format , then you'll be able to.....", or "ok, make a tag called , and use it as a meta-tag to organize your data for ".... Why not just give a range of tools and let the user implement it how they want? ... yeah, I know, time and resources, which is fair enough.)

Anyway, I'm rambling now. I'll end it all by saying that I think there's a lot to be learned from the "LightRoom" photography management software -- I use it to organize my 200,000+ photos that I've taken over the years, and find it's fantastic. There's about 4 or 5 different ways to organize data: folders (including subfolders), where the photo physically is on a drive, tags (which is what you'd expect), collections (any arbitrary collection of photos from anywhere, which includes sub-collections or collection sets), a bunch of attribues (flagging, rating 1-5, colours, statuses), and a bunch of metadata. I think there's a lot of potential for evernote, I just think the data organization tools needs more fleshing out.

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I can't see why some people should be forced to use an organization scheme that doesn't work for them, though. :-)

You're not. Last I knew, use of Evernote was not mandatory.

There are several options to the "problems" you present. But I've discussed this topic to the point where I simply roll my eyes, sigh & move on whenever someone posts "EN needs sub-folders."

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(I've quoted your post selectively, just to answer specific points)

jefito is spot on. I love tags, but they can't replace folders. Trying to force people to use tags (which can't fully replace folders) just doesn't work. If you don't want to use sub-folders and prefer to tag everything, no worries -- just don't use it. I can't see why some people should be forced to use an organization scheme that doesn't work for them, though. :-)

Please don't take what I wrote as a call for EverNote to implement subfolders. Rather, it's a call to users to understand what tags are, in relationship to folders, so that hopefully they can work with tags more effectively, rather than trying to make them do something that they're not designed to do. It's true, you can't do everything with tags (as currently implemented) that you can do with folders, but I've seen a number of forum posts where a situation can be handled perfectly well using tags, even when the user claimed that only folders could solve it. Let's all learn what tags can do, and not fight them just because they're not folders.

If I use tags to replace folders, how can I tell what I've processed (tagged) and haven't tagged? eg. I have one big notebook with 1000 documents, and I filter on the "receipts" tag. I get 200 results; how do I know that that's *all* the receipts I've got?

I use the Windows desktop version 3.5 of EverNote. Using that client, one way to find out what notes are untagged, is to go to the list view, select no tags in the Tags list, and sort the list view by the Tags column. The untagged notes should appear at the top of the list, and at that point, you can select them and drag them onto your "Receipts" tag, and they'll all then be properly tagged. Alternately, and maybe more simply, you can do a Search using the search term -tag:* to find all notes with no tags. There's a lengthy discussion of the Search grammar in the back of the EverNote 3.5 PDF.

how do I know I haven't mistagged one thing I scanned one day, and tagged it as an "tax invoice" instead when it should have gone in with the "receipts"? (my apologies, I'm using colloquial australian terms -- 'receipt' and 'tax invoice' are interchangable here). If I had some folder structure that identifies the type of each note that's going in, and each note can be one and only one of those types, it would keep me happy.

There's not much difference here between tags and folders. You can always move a note into the wrong folder, too. By the way, having two tags that mean the same thing is probably not a good idea, if "Receipts" and "Tax Invoices" really are interchangeable -- it's probably better to pick one or the other, and stick with it.

As others have said, selecting a tag doesn't select all subtags, which I think it should. However, I can see both sides of the argument, and I see a potential solution: tag collections. Not being sub-tags of other tags, but actually having a "folder" (which I'll call a "collection" for ease of terminology) which itself isn't a tag, and can't be applied to any note, but simply is a logical grouping for some different tags. Eg. a "sport" collection, which then contains a bunch of different sports (football, baseball, etc.). If you select the "sport" collection, it just selects all the subtags for filtering. It's not logical to tag something with just "sport" (well, to me at least, I'm sure someone else would disagree and do it in their method), but it's a good tag grouping name.

This idea, or something like it, was proposed recently, if I understood the proposal and yours correctly. http://forum.evernote.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=38&t=15497

~Jeff

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This is a very interesting discussion to stumble upon in my first day of using Evernote. The categorization of information is something I've given quite a bit of thought to over some time, because I maintain pretty large stores of information of several sorts: tens of thousands of emails, a collection of photos, various documents, source code repositories, and lists and fragments of various sorts, like research or notes related to writing projects, the last of which was what I came looking for a solution to in trying out EN. All of these have their various particular needs, but all of them run into some of the same basic problems of information organization, both initial categorization and later retrieval:

1) A folder/subfolder structure has great advantages in navigating to what you are looking for. The reason for this is that you aren't just putting things into categories, you're actually organizing the categories themselves, so when browsing to something, you aren't faced with a giant, flat structure that calls on your memory.

Such a structure also has, however, great deficiencies that become hugely apparent very quickly as the data store grows large, or if it deals with certain types of data. Mainly there are two problems. First, items within a folder are not also in its parent folder, so if you have Photos\MyHighSchoolGraduation\JohnSmith and Photos\MyHighSchoolGraduation\MarySmith you can't easily retrieve, with typical folder browsing tools, all photos from the graduation, you have to look at one category and then the other. Second, and much worse, is that categories of many types of data, photographs being a really good example, are not and cannot be exclusive. Some of those photos probably contain both John Smith and Mary Smith. Where do you put those? And what if you want to be able to find things along a completely different axis, such as Photos\Locations\CommunityHighSchool? You either have to make a million copies of every file, or choose only one place for it to reside.

2) A tag structure has great advantages in overcoming this latter problem. Does it get filed by location, by one person's name, or by another's? No problem, file it under all three. Another, secondary advantage is that your tags don't have to be as formal and canonical as a folder structure. Filing something in a folder is making a claim about its primary identifying factor, and throwing out all other potential identifying factors (except those incorporated higher up in the folder tree structure). But a tag doesn't have to be that way. I can tag something along its major identifying axes (say, location, or topic, or date, or project name) in a formal way, but I can additionally simply throw tags at it in an attempt to describe all the things going on in it, with the expectation that I may or may not ever search for those tags. I may even not have the intent of using them merely to find a document, but as metadata about the document. If I bring up a list of items or a single document, I can see and scan the applied tags quickly, so I can determine what's in there without reading the whole document. Tagging also opens up new horizons: if I look at documents tagged "John Smith" I can find all the documents relating to him, not just the ones in whatever folder path I've navigated down.

Where a tagging system fails is in browsing-type navigation. Faced with a giant list of tags, how do you find something? You're overwhelmed with a non-structured pile of things in which documents can easily get lost, especially if you weren't very careful to tag them adequately. Having no hierarchy at all is a disaster if you want to be able to search along multiple axes, just like having a rigid hierarchy is. Labels also fall short in a similar way to how a folder fails to hold the documents of its own subfolders. If you want to simulate this, you have to apply to an item a tag from every single level of every single possible pseudo-hierarchy of categories. This isn't impossible, but it is a lot of work and prone to dangerous missing search results if you have a non-organized list of tags and have to try to remember to apply all the applicable ones to an item. You could spend your whole life as a tag librarian, and still you'd be afraid you were forgetting some, and that some crucial item you didn't want to lose won't show up when you later search by tags that it should have.

A pretty good summary of the above is this:

*Folders are useful like tables of contents are useful.

*Tags are useful like indexes are useful.

It is impossible to say either one of those things can be thrown out and still have a book in which you can find what you want all the time. But I think in a computer-based document organization scheme, you really can combine both, to have something you never could have before. My own most recent experience in this comes from two other software products I've used.

NEO Pro is an add-on to Microsoft Outlook. It is a pretty handy one, and lets you tag individual emails and creates a very useful index and user interface that helps my productivity quite a bit. I generally no longer create big hierarchies of folders, having far too many emails that fit into multiple categories just makes that impossible. Instead, everything gets lumped into giant folders, like "Archived_Personal_2010" and "Archived_MailingLists_2010", and I can search on contents or via the list of tags. However, I find myself building the tag list in ways that attempt to overcome the limitations of tags. Things like having "College" and "College.Classes" and "College.Classes.CS51" tags, so I can browse as well as simply seeing a giant tag list...but I then have to put CS51-related correspondence in all three of those tags, which is a real annoyance, because they are meant to be hierarchical. NEO actually calls these tags "categories", even though they really are just tags, but the name gets at what I think is a better solution altogether, that I've only ever seen done in one piece of software ever:

IMatch is professional photo organizational software. It was the first piece of software I ever found, and still really the only one, that seems to do a pretty complete job of allowing me to organize things in all the ways I am likely to look for them again. What IMatch does is creates something that are a mix between tags and folders, which it correctly calls "categories". You can build an arbitrarily large list of categories and apply any number of them to a given photo, just like tags. But the really interesting thing is that the categories themselves have an organizational structure. You can put them in true hierarchies, where every category is a superset of the categories below it. Just like a directory/folder structure, I can drill down to the sets I want, by (according to the hierarchies I've set up; I could have designed my category trees any way I wanted) Event, Photographer, Subject, Purpose, Time Period, or a few other axes. But just like a tag structure, every photo is assigned to any number of categories.

So, for instance, I could look under something like Locations.MA.Cambridge.Harvard.FreshmanDorm and see all the photos in that category. I could do that with folders-- but with folders I couldn't then also click on Subjects.People.CollegeFriends.JohnSmith and see several of the same pictures. They'd have to be in one folder or the other. With hierarchical "categories" I could also simply go one level up and see all the pictures taken at Harvard, whether from my freshman dorm or from some other sub-category (another location on campus), something I can't do with folders or tags unless I create a fake hierarchy of tags and manually apply every level of the hierarchy, like I wind up doing with my email in NEO Pro. And before you say I could flatten it and simply search for "JohnSmith" instead of looking in Subjects.People.CollegeFriends.JohnSmith, consider that I might very well also have a Photographers.JohnSmith category. Do I want the pictures that John Smith took, or the pictures containing John Smith? I can't differentiate easily between those two sets of images with simple tags. I need hierarchical tags to do that well.

I haven't used Evernote enough yet to critique it very well, but I hope the above is something of a more detailed explanation of the notions people are trying to figure out in this discussion. And I do see that EN is almost thinking right with its tags allowing subtags. The problem is that they are really still just tags, and looking at Locations\College doesn't also show you the items from Locations\College\Dorm and Locations\College\Cafeteria. What I really really want is to be able to do with my notes and arbitrary documents what IMatch lets me do with my photos-- that is, basically have the benefits of both a table-of-contents-like navigation to my data and an index-like navigation to my documents. Different types of documents have different types of natural classifications and searches. If I could go in both ways-- and both ways can be combined, as IMatch demonstrates (I'd highly recommend the EN developers down a trial copy of IMatch and play with it to help imagine future possibilities for EN)-- this would be a tremendously useful tool, even more than it already appears to be. And being able to use it on my multiple computers and my Android phone, all in synch, would be a hallelujah for me that I'd gladly pay for and make a major part of my life organizational scheme.

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@trajanmcgill, well said.

but I can additionally simply throw tags at it in an attempt to describe all the things going on in it, with the expectation that I may or may not ever search for those tags

But, as EN indexes everything, I'd suggest you put these kinds of 'tags' in the body of the note. Think of them as keywords. This will keep the tag pseudo-hierarchy pristine for your primary identifying factors, and thus more useable for browsing for an appropriate primary tag(s).

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@trajanmcgill, well said.
but I can additionally simply throw tags at it in an attempt to describe all the things going on in it, with the expectation that I may or may not ever search for those tags

But, as EN indexes everything, I'd suggest you put these kinds of 'tags' in the body of the note. Think of them as keywords. This will keep the tag pseudo-hierarchy pristine for your primary identifying factors, and thus more useable for browsing for an appropriate primary tag(s).

Yes, that's a good idea. I really wish GMail (as an example of a tag-based system) had the ability to add text to an email so that I could do this.

It might be a good idea to try and make such 'tags' more unique by prefacing them with something like "K" ("K" for "keyword") so, instead of putting "Travel" in the text, you put "KTravel". This is because one of the benefits of what you suggest is that if you want to search on a real tag "Travel" then you need to type "tag:Travel" as the search term whereas for a keyword embedded in the note you just need to type "Travel" but for such a search, if you have some poetry somewhere with a line like "I travel alone", then you probably don't want that use of the word "travel" to be a keyword hit and end up including your poetry in your list of notes about travel. If you're searching for "KTravel" then it will only return the notes where you deliberately embedded the tag and is far less likely to throw up any unintended hits.

- Julian

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@sallz0r

To know which notes you have processed, make your default notebook one called Inbox. When you've processed it, move it to your main notebook.

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I just started using Evernote, and the lack of folders has been a problem for me too. Partly because that's how I prefer to organize my notes, but also because I think it's a waste of screen real estate.

I'm coming from DevonNote on the Mac, FYI. In DevonNote, instead of a column for notebooks and another column (or row, or however you have your gui prefs set) for notes, there's just one column containing all folders, subfolders, and notes. Fewer columns, more available space on the screen, same info.

My notes mostly tend be for work, and all I really need is one more level of organization. Client -> Project -> Notes

OTOH, I love the sync, available file types, and iPhone features of Evernote!

My $0.02...

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...Trying to force people ...
...a problem for me too ...
...all I really need is ...

Interesting thread, especially for a newbie evaluating the application.

My definition of a "good" tool is quite simple: A good tool is an extension of my hand that facilitates my work; to the extent I have to compromise my work by adapting to the tool it is either (1) not the right tool or (2) its creators have failed to completely achieve the design objective. A good screwdriver (not all are good, actually) is an example. Excel, for simple spreadsheet work, is another.

Since EN aspires to be a universal tool for organizing information (ref: http://www.evernote.com/about/learn_more/), yet does not support hierarchies and does not support tag inheritance, it has not yet achieved its design objective. IMHO, anyway. That is not to say that it is not the best tool yet, which zealots here may argue, but it is to say that it is not yet a "good" tool.

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My definition of a "good" tool is quite simple: A good tool is an extension of my hand that facilitates my work; to the extent I have to compromise my work by adapting to the tool it is either (1) not the right tool or (2) its creators have failed to completely achieve the design objective. A good screwdriver (not all are good, actually) is an example. Excel, for simple spreadsheet work, is another.

Since EN aspires to be a universal tool for organizing information (ref: http://www.evernote.com/about/learn_more/), yet does not support hierarchies and does not support tag inheritance, it has not yet achieved its design objective. IMHO, anyway. That is not to say that it is not the best tool yet, which zealots here may argue, but it is to say that it is not yet a "good" tool.

What you reference as evidence of design objective says nothing about hierarchical organization, but rather implies organization via searchability (and additionally via tagging or use of subnotebooks). If that's the design objective, then Evernote has met it. But since your organizational needs seem to require hierarchical structure (nothing wrong with that, btw), then it's just that Evernote is not a good tool for you. The screwdriver that fits your hand perfectly may not fit mine, and vice-versa...

~Jeff

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M

Since EN aspires to be a universal tool for organizing information (ref: http://www.evernote.com/about/learn_more/), yet does not support hierarchies and does not support tag inheritance, it has not yet achieved its design objective. IMHO, anyway. That is not to say that it is not the best tool yet, which zealots here may argue, but it is to say that it is not yet a "good" tool.

What you reference as evidence of design objective says nothing about hierarchical organization, but rather implies organization via searchability (and additionally via tagging or use of subnotebooks). If that's the design objective, then Evernote has met it. But since your organizational needs seem to require hierarchical structure (nothing wrong with that, btw), then it's just that Evernote is not a good tool for you. The screwdriver that fits your hand perfectly may not fit mine, and vice-versa...

Also, can Flier give an example of any software that provides "tag inheritance"?? AFAIK, this is a novel concept proposed in these forums that doesn't actually exist in any software anywhere. So to say that "tag inheritance" is an absolute requirement of for a "good tool" means that you are setting a bar so high that there are no "good tools" for organizing data anywhere in existence.

Don't get me wrong: tag inheritance seems to me to be a great idea. But it's a bit of a stretch to claim that nothing is a "good tool" for data organization unless it has this novel feature.

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The screwdriver that fits your hand perfectly may not fit mine, and vice-versa...
Absolutely.
What you reference as evidence of design objective says nothing about hierarchical organization, but rather implies organization via searchability (and additionally via tagging or use of subnotebooks). If that's the design objective, then Evernote has met it.
A design objective is something at a higher level, like the kinds of things on that page I referenced. More formally stated, of course. Things like hierarchy, searchability and tagging are really part of a design spec that says how the objective is to be achieved.
But since your organizational needs seem to require hierarchical structure (nothing wrong with that, btw)
Oh, I wasn't necessarily referring specifically to myself, though a lot of what I have is structured. I was more reacting to the tone of the thread, where some seem to say that the person who wants this should simply adapt to the tool as it is. That is not consistent my paradigm for what a "good" tool is. YMMV of course.
Also, can Flier give an example of any software that provides "tag inheritance"?? AFAIK, this is a novel concept proposed in these forums that doesn't actually exist in any software anywhere.
Again, I was referring to the tone of thread, where this seems to be a need. But IIRC, the antediluvian Lotus Agenda had something of this sort.
So to say that "tag inheritance" is an absolute requirement of for a "good tool" means that you are setting a bar so high that there are no "good tools" for organizing data anywhere in existence.
Certainly that could be the case. The notion of an "ideal" is as old as the Socratic dialogs. Aspiring to even an unattainable ideal can be very valuable. For example, there is an oft-quoted aircraft design maxim that says: "Simplicate and Add Lightness." There's an unattainable ideal for you.

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i think burgernfries is on the payroll of evernote (or the alias of one of the creators, where he can defend the system by all means without oficially being a dick to the users) :lol:

again: best solution is to have both. make it able to switch on and off. both parties are happy.

tags are great - but not put you into the position to get a overview over topics with a huge amounts with notes. they absolutely fail that task. and this is a task a lot of people need within their notebook.

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i think burgernfries is on the payroll of evernote (or the alias of one of the creators, where he can defend the system by all means without oficially being a d*** to the users)

I guess that's what you have to tell yourself since you apparently can't accept the fact that maybe someone who's not affiliated with Evernote actually loves the product.

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"again: best solution is to have both. make it able to switch on and off. both parties are happy."

Or the law of unintended consequences will undoubtedly pop up, caused by this very complex suggested solution involving a fundamental overhaul and redesign of the program... ending up with a crippled program due to the increased overhead and continuing demands for additional tweaks.. with neither parties happy.

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i think burgernfries is on the payroll of evernote ...
Oh, I dunno. My hypothesis, based on the arrogant posts and the childish ad hominem attacks, is that he's at the stage of life where he knows everything and marvels at being surrounded by idiots who do not recognize his brilliance. Emotional age: very late teens. Been there, done that, got the tee shirt.

drift>

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"again: best solution is to have both. make it able to switch on and off. both parties are happy."

Or the law of unintended consequences will undoubtedly pop up, caused by this very complex suggested solution involving a fundamental overhaul and redesign of the program... ending up with a crippled program due to the increased overhead and continuing demands for additional tweaks.. with neither parties happy.

On the contrary, there is no redesign whatsoever required of the database format or the search semantics. Absolutely none. Implementing a folder hierarchy is entirely possible using the underlying tag semantics that already exists, all that is required is an additional UI element that presents to the user the required hierarchical view of the data but what it is doing in the background is automatically assigning the appropriate tag strings to the individual notes and, when browsing the hierarchy, automatically generating the appropriate search terms to select the appropriate notes from the database using existing "tag:" and "-tag:" search elements with the semantics exactly as currently implemented.

The only issue is how to integrate this alternative view of the data together with the ability for the user to define the hierarchical relationship between the folders (tags). As far as the Windows (and I assume Mac) client is concerned the way to do this seems totally obvious. The left hand pane is already very scalable in its design with individual sub-elements within the pane (e.g. "notebooks", "tags" and "saved searches") that can be individually minimised or expanded depending on the user's wishes. With this existing mechanism in place it becomes trivial to add an additional sub-element called "folders" in this pane that interferes in no way whatsoever with the existing tag mechanism and would be kept minimised (collapsed) by anyone who didn't want to use it. In fact, if you didn't want to use folders then you would never have defined any hierarchy in the first place so even if you expanded the "folders" section it would be empty.

Having said the above, although it is conceptually simple, this does all require engineering effort and UI work which, however non-invasive, takes time especially when EN have to roll it out across a gazillion different platforms (I have ideas for how the interface could also be added in a really clean way to the mobile clients but that's another story). With this in mind I can understand why EN staff are staying quite quiet about this because if I was them I wouldn't want to invest the engineering resources until I was convinced that it really was a high priority for a lot of people. They took a similar approach with fully offline access to data on the iPhone client, i.e. they were very non-committal, said it was loads of work, and gave little indication until very close to release that they were actually implementing it. I'm hoping that this folders story will have a similar happy ending (for me the happy ending is getting at least some folder capabilities).

Regarding all the sniping at BurgersNFries, what's wrong with someone being passionate about the product and trying to point out alternative ways of doing things? Maybe there have been belligerent posts that I've missed but in general I've read a lot of his replies as being cases of picking up on sloppy thinking or misconceptions and a lot of his posts on other (non-folder) issues are him offering helpful advice to people with issues. There's no harm in having someone around who's tough to convince about something if one is confident of one's position, it just helps one to strengthen one's arguments.

Ultimately only EN can determine where this should lie on their priority list because all of us here are only seeing the forum feedback, we don't know what else is being thrown at them via other communication channels and what their big corporate clients are asking them to do (if there are any. and I hope there are). Ultimately we have to accept that EN is a company with limited resources and lots of requests for features; it's their product and their livelihood so we have to trust them to prioritise their engineering work in the way that will make the maximum amount of money which, by happy coincidence, should also be a pretty good approximation to keeping the maximum number of their users happy.

- Julian

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Flier says: "Oh, I dunno. My hypothesis, based on the arrogant posts and the childish ad hominem attacks, is that he's at the stage of life where he knows everything and marvels at being surrounded by idiots who do not recognize his brilliance. Emotional age: very late teens. Been there, done that, got the tee shirt."

BurgerNFries knowledge of Evernote's capabilities has helped answer countless questions on this forum with clear and easy to follow instructions.

And look at the response...

A classic example of a troll whose main function is not to add anything relevant, but just to stir up a reaction to his irrelevant posting.

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i think burgernfries is on the payroll of evernote ...
Oh, I dunno. My hypothesis, based on the arrogant posts and the childish ad hominem attacks, is that he's at the stage of life where he knows everything and marvels at being surrounded by idiots who do not recognize his brilliance. Emotional age: very late teens. Been there, done that, got the tee shirt.

drift>

I suggest you get a new tee shirt. That one's not very becoming on you.

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Ok, locking this thread since it's turning personal.

If anyone had any information they wanted to discuss about Evernote's products or features that wasn't captured in this thread, please open a new one.

(As we've said in multiple other places, we do appreciate the feedback about the organizational metaphors used within Evernote. We currently have one "flat" organizational metaphor called 'notebooks' and one hierarchical metaphor called 'tags.' We recognize that the presentation and functionality does not meet the expectations of a number of users. We appreciate this feedback, and the constructive details offered by many of you here. Thanks again.)

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