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Stefan T.

Sidebar selection does not reflect the current notebook selection

Idea

Observed behavior:

When I pick a notebook from the sidebar, the notebook is displayed properly, but the sidebar selection does not change - it stays always on the general "Notes" sidebar item.

 

Expected bahavior:

When I pick a notebook from the sidebar I want the selection there to change - I want to see the selected notebook highlighted. This way I don't have to guess which notebook is currently selected and where my new notes will go. (I know that I can figure out the current notebook by looking at the middle pane (card/snippet view) and other places on the page, but having the snippet view and the sidebar in sync is very important for the user productivity. The same way as the current folder in the Mac Finder is highlighted - we don't have to guess or look for information.)

 

Can the described observed behavior be changed? Is there a setting in Evernote that I can use to force highlighting of the currently selected item in the sidebar?

 

Thank you,

Stefan

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17 replies to this idea

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Hey there!

I had never noticed this before, and now that it's been brought to my attention I can see how your suggestion would be helpful. I'm going to move this to the Mac Product Feedback forum where our development team will be able to see it.

Thanks for taking the time to submit this!

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Is there an update on this? Having the actual notebook highlighted would be a nice boost to visual clarity; right now the behavior is unclear and misleading.

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No changes yet.  If you would like for the Notebook to remain highlighted in the left Sidebar, please go vote for this request, at the top of this page.

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Yep! Always wanted this feature!! And this should extend to Saved Searches that are pinned on the sidebar.

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5 hours ago, tmsbn said:

Yep! Always wanted this feature!! And this should extend to Saved Searches that are pinned on the sidebar.

@tmsbn: This is not a feature - it's called good design. And the lack of this "feature" is called bad design or a bug, depending on the original intent. :)

This is why I'm a little confused by @JMichaelTX's suggestion for voting. Voting for good design?!?

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5 minutes ago, Stefan T. said:

This is why I'm a little confused by @JMichaelTX's suggestion for voting. Voting for good design?!?

What's to be confused about?  Regardless of what you call it, at this point it requires Evernote to make a change.

If you, or anyone, want this change, you can express your desire, by voting, so that Evernote can clearly see how many users what the change.

Clear enough?

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Actually, at this point Evernote @SoftwareMarcus has already agreed to the change, so voting in this case may not matter:

20 hours ago, SoftwareMarcus said:

It probably doesn't hurt to vote this up but I don't think there's anyone here that wants to keep the current behavior.  It's just a matter of effort and timing.

 

1 hour ago, SoftwareMarcus said:

Our design team is looking at an information architecture overhaul because of the reasons you site and other issues.  I agree that if it's going to take a long time to redo this stuff then we'll fix highlighting sooner than later but if it's just around the corner then we'll wait.  This is what I'm waiting to find out in the next few weeks.

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Glad to see a forum for this ONE issue, but it seems like such an obvious derivation from the standard interface that I don't see why it isn't just fixed.

I submitted this to Evernote as a BUG prior to the last (two?) updates.

There are a number of non-Mac, non-standard, non-intuitive things that have crept into Evernote and were not there in older versions.

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2 hours ago, TechWite said:

it seems like such an obvious derivation from the standard interface that I don't see why it isn't just fixed.

I have observed that the Evernote UI designers often have a different view of what is best for Evernote users than many of us do.
They have often departed from a well-known, long-standing standard (that would be intuitive to most) for no clear reason/benefit.
I guess it comes down to "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" for these young kids designing Evernote.
As with most designs/procedures that humans make, once it is published, made public, it is very hard to get the owner to make a change, even if a change is clearly indicated to most others.

I don't agree with this approach, but that seems to be the way it is.

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Let me provide a little more context so you understand why this feature works the way it does and why we haven't changed it.

1) Evernote Mac has worked this way for 2 to 3 years so this isn't new behavior.  It's just more obvious now because of the blue highlight.  This is also the way it was designed so it's not a bug which means changing this behavior is not easy.  When I ask people who were here why it was designed this way the response I hear is that the plan was to add a lot more features like Atlas to the sidebar so notebook and tag lists were being de-emphasized.  In hindsight I'm not sure that was the right decision but it was the decision at the time.
2) This is only an issue for those that turn on the notebook or tag list on the side bar.  Evernote defaults with both of these off so not many people run Evernote this way.  in fact it's only about 7% of our free users and 20% of paying customers so not even a majority would notice this issue.  Also most of our users don't have a lot of notebooks so it's not really something that is top of mind for most people.  This is why it hasn't been a high priority to change.
3) Getting the selection to stay highlighted after one clicks on the item is relatively easy to do.  The difficult part is going the other way around.  If you change the notebook you're looking at via the CMD+J menu in the note list, theoretically the notebook on the sidebar should get highlighted too.  This is relatively hard because it means the sidebar and the note list have to communicate to each other whenever there is a change.  This is not how they are currently designed.  There's also a bunch of interaction issues that have to be worked out.  What happens if the notebook is hidden?  Do we expand the list to expose the notebook or do we highlight the stack that the notebook is in?  What if the notebook you're looking at doesn't show on the sidebar, do we scroll the sidebar to bring it into view?   What do we do when you select a note and it has 25 tags.  Do we highlight all 25 tags on the sidebar?  If we have to highlight all of the tags, can we do that in high performing way so it doesn't slow things down.  As you can see there are a bunch of things to consider which makes the cost of change relatively high for us.

So what are we doing about it?

My philosophy is to try things out and to experiment.  In our internal builds we've changed the way selection works so that we keep the notebook or tag selection when the user clicks on the sidebar item but we fallback to selecting Notes if the user does anything that nullifies the sidebar selection.  For example if you're in a tag called "Work", if you switch the notebook to "Travel" via CMD+J, the selection will go back to Notes because you are no longer looking at just the Work tags.  Personally I think this is better than the current behavior but I'm not sure what other people will think so we're going to try it out.  If it seems to be working for people, we may even release this in a beta to get your reaction.  In any case, we're experimenting with different things and thinking about what we can do in the short term and what the ideal behavior should be in the long term.  Here's a little animated gif I made using a version of our software with this change already made.

What do you think?  Would this be good enough for you?

 

 

Sidebar selection.gif

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I would definitely be happy with it working as shown in that gif. I only select notebooks via clicking, so this would meet my needs and provide better clarity about what's selected.

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On 2/17/2016 at 7:06 PM, SoftwareMarcus said:

3) Getting the selection to stay highlighted after one clicks on the item is relatively easy to do.  The difficult part is going the other way around.  If you change the notebook you're looking at via the CMD+J menu in the note list, theoretically the notebook on the sidebar should get highlighted too.  This is relatively hard because it means the sidebar and the note list have to communicate to each other whenever there is a change.  This is not how they are currently designed.

 
 
It seems that every time we discuss this issue, you guys seem to have a very complex view of how things work, or what needs to be considered.  I submit it is very simple:
 
Selected Notebooks and Tags should be highlighted for all conditions except:
  1. A Search is in place that includes fields other than Notebooks or Tags
  2. The User has manually selected two or more Notes (using click, SHIFT-click, and/or CMD-click).
 
Highlighting is a state of the object (on the Sidebar), and has nothing to do with visibility of the Sidebar.
So the "Highlight" state should be set ON if the NB/Tag has been selected.  Selecting the NB/Tag does NOT affect visibility.  The Sidebar visibility is set by user action (menu or KB shortcut).
 
I know nothing about the internal working of the Evernote app.  But if I were designing it, I would have an App object, always visible (in code), which would, among other things, have two properties:
  • currentNB -- the current NB the user has selected (should include Stacks)
  • currentTags -- the current list of all tags that the user has selected
 
These properties would be updated on these events:
  • User manually selects (clicks on or uses KB shortcut) a NB or Tag
  • Search is run
  • Tag Filter is changed
  • User makes a manual selected of Notes.
  • The "All Notes" item is selected.
 
Then the Sidebar object is refreshed whenever these change, and it will set the Highlight state accordingly.
 
I fully realize that it is very likely more complex within your existing architecture/code than I have laid out above.  However, I do think it is very achievable.
 
Just my 2¢.
 

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On February 17, 2016 at 8:06 PM, SoftwareMarcus said:

2) This is only an issue for those that turn on the notebook or tag list on the side bar.

First, thank you @SoftwareMarcus for the background and explanation.

My short answer, is that I like the GIF, and for the most part I agree with @JMichaelTX about:

On February 19, 2016 at 11:02 PM, JMichaelTX said:

Selected Notebooks and Tags should be highlighted for all conditions except:

The currently selected Notebook should always be highlighted. (I'm going to try to leave tags out of this for now...)

And YES the Sidebar visibility is a separate issue.

On February 19, 2016 at 11:02 PM, JMichaelTX said:

So the "Highlight" state should be set ON if the NB/Tag has been selected.  Selecting the NB/Tag does NOT affect visibility.  The Sidebar visibility is set by user action (menu or KB shortcut).

In trying to get a grip on what seems odd about the Evernote Sidebar, I am going back to the Mac Finder window, and to the Apple apps Mail, Contacts, and Notes. Although not entirely consistent, in those,

  1. There is a clear hierarchy.
  2. There are "Labels" which distinguish the objects: "Devices", "Favorites", "Shared" (in Finder), or "Mailboxes", "Smart Mailboxes", "On My Mac" (in Mail)
  3. The "Labels" are not buttons - they have no actions except
    1. a rollover "Hide"/"Show"  - which has the same function as a "Twistie"
    2. a "+" sign for Adding new objects under that Label

In Evernote, we have "Shortcuts" and "Recent Notes" that are labels. Those are perfect.

"Notes" - In the Navigator, we have "Notes" - which seems like it should be a Label - but is a button, that selects All Notes and stays highlighted when I select anything else on the navigator except "Notebooks". This is NOT Finder-like or Mac-like in any way that I can discern. I think "Notes" should be removed.

"Notebooks" - Appears to be a Label, but is in fact a button. The action here is totally inconsistent with everything else, Mac or Evernote. It displays the Notebooks, Stacks, number of notes in each, with Share buttons. I suggest that function belongs in Preferences, a dialog, a separate page, or under a separate Label called "Shared". (And I am quite sure it was located that way in an earlier version). What should "Notebooks" do? To me it only makes sense as either:

  1. A Label - there is no action associated with it. All the Stacks and Notebooks appear beneath it. Put a Twistie  on the side of it if you want to toggle the view from Just the Notebooks label to the hierarchy of stacks and Notebooks beneath it. (Just as you already do with Stacks). If users only have one Notebook, they will never even need to see all this. OR..
  2. A label with only ONE clickable function - Toggling the selection of ALL Notebooks (and hence all notes), thereby replacing the un-needed, redundant "Notes" button/label.

The result:

  1. The Current Notebook or Stack selection will ALWAYS be highlighted...
  2. A single Notebook - Just the one Notebook is highlighted, only Notes from that Notebook are visible
  3. A Stack of Notebooks - The stack is highlighted, all Notes of that stack visible
  4. Notebooks (Label/top Hierarchy) is highlighted - ALL Notes are visible
  5. The Notebooks Share, etc. functionality is moved to Preferences or somewhere more appropriate

 

(I can't offer suggestions for the CMD+J menu right now, except that, if you follow the Finder example, it shouldn't be a Menu at all. It should just be a label, with an upward hierarchy. Personally, I would get rid of it.)

To me this would greatly simplify the interface and functionality.

 Thanks for listening!

 

Finder_Preferences_and_cplummer.png

Finder_Preferences_and_cplummer.png

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