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KyleT

Multiple Entries Per Note; or One Note Per Entry?

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The debate on when to use Notebooks vs Tags is well-established. But I'm interested in the similar but different question on when to use Notes vs Notebooks. The question in its most general form is as follows:

What factors should be considered when deciding which of the following two options is better for storing a large group of many similar "chunks" of data:

  1. The overall containing object is a Notebook. Inside that Notebook, each chunk of data is stored as a separate Note; OR
  2. The overall containing object is a (single) Note. Inside that Note, each chunk of data is stored simply as a separate block of text 

A specific practical example might be useful.  Suppose the thing being managed is a daily log or journal, where the data "chunk" represents a day's worth of entry. The two options then are:

  1. Let the Journal consist of a Notebook -- called "Journal-2016", say -- in which each day has its own Note, the title of which is the relevant date OR
  2. Let the Journal consist of a (single) Note -- again, called "Journal-2016", say -- in which each day has its own header (in an obvious, stand-out font), the text of which is the relevant date

I've also attached a screenshot showing both cases.

At the moment I tend towards option 1. For some reason that feels like The Evernote Way. But I'm not sure I could argue strongly for either. Anyone want to offer an opinion (or point to some reading)? Bear in mind that the journaling thing is just an example. Something like a ToDo "list" is good alternative example, where the chunks of data are now not days, as before, but individual ToDo items. Should each ToDo be in its own Note, those notes being in an all-enclosing "ToDo" Notebook? Or should "ToDo" be the name not of a Notebook, but of a Note, and then that Note then contains all my ToDos? 

Some considerations I've come up with so far.

  • Pro Option 1
    • Tagging: Option 1 seems better if I want the ability to apply different sets of tags to different chunks
    • Separating different chunks: Option 1 seems better since with its one Note per chunk, the entries are automatically distinct. Option 2 is particularly weak here since it achieves separation of chunks using nothing more than text formatting and EN doesn't handle that very well. Specifically, EN doesn't seem to have any notion of text structure or even a basic set of "styles"--  i.e. where one can have different levels of differently-formatted headers (a la MS Word and most other modern text-handling systems)
    • Reminders: these are Note-level things, so in order to have different reminders for different chunks, it has to be a Note per chunk
  • Pro Option 2
    • Visibility of other recent entries: Option 2 seems better since yesterday's entry is right next to today's and is either instantly visible, or can be made so via a quick scroll. With option 1, seeing other days requires opening a different note
    • Number of Note limits: I don't know if there is a limit, but if there is then obviously Option 2 is better.
    • Extravagance: It just seems over the top to have an entire Note for what sometimes could be just a single line of text. That would certainly be the case in the ToDo list example. This is probably more aesthetic than real. On the other hand, sometimes aesthetics point to proper use. 

Any thoughts?

Thanks,

Kyle

 

notes-vs-notebooks.png

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On 2/8/2016 at 2:37 PM, KyleT said:

What factors should be considered when deciding which of the following two options is better for storing a large group of many similar "chunks" of data:

  1. The overall containing object is a Notebook. Inside that Notebook, each chunk of data is stored as a separate Note; OR
  2. The overall containing object is a (single) Note. Inside that Note, each chunk of data is stored simply as a separate block of text 

IMO, #1 is the hands-down winner for these reasons:

  1. More options for organizing and searching
  2. Better to have a number of short notes than one long one
    1. Fewer sync issues
    2. Less likelihood of losing/overwriting one note
    3. Short notes are faster to edit
  3. No way to directly access sections (bookmarks) within a note
  4. Tags can be assigned ONLY to a Note, not to sections of a note
  5. Provides more options for flagging a block of text for follow-up

The one con of having multiple notes, is how to organize these notes as a group, and in a particular order.
There is no perfect solution to this, but the following work well:

  • Create a master note which contains TOC links to the notes in the order you want
  • Put a note link to the master TOC note in each note.
  • Use a standard Title prefix, like "My Subject 01"

The biggest reason, for me, to not use one long note is that there is no way to jump quickly to a section within the Note, like you can with HTML anchors (bookmarks).

If the best method is not obvious to you, then try both methods on a few cases to see which works best.

 

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On February 8, 2016 at 0:37 PM, KyleT said:

question on when to use Notes vs Notebooks

I actually don't use notebooks, prefering tags for organization.
So for your example, instead of a Journal-2016 notebook, I have a !Journal tag

I also prefer your Option 1; a single note for each day, for example Journal-2016/02/09 Tuesday

  • One downside is that you don't have a static name, it changes each day.
  • You do lose scrolling, but Evernote works much better with smaller notes. Things such as tags and searching.
  • I also use many links to sub-documents.  
    For example, I would not include a long write-up of a task or event; it would be a separate note with a link included in my daily journal.

>>if there is a limit,

  • There is a #note limit, but its less of a worry than #notebook limit

>>It just seems over the top to have an entire Note for what sometimes could be just a single line of text

  • My problem too.  I use a jounal template that makes my daily journal notes more detailed, even if I have little to say.  
  • Also, my journal note begins each day with a weather entry, generated by an ifft script.
    (even with nothing to say, there's always the weather)
  • You might look at various journal template samples.  Sometimes its difficult when faced with a blank note; I have various sections, like weather, activities, tasks, projects, a reflection section.
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Based upon your options, a note per day.  Consider changing your date format to 2016_02_10 since the underscore is searchable.  An intitle:2016_02* search will return all notes for February 2016 (and any others where you have used the convention, so you might limit it to your journal).  Simpler than an intitle:2016 intitle:02 search. .

Also, a note per week might work as an option, depends on how you think about things.  FWIW.

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16 minutes ago, csihilling said:

since the underscore is searchable.

This might be platform specific.  I can search with / on my Mac and iPad

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Could be, but of all these special characters below only the underscore is searchable in Windows EN.

! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) - _ = + / ? < > . , \ ] [ ~ `

You may want to try a / only search and see if you get any results.  Reference this as well

 

 

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6 hours ago, DTLow said:

I can search with / on my Mac and iPad

Even if that works today, it does NOT follow the Evernote Search Grammar. 
Thus, it might not work in the next, or some future, version of EN Mac.
I wouldn't count on it.

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9 hours ago, csihilling said:

Consider changing your date format to 2016_02_10 since the underscore is searchable. 

This is an impotant discussion. but we've gone off topic.
I hope you and @JMichaelTX will continue the discussion on date format at

 

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@DTLow

Don't know how you constrain topics, but if someone is interested in creating dated journal entries it doesn't hurt that they understand some of the idiosyncrasies of search so as to set the system that will work best for them.

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7 minutes ago, csihilling said:

@DTLow

Don't know how you constrain topics, but if someone is interested in creating dated journal entries it doesn't hurt that they understand some of the idiosyncrasies of search so as to set the system that will work best for them.

I tend to constrain the topic by title; Multiple Entries Per Note; or One Note Per Entry?

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6 minutes ago, DTLow said:

I tend to constrain the topic by title;

Feel free to constrain yourself.  I'm sure no one would object.  ;)

I see you have only 636 posts.  After a while you'll realize that this is NOT a highly constrained forum.  It is very, very rare for an Evernote staff member to step in and moderate a thread.  For better or worse, we often tend to digress once the main question has been answered, and there are related issues.  

If you want to start a new topic, great!  Just start the topic and post the link, without commentary about being off-topic.

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13 hours ago, JMichaelTX said:

Feel free to constrain yourself.  I'm sure no one would object.  

Thankyou.  I already did and I explained why; but thanks for your consent

No one is saying you can't carry on and talk about whatever topic you like.

The first rule of hole digging. When you find yourself in a hole; stop digging

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19 minutes ago, DTLow said:

The first rule of hole digging. When you find yourself in a hole; stop digging

Yet you're still digging.  :lol:

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They do sometimes bully people.

I try to stay out of their way; ignore the personal attacts; focus on the good content.  They post a lot of good stuff.  When things get really bad, I simply leave the discussion. 

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As the OP I have to agree primarily with DTLow. After a few good responses, the thread died through hijacking.

Prior to me writing this, the 15th post, the thread contained:

  • 1 question. And even if I say so myself, I think it was well constructed and clear
  • 2 useful answers, one by JMichaelTX and one by DTLow. These were great; content/thought/experience-rich & on-topic. Thanks for those!
  • 1 not entirely useless answer by csihilling. This was pushing a little at the edges of the on-topic envelope, but had it been left at that, the thread may have survived[note1].
  • 10 completely off-topic posts constituting a thread hijack (or attempts to avoid that happening). DTLow made a manful attempt to stem the flow, but it was too late. JMichaelTX marred his excellent earlier opening by committing a straw man fallacy in implying (invalidly) that DTLow was looking for "an Evernote staff member to step in and moderate [the] thread". He also managed to squeeze in a genetic fallacy by implying (again invalidly) that DTLow's position was problematic because it was based on the number of posts he has made in the past. 

So that's about 21.5% useful content, 7% not-completely-useless, and a chunky 71.5% of no-use-to-anyone meta-fluff.

JMichaelTX, you captured the problem well when you said, "For better or worse, we often tend to digress...". But while in theory, valuable-albeit-off-topic information can come out of the digressions, in practice on most Internet forums that is very rarely the case. Digression is rarely better; it's almost always worse. But here that is beside the point. Because this thread's digression wasn't even onto some valuable-albeit-off-topic subject. It was onto the kind of thoroughly boring, hasn't-been-useful-since-the-days-of-Gene-Spafford-and-Emily-Postnews, bandwidth-and-time-wasting, ego-driven meta-discussion in which few if any have real interest. And the real tragedy here is, JMichaelTX, a simple ego-less reply of "Good point DTLow" from you could have rescued both the thread and the reliability of the forum label "Guru". I'd have thought that kind of discussion-enriching behavior would be second-nature to someone like you ... you know, with you having 3,025 posts an' all ;-)

Kyle

[note1]: csihilling, you said later that "...if someone is interested in creating dated journal entries...". But I wasn't interested in that per se. I made it clear I was using it merely as an example. Early on I said "The question in its most general form is as follows:..." and provided the actual question in which I was interested. JMichaelTX spotted that and re-quoted my primary question in full. DTLow saw it too, and re-stated it in summary form. So those guys figured it out. All that said, my question was long so it's understandable someone could miss the forest for the trees. I didn't actually know about the search implications of not using underscores. So it wasn't too bad that you mentioned it. Or rather, it wouldn't have been had it not been the little pebble that started the subsequent landslide :-)

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@KyleT
 

On 2/10/2016 at 9:42 AM, csihilling said:

Based upon your options, a note per day.

Your images displayed dated entries, hence the underscore recommendation.  The recommendation was based upon the assumption you would want to be able to simply find things in the future, no more no less.  It's one thing to get stuff into EN and another to get it out.  The - or the / are not searchable, on Windows or the web for sure. 

Sometimes it's important to point out some of the attendant issues to a question that is posed, to give the OP a rounded answer.  If that's going off topic, so be it.  For me we went off topic when someone took the liberty of unilaterally deciding we were off topic.  That got the the ball rolling.  I was done after post 9, which pretty much says what I am repeating here. 

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3 hours ago, KyleT said:

So that's about 21.5% useful content, 7% not-completely-useless, and a chunky 71.5% of no-use-to-anyone meta-fluff

Good points, @KyleT, although I don't agree with "a chunky 71.5% of no-use-to-anyone meta-fluff".  You are brand new here, and I don't think you have the experience in this forum to speak for anyone other than yourself.
There was probably more off-topic discussion than there should have been.

However, you need to keep in mind the following:

  1. We are not paid consultants, here to answer your questions
  2. We are not Evernote support reps paid to answer your questions
  3. We are volunteers, donating our time to help people like you
  4. We don't have time to study your questions at length, and then carefully prepare a concise answer
  5. You got 99% of the direct answers to your questions in the first three replies
  6. All forums are not alike.  Some are highly moderated, some are not.  This one is not.
  7. Most of the technical posts were related to this thread, and a lot of good information was shared.
  8. The threads and replies are for the benefit of all users, not just you.

Everything has its price.  Perhaps the price of the great answers you will get in these forums is a bit of off-topic, but related discussion.

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1 hour ago, JMichaelTX said:

... I don't agree with "a chunky 71.5% of no-use-to-anyone meta-fluff"...

I was referring only to the 14 posts (at that point) of this thread :-)

  • 3/14 ~= 21.5% (my question, plus your and DTLow's initial answers)
  • 1/14 ~= 7% (csihilling's answer)
  • 10/14 ~= 71.5% (the rest)

I've no idea of the quality of the forum(s) as a whole. For all I know, it may be identical to that of a pool of the purest Unicorn tears.

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26 minutes ago, KyleT said:

I was referring only to the 14 posts (at that point) of this thread :-)

I knew exactly what you were referring to, and I strongly disagree that they were "of no-use-to-anyone meta-fluff".

Of course, you do realize that starting with your post above, you are now contributing to, and continuing, a completely off-topic discussion.  Nobody, IMO, cares about this except you.  Most people are happy to have received very good suggestions in the first 3 replies, and move on.

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Let me add to the meta-fluff. Bonus points for catching the pun:

 

Fluff.PNG

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