Hi guys. IMO, the 5 most important characteristics of any program is ; 1- (a) clearly defined function(s), 2- great flexibility/adaptability, 3- robustness, 4- portability, 5- usability/ease of use/intuitiveness (threw UI, or not) and, okay maybe 6- Compatibility/interoperability…
The flexibility has to be kept within the limits of the software’s function. Of course, and that’s hard to achieve as flexibility can tend to distort the borders of the software’s primary function(s)… It’s often a trap in which developers fall. But it should be noted that it can also be a trap to **refuse** to expand the software’s boundaries and refuse to accept the “natural” tendency of a program to evolve in certain directions as the users’ needs get more complex, as the software ecology changes (as the software starts to interact differently with other softwares…), etc. (Farr is a good example of a great software IMO : it has great flexibility and mouser is able to expand its function(s) while not dissolving it into nothingness ; it is pretty portable, it’s robust, easy to use, and fairly compatible — not with Linux or Mac though but… that would make it perfect, and perfection is not possible
but I digress)
So, getting back to Note takers and SQLNotes…
Searching capabilities : inflexible search engines are really painful. I personally find EverNote’s searching features pretty intuitive and amazingly quick and smooth (… a matter of taste !) but not as intuitive, powerful and flexible as say X1 (SQLNotes is getting there, but I find the filtering system difficult to grasp and use quickly) -- which is a bit normal considering X1's specialty : searching. The only aspects I don’t like in EverNote’s search feature is related to the category intersection panel : the impossibility to directly “intersect” a subcategory with another higher category from a different “tree” or "branch" (of course, there are some workarounds), and the impossibility to use advanced search syntax for category searching — pretty crappy thing. (Also the fact that it doesn’t automatically refresh when you add new notes while watching your notes through the lens of a specific intersection… But I digress).
- The "endless tape" format is pretty cool when you start using it, and can be useful if you have the time to play, but at times, if I'm in a hurry, the "tape" format can drive me nuts!
Interesting. But how/why does it drive you nuts ? I admit I used to find EverNote’s tape format pretty constrictive. But the new external “outside the tape” windows (a blessing) brought an end to that feeling. To me, the tape format is not restrictive anymore. There are actually not much more restrictions in EverNote than in other **note takers** (well… I’d like to be able to drop notes from the note list to the categories, but that’s another story…). And there’s actually that pretty unique feature : no other note taker offers the unique tape view
which I genuinely love (seeing all my notes linked together in a row, chronologically or alphabetically organized is just great in certain situations — an extra column/field in the note list would be great to add an extra parameter to be able to sort notes according to priorities, etc. But I digress again).
The only reasons why I’ve chosen (and sticked with) Evernote instead of OneNote or other solutions are... well... I just needed a good, quick, stable and sexy note taker with nice simple (but flexible) organizing and searching features. Nothing more. I don’t manage anything else in there. I didn’t need todos features, basic spreadsheets, nothing (even if some of that is kind of implemented). There are only simple notes and webclips in my database. (And I tend to transfer these notes pretty often into other more significant project documents as time passes — I do that during my “weekly review” Session : I have 2 databases and I dump all old notes in another database, and copy others to various documents/projects). (Still, I do find the absence of real tables or spread sheets annoying. It’s a bit like if they’ve decided for us certain notes are not notes ! But I digress yet again…)
When I take notes, I want to be able to write immediately
. Not after 5 clicks, and then having to name a file, save it, etc. What I like in EverNote that I couldn’t achieve as elegantly with other notetakers: 1) I hit ctrl+N (or whatever) and start to write without having to care about the title, saving my document, the format, the date, and even the categorization/tagging (I have automatic filters for that), and my notes is put right after the other one and so I can see what I clipped or noted just before, 2) when I see something on the web I hit win+A and it’s clipped in EverNote and automatically categorized (with filters) and the reference is written at the bottom of the note, 3) finding my notes is just a matter of typing a few letter or a few words and using the categories. 4) Exporting or sending them is easy easy. Voilà
I found all the other solutions heavier and not as sexy and simple to use (even once the program is configured to one's liking). But EverNote suffers from the tendency to expand its limits outside it’s primary functions I believe. Un less one doesn’t have a time organizer or a PIM, one shouldn’t need a note taker that tries to be a word processor, a PIM, etc. No thank you : for that I have Word 2003, Outlook , etc. BUT the reverse could be true. If I had a PIM/time management program which had good notetaking features (similar to EverNote), I’d probably use it, just because I can see notetaking and web clipping as a branch of a PIM software (not the reverse…). Maybe.
It would have to be as ***quick, quick quick***, as **simple** as EverNote. No overorganizing process, no file saving, no file naming, etc. Zoot type smart folders and filders would be a big PLUS. (Zoot is another amazing software. I just find that it wants to do too much and at the same time not enough of certain things)
- It [EverNote] does support about as many categories as you could ever want, but no tagging. The explanation from users on their forum is that Evernote's search powers are so good and that tags basically suck anyway. Matter of opinion, I imagine; I don't have to have tags but I do like them.
Tags and categories (or labels or whatever…) are often used interchangeably, and for good reasons. Trying to find a consensus about their definition is pretty hard. Of course, there ARE basic differences ; if my memory serves : categories
are more general containers, hierarchically structured, not necessarily directly linked to the actual “fine” content, tags
identify the different types of content/themes without any hierarchical structure, etc. As somebody wrote somewhere : in a book, categories would belong to the table of content, and the tags to the index.
As I’m writing that I’m tempted to look at what Wikipedia has to say…
“Although "tagging" is often promoted as an alternative to organization by a hierarchy of categories, more and more online resources seem to use a hybrid system, where items are organized into broad categories, with finer classification distinctions being made by the use of tags.”
And so, if we want to be picky, EverNote’s categories are NOT really categories per se (they’re not really like containers/folders) but more like labels or tags that can be organized hierarchically (and soon, maybe, in… tag clouds ; How’s that?) : a note can belong to several different “categories” regardless of the level.
One can organize EverNote’s categories hierarchically, as one can function heterarchically
with them. It’s up to the user. My EverNote’s categories are essentially tags or labels for those who want to call them tags… or categories for does who want to see them as categories, or hierarchically organized tags. Categories, tags or labels have been around for ever : they’re just, nore often than not, keywords
. And keywords can be displayed/organized in a web, a hierarchical structure or anything you want. (Of course, trees or some kind of hierarchical organization can pretty helpful to find your way in 100s of tags or categories. It’s also possible to have all of then flatly organized (alphabetically, for instance), but it doesn’t really allow for a global overview of the common themes behind all the keywords, and it can become hard to see the potential redundancy.)
EDIT : so I also agree with superboyac said :
There's no good answer because the pros and cons of each system are different enough where neither has a significant advantage over the other. I suggested that the best program will allow the user to choose between different organizing methods. Sometimes tagging is better. Sometimes a tree is better.
IMO, in SQLNotes, apart from the natural treeview that grid allows, what would be important is not so much to have categories vs tags or the reverse, but to be able to create as many keywords as one wants (flexibility), and to be able to use these same keywords to structure data in many different ways (flexibility again), depending on the context (this what I do) : folder-like hierarchies (smart folders, filter folders…), tag clouds, category-like containers, or whatever you want, and to have these structures displayed in a coherent and tangible manner. The problem with tagging systems is usually the kind of “abstractness” that the folder metaphor doesn’t suffer from (when a file is in a folder, it’s “there”, so to speak, you can follow the logical hierarchical structure of containers, etc.)… but it’s perfectly possible to use the folder metaphor to organize tagged words (like in EverNote), using other meta tags that contain other tags, etc. (keeping in mind -- with the help of a simple system maybe -- which tags are actual REAL categories)... Plain folders become smart/virtual/filter folders
- [OneNote] Good tagging support, but you cannot add your own - something that can defeat the purpose of icons, which IMO is to allow finding notes at a glance due to instantly recognizable icons.
I personally really dislike OneNote’S tagging system. I find it unintuitive, rigid, and, because it’s not very portable or compatible, pretty useless… Unless one lives in OneNote. IMO, tags should be readable with/by other applications or Desktop search software. Outlook’s category (label ? tag?... you see…) system is more useful than OneNote’s system because you can create whatever category you want and they’re transferable to a handheld device, searchable with many desktop search software, etc.
Sorry, long post… Readable I hope…Don’t have any more time to reread it !!!! oups
edit : reread the whole thing after all -- some repetitions, but... WTF.