A comprehensive anytype first impression

[Windows 11 - Anytype 0.27.0]

I love the core idea of Anytype, and I think we all do here. I used Notion for a while but when I really, really, got into it, I started to feel limited. Anytype however, lets me do everything I always wanted while also giving me control of my data. Awesome.

I know many of the things I am talking about have already been addressed but this is a first impression so I’ll turn a blind eye to the fact that this is an early alpha and list every little complaint and suggestion I have.
With that said, to not sound too whiny, I divided everything under a category of relevance and added a section at the end with some appreciation for the things I liked.
Let’s get into it.

Bugs.

(I’ll report them after making this post if they aren’t known)

  • Dragging a block to the bottom scrolls upwards.
    If I drag a block all the way to the bottom of the window, the view starts to go upwards (if I approach the bottom slowly, at first the view behaves as supposed and scrolls down).
  • Sometimes picking a date selects the day before.
    Selecting (and also typing out) the 10th of some month will display the 9th of that month.
    Happens only for some years?
  • Sometimes changes made to status relations get reverted.
    Deleting or changing the name of a status property apparently works but as soon as you close and reopen that property, all changes are rolled back.
  • The scrollbar for the version history is impossible to click with the mouse.

Heartfelt suggestions with other users in mind.

  • Require the user to submit the recovery phrase right after displaying it.
    I saw this trick done on another product (a crypto wallet maybe) and I found it annoying, but that just means it works well. At the onboarding the devs said that some people lost they recovery phrases so I think the annoyance is justified here.

This is annoying, but not urgent.

Some may be bugs, others are just, ahem, bad design.

  • You can’t customize a status/tag option if it’s selected.
  • The navigation pane does not display the relation name.
    I said this on the onboarding session too and the answer was “good point” (love the devs) and “we’ll work on ui/ux after the core stuff is done”. So, of course focus on the core first, but then definitely add the name of the relation on the navigation pane, it’s a navigation pane and the graph tells more information!
  • Updates to the type relations do not update the sets relation list.
    If you add a new relation to a type, you can’t see it on an already created sets so you need to manually add the new relation to each set, annoying.
  • The relation pane does not list the object kind.
    The relation pane lists objects that have such relation. The table that list all objects however does not display the “object kind” (this was annoying because I needed to see which one were templates and which weren’t, had to open them one by one).
  • You can’t move a block to a column that has indentation, without indenting it.
    This is a bit hard to explain but if you split a page in two columns and one has two blocks, one indented, moving another block to that column indents the last added block.
    To replicate this just make two columns and try to move to them a bunch of blocks with at least one child (indented) block.
  • Exporting a file creates a folder with “files” even if “include files” is disabled.
    Also the export menu does not remember the previous configuration.
  • You can’t add relations to a page (i.e. a template) if you don’t create an empty block before.
    Create a new object, open the relation pane and try to add them to the page like blocks. Doesn’t work until you close the pane, create at least an empty block and try again.
  • Pasted markdown does not get formatting
  • Exporting to markdown is not super robust
    For example if you mistakenly add italics to a space like this* "hello "*, when you export to markdown you see it like it is in this post.
    (this you should give you some insight on what I used to write this post)
    Also since the space between blocks is more like a paragraph, I think a new line between blocks will make the markdown document more uniform to the Anytype rendering.

New features and suggestions, definitely not urgent.

(I’ll go and like the already existing feature requests and make new ones after making this post)

  • Improvements to the UI.
    Some stuff really sucks, like highlightgs inside callouts, the windows application titlebar, the padding in some set views etc. etc.
    Again I know that this stuff will be addressed later on, I’m just saying my first impressions.
  • Open type from set view.
    I often find myself opening a random entry from a set to go and modify the type (to change relations and templates) so I would like to be able to open the type when clicking on “object type: …” in the set view.
  • Enter opens the first menu entry.
    Example: Ctrl+s+enter opens the first search result, or @+enter to link the first object on the list.
  • “Full” Latex support
    I know this is already on the roadmap but inline latex and support for inline latex when importing from notion is something I am missing right now.
  • Sync the wallapaper across devices.
    Maybe someone would want to have different wallpapers on each device but a switch in the settings to sync (or not sync) the wallpaper would be great.
  • Autofit for tables.
    Both for table views (sets) and simple tablers: double click on the bar to resize the column to match longest cell.
  • Add a search bar inside the library pane.
    I know the search bar does it all but it feels unnatural. I opened the library, started searching for an object and couldn’t find it, I expected to see a seach bar somewhere but there wasn’t. Not really complaining just ux feedback here.
  • Support for multiple panes/windows.
  • Status bar.
    Similar to the starred relations, with support for customization and block/word/carachters count, block type, created date and so on.
  • Custom keyboard shortcuts.
    Especially for Ctrl+shift+z → Ctrl-y. We are not all Illustrator users.
  • More control over the “find in page” feature.
    Match word, case sensitive-insensitive, replace etc.
  • Bi-directional links and relations (like Notion).
    This deserves a post by itself but basically I would really like to be able to set up bi-directional relations that can be “seen” from both objects without using the graph or navigator pane.
  • Ctrl+z brings back the previous random emoji (like Notion).
    Sometimes I like to smash the random emoji button until I find the right one for the page. Without the ability to undo however, sometimes the long searched emoji is gone before I realize it is the right one.
  • Alt+drag to copy a block (like Notion).
  • Ctrl+arrow to move a block (like Notion).
  • Rollups (like Notion).
  • Formulas (like Notion).
    Without some manipulation, sets are not as powerful as notion databases. In Notion I was able to create a database inline view with upcoming birthdays using dates and formulas, I would love to be able to do something similar on Anytype.
  • Calendar view for sets.
  • Better location support.
    Add a specific relation type for locations (maybe gps working with coordinates?).
  • Export to pfd.
    Little workaround trick for now: use the print feature and make use of the virtual printing feature like “Microsoft print to PDF”.

Other stuff I’m not even sure about.

  • Add to the “export to markdown” disclaimer that the three dot divider is exported as a normal divider.
    I know that it’s a bit hard to explain in two words and add it to the disclaimer, and also most users wouldn’t care but since you’re telling that colors and columns will be lost on export, maybe mention this too? Or don’t.
  • The colors yellow-amber-red could be improved.
    Maybe my screen makes it worse than it is but I see them too similar and too close to yellow-yellow-orange than the names suggest.
  • The default contact object has no relation with humans? Humans have no birthday relation?
  • Allow to remove descriptions from objects?
  • “canc” does not delete newlines (like Notion).
    In Notion, if you press “canc” at the end of a block, the content from the following blocks “comes up”.

What I really liked.

  • Latex template formulas?
    I didn’t know I needed that, and man if I like it. Also, what about adding custom templates?
  • Resizing the name of a relation in the table view (sets) turns the text into the relation icon.
    I literally said out loud “oh, nice!” when I found that out.
  • Last opened date.
    Great addition! Last modified date default property is already useful but this one is an extra bit I liked.
  • Moving the sidebar around.
    Saw this on the onboarding and it was cool, it’s not on windows thought?
  • Text alignment and the three dot divider are really nice.
    Not markdown supported thought so I’m a bit less enthusiastic about these.
  • Version history.
    I still have to really try it and I don’t know how much extra space it consumes but I’m all for it.
  • Great support.
    Shoutout to @angelo that helped me a lot. Friendly and super helpful.
  • Side-block context menu.
    The little menu that shows up on the side of the block is not as minimal as I would like it to be (maybe make the + smaller or of a softer colour) but it works like a charm. Adding a block over or under the current one is super intuitive and useful.
  • Shiny arrows →.
    Why Ctrl-Z does not revert the arrow back to “->” though? Bug?
  • Simple table quick size.
    My first instinct was to type /table1000-1000 but 25x25 is cool enough.
  • In-app “What’s new”.
    No need to open the browser!
  • In my case, sync worked flawlessly with my android device.

These were the things I found myself thinking while using Anytype so that does not mean they are the most important to me (for example I would love to store Anytype data in a custom location but that didn’t come up during my triage so it’s not on this list).

To conclude I’ll say that I’m genuinely sad to not have (yet) what it takes to offer real help to the devs. The least I can do is to keep giving feedback, participate in the community and send a lot of support for this great project.

Thanks for taking the time to read this long post, see you around!

9 Likes

Hey @kerbless, thanks for the huge feedback.

Bugs

Interesting found. I don’t think there is a bug report for that. Seems to only scroll up, when the cursor is outside of the editor. Please create a report.

Never came across that. Can you reproduce it. If yes, please create a report.

There are multiple reports for reverting / not correctly saved relations.
One is this one

Could you show a screenshot?
On Linux the scrollbar is in normal size.

I like that idea. Feel free to create a feature request.

“This is annoying, but not urgent.”

I think thats actually wanted. Would you want an editable field that then creates a new tag/status when changed?


Good points on the UI changes. As said, not the highest priority right now, but it will come.


This may be worth a bug report.


and

The import and export functionality hasn’t seen a lot of work in my experience, so there is definitely something to do.
For saving the previous config → Feature Request :wink:


There are multiple bug reports for that. Just search for “paste markdown” and you will find a few of them. Create more if your use case isn’t covered.

Is on the roadmap :+1:


“Other stuff I’m not even sure about.”

Good feature requests.
“Yellow-Amber-red” doesn’t look like this only on your screen :sweat_smile:


You can do that by going into the relations and “unstar” the “Description” relation.


What is the “canc” button? :sweat_smile:

Related topics here and here


Check this


Is coming in a near future.


There you go


There is a huge list of search related topics. Replace is here


This one?

I only commented the things where I knew there were topics from the top of my head. Feel free to check for the others and create feature request if you don’t find something.

Thanks again for the huge feedback.

1 Like

Thank you for going trough everything, I’ll definitely check your mentions and look for others.

In the meantime I started by addressing the bugs:

It seems you were right and it only happens when the block is dragged outside the window, I probably didn’t think about the windows bar. This is still unexpected behavior for me so I filed a bug report anyways: Moving a block out of the Anytype windows makes the view scroll upwards

Done: Sometimes picking a date selects the day before

Will go like and comment around for those

A video will explain this better since it’s more of an overlapping issue:

1 Like

Thanks for the video. Yes that doesn’t look very usable.

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Addressing the other things I think deserve some attention:

Done: Require the user to submit the recovery phrase right after displaying it

With this I meant you can’t change the color or name of a status from the set view when it’s selected, which is annoying because to modify it you need to select something else and re-select it:

Created a bug report: Problems when moving blocks in a page with columns

Done: Remember last export configuration

Sorry about this, I think it’s somehting about the Italian layout, maybe it’s called “del”?


Thanks again, for your time and for helping me elaborate.

Makes sense.

Oh, okay :sweat_smile:
Pressing “del” on my keyboard at the end of a block does that actually.
Can make a video tomorrow.

Thanks for all the new requests :+1:

3 Likes

@kerbless thanks for report :v: A lot of stuff to consider, it will surely affect our product for good.
Can you clarify this part with screenshots please

Some stuff really sucks, like highlightgs inside callouts, the windows application titlebar, the padding in some set views etc. etc.

3 Likes

@ignatovv thank you for reading it!

Here are the things I found the least visually appealing at fist:

  1. The windows application title bar


    it really breaks the flow of the design and it’s dark even when everything else on my windows is not. I would love some kind of “borderless” mode for windows where the bar is not even visible or something like that.

  2. Some paddings/margins
    image

  3. Scrollbar
    image
    image

  4. Border radiuses and callouts with highlights
    In a page like this there is too much inconsistency where it comes to the border radius of objects. This is especially ugly when a block is highlighted inside a callout block but more in general having many rounded corners with different radiuses is not as tidy as it could be.

I hope this is clear enough, If needed I could post a bug report for the ones that look more like bugs than poor design and a feature request for the others.

Keep up the good work!

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Luckily you’re not on Linux :sweat_smile: . The scrollbars use the default scrollbar style and the menu bar can’t be hidden.

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@kerbless the discussion has come up more than once with @ModTeam how to better differentiate and categorize UX improvements visa Bugs/design flaws >< Feature Requests. Thanks a bunch for taking a deep and insightful dive into Anytype!

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Thanks a lot for your feedback. Some of the issues will be fixed in the next release already

4 Likes

Wow, that’s really comprehensive. I even learned about some features from your post alone.

4 Likes