Add "quote" block, change "highlight" to "callout"

Thanks to @lucasmmarino I realized that there is currently no “quote” block. There is one that acts and looks similar, called “highlight”, however it differs from the typical handling of quote blocks in that it has a strong orange bar, which makes sense for a highlight but not necessarily a quote. If this is intended to be the “quote” block, its name should certainly be changed, and the bar color as well, I think. But I’d rather have both as I think there is value in each of these types of blocks.

There are a couple ways to handle quote block formatting, one of which is quite similar to what we have in the current “highlight” block, with a bar to the left. This is fairly common, increasingly so I think, and for that reason it’s what I would favor. Another option is to have somewhat oversized (or otherwise differentiated) quote marks " " surrounding the block contents automatically. This can be a nice aesthetic choice, but is less common and fits less well (in my experience) with other on-page formatting. It’s more common in fancy-looking blogs and stuff though, for what it’s worth (could be part of different page style options or “sets” in the future?).

In any case, I suggest that “quote” formatting to be the “bar” style. I further suggest that we have the option to change the color of the “bar” to the left. This could allow a more subdued e.g. gray or black color to represent “quotes” (and be the default), but would also allow you to mimic the current behavior, as well as other combinations like e.g. ClickUp’s “banner” options. Along those lines it’s worth pointing out that the concept of a “highlight” in text is most often synonymous with what in Anytype is simply “background color”. So essentially any block can already have a “highlight”. This further supports the idea of changing the name and default color of the “highlight” block to “quote”.

Then, rather than a block named “highlight”, Anytype should maybe have a “callout” block, which is increasingly common and very useful (see e.g. Notion, Clover). These tend to have different styling for the whole block, rather than just a line to the left or something. Sometimes a separate icon select option is offered (Notion). Sometimes the styling is just a background color, which we already have as I mentioned, but rounded corners, borders, or other things can also differentiate from regular background colors available in all blocks.

The point is to provide useful block types that have intuitive names, connecting with familiar concepts and features in the broader app space, and avoiding duplication or confusion with existing basic formatting options (e.g. background and text colors). A “quote” block would also connect well with the Markdown spec. Related thread:

https://community.anytype.io/t/-/1342

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Thanks @Oshyan for the mention. I fully support the suggestion and I’d like to make a follow up proposal:

It would be amazing if we could have quotes as objects too, with authors and extra metadata, at the same time I think it would be very useful to have the ability to quote blocks in other pages inside a given page, making it possible to have a single source of truth for say, a definition, while preserving a more contextual link to the quoted page for further information.

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@lucasmmarino Yes, these are good ideas. I think the current implementation of “quote” in many systems is quite limited, and ideally it would have a place for the attribution. This is definitely something to think about for the Anytype team as it would be an improvement on other tools. I like the approach ClickUp takes with its “Banner” blocks, where they have optional icons (like Notion’s “Callout”). If you don’t specify an icon, none shows, and that’s a nice option to have to keep it cleaner if desired (Notion appears to enforce an icon for Callouts). I bring that up because the way I can see Quotes working is that the Author/Attribution area could also be optional, and if you don’t specify, it’s just blank. That could be a nice approach.

The second part of your request sounds more like “block references”, “transclusion”, or Notion’s “synced blocks”. I.e. probably a separate feature request, but definitely a good one!

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Another thing to consider in the “quote” vs. “highlight” debate might be whether a “Quote” might end up being a type of “Relation” or “Object” (still getting clear on Anytype’s terms here…). For example:

https://community.anytype.io/t/-/1255

So a “quote” could be a simple type of formatting, as we have mostly been discussing it here. But it could also have some deeper functionality, or at least multiple “fields” (like author), as @lucasmmarino seems to suggest. In that case perhaps it makes more sense for it to be a “relation” (or a “template”? I know this is another type of thing Anytype will implement…). And we would probably want to avoid having both a quote “block” (formatting) and a quote “relation”, if they would be separate things, to avoid confusion. In that case perhaps “callout” would be the better generic term for the block/formatting type. But I’m just thinking out loud here, I’m not attached to any of this, and it depends greatly on how Anytype implements relations, objects, etc.