Anytype is not complex (and complicated) - it's the onboarding that needs reviewing!

Hello everyone !

You will find a note for context at the end of the post :

Anytype is good !!!
I have experience with onboarding all sorts of new apps… But Boy ! What a struggle onboarding Anytype. And it looks like a lot many of other people share their load of struggle at first… So maybe the explanation & docs could be improved (?)

Hear me out :

The onboarding relies heavily on Use Cases, it’s nice BUT not enough : it’s like showing people a beautiful mansion and tell them “Look what you can build !
The doc section is good at explaining :

  • THIS is a brick
  • THAT is cement
  • THIS? It’s a screw…

First area of improvement : There’s nothing between raw materials & the mansion !
Creating elements directly from pages like shown in the use cases is advanced level… it’s quickly a mess if you don’t understand what’s under the hood. - I have been there !

What is lacking is an explanation on how users can start with the foundations, then set a string of rope for the bricks to be aligned, and then put a brick this way (not that way).
Only once users can understand that, can they dream about Mansions and easily build them from scratch! …


Second area of improvement : Anytype’s use of concepts around data is confusing.

  • Data Types : one would expect String, Boolean, Integer, Float, Date, …
    It took me a long time to search for them with no success (I know it does exist, we’ll go back to that later).

I suggest that the page Overview should state right away that Anytype offers only 1 data type (a text file) and that the types (described here) are just different variations of that data type (in format AND in characteristic aka relations)

  • Data Relations : 2 concepts are mixed with a same and unique word :

    • Actual relations > the link between 2 objects (pages, notes, collections… not sets)

    • Metadata > “Camera”, “Tag” or “Description” are NOT relations, they are metadata.
      Proof : they are not appearing in the library of Types. This is only here that you start to see types like date, number, boolean, etc - it is well hidden !

This is not clearly explained anywhere. And, as long as we don’t understand that, we get confused a great deal. It’s like asking a French to explain the difference between “fair” & “just” (both translated by “juste” - “Euh, ben … “juste”, c’est juste quoi !”).

So we are left alone trying to figure out, with big sweat, that :

  • Raw material [types] are just bricks [text file]
    "Guys, don’t look for timber [integer], glass [dates], tiles [boolean]… they don’t exist as such. There are only bricks in Anytype"
  • Cement is actual Cement [ links between objects ]
    BUT Cement is also the characteristic of the bricks (height, length, width, weight…) [metadata : tag, author, description]

Now, if height, length, width, weight is not enough info for you, you can create another characteristic ! You want to specify that your brick is red or black, or grey ? …

  1. Create another “brick” [a text file],
  2. Call it “Colour” [a new type]
  3. Create a relation (an actual relation this time) between your first brick and that second brick that you called “Colour”

I suggest that Anytypes calls metadata & relations differently. In a perfect world, we could just create specific metadata through a metadata management interface… but the documentation could also just explain that we can create a new type & use it as a metadata through a relation.




CONTEXT OF THE POST

11 Likes

When I started with Anytype I red the documentation and I perfectly understand it on theoretical level. After that I tried to do something I realized that I couldn’t do anything. I had started with Notion month before I tried Anytype and I watched several really good tutorials about how it works. For example: Notion Fundamentals - Learn How to Use Notion
What I miss is such profound explanation.

I realize that Notion is much more mature product with sustainable business model for the community. My intention is to show a good practice of explanation, and the best explanation is such video tutorials. After that come use cases.

5 Likes

Wouah ! I never bothered looking at Notion because the Online only was a deal breaker.
But I realised, by watching it, that Anytype is pretty much a copy of it !(?)

But with MUCH better spirit :slight_smile: !!!

I do understand that the team has limited resource and can’t be everywhere… tutorials being the least of their priorities. Most of users willing to go on an alpha or beta being advanced users. But more basic users will arrive down the way… and it’s easier to change at the beginning than down the road (principle of Agile).

A key issue is that confusion between relations & metadata.
I do understand as well that it is very difficult for a team to modify concepts that they got accustomed to and had been working for months with. It is still, in my opinion, the way to go.

(I once joined a transformation program whose numerous projects had beautiful little names that meant nothing to people who they were supposed to change the life. It took me months to have the project teams to accept the change of names of their project… they felt like their identity was at threat… it was only months later, when impacted users told them that the names eventually made sense to them, that the team realised they were eventually better understood ).

At the very least, a text clarifying types, relations & metadata wouldn’t cost much in terms of effort.

2 Likes

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t recommend or promote Notion. The two software, Notion and Obsidian are leaders in the category and it is normal to compare them. I wanted to give an example of how I quickly got into Notion. My takeaway with working with people is that mainly interested professionals read the documentation. The average user does not have the time or desire for this kind of activity.

2 Likes

No worries!
I didn’t take it that way; I was just expressing an astonishment.

I totally agree with the fact that regular people (down the road…) will not bother reading any documentation. In the meantime, even though there’s no video made, a simple text describing :

LEVEL 1

  • The types notes, pages, tasks… are just pages that are predesigned.
  • Some may have a specific pattern (layout),
  • You can further define their look & feel with templates

Practical example : Here is a way to define an object & create it

LEVEL 2

  • Links are links between objects but also a way to assign a metadata to an object
  • Collections are like folders (they are linked to other elements) while Sets are like queries

Practical example : Let’s create several pages & link them together
If you add an image to a page, you can find that the image has become an object (which you can find again in the library type “image”), same with bookmarks, etc.

LEVEL 3

  • Now you can use the graphs to see either “hard links” (link) or soft ones (relations)
  • You can create 2 objects & link them through a relation type, and that will allow you to choose from a drop-down list to link the 2 objects together.

I think that if people started with that, it would be just simple, straightforward and real meaningful… then you take use cases to inspire people

5 Likes

Hey @GuipeL, I just wanted to post a quick update on this (since I’m in charge of the docs).

First, the terminology. This is something that has been debated for a long time. You can find the discussion here. I’m personally in favor of changing some of the terminology to be more in line with the standard nomenclature.

Secondly, the learning curve. There is definitely something missing between the basics and the big use cases in the docs. I’ve had plans for adding these since the beginning, but I’ve been focused on refining the basics first.
I’ll start by adding a lot of, so called, small use cases (need a better name for those for sure, feel free to recommend any). You can find a lot of these here on our forum if you just read a lot of it :sweat_smile: (that’s how I mostly learned about AT), and we also have a lot of these in Chatwoot (our support app).

Here are some examples:

6 Likes

Agreed ! :slight_smile: And I left a comment for Sam ! :wink:

So I can modify my phrase :

  • The types notes, pages, tasks… are just pages that are predesigned.

into

  • Anytype offers Objects, which are canvas holding blocks.
  • The types (notes, pages, tasks) are just different predesigned canvas.

///

Totally understandable !

Yeah, that’s the issue. I really love the real feel of conversation with you guys / the team so I already spend an awful amount of time on this forum. Never did before on any other forum.
And I didn’t even read all that ! :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

" Quick Tips " ?
" Anytype in 2 " ? (2’ read for learning something)

I still stick to the proposal to go step by step, level, by level (1, 2, 3)… it’s the best way, imo, to walk people through the logic with ease.

And THANK YOU for your answer !

1 Like

Thank you for this thread @GuipeL !!

Especially when you pointed out the relations vs. metadata.
I’ve been using AnyType just for about 4 days and am really into it, but when it comes to the data/datatype/dataset it somehow gives me a headache lol. The term ‘relation’ with two meanings/usage (?!) confused me.

Reading this and all of your comments above feels like an enlightenment for me. :pray:
I hope this thread will catch more attention from the dev team since it relates to the core concept of this product. I have high hopes for this product’s growth and believe it can make a real impact.

And can’t wait to see you polish this gem even further @Filip and the team.

3 Likes

Thanx for the thanx !!! :slight_smile:

Thank you for taking the time to write this detailed feedback, and the analogy you provided. It’s always helpful to know how people learn and understand these concepts, so I appreciate you putting it together in this way. A basics video about anytype starting with concepts and how they fit together is definitely do-able - we will try to address it over the next weeks. As for naming and adjusting the in-app onboarding experience, I can’t make specific promises on timing but the team as a whole is aware that the steep learning curve is one of the challenging aspects of adopting the app, and we hope to dedicate more resources to simplifying it this year.

2 Likes

Fine @Charlotte
but if you make new videos, PLEASE don’t show the things a fast as in the old ones!!!
It’s impossible to follow your instructions when you’re doing something AND speak at the same time AND there is text to read for the user AND he has no clue for what all the symbols stand!

Maybe woman can follow such presentations better, but a man can only focus on one thing at the time.
He can:
a) look what you’re doing.
b) OR hear your explanations.
c) OR read the texts on the screen.
d) OR understand the concepts (“this seems to be a Set …”).

But he can’t impossible do all these four things at the same time.
Especially not when it is shown far too quickly.

That in mind, please do the insctructions this way:

  1. Explain what you want to do.
  2. Move the mouse to a symbol which you want to click on.
  3. Explain for what the symbol stands.
  4. Give the viewer 1-2 seconds to let your words and the pic soak in.
  5. Say “Now I’ll click on the symbol”).
  6. Again one second pause.
  7. Only then click on the symbol!
  8. Explain what is now to see (without moving the mouse at the same time!).
  9. Three seconds pause to give the viewer a chance to look and to read.

Under all circumstances don’t do what you’ve done some times: you clicked on a button and only AFTER that (the viewer is already stressed, because he sees a new screen now and doesn’t know why) you was saying “I just have clicked on …”.
:frowning:
During that (the viewer is completely irritated now) you shoved the mouse from here to there, doing the next thing (while spaeking) and there is no time to read something or to let it soak in.

I had to repeat many scenes 10 times and pause the video at exactly the right moment to understand what you were doing and to read the texts on the screen.
Sometimes I had to pause the video every second or even in fractions of a second! There was far too much information all at once and it was shown far too quickly.

The old videos often made me aggressive! They’re are so stressing as viewing three different movies at the same time while reading a book, while hearing the news in the radio!
No way to get all these informations at the same time.

Thanx for your answer !

Have a good year 2024 !

Am now very well accustomed with Anytype but when you have time to work on it, it could be nice to organise 1 or 2 focus group with fresh users to understand their struggle.

I think it’s more a question of semantic than anything.
Just like I read on reddit today, even reading « it’s just pages, bro » could help a big lot :wink:

1 Like
Click me 👀

I’m working on a beginner friendly tutorial on how to master using Anytype. It will take some time to finish tho.

3 Likes

the kind lof feedback from s focus group :wink:

1 Like