Initial Thoughts

Arriving at Anytype

I’ve long held an interest in the concept of “Second Brain”, and because of that I have been on a long journey of different note-taking apps. Dynalist, Obsidian, Notion, etc. Notion was the one that stuck the longest for me, because realizing I could make everything part of a database really enabled me to link everything together in a decent approximation to how things are represented in my mind. I’ve since expanded to include media tracking, project/task management, and my work.

However, over time I’ve come to have some annoyances with Notion, which coincided with seeing a mention of Anytype on the Notion subreddit. Having tried it out briefly, I have some initial impressions of both things I really like and things I think could be added or improved on.

The Good

Performance & “Offline first”

One of my grievances with Notion is just how slow it feels. Having multiple interlinked databases and databases embedded within entries of other databases, it takes about a second to get anywhere. Being offline first, Anytype wins here in a landslide with me being able to navigate smoothly and close to instantaneously.


With my extensive databases, the sidebar in my Notion became close to useless because it was polluted with endless “View of ___” under each top-level node. The widgets in Anytype being able to reference any part of my space make setting up navigation much more intuitive and efficient.

Objects and Relations

Coming from using databases almost exclusively, Anytype’s object model is a relatively easy switch for my mind. I like the ability to arbitrarily relate objects as well as view them in the space’s graph. The ability to construct sets from relations has huge potential, which I intend to explore further.


To follow on the previous point, I am a huge fan of templating and make use of it wherever I can. Notion’s templates were valuable to me, but they are sort of hidden away in a corner dropdown in databases. Anytype’s templates being right at the core of each type is much more intuitive.

Things I’ve Missed

Naturally, I understand Anytype is still young, and so I don’t expect it to have every single feature of Notion immediately. However, there are a couple things that I have noticed the absence of so far:

Calendar & Timeline View

Between work, two bands, moving to a new apartment soon, and concerts, it is essential to me that any system I use offers me a quick view of my day, week, and month ahead. My main notion dashboard revolved around toggleable views for each of these slices of time, and within each I could easily see my tasks, events, and recurring items easily. Anytype’s present lack of this presents probably the biggest missing feature for my use cases.


The second most important thing to me I find missing in Anytype thus far is the concept of automation, by which I mean two distinct parts:

Derived Relations / “Rollups”

I’m sure it’s unnecessary to explain the power of calculating an object’s properties based on other properties, but Anytype’s object model provides a unique opportunity to extend the capability any further. Notion’s “rollups” feature have the distinct limitation of being unable to be nested, ie a rollup can only be calculated based on the properties of a direct child object. This is purportedly because of the difficulty of detecting loops, a problem that is a bit simpler when using a graph structure.

Just some examples of capabilities I used Notion’s formulas and rollups / would use Anytype derived relations for:

  • Adding a review frequency to projects, and calculating the next review date based on that and the previous review
  • Calculating the “do date” of a recurring task based on the created time and recurrence frequency of the task
  • Calculating the progress of a task by rolling up the statuses of subtasks
  • Etc.

Recurring Templates

I loved the recently added Notion feature of marking a template as “recurring”, that is, a new instance of the item would be created at a specified frequency with the contents of the template. Use cases for this I’ve found:

  • Code review tasks at consistent times with link to current milestone
  • Band practice events weekly with checklist of gear for me to pack / songs to practice
  • Weekly “check music releases” task with links to my chosen sources of music news

Of course, I can achieve a good portion of this with templates in general, but not having to put in the effort of creating each item manually is a huge benefit. The power of these would be extended further by being able to calculate certain relation values within the template–so far Notion only allows “Now” and “Today” for dates. For example, being able to link to the current milestone based on the work project I have marked as “current” would be a huge win.

Images and Icons from URLs

My last “major” item is the item I would mostly be able to survive without, but it’s still significant enough to mention. Notion has the ability to paste a URL from the web when adding an icon or cover to a page, and I’ve found I use this almost exclusively when adding icons or covers to my pages. Anytype’s lack of this almost discourages me from using images with my pages, because I don’t want to spend disk space on images and icons I won’t be using for anything but my Anytype space.


Overall, the principles behind Anytype and the unique functionality and object model make me excited to use the software and to follow along with its evolution. I think right now I am at a point where I would definitely be able to commit to adopting it daily, but the addition of certain features would make that adoption much easier.


If it helps, pasting URL is possible when inserting image inside a page/object.

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