My expectations, first impressions and use case

Hello all.

I truly believe in the philosophy of this project so I’ll try to be as helpful and constructive as possible with my comments.

Before starting with Anytype I thought it would be software like Notion or Coda but more focused in getting insight from the information stored in it through the relations. Not just a pretty database or a container of information. Instead I though it would be more like a visualization and (personal) research tool. That I would be able to see beyond the information stored in it.

I think that calling it a operative system could be very misleading for the majority of people. In our minds a operative system is Windows or Linux. Trying to give a new meaning to a general convention requires a lot of unnecessary effort. Conventions should not be disregarded, and when embraced they could be powerful allies. I would just call it digital brain or digital hemisphere (as a digital extension of ones biological brain) for example. It’s just my humble opinion and I understand what the developers try to convey with operative system, but from a marketing perspective I don’t believe in that vision.

My first contact with the app hasn’t been great. I attended the walktrough and despite this I felt a bit loss navigating the GUI. I think this is because I didn’t fully grasped how to construct objects and relate them. The object-canvas-block-set-relation meaning results somehow complex to grasp despite getting the general idea.

Next I thoroughly read the docs and I found they didn’t add much light to what I previously knew. They are not bad, but there is something that doesn’t click with them. Maybe it’s just the complexity of the system…

I would explain my primary intended use case to give more insight and to see if i can get some help in realizing it in Anytype.

Actually I’m studying for an entrance exam for working as a official governmental IT specialist in my country. My intention is to build a database with past exams questions that would allow me to easily see patterns, connections, find what’s more important and what’s not… I know these insights exists but they are not easy to visualize. Obviously, having this insight accurately would allow me to get better scores and I also plan to help other people with this information in the future.

The problems I have encountered are mainly that the information in the card mode appears truncated and the search function is very basic.

I understand each question and it’s answers (multiple choice) as an object I can relate with a specific year, examiner, subject, style, etc. But with the content truncated in a card set I cannot visualize and compare several related questions. I have to open an see them individually. This is one of the biggest hindrances of the majority of software.

Also, I would like to make a search on for example “java” and be able to compare every question that contains that word instead of relying on tags for filtering. Tagging and relating is tedious. Detailed searching is fast and easy.

I think this use case could be applicable to teachers, researchers, or just for comparison purposes. Having the ability of visualize several items and compare them is powerful.

I would like to discuss other things but I don’t want to overwhelm with criticism. Let me know what you thing about my comments and let me say sorry beforehand if I type something wrong or my grammar is awkward, I’m not an English native speaker.

Thank you for reading me.
Pablo P.

12 Likes

Hi Pablo,

I mentioned some of your thoughts on my First Impression post, so I might take some time to elaborate some of your constructive criticism.

I think the majority of people you mentioned are the majority of tech savy people. I study IT-Security and know a lot of people who know at least a bit about computers, but when I made my A-level exam, I spoke to a lot of people who didn’t even know what Operating System even means. Sure, they heard about it, but didn’t even thought about Windows or Linux.

For most people, Operating System means the programs they are running. The tools to do their work. To get the job done. They want to hear music? They open Spotify or Deezer. Want to edit a spreadsheet? They open Microsoft Office or LibreOffice. The list goes on.

For those people it doesn’t really matter which operating system they are using. The thing that differentiates the operating systems for them is how the window decoration looks at the top of the window.

An operating system today is more focused on the applications, then on the environment of them. Best example is ChromeOS, which basically is a OS, in which you will use the Browser for basically everything, including watching movies, editing text files, listen to music and accessing your photos through a cloud.

Long story short, I think Operating System is a good description of what Anytype does, or tries to achieve, or could achieve. Operating System for your digital life. And it does not matter which operating system you’re using - Linux, macOS, Windows. The same Electron-based application, besides some compilation flags.

Knowledge forms when we accumulate, mix, visualize and connect information.

Anytype could be a second brain. Like Notion is for some people. Or Obsidian or vim+vimwiki.

But a brain also comprises of the music you listened to, the books you read - and the connections you assemble through them.

I would also like to see Anytype become not just an OpenSource Notion with plugin support, but a real “operating system”: a central place for my thoughts.

My first experience hasn’t been great either. I never used Notion before. I used vim+vimwiki for Markdown and LaTeX documents and moved about 1.5 years ago to Obsidian.
I agree that the introduction to Anytype and the documentation should be more detailed.
It took me an entire evening to capture Anytype. Many will not be willing to put so much work into it and learn a new concept of writing documents.

Your criticism is valid. If you find something disruptive, feel free to post it. That’s why we are alpha testers. In addition, the criticism shows in which direction Anytype should perhaps develop and what focus should be placed.

Cheers,
~ Luca

1 Like

Criticism is welcome here!

A good way to avoid overwhelming the devs is to make several smaller posts rather than (or in addition to) a single big one (you can still write the big post, but write the smaller ones first, then you can link to them throughout your bigger one).

Many of the things you mention already have posts for them. Do find them and vote/comment!

Hello luca,

I am an Obsidian user and have a lot of data and workflows in Obsidian. I just beginning to explore Anytype as the concept and interface looks great, however, I’m not sure if it’s worth (time & effort to move) fully migrating to Anytype from Obsidian (plus since its in alpha).

You mentioned that you used Obsidian, how has the transition been for you from Obsidian to Anytype? I don’t mind a learning curve but in terms of usability and functionality, can it replace Obsidian?

Thank you Pablo, I think this is great feedback! And I agree with pretty much everything you said. I work directly with the Anytype team now, but I started out as a tester too, and I have similar concerns. I now work on helping to create solutions for these challenges with the rest of the team. And I can tell you that they saw and valued your feedback too (it was raised internally on Slack), and we will be discussing it all further. So you can rest assured that all your thoughts and experiences are welcome and useful here!

I want to keep my response brief, but I think it’s worth saying this here. While I certainly think that documentation and (self)-onboarding could be improved, I also feel that the biggest problem is likely with the way the application itself works. Good documentation can help make up for a difficult user experience and navigation, but it can’t fix it, and suboptimal workflow is suboptimal, even if you learn how to do it. :wink:

My belief is that navigation is one of the primary issues of Anytype currently. The home/dashboard approach is not very necessary or helpful, it adds clicks and extra steps to navigation (imagine if Favorites, Sets, etc. were all just in a slide-out menu on the left that you could access on any page, for example). This is why I have advocated for a traditional “tree” for navigating page structure and A total “rethink” of the “Home” screen/concept: custom “home” page, etc. I think some work in those areas would help most of us use Anytype more easily, and I hope you’ll go read and contribute to those topics if you agree.

The other major area that seems to need big improvement is the organization and relation of objects. It is flexible now, powerful in some ways, but also quite cumbersome and unintuitive both to create some kinds of connections (especially of the correct type), and especially to visualize them. A more powerful graph view will help, new views in Sets and new properties/controls for Sets as well will help, and tree navigation will I think also help in understanding how things relate to each other. No doubt other improvements will also be necessary to make things smoother.

Anyway, I am already going on longer than I intended. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: So I will just reiterate what I said earlier, and others also said above: your feedback is helpful and valued, and we encourage you to tell us anything more that you have to say. Please also browse the forum for feature requests related to your concerns and upvote (like/heart), and/or comment on them. Thanks again!

2 Likes

Now that you mention it, I can see your point with Operative System. It’s a reality that non tech savvy don’t truly understand or care what a Operative System is.

Anyway, I still have concerns about this but I’ll discuss it in dedicated posts. This was just an unbiased first impression. I didn’t want other comments to interfere in this first approach so I haven’t explored the forum yet.

Thanks for your feedback @luca , it has given me a lot to think about.

Cheers.

1 Like

Hi @Oshyan , what you propose seems like a lot of work but I believe the user experience needs to be improved for the people to adopt Anytype.

I generally abandon a software when I feel some discomfort but the ideas behind Anytype deserve the effort so I’ll keep going. I’ll be exploring the forums and tinkering with the software for now but I’m considering getting more involved.

Thanks for your welcome and feedback.

Cheers.

2 Likes

+1

I had the exact same experience as you.
I think one reason for me that the object-relation-set-type structure didn’t quite click and I have a hard time finding a workflow for me is that embedding/nesting is missing. I want pages inside pages that have the same data, no matter where I change it - same for sets inside pages and sets of sets (or multiple types).

And I agree that navigation improvements are needed. I often find myself lost, go to the dashboard and look at History to get back where I was. The navigation button on the top is already quite helpful though.
And if I quickly jot down something I don’t give it a title so I have lots of Untitled pages which messes up navigation for me even more and somoehow searching words inside pages doesn’t seem to work reliably.

2 Likes

Yep, these are pretty much all known issues and limitations, most of which are being addressed in one way or another in the next 3-6 months. :slight_smile: Sidebar “tree” navigation is coming, as-is in-line sets (embedding sets in pages), among other things. And I’ve just raised the Search issue and more internally as well, so I hope some improvements on that make it into Q1 or at least Q2.

1 Like