Overall Positive Experience from a Notion User

A bit about myself. I have been using Notion for around 2 years and before that I used Evernote. I’m a heavy user but I don’t really use most of Notion’s rather complicated functions. No coding background, an ordinary user who use the software to track and organize things in my life.

Why I’m testing Anytype?
During my time with Notion, there are these very simple functions that Notion just can’t get it done (or won’t). These two factors are the most important ones that propel me to actively looking for alternatives:
a) offline mode: honestly this should not be that difficult. So to me, it is not that they can’t do it, more that they don’t want to do it
b) privacy: there are stories in Asia that Notion employee contact users for business because they read the contents of user’s notion page… Also, Notion makes it very clear that they can use your data to do biz with other third party.
This is unacceptable.

What I love about Anytype
I like anytype for the following factors:
a) design concepts: objects, relations, etc. (but it also gets a bit complicated for the beginners)
b) E2E, Offline Mode, and Full control over data: this will be the most important factor for me. Though in alpha it is not complete, but the goal and the efforts are important.
c) UI is simple and clean.
d) opensource: love the concept, though not actual opensource now in Alpha
e) knowledge graph

What I don’t like about Anytype
to be honest, I know it is work in progress, there is nothing I don’t like at this point
But I do wish the following items could be fixed someday.
a) some operations: difficult to describe this factor. Compared to notion, I feel that Anytype needs to improve operation experience. An example: when adding a block in Notion, the + sign only allows you to add block below and not above, this is where Anytype did better. Anytype can add a block above. This is the kind of operation I’m talking about. There are many small, weird experience in Anytype. In my opinion, it is these small improvement/glitches that lead to ordinary users satisfaction/disappointment. To give another example, I’m both an iOS and Android user, I don’t really feel that iOS has a huge improvement over Android on many aspects. But I tend to use my iPhone more simply because iOS has more small, useful, easy-to-use, intuitive, and humanized interface/ operations. For now, Notion is still my main tool to manage things.
b) existing objects and relations: I find it a bit weird that those native objects and relations can not be amended. For example, for the Note object, why can’t I add Title in it?

Overall, I do think it is the first alternative for me to replace Notion. I understand it takes time and I’m willing to wait. I really appreciate the efforts from the team.

In addition to the above opinion, I also have some thoughts/questions on the strategy of Anytype.

  1. Strategy and Positioning: I see several threads where the team mentions about the Anytype market position. Personally, the fact that Notion quickly replaced Evernote signals that it is something ordinary users want. Anytype for me is a better Notion. So, for me, making the UX closer to Notion could be the top priority here. I don’t mean to abandon the infrastructure, but to make the operations and the experience more like Notion. And the second step is probably the Notion IMPORT module. With these two factors, I am almost certain that many Notion users would become Anytype Users. And the third point is TIME. For me, if Notion decided to go for offline mode and E2E/privacy protection, I probably will stay in Notion.

I understand that Anytype team is very busy responding to all those different requests. But if the goal is to get large amount of users, we have to start from what Most Users want (which I think probably are non-IT background and requires a well-designed and smooth software, rather than a tech-heavy one)

  1. Anytype Business operation: I’m not sure how Anytype intends to maintain its operation ultimately. Obviously, the employees needs compensation, the operations need to be maintained, the backup node requires fees, etc. What is the long-term business model here? How do we ensure long-term operation that Anytype gets improved without not going-concnerns.

Last, want to thank everyone in the Anytype team again. Appreciated what you have accomplished so far!


Hey @BWL, thanks for taking the time and sharing your thoughts. Sharing this kind of information and feedback gives the team very useful insights in how to further develop and improve the Anytype software. I tried to link to existing topics (bug reports, feature requests) or resources for as many of your points as I could find. Feel free to reply if certain links to not match the point you wanted to make :slight_smile: .

I agree and I really like the broad concept of Objects and Blocks, although I think there is room for improvement (as I like to see that everything is treated as an Object, even Blocks). See also an interesting discussion here. The Anytype team is aware that Anytype’s concepts might be complex to grasp at first, so they are working to make this easier with these efforts:

  1. Provide an in-app onboarding experience to explain the basic concepts (Object (Types), Relation (Types), Templates, Blocks, Canvas, etc.)
  2. Provide walkthrough videos on how to achieve certain goals like settings up a travel wiki, gratitude journal, task tracker, dashboard, etc.
  3. Improve the documentation which is not in a great shape atm.

Combined with a lively community on the Discourse forum (here), Discord, and Telegram, there should be plenty of places for all users to ask for help if needed :slight_smile: .

Your description is indeed a bit vague. You list some things you don’t like in Notion where Anytype works better for you, but I don’t see any examples where Anytype should do better. I do agree though that there are some strange design choices or steps you need to take to perform a certain action, like where you can and cannot create new Objects and Relations from search menus. Could you provide some examples?

You are not alone! The team is reworking some code to allow users to delete those built-in Object Types. The team might refer to that as the “Decluttering project”. The only workaround we currently have is to create duplicates of Object Types and Relations you want to adjust to your own needs.

There is a dedicated website to share the vision of the team, but I think it is due for an update (both regarding vision and website content :wink: ): https://vision.anytype.io

I actually think a lot of Notion’s UI and UX choices can already be found in Anytype (“add icon/cover” above the title, + and / slash command to add content, block based content creation, block menu on the left, sidebar on the left, etc.). Are there specific elements you like from Notion’s UI/UX, or is this more about the general look and feel of both apps?

Finally, the team has big plans for import AND export as this is one of the key points of their vision: it should be as easy to get your content into Anytype as it is to get it out. There is a lot more work to do on this front, but it is part of the central idea of this software.

I agree, and I disagree :wink: . Of course, the team wants to make Anytype for everyone, but for now it seems like most users are at least somewhat tech savvy, and those who are not are willing to learn on how to write down and structre their information best. I think this currently describes the Anytype user base quite well and that is why I like the community so much!

This question is often raised in the Discord and Telegram community, and also here on the forum (example). The team is well funded by private investors (venture capital) and will eventually make money from selling Anytype’s backup node as a service. I think this is how many software companies run their business nowadays: offer a free and selfhosted version to individuals and offer a paid subscription to business users with additional features or as a managed service. Additionally, they aim to setup a community where contributing to the software is incentivized, for example by rewarding users that write an integration between Anytype and another service using the API with “free” storage space on the backup node. Note that this is an idea I just came up with and this specific example might not be true.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

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