Successfully switched from Notion!

I’ve successfully switched my core daily database from Notion to Anytype, of which I was an enthusiastic fanboy user since 2017!

And I don’t miss Notion. There are some feature gaps and bugs, however I see the Anytype team addressing these, interacting with users, and fixing things far faster than the Notion team ever did. I think they were really held back by some poor early architectural decisions, and then committed to enterprise fo focused on collaboration and features big companies need like complex permissions.

The biggest comfort for me is that my data is now mine, and most importantly I can access that data offline. After doing some world travel and finding Notion’s performance and the whole concept of online-first for my primary database totally unacceptable, I committed myself to switching. Imagine if you couldn’t access Apple Notes or Apple Contacts without an internet connection!

I’ll be using Notion on the side for the foreseeable future, as I chose not to import my data and start from scratch with Anytype, so I will be going back to reference old data for a long time. The fresh start feels good tho. And every time I go back to Notion, boooooy does it feel clunky and slow.

The gaps I can think of off the top of my head are below, all of which I think will be addressed by Anytype in the near future:

  • No API. The only thing I used this for was to add new Humans to my Notion database when I added someone to my Apple Contacts. This was VERY useful to me, as I could add people on my phone in natural way and later file them away in my Notion database.

  • No way to share data with collaborators. For me this is pretty minor as I am largely solo. I’ll take offline over collaboration features any day… Also I’m confident Anytype will add adequate features.

  • Lack of complex queries (filter groups, AND/OR, etc). This has turned out to be less of a problem than expected so far.

  • Lack of bi-directional relations. This has turned out to be somewhat less of a problem than I expected, but it’s still much needed.

  • I miss my peek views!

  • Editing data structures in place is much more convenient in Notion. When I want to add a relation to an object type and have that show up in a view, it’s quite cumbersome and somewhat confusing. I’ve done it 20 times by now and still get it wrong half the time, so that should be an indication something needs to be fixed here.

  • I love custom icons for relations/properites which Anytypes doesn’t have yet. This could really help especially for those narrow status/select columns.

  • I used formulas to small extent, but have been fine without them.

  • End dates for date objects

  • Look and feel. I miss a lot of polish, like the full grid of tables. Select / tag fields are so much prettier in Notion, and they all blur together without borderes in Anytype. I prefer Notion’s font and find Anytype’s a bit harder to read and aesthetically less pleasing. There are also a lot of things about Anytype that are superior, these are just some things I prefer about Notion.

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Some more to add to the list:

  • Notion’s properties are much easier to find and manage as they are by default displayed on the object. Anytype’s template system for this is probably the most confusing and annoying thing about the product overall, as it’s nigh impossible to have consistency among objects of the same type - which is a major part of the point of having types! At this point I’m just using the Relations view and not even bothering to set up templates, because I know they will be hopelessly out of sync later - better none than inconsistent.

  • Multi-line table cells

  • Ordering of select options, and ordering by select options is pretty broken in Anytype. (Hopefully fixed soon)

  • Inconsistent “Back” behavior in the apps. When looking at a set, sliding from the left side of the screen scrolls, but other places it goes to previous screen.

Something I have found really good about Anytype is that views are strongly associated with Sets. While I think this could be done better and have posted about this elsewhere, it is vastly better than Notion, where I have copy and keep updated views in different places or use weird hacks with synced blocks. This has allowed me to create reusable subsets of databases/object types.

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An update here after the initial honeymoon.

Here’s a few things that are really getting in my way:

  • I set things up on a Mac and am pretty happy with the functionality there. However the iOS app has major issues:

    • Sorting does not work at all. I was not expecting such a basic bug, however my task systems depends heavily on sorting by various Select fields, and this doesn’t work at all.
    • UX for editing / viewing relations that aren’t in the template is terrible. Way too many taps. I rely heavily on this because of the most irritating issue I have with Anytype (covered in the next bullet).
  • Having no way to add relations to the detail view of existing objects of a type is a HUGE oversight, and having templates out of sync and all different sucks even worse. This is especially annoying on mobile, where everything takes way too many taps without having relations in templates, but I don’t want to add relations to templates because having them all different is worse.

  • Lack of self-referencing in templates makes it cumbersome to show useful views of object relationships consistently within an object.

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What???
You can press “/ne” if you want to add a new Relation into an open Object.

Nice! Thanks for sharing your detailed experience, and encouraging title of the post!
I did try the API to import a few pages from Notion a while ago, but it was more work to clean it up, so I mostly re-made stuff in Anytype.

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I realize did not phrase this well. I don’t want to willy-nilly add relations to the body of an object, as they will all be in different places and orders.

I’ve been resistant to adding Relation value this way for that reason, however maybe I should give it more of a chance.

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Now I’m completely puzzled, not knowing what you want?

But do you know that you can add a Relation and then removing it from the Canvas?
The Object will then have the Relation (for using it in the Set’s or Collection’s Grid), but it doesn’t show up in the opened Object.

I want to be able to easily see and edit relations when I open an object, not have to tap 3 times just to see the relations, then many more to edit them, and even more to exit those screens.

I don’t want to have to manually add relations to each object.

I don’t want to have each object have different relations in different orders.

I would like something closer to what notion has for showing values in-line by default, where I can choose to hide relations with no value or by default. I think there’s better ways to do this than what notion does, but I find Anytype currently very challenging.

That’s interesting. I sort of understand wha you mean, however that sounds pretty confusing.

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I feel a little bit hoodwinked into using Anytype this early in beta, however only a little, and obviously it was my call to use a beta product. I was very frustrated with Notion’s offline capabilities and ready to take a risk.

With just a few pretty simple bug fixes (most importantly around sorting, primarily on mobile) it really would be 90% as good as Notion for me, and on track to be better. Most of the feature gaps have reasonable workarounds.

There’s already been cases where accessing offline was clutch!

Using templates, I now have a pretty easy time entering data for new items, however it’s pretty annoying my tasks have a different layouts for their main information. I was resisting using templates for this reason, however it solves the problem short term (tho I imagine will be annoying to go back and fix once there is a better solution implemented in the core product).

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Thanks for all the thorough feedback @crystaln! We’ve been following the thread, and your suggestions were shared with the product team.

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