Terminology and Concepts

How about “Relation Property”, since it’s not just a property and ‘relation’ by itself is confusing / hard to understand apparently

I would argue that this is actually always a Property and sometimes a Relation. Calling it a Relation is making things unclear.

If I create a Status Object B, then it’s independent and any other Object can relate to it. This is a relation, sure, though I would argue that this is not really a relation between Objects to me, just a Status applied to a specific Object. That’s more debatable though.

If I attach a Text or a Date to my Object A, then that is not a relation between Object. This is a Property of my Object A.

It would be easier to consider that everything is a Property, and some properties are Relations (“being related to another Object”), instead a making it unclear by calling everything a Relation when it is not.

I’m open to someone from the team explaining to me their reasoning if what I am saying is wrong! :heart: I have not been using AnyType since a long time :smiley:

If you put a Date to object A, it’s also a relation, because you can have multiple objects with the same date, hence that specific date relates all objects (even though you might not use it as a relation)
We seem to think of a relation in the traditional database world where e.g., a task has a link (relation) to a project. But with Anytype, the relation is always there, but only becomes apparent when you create a set which exposes it. Very different way of thinking. I scratched my head a few times when playing with Anytype (since last week), but making progress and hoping I understand things correctly.

Thank you for the answer :smiling_face: But I think that with this frame of mind, that everything is a relation (and you apply to almost anything in the world, it will jsut be such a broad term that it loses all meaning), then you will get confusion from a lot of people as to why the Graph view displays only some relations and not all. I think all current Relations should be renamed to Properties, and only the relations between Objects, those that are displayed in the Graph View, should be a type of Property named Relation.

Or maybe it’s already the case, with Relations being the properties in my explanation, and Links being the relations between Objects? If that is the case, I still find the terminology confusing. :joy:

To go back to that Database example :
A piece of data in an entity is related to that Entity. Yet Database creators decided that the term Relation would only apply to the relation between Entities. Otherwise the term Relation has a meaning so broad that you need to find another term to define the relation between Entities, which is the one that most people are interested in.

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LOL, it’s not easy (also for me). It’s probably the biggest hurdle for new users.

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Good capture. Perhaps we are talking about the following scenarios for types of connection.

  1. Definition / necessary composition vs. Possibilities / situational components
  • Journal object with date: date defines the existence of journal, thus necessary. But one could relate and click the date to access the date object
  • vs. I am an anytype user and a relative to A: both of these are identity of mine, but irrelevant to each other.
    Both of these would look like properties, but they relate in different ways.
  1. Connection point - part of which the connection is established.
  • Family as the interacting property of a person to relate with a relative
  • With transculsion, different blocks connecting to other blocks. ← each block is a connection point
  1. Inter-connection and intra-connection
  • Intra: transculsion within same object e.g. two points of interest in a conversation ← relation between contents / properties of a single object

  • Inter:

    • object to object connection
    • object to another object’s point / content / property
    • object to relation connection e.g. A is inspired by B ← relation. A digests and takes notes on the inspiration, aka secondary reaction to the inspiration relation as “relation as object”.
  1. Degree / force of connection e.g. correlation, causation, anti-relation ← Property of relation, not property of object

  2. Dependencies

  • If it is connection between two things, then it is as user-defined execution of connection, there is no implied dependencies.
  • If it is indirect connection, the relation is implied because of its nature, e.g. a third level objects. A is married to B, and C loves B. A and C have no direct connection; unless involving B.

Perhaps Property is what defines the attribute / quality of a thing. It indicates if it is 0 and 1, or if it can become more than just text, and have style, measuring units, hierarchy, or multi-dimension etc. Property can exist anywhere. And Relation is the connection.

There is a need to consider logic inference in connection to maximise the function of relation. This would also distinguish simple link with rich relation. I will continue to support relation. :muscle:

P.S. If we are to further discuss the function of property and relation, we might want to create a new topic.

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Yes, thank you very much for interacting with me! :heart: It’s really nice to wrap your head around new concepts and try to streamline them :smiley:

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Contrary to popular opinion, I actually like Anytype terminologies and found it very easy to grasp. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t dig deep into PKM app features until Anytype, so I wasn’t attached to established definitions from other apps. I appreciate that they picked words with definitions that you can comprehend, even without the software context. When I think of objects, I think of relating things and setting up groups in real life, not the anatomy of a doc/PKM builder. That makes it more approachable, in my opinion. :grin:


Hello there !

Indeed @sambouwer, this is really helpful to understand “you” (the team & the product).
A “sexy” transcription of this list (with screenshots) would be a Must in the Training website.

So if i understand correctly : (sign “>” means holds / contains)

  • Object > 1 Canvas > 1 Layout > 1-∞ Blocks > 1-∞Links
  • Relation = Object so not inside a canvas… it’s a Link that ties Objects & Relations together
  • Template > Layout

I still don’t see the difference between a Type “Page” & a Type “Note” to be honest (except that it is 2 types that are actually the same… help me distinguish the differences).

I still don’t understand why we can set templates for some objects but not others (ex. bookmarks, I would like to define a category for a bookmark BUT I just can’t create a relation that would automatically appear when I create a new bookmark - in the end, my web browser bookmarks are a better place to keep them).

Most of all, I still have not found a way to answer a need as basic as finding ANY object assigned to a specific tag… using a Set does not work since it is limited to a object type. I remain puzzled by this limitation while many other apps just provide the list of created tags & you just need to click on one / several of them & the interface shows all tagged “objects”, or just search for " #Tag1 + #Tag2 " and it returns all objects.
Hopefully, it’s just in the bucket of all the things you want to do at some point… it will be very crumpling down the road otherwise.

Calling Relations “Attribute” would be better indeed.
Do you plan to improve the interface to define the settings of a relation?

PS : Thanx @Filip !!! For mentioning this page from this sub : Anytype is not complex (and complicated) - it's the onboarding that needs reviewing! - #6 by isle9


@GuipeL thanks! Some remarks (disclaimer: based on my knowledge, so could be incorrect)

Relations can be added to the canvas as well!

Use “/relation” and then “+ New relation”:

Results in a relation on the canvas (relation “Address” as example):


When adding a relation on the canvas it is also added to the Object itself as you can see in the Relation menu at the top right:

I think you hit a bug! It looks like the change to how templates are applied to new Objects resulted in new Objects of Type “Note” to have the “Basic” layout by default instead of the “Note” layout. Try to create a new Object and choose Type “Note” and note (hehe) you have an Object with a title:

Now change the layout from “Note” (which does not seem to be correct) to “Basic”.


This (incorrectly and partially) selects the “Note” layout as the title is no longer visible. Changing the “Note” layout again, you end up with the actual “Note” layout: no title, no relations visible (apart from the Object Type), but just a place to write down your text.

I think this is linked to the state Anytype is in (very active development). I suspect there are technical limitations in place to prevent Objects end up in an unsupported state. There are feature requests like these that ask for similar features (i.e., opening up built-in Object Types like bookmarks).

My understanding is that this is coming, maybe even early 2024! See this branch in GitHub: anyproto/anytype-ts at feature/advanced-search (github.com)

I have not checked the code itself, but as I understood from a product owner this should allow for way better search, including search in tags/relations.

Personally, I usually depend on search over structure in many tools and powerful search or the lack thereof has a significant impact on whether I use a tool at all, so I would be very happy to see search improvements coming (soon), especially when the number of Objects in my Anytype spaces is growing.

I believe the team is aware of the learning curve Anytypes new concepts and terminology brings, but I don’t know to what extend they are thinking about renaming things in Anytype (like Relations > Attributes).


Thanx for your detailed answers !
I did ask the question about improved searches during the Town hall, but I didn’t ask for tag search specifically. It would be great to save searches in that case because I will end up looking for the search combinaison a lot of times ! :wink:

About adding relations to the Canvas, we should be able to manage their display much better, coz its layout is really ugly :

  • we can’t say if it’s a text, title, heading…
  • we can’t put it in bold,
  • there is an awfully big space between the field & its title (in the current state, I’d rather simply hide the title)
  • we can’t set its width (i.e for tags, I would like to see all tags… in a note / page, I have the necessary space)
    Shall I make a Feature Request?

This an definitely be improved and will be as you an see from @sambouwer comment, but looking at your comment about sets only being able to query object types, I’m guessing that you are not familiar with sets by relations?

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Ah Ah !!!

We discover everyday !!!
And it is definitely worse sharing frustration here to find out more things that we have missed by empirical discovery !

I am exited to go see :slight_smile:

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You can find more info here btw ( if you missed it).

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Great ! Now I can dynamically look for content with specific tags ! :slight_smile:

Hvala vam najljepša !