Different sorts of note taking...

rhickman
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Different sorts of note taking...

Postby rhickman » Wed Nov 08, 2017 8:09 pm

I started using CintaNotes sometime around version 1.2 and have had a pro license since about 2013. Back then my work was tech-based and mostly very formulaic stuff -- individual items of work would be assigned and this alone was sufficient to begin the task. I started this in 2012, but soon found there was a ton of "random stuff" which I frequently needed to get or remind myself about, which is why I got started with CintaNotes in the first place. For this sort of work the notes really were "snippets", and generally had the following properties:

- Very small in number of lines
- Frequently read
- Very infrequently modified
- Notes did not have significant inter-relation (apart from a general topic)
- Notes did not have any defined ordering
- Notes had long-term temporal value

Most of the notes I required to take revolved around systems (IPs, hosts), commands (Linux commands), and minor scripts and checklists. For each product I was working on I had a section in a CintaNotes notebook. Due to the nature of the notes and my workflow, CintaNotes was set with small text and sat in the corner of the screen so it could be prompted to return at any time. I used "title only" search, and would usually quickly rattle off something like "iconv" in the search bar to quickly return me all the command line sequences involving the iconv character-set conversion tool, for example. I would highlight the note I wanted and would hit ctrl+c, and the command I needed was in my buffer.

In the past year or so I now spend about 50% of my time doing the above and 50% of the time doing more open-ended design work, which has prompted what is effectively a whole new class of notes. Because the work is not already defined when it comes to me, there is either a first step determining what this is, or sometimes this procedure definition is actually the output of the work. Either way, the notes generated from this kind of work have the following properties:

- Medium to large number of lines
- Less frequently read
- Frequently modified
- Notes generally have short-term temporal value

While it could be seen that the contents of these notes are a combination of the snippets above, in this context the important thing is that:

- These "snippets" have significant inter-relation
- These "snippets" have a strongly defined order

This is effectively because they are a stream of thought that gets rapidly iterated and modified, but once done, the value dissipates simply because it has served its purpose: the procedure has been defined, and the actual work gets done. Sometimes the chain of notes gets turned into real documentation. Sometimes it is project tickets, and so on.

As any good power user does, I always try out new tools and play with things. One of the tools I have found lets you make lists of items in an "outline" and then have lists nested inside the lists, and you gradually grow these as you structure your idea/plan/procedure, collapse/expand the sub-lists, and can add notes to each point (but then "hide" the notes to just see the main points again). I run this on a portrait monitor full-screen with quite large text.

Now ideally I would like all my notes in one tool/application. However, this other tool is not great for tiny snippets in the first class -- I would either need to make one "document" per snippet (which is messy and inefficient) or group all of these snippets into a couple documents even though they are not really related, which makes searching more awkward.

Equivalently, it's more difficult to write and work with longer structured pieces with the current CintaNotes text editor. In version 3 at least, the editor is quite simple -- which is good for the first class of notes! -- but doesn't allow for any of the structuring that something more advanced offers. Some of my issues are not helped by the fact it's set up for my "scenario 1" workflow so the text editor and writing is really small, and when you are working on a big plan or idea you want to focus more (or I do at least) which is why I run this other tool full screen and with larger text.

I've tried for quite a while to reconcile my two lines of note-taking but they really do feel like two separate categories. For now I am using each tool as it is fit for purpose (and I can always add a link in CintaNotes to a the documents in the other tool if I want), but I did wonder if in the medium-term future whether the new fancy editor and other bells and whistles in CintaNotes 4 will help me with these longer, more complex notes.

Anyway, was just trying to explain my current thoughts and give some use cases as to how I do note taking these days, if it happens to be useful.

If anyone else has some ideas or comments, or any other different categories of note-taking I would be interested.
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Re: Different sorts of note taking...

Postby CintaNotes Developer » Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:57 am

Hi, and thanks for some interesting thoughts!

I agree that CN in its current state is probably not the best choice for the second type of note-taking (although I know that many people still manage to use CN for this, e.g. Thomas has some system going with numbered and bulleted lists and heavy use of Shift+Enter for list subitems and note links for note interrelations).

Regarding CN4 new features - I'm afraid can't promise anything significant here, since releasing CN4 with new GUI would be quite a feat all by itself, and the main target for us would be not to lose too many old features in the new UI. Still, if demand is high, it is very probable that we address this issue in later updates.
Alex
rhickman
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Re: Different sorts of note taking...

Postby rhickman » Fri Nov 10, 2017 9:59 pm

It's ok, I'm aware that the CN4 plan is to refresh a lot of the under-the-hood framework to give a new, up-to-date UI and so on. I think this is a good step (I've been trying to "refresh" a 20 year old piece of software recently....). I suppose I was just pondering that perhaps a more modern rich-text editor could potentially in the future have support for more structured note-taking. Even if that's something that turns out to be out-of-scope for CN, it'd be nice to have some sort of themes or editor modes one day so I could swap between font sizes/layouts quickly depending on what I'm doing (I may also be thinking too much about how to improve my workflow rather than just actually doing the work... ;))

One of the reasons I would definitely prefer to stay with CN for all of my content is that I can at least "own" the database and simply keep it on my USB drive, rather than depending upon cloud services, which is what most things are these days annoyingly.
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Re: Different sorts of note taking...

Postby CintaNotes Developer » Mon Nov 13, 2017 1:52 pm

Thanks for your understanding. I'm quite sure that the editor we migrate to will be more powerful that what we have now. So it will be only a matter of time till we gradually enable these features in the CN, expanding the data model accordingly.
Alex

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