[Managing] Tab-based note categories (#89)

Forum rules
1. Please keep it one request/suggestion per topic.
2. Please mark the requests with the following tags:
[Startup] - issue related to the program's startup or shutdown process;
[Taking] and [Clipping] - related to acquiring/creating notes (excl. editing);
[Viewing] - related to notes list browsing and reading;
[Editing] - related to the process of editing new and existing notes;
[Search] - related to note searching and finding;
[Managing] - related to note organization and management;
[Reordering/Sorting] - related to sorting or reordering the notes list;
[Clipboard] - clipboard operations;
[Import] and [Export] - issue related to bulk notes import/export;
[Globalization] - issues related to multiple languages/cultures support;
[Files] and [Backup] - file operations,notes back-end and backup;
[UI] - UI issues which don't fall into any of the above categories;
[Other] - other issues which don't fall into any of the above categories.

Thank you!

Vote for or against this feature:

Implement it asap (+2)
Would be nice to have (+1)
I don't need it personally (-1)
Don't do it (-2)
Total votes: 50
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Mar 07, 2009 4:27 am

Re: [Suggestion] Tab-based note categories (#89)

Postby david_c » Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:38 pm

In order to help visualize the tab structure, consider this outline hierarchy example:

0. ALL Tab
a. Inbox-0
b. Tag-1
c. Tag-2
d. Tag-3

1. TAB-1
a. Inbox-1
b. Tag-1
c. Tag-2
d. Tag-3

2. TAB-2
a. Inbox-2
a. Tag-1
b. Tag-2
c. Tag-3

1. An "ALL" tab is necessary for a globally viewed environment.
Note, however, that an "ALL" Tab is only a convenience. It is not 100% necessary since the same function is possible by selecting all tabs.

2. Inbox-0 is the default for clipped items. Override the default by pre-selecting one or more "sub-tab" (TAB-1 or TAB-2 in the above example).

3. The ALL tab should have the ability it to select any tab or combinations of tabs in order to filter the global view.
The ALL tab could possibly have the ability it to "fine tune" the filter process by also selecting a tag or combination of tags.

4. Every tab should have its own separate and distinct INBOX.

5. You should be able to pre-select which tag or tag combinations will be automatically assigned to a clipped note.


This is the way I envision the design:

1. Tags are vertically placed in a left side panel (as done presently). Tabs will be place horizontally along the top (or bottom?).

2. Both tabs and tags could then be selected in the same manner (i.e. CTRL+click).
So regardless of whether you are setting up a note clipping scenario by pre-selection or filtering the post-clipping results this accomplished by the same common procedure .

Example 1.
To send clippings to TAB-2 as tag-1 and tag-2:
Before you hotkey the clip, pre-select TAB-2, tag-1 and tag-2 (CTRL+click TAB-2 and tag-1 and tag-2).
The resultant clip is placed within TAB-2 and and tagged as tag-1 and tag-2.

Example 2.
To look at my notes that are already in TAB-1 and TAB-2 with a tag label of "tag-3":
CTRL+click on TAB-1, TAB-2 and tag-3.
(NOTE: If multiple tags need to be selected, use ALT+click to "OR" the filtered results)
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 11:33 pm

Re: [Suggestion] Tab-based note categories (#89)

Postby gravi_t » Sat May 02, 2009 9:33 pm

But frankly, in the light of having many different notebooks with fast access to them over a dropdown menu, the idea of supporting local tags seems less appealing. A much simpler solution would be just to hide the tags on the sidebar which are not present in the selected tab, eliminating noise.

This is a really good idea, and we can eliminate the local tab vs global tab discussion.

As for the location of the tabs: I'd prefer them at the top, horizontally, below the search box. Placing them under the search box would also show that search is global and not in the current tab only. So obviously, I prefer a global search.

This is just an idea (as I said, global search would be best): maybe the search box and the tabs area could be moved up and down, and when the search box is above, it would do a global search and when it is under the tabs toolbar, it would only search in the current tab.

1. To which tab should the freshly clipped notes go to?

I don't mind, I use manual clipping.

4. Should there be one "Default" tab right off the bat? Or zero tabs, and you have to explicitly add them?

Yes, let's have a default tab. If you decide to put freshly clipped notes here, the name of the tab should be fixed -- it should be unrenameable.

5. Should the filter settings be shared between tabs, or preserved? Or just clearing on any tab-switch would be ok?

It should be preserved, and it should definitely not be cleared on tab switch.
Posts: 38
Joined: Tue Feb 03, 2009 9:08 am

Re: [Managing] Tab-based note categories (#89)

Postby Brian » Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:11 pm

Right - I've finally read through everything here and given it a fair bit of thought.
I've laid out my ideas as clearly as I could below.
If I've not explained myself well in certain areas please ask and I'll try my best to elaborate.

Tabs vs Notebooks

This discussion in its most basic form is about enabling multiple notebooks within a single instance of CintaNotes to allow users to view notes for individual projects with the least amount of clutter & irrelevant information. As the word Tab refers to the GUI element that they might be represented by and not the idea itself, I think referring to the notebooks as tabs is probably unhealthy for this thought process. We should be calling them notebooks to facilitate thinking about them in an abstract sense and finding the best approach – be that with tabs or some other method.
With this in mind I will only use the word tab when talking about the visual program element.

How should CintaNotes look when multiple notebooks are being used?

First of all I would like to raise the question “Are tabs the best way to represent multiple notebooks?”

What other options are there? My preference would be the method that Evernote uses - to have a notebook-list above the tag list. This list could be selected in the same way tags can, allowing for multiple notebooks to be selected at once. Selecting multiple notebooks (e.g. selecting 2 of your 5 notebooks) in a tab-bar – even if some highlighting was used – would not be as clear as with the notebook-list method. This would also be awkward if there were a large number of tabs.

As I would likely only have 2-3 notebooks the notebook-list method would take up much less space in the program window. If tabs were used there would be a lot of wasted space in the tab-bar – especially when CintaNotes is maximized.

I can see that a tab-bar might be more desirable for users who plan to use a large number of notebooks. The tab-bar could allow scrolling as it does in Firefox when there are a large number of tabs.

Notebook-list method:

Could we have an option to display multiple notebooks as either notebook-list or tab-bar?

With this feature implemented – how should CintaNotes look after a fresh install?
Alex wrote: I reckon that CintaNotes is gaining a niche mostly because of its convenience as a small information gatherer,
and complicating the interface will bring CN a bit closer to Evernote and other monsters of the notetaking industry where there are little
chances to survive the competition. So at least this feature has to be really unobtrusive and clear.

As far as I’m concerned, CintaNotes need look no different until a user decides to add a new notebook.

There should be a default notebook at the start.

If a user adds another notebook, the tab-bar/notebook-list should appear.

If the number of notebooks is at some point reduced back to only one, the tab-bar/notebook-list should be hidden again.

There should also be an option to keep them visible even when there is only one notebook – but it should hide them by default.

While the tab-bar or notebook-list is hidden, perhaps there should be a button or some other visual element for adding new notebooks to make this functionality obvious.

Should there be an option to hide the tab-bar and switch between tabs with hotkeys? I wouldn't use this function but perhaps some would.

To which tab should the freshly clipped notes go to?

The default notebook in a fresh install should be called "default" or “notebook” and NOT “inbox” to avoid any confusion the title "inbox" could cause.

It should also be rename-able – e.g. I would be renaming mine to webclips.

This initial notebook should be flagged as the DEFAULT notebook.

This flag should be re-assignable to other notebooks – both from the options menu and directly on the tab-bar/notebook-list.

There should be a clear visual identifier denoting the DEFAULT notebook on the tab-bar/notebook-list.

When a note is captured it should be sent to the DEFAULT notebook.

I am against the idea of captured notes being sent to the active tab. This behaviour would increase the likelihood of mistakes.

“All Notebooks”

The suggested “All Notebooks” feature is a necessity and is easily implemented (visually I mean, I don’t presume to understand the programming requirements) using either the notebook-list or the tab-bar.

If someone manually creates a note when “All Notebooks” is selected that note should go to the default notebook.

It was suggested somewhere in the thread that “All Notebooks” (I’m trying to avoid calling it the All-Tab) would also be used as the inbox.
This should definitely NOT be the case as it would become hard to distinguish which notes need to be moved to other tabs.


Search should only search the selected notebook(s)

Selecting “All Notebooks” takes care of the global search.

Active Searches/Filters

These should not be cleared on tab change - only by clearing the filter.

Global/Local tags

Tags should be global but only be seen in the tags bar of those tabs which contain them.

As you have suggested above, hiding the tags that are not present in the active notebook is a perfect solution for this.
(This may also further complicates the tag number tooltip function - depending on how it is implemented)

I'm thinking about local/global from an organizational standpoint but understand that you probably have to consider this from a programming standpoint.

When “All Notebooks” is selected, all tags should be visible in the tags bar, and can be shared across notes from different Notebooks. There would, of course, be no need to differentiate a tag called "test" in notebook1 from one of the same name in notebook2.

Nature of a notebook

The following is how I visualize multiple notebooks being implemented. I am not a programmer (only did a little C++ in college) but with my limited understanding it seems to me that this method is logical and fairly straight forward.

Notebook titles should be treated as special tags within the database.
To differentiate them from standard tags we will say – for the sake of argument – that they are given the character “+” as an identifier prefix. E.g. “+research”

These special tags will NOT show up on the tags bar – or the tag field on individual notes.

So, for example, notes tagged with “+research” will be “inside” the research notebook.

This would mean that, from a database standpoint, the “notebooks” are not separate notebooks but in fact just filters of the main database.
i.e. When a notebook is selected, CintaNotes is running a filter that only shows the notes bearing that notebooks +tag.
It is important to note that standard users need not understand or even know this fact.

+tags should not show up in the tag field in the note edit window as this would be very confusing to new users.

There should be a “Notebooks” field in the edit window that would show what notebook(s) the note belonged to (this would hide the +) and also allow you to edit what notebook the note is in.

Though these +tags should not show up in the edit window tag field, advanced users should be able to avail of them from within the tag field.
e.g. if I tag a note “+research” it will be in the research notebook. This will show up in the “Notebooks” field instead of staying in the tag field.

So to assign a note to a notebook from the edit window I can, for example, type “+college” into the tag field or type/select “college” in the notebooks field.

Implementing multiple notebooks in this way would allow for notes to be common to more than one notebook. I think this would be an excellent thing, and addresses something that has been mentioned as a weakness of notebooks/projects earlier in this thread – e.g. a note on programming is relevant to your college project you would want it to be in both the “college” and “programming” notebooks.
(this is a feature that Evernote does NOT have and would be a great plus for CintaNotes)

Something that needs to be addressed if this is allowed –
e.g. the aforementioned note is in both “college” and “programming”.
You are viewing it within “college” and try to delete it.
You would need to be prompted with a pop up that notifies you that the note is common to multiple notebooks, show you which notebooks it is common to, and allow you to quickly and easily edit which notebooks it is in, remove it from the active notebook or delete it from all notebooks.
This also means that you would not need separate trash bins for each notebook which is good.

Notebook Configuaration

Notebooks should be individually customizable - colour scheme, font style etc.

You should be able to assign special clipping hotkeys for each/any notebook which would send notes directly to them.

Also, I will lodge this as a separate feature request, but I think it should also be possible to decide the padding within and between the note boxes (in percent or pixels)

Some other notes & responses

There should NOT be an "UNTABBED" option. Notes must be forced to be assigned to at least one notebook. I can understand the thinking – It is analogous to UNTAGGED – but these things are very different and it would be terrible if a note could be deemed both untagged and untabbed.
The default notebook feature removes any need for this UNTABBED option.


I do not entirely understand the hierarchy you have laid out.
Why are there multiple inboxes?


I for one will not be using my default notebook as an inbox but can understand why this methodology will be useful to many users.

It was suggested that there be a reminder before exit that you have unsorted notes in the inbox.
I think this would be extremely annoying.

If there was an option to show a note count beside a notebooks title – much like Gmail does in a Firefox tab – then such a nag pop up would be unnecessary.

How & why would you use tabs?

I think it would be very relevant to ask this question while the implementation of this feature is still being discussed.

With this information from various users I think we could better ascertain the requirements of the feature.

I would have one notebook for Webclips which would be my default notebook - and one notebook for Writing Notes which would, more often than not, be entered manually and not use the clipping function.
I would also probably create temporary notebooks while doing research for particular projects and hopefully be able to use custom hotkeys to clip directly into these notebooks. I would likely remove these upon completion.


Finally – as multiple notebooks increases the complexity of note organization I feel that advanced searching will become more necessary.
I would, for example, like to be able to search for all notes that are common to two or more notebooks.

Wow… I wasn’t expecting to spend this much time on this when I started :)

Still, I hope some of this helps.

Thanks again for an amazing program. Really looking forward to multiple notebooks!

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Re: [Managing] Tab-based note categories (#89)

Postby Midas » Thu Jul 29, 2010 9:35 am

Brian, although I diverge on a few details of your analysis, I must commend you for the great work. Keep it up.
:D Midas, your friendly nugget gobbler, with a message from our sponsors:

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Re: [Managing] Tab-based note categories (#89)

Postby Brian » Tue Aug 03, 2010 6:28 am

No worries, anything to help CintaNotes :)
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Re: [Managing] Tab-based note categories (#89)

Postby CintaNotes Developer » Thu Aug 05, 2010 5:07 am

Hi Brian,

thanks a lot for such a thorough post!

Tabs vs Notebooks

First of all, I don't completely agree on the tab = notebook approach.
I'd still prefer we don't merge these terms together because "notebook" is already
firmly set to denote a single ".db" file. Let's call them "notebook sections" for clarity.
Like in paper notebook, where you can have tabs which divide your notebook into sections.

How should CintaNotes look when multiple notebooks are being used?

About representing sections as a list instead of tabs. For the most part, it is a matter of taste. But
let's lay out all the objective pros of this approach as we see it in EverNote:
  • better suited for large number of sections;
  • easier to select multiple sections;
  • easier to understand for Evernote users;
  • more apt for introducing hierarchical subsections in the future.
  • doesn't steal about 5% of vertical place from the notes list

Let's see the pros of tabs:
  • more visually proponent;
  • easier to understand, no mix-up with tags;
  • easier new section creation ("plus" tab on the right);
  • better color-coding ability;
  • doesn't steal from 10% up to 100% of vertical place from tags;
  • easier to drag-and-drop notes (a tab is a bigger and a non-foldable target);

So as you see, the decision is not trivial here. But in the face of hierarchical tags and mutiple notebook files implemented, and having to pick only one approach, I'd prefer tabs.
About doing it both ways and selecting with an option - I don't think that will be feasible because the effort required will be almost doubled.
But I guess after the tabs are complete a list-based approach can be put on the roadmap.

With this feature implemented – how should CintaNotes look after a fresh install?

I agree on all the points.

Should there be an option to hide the tab-bar and switch between tabs with hotkeys?

I think this doesn't belong to the initial release. This could be put on the roadmap later.

To which tab should the freshly clipped notes go to?

Yes, as I remember having a reassignable "clip target" section was the common agreement.

“All Notebooks”
Active Searches/Filters

No objections here.

Global/Local tags
The problem here is that ability of creating tags not associated with notes is already on the roadmap and has got already a number of votes.
These tags should appear regardless of the notes presence.
We should plan for that, too.

Nature of a notebook

I don't agree that having sections as special tags is the best approach. I don't think that CN should allow notes to be common to more than one section. CN will provide an easy, single-command way to convert a section into a tag and vice versa.

Having them as a different entity in the database and indexing on them will make all section operations lighting fast (switching, searching).

But that's already implementation details which I'd rather not discuss now.

Agree on the most points, but still don't understand why you would like to configure the padding independently for each section.

Some other notes & responses
I agree with all your points here.

How & why would you use tabs?

I'd use them for notes which clearly are related to some project of mine. Currently I use tag prefixes for that.

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