Changing landscape

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nocar
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Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2018 2:03 am

Changing landscape

Post by nocar »

Changing landscape

Over the past several years, I have been following the changing landscape of note-taking software programs. I am not a programmer nor a developer but I have needed a note-taking system in my profession. I have used a variety of such note-taking and note-storing programs. Most of them have been database programs (such as MyInfo) that store information in proprietary formats -- albeit with the ability to export to different formats. What I am now witnessing is a rapid and increasing rise of new software programs which store each note as an individual Markdown (plain text) file in computer folders. Examples of such programs are Obsidian, Logseq, Dendron, etc. One of the claims -- and perhaps one of the reasons for success -- has been that text-based files are easily portable to all operating systems.

My questions to readers of this forum are:
1. Do you use one of these programs in combination with MyInfo 7 and if so, how?
2. Are you still using MyInfo 7 as your only program to take and store notes?

Part of why I write this post is to see what others are doing. But another part, is that I have seen no activity on this forum for the past two weeks and would like to stimulate additional discussions.

nocar
Telesto
Posts: 3012
Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2017 5:32 pm

Post by Telesto »

The note-taking landscape got pretty crowded. Lots of new - often webbased - solutions. However MyInfo isn't a note taking program but Personal Information Manager. Which includes note-taking, but the core being managing - organizing/arranging - information (with tree structure/attributes). Similar to photo-organizer for photos.

Note taking is a tool for writing - personal thoughts - down.
* Take notes while reading a book (kind of summary)
* Taking notes of lecture
* Taking notes as making a todo-list

However not good in storing massive amounts of information of various topics from different sources be structured in a way to get internal incoherence. To store information in a complex taxonomy, like in biology: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxonomy_(biology). For each topic you can go dig deeper and deeper. Highly specific information, needs to be presented in the proper context.

So, I use MyInfo to store information, not specific for note-taking. I'm kind of information horder. If I see something interest I want to save it (also in just in case). Webclips or papers (pdf/docx). And to arrange it in a way I can find it back when needed (crucial part) in context which makes sense. Most of the stuff inside my database isn't my own creation. Which also means: formatting/images being pre-existing. Plain text isn't useful here/ nor is markdown. BTW, Also why plain text? I like to include illustrative images.

I do create notes myself, but it's probably 5% of the total. I might have a note which being a summary/essence of multiple papers or with some personal idea's: with references to the source document. In some respect a copy of Zotero, except Zotero being a reference manager

So again: issue with most note-taking programs is lack of structure between notes. It's random bunch of notes; except for internal hyperlinks. It's hard to tell keep the relation between notes. My workflow: Notebook title = Book title. Heading 1=Section 1. Heading 2 (Parent note). Heading 3 (Child-Note). And each section mostly contains 100-200 notes. The note itself might contain hyperlinks.

I see no advantage in having a folder with bunch of notes (800) plain text documents without relation or structure. It's simply overwhelming. For me it's a non-feature, sold as feature.

So it's all depending on context. What do you want to archive...
nocar
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2018 2:03 am

Post by nocar »

Telesto,

Thank you for taking the time to post such a very thorough and clear response to my questions. I gain much from learning about how others store both their own notes and found information so I do appreciate reading about your approach.
Telesto
Posts: 3012
Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2017 5:32 pm

Post by Telesto »

@nocar
I kind of interest in the background of the question.
* You have used a variety of note-taking and note-storing programs. What are your personal experiences with those? What where the advantages/disadvantages? And what's currently your main program?

* And well do take notes in your profession. Is it possible to be a bit more specific which profession and the type of notes? There are plenty of different (potential) user groups using the program in their unique way cq. having their own requirements: like Doctors/Laywers/Gamers/Developers/Students/Architects/Writers/Mathematicians Researchers/Linguists

-----------
I should have described MyInfo as Personal Knowledge Base. Which fits even better compared to Personal Information Manager. Note taking is a general term, which can be done pretty any app, starting with say: Word/Notepad/Wordpad.

The power of MyInfo being the Hierarchical Tree, including formatting in Tree. Additional: Section/Multi-column support with custom attributes (unlimited meta-data), in app PDF preview/ bookmark note combined with search function.

Regarding Markdown: I'm not a actual user of Markdown. I see it as an alternative, not as a successor of the "regular" way of formatting. It feels like a hype to me. In certain area's Markdown shines: for example inserting formula's.
nocar
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2018 2:03 am

Post by nocar »

@Telesto
Let me answer you questions in reverse order.

PROFESSION AND TYPES OF NOTES
I am "retired" medical school professor and physician. Retired in quotes because I still volunteer teach and lecture to medical students.

My professional notes originate from reading and interpreting medical articles, textbooks and lectures, and from preparing lectures, articles, handouts, etc. This be my Personal Knowledge Base. My professional notes also include notes from academic, faculty and student meetings.

My personal notes are my PIM -- Personal Information Management system. These notes include information related to family, dates, tasks, contacts, receipts, home protocols, non-medical readings, etc.

Each of these types notes are stored in their own categories.

WHY SO MANY DIFFERENT NOTE-STORING PROGRAMS?
Note-taking and storing are two-sides of the same coin for me. If I go back to when I began as an undergraduate college student writing my hand-written notes in notebooks, I have been a note-taker and note-storer for over 50 years. Yikes - that's a long time.

I am also an inveterate computer dabbler since my first computer in 1983, a Franklin Ace 1200 computer (a combined Apple II clone and CP/M computer.) I moved to MS-DOS and then Windows PCs. The note-taking, note-storing and note-retrieving computer programs I have used included dBase, Symantec Q&A, askSam, Whizfolders, Ultra Recall, and MyInfo (since version 4.) Now I use Obsidian and MyInfo 7. Why both? Because as I said I am dabbler. I am mirroring my notes in both to test and experience the strengths and glitches of each.

I am not a Zettelkasten convert or zealot. The way I take, store and retrieve notes has worked for me for decades. Each of us takes and stores notes in our own fashion but I still can learn how others do it.

Getting into my thoughts about the advantages and disadvantages of the programs I have used is perhaps an article for another day.

FINAL COMMENTS
Markdown may seem like hype to some but I don't think it is a fad. Sure it is nothing more than a formatted type of plain text that can be converted with programs such as Pandoc, but that might be its strength. Plain text has been around since the beginning of personal computers. And that is a strength -- longevity -- as is interoperability between different operating systems.

At the start of this thread, I did not write about my concern gathered from watching many note-taking and note-storing programs disappear -- their inherent viability. I certainly hope this does not occur with MyInfo. But that is a reason that I am mirroring my notes in a more open and interchangeable format such as plain text or its close cousin, markdown.
Telesto
Posts: 3012
Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2017 5:32 pm

Post by Telesto »

nocar wrote: Tue Dec 13, 2022 1:42 am My professional notes originate from reading and interpreting medical articles, textbooks and lectures, and from preparing lectures, articles, handouts, etc. This be my Personal Knowledge Base. My professional notes also include notes from academic, faculty and student meetings.
Interesting! I’m asking myself. How does manage the notes related to medical articles? Assuming the articles being stored inside MyInfo as well. I personally struggle with this. I like to bundle my notes with the article. A bit undecided how: but for example with an outline note type.

nocar wrote: Tue Dec 13, 2022 1:42 am My personal notes are my PIM -- Personal Information Management system. These notes include information related to family, dates, tasks, contacts, receipts, home protocols, non-medical readings, etc.
Does Obisidian work as good as MyInfo in all those area’s for retrieve the information? I only glanced at it from YouTube video’s. It’s see it more or less as a ‘brainstormy’ way of thinking; lots of connections:
Receipts have less of a connection in between, in my view. More fixed category’s. Receipts a grouped under receipts (in MyInfo a database). And maybe distinctions like appetizer; main course; dessert (in MyInfo sections)

nocar wrote: Tue Dec 13, 2022 1:42 am WHY SO MANY DIFFERENT NOTE-STORING PROGRAMS?
Note-taking and storing are two-sides of the same coin for me. If I go back to when I began as an undergraduate college student writing my hand-written notes in notebooks, I have been a note-taker and note-storer for over 50 years. Yikes - that's a long time.

I am also an inveterate computer dabbler since my first computer in 1983, a Franklin Ace 1200 computer (a combined Apple II clone and CP/M computer.) I moved to MS-DOS and then Windows PCs. The note-taking, note-storing and note-retrieving computer programs I have used included dBase, Symantec Q&A, askSam, Whizfolders, Ultra Recall, and MyInfo (since version 4.) Now I use Obsidian and MyInfo 7. Why both? Because as I said I am dabbler. I am mirroring my notes in both to test and experience the strengths and glitches of each.
I start to grasp the focus on interoperability of notes. Migrating information surely having been an issue in the past. I don’t have much legacy experiences. Well I shuffled my data around couple of times. From TreeDBNotes to RightNote and largely from RightNote to MyInfo. The major struggle wasn’t exporting the notes by itself. Except for titles exceeding the file-system limit. The annoying part was the loss of the hierarchy (relations). Moving out of MyInfo would be even harder, since I start used attributes and columns.

Mirroring does seem quite a lot of additional work. Not something sustainable in the long term, I guess. I never keep things nicely in sync. I do experiment once in a while: crimping habits [1]

[1] https://www.outlinersoftware.com/topics ... mp-defined

nocar wrote: Tue Dec 13, 2022 1:42 am I am not a Zettelkasten convert or zealot. The way I take, store and retrieve notes has worked for me for decades. Each of us takes and stores notes in our own fashion but I still can learn how others do it.
Same for me. Note: I dislike working with tags (in the sense) of tag bar. To arbitrary/un-categorized. I do ‘tag’, but by using attributes as categorization; say using a single/multi select list.

nocar wrote: Tue Dec 13, 2022 1:42 am Getting into my thoughts about the advantages and disadvantages of the programs I have used is perhaps an article for another day.
Would probably quite extensive.

nocar wrote: Tue Dec 13, 2022 1:42 am FINAL COMMENTS
Markdown may seem like hype to some but I don't think it is a fad. Sure it is nothing more than a formatted type of plain text that can be converted with programs such as Pandoc, but that might be its strength. Plain text has been around since the beginning of personal computers. And that is a strength -- longevity -- as is interoperability between different operating systems.
PIM software being designed for certain OS is a limitation for sure. You need to use a certain OS. However I'm less concerned of Windows suddenly disappearing from the market. The software market has matured at lot since, lets say the eighties. Stable brands and lots of standardization: HTML/RTF/TXT/XML/ODT.

The minimum requirement I personally have is an option to export notes is a common format. However I prefer not using it. The power of MyInfo - or PIM software – is the search capability; hierarchical arrangement, meta-data (attributes). I can’t really cope with simply a bunch of notes.

Sidenote: MyInfo stores the information in a SQLite databases and the text is actually HTML (but unsure which specific standard). So nothing really exotic from developer perspective.

nocar wrote: Tue Dec 13, 2022 1:42 am At the start of this thread, I did not write about my concern gathered from watching many note-taking and note-storing programs disappear -- their inherent viability.  I certainly hope this does not occur with MyInfo. 
PIM sofware bit of market-nice. Software build by small company’s or individuals. The survival mostly depends on the well-being, the interest of the developer and the financial aspects of the enterprise.

Software development changed a lot compared to the eighties. Developing being more and more picking of the shelf (digital) components (building blocks) and assembling those together. A developer doesn’t build and maintain a RTF editor with import/export capability himself. Building and maintaining something like would be full-time job.

Building with of the shelf components is faster and easier. The downside is dependency. When you buy components of the shelf, you’re depending on the supplier. If the supplier stops supporting the component, you have problem. Not in the short term, the component keeps working, but would be unmaintained. No bug fixed, no new features. In the long run it will lose support for development environments.

Moving forward would might mean replacing the component. This can be quite problematic. So you can go easy route, slow decay, or re-invest.

MyInfo 7 has been rewritten from scratch. So intention of the developer is to keep things around.
nocar wrote: Tue Dec 13, 2022 1:42 am But that is a reason that I am mirroring my notes in a more open and interchangeable format such as plain text or its close cousin, markdown.
The choice for Obsidian surprises me. It’s totally different concept in my view. I would look at competitors in the same league RightNote, InfoQube, Mybase, CherryTree, EssentialPIM, AllMyNotes, UltraRecall. More remote: EverNote TheBrain and Tinderbox.

MyInfo is my favorite, though :wink:
MyrtleHillariya
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2023 7:12 pm

Post by MyrtleHillariya »

Telesto wrote: Sun Jan 08, 2023 9:17 pm
nocar wrote: Tue Dec 13, 2022 1:42 am My professional notes originate from reading and interpreting medical articles, textbooks and lectures, and from preparing lectures, articles, handouts, etc. This be my Personal Knowledge Base. My professional notes also include notes from academic, faculty and student meetings.
Interesting! I’m asking myself. How does manage the notes related to medical articles? Assuming the articles being stored inside MyInfo as well. I personally struggle with this. I like to bundle my notes and how to get rid of gyno with the article. A bit undecided how: but for example with an outline note type.

nocar wrote: Tue Dec 13, 2022 1:42 am My personal notes are my PIM -- Personal Information Management system. These notes include information related to family, dates, tasks, contacts, receipts, home protocols, non-medical readings, etc.
Does Obisidian work as good as MyInfo in all those area’s for retrieve the information? I only glanced at it from YouTube video’s. It’s see it more or less as a ‘brainstormy’ way of thinking; lots of connections:
Receipts have less of a connection in between, in my view. More fixed category’s. Receipts a grouped under receipts (in MyInfo a database). And maybe distinctions like appetizer; main course; dessert (in MyInfo sections)

nocar wrote: Tue Dec 13, 2022 1:42 am WHY SO MANY DIFFERENT NOTE-STORING PROGRAMS?
Note-taking and storing are two-sides of the same coin for me. If I go back to when I began as an undergraduate college student writing my hand-written notes in notebooks, I have been a note-taker and note-storer for over 50 years. Yikes - that's a long time.

I am also an inveterate computer dabbler since my first computer in 1983, a Franklin Ace 1200 computer (a combined Apple II clone and CP/M computer.) I moved to MS-DOS and then Windows PCs. The note-taking, note-storing and note-retrieving computer programs I have used included dBase, Symantec Q&A, askSam, Whizfolders, Ultra Recall, and MyInfo (since version 4.) Now I use Obsidian and MyInfo 7. Why both? Because as I said I am dabbler. I am mirroring my notes in both to test and experience the strengths and glitches of each.
I start to grasp the focus on interoperability of notes. Migrating information surely having been an issue in the past. I don’t have much legacy experiences. Well I shuffled my data around couple of times. From TreeDBNotes to RightNote and largely from RightNote to MyInfo. The major struggle wasn’t exporting the notes by itself. Except for titles exceeding the file-system limit. The annoying part was the loss of the hierarchy (relations). Moving out of MyInfo would be even harder, since I start used attributes and columns.

Mirroring does seem quite a lot of additional work. Not something sustainable in the long term, I guess. I never keep things nicely in sync. I do experiment once in a while: crimping habits [1]

[1] https://www.outlinersoftware.com/topics ... mp-defined

nocar wrote: Tue Dec 13, 2022 1:42 am I am not a Zettelkasten convert or zealot. The way I take, store and retrieve notes has worked for me for decades. Each of us takes and stores notes in our own fashion but I still can learn how others do it.
Same for me. Note: I dislike working with tags (in the sense) of tag bar. To arbitrary/un-categorized. I do ‘tag’, but by using attributes as categorization; say using a single/multi select list.

nocar wrote: Tue Dec 13, 2022 1:42 am Getting into my thoughts about the advantages and disadvantages of the programs I have used is perhaps an article for another day.
Would probably quite extensive.

nocar wrote: Tue Dec 13, 2022 1:42 am FINAL COMMENTS
Markdown may seem like hype to some but I don't think it is a fad. Sure it is nothing more than a formatted type of plain text that can be converted with programs such as Pandoc, but that might be its strength. Plain text has been around since the beginning of personal computers. And that is a strength -- longevity -- as is interoperability between different operating systems.
PIM software being designed for certain OS is a limitation for sure. You need to use a certain OS. However I'm less concerned of Windows suddenly disappearing from the market. The software market has matured at lot since, lets say the eighties. Stable brands and lots of standardization: HTML/RTF/TXT/XML/ODT.

The minimum requirement I personally have is an option to export notes is a common format. However I prefer not using it. The power of MyInfo - or PIM software – is the search capability; hierarchical arrangement, meta-data (attributes). I can’t really cope with simply a bunch of notes.

Sidenote: MyInfo stores the information in a SQLite databases and the text is actually HTML (but unsure which specific standard). So nothing really exotic from developer perspective.

nocar wrote: Tue Dec 13, 2022 1:42 am At the start of this thread, I did not write about my concern gathered from watching many note-taking and note-storing programs disappear -- their inherent viability.  I certainly hope this does not occur with MyInfo. 
PIM sofware bit of market-nice. Software build by small company’s or individuals. The survival mostly depends on the well-being, the interest of the developer and the financial aspects of the enterprise.

Software development changed a lot compared to the eighties. Developing being more and more picking of the shelf (digital) components (building blocks) and assembling those together. A developer doesn’t build and maintain a RTF editor with import/export capability himself. Building and maintaining something like would be full-time job.

Building with of the shelf components is faster and easier. The downside is dependency. When you buy components of the shelf, you’re depending on the supplier. If the supplier stops supporting the component, you have problem. Not in the short term, the component keeps working, but would be unmaintained. No bug fixed, no new features. In the long run it will lose support for development environments.

Moving forward would might mean replacing the component. This can be quite problematic. So you can go easy route, slow decay, or re-invest.

MyInfo 7 has been rewritten from scratch. So intention of the developer is to keep things around.
nocar wrote: Tue Dec 13, 2022 1:42 am But that is a reason that I am mirroring my notes in a more open and interchangeable format such as plain text or its close cousin, markdown.
The choice for Obsidian surprises me. It’s totally different concept in my view. I would look at competitors in the same league RightNote, InfoQube, Mybase, CherryTree, EssentialPIM, AllMyNotes, UltraRecall. More remote: EverNote TheBrain and Tinderbox.

MyInfo is my favorite, though :wink:
Agreed with you and MyInfo is my favorite too. :)
Last edited by MyrtleHillariya on Fri Feb 03, 2023 8:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Coolrat
Posts: 108
Joined: Wed Nov 30, 2011 9:52 am

Post by Coolrat »

Most of the features offered in other PIMs seem to be attempting, in beat-around-the-bush approach, to offer the ability to locate information based on:
  • words
  • themes of sentences, paragraphs, or entire pages/documents
and to be able to cross-link and search for this information.
MyInfo is good at many of these functions, but could be significantly improved through several recommendations noted here: viewtopic.php?t=7611.

Including the ability to code/annotate sentences, paragraphs or any block of text (or image), MyInfo would become an even stronger tool for productivity.
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