Why I chose Treepad over OneNote when it came to my workflow
I’ve just found 3 different disparate bits of data I want to keep in my morning email catchup; the link for a download relating to a project; a news story with some key dates; and a list of URLs.
Where did I paste them? Not to OneNote. Straight to Treepad.
Amazingly, I think the difference for me is the simple Treepad hierarchy vs lack of clear colours/folders in OneNote. Since OneNote has different types of ‘folders’ – Section Groups, Sections, Pages, Subpages – I have to think which I want to use, and have to move my eyes and mouse left, up, right to see the section groups on the left, sections on the top, and pages on the right.
I’ve whited out sensitive parts (eg. Folder names) in these screenshots, but you can see the issue.
In OneNote – see all the places I have to look. See the uniformity of the section groups on the left
On Treepad – everything on the left side, quickly browse to the section you need, and press insert to create a new note. No need to think or move my mouse all over the screen – just get it in somewhere vaguely accurate
Ironically, part of me does see the point of Evernote’s tagging system – something I loathed over Treepad’s clear hierarchy. I was sat in a meeting, wondering how I could easily just add this note to my existing notepad, but then later be able to see all the relevant notes for that company, AND that included the people sat around the table. Suddenly it dawned on me that this is where something like Evernote, or any tagging system, stands out.
I could have a tag for Meeting Notes, another for Companies -> ACME company, and another for Contacts -> Companies -> ACME Company -> James Smith and Contacts -> Companies -> ACME Company -> Jane Smith. Then by filtering on those tags I could instantly see what my history was for ACME, and also what info James/Jane had been involved in before. Right now, I have an disorganized, untagged trail in a folder called Meeting Notes in Onenote.
My only reluctance is being able to manage the huge hierarchy of tags that I would need in Evernote – Companies, Contacts (every single one I ever meet), Projects, etc. I guess that’s what it’s for. I also have to assess how it would work for other types of notes – particularly hierarchical reference notes, which is how I originally chose Treepad / OneNote. No – don’t say I have to start using another Note app!?
TheBrain / PersonalBrain fail
Of course, if you want complex hierarchies and infinite possibilities, this is where TheBrain comes in. I do love the structure in TheBrain. It’s just that it has no realistic iPad/iPhone interface (aside from a fiddly, laggy and limited HTML5 interface), so again, not a clear choice. I currently use this for tracking relationships between different companies and people.
Beauty of Notability
If you remember, before I embarked on a OneNote spree, I used Notability. When I was in a meeting where I quickly wanted to jot a diagram, that’s where I turned.
And that’s where I would love to stay…. You see, when you’re in front of a customer, or colleague, or presentation, you need to be able to jump into an app and just start using it, and for it to meet your needs …. So that the audience isn’t sat there thinking “Why doesn’t the idiot just use a pen and paper”. Notability is the only app for me that can do that… AND keep the note at the end. Like a Turing Test for note-taking: “When the ease of the app is such that you don’t miss pen and paper, then it has arrived”.