Home / GitHub Page

Practical Use of Tags

I have discovered the difference between tag searches and keyword searches. In both, you type 3 or 4 words but end up with very different results. I use Joplin as primary “note-taker” but still have my old notes in Evernote (legacy) for those time I cannot find it in Joplin. Joplin has everything in Evernote has and more. I have tried many things but, with 11,145 notes accumulated over more than 5 years, find things much easier to find in Evernote. The question that has been bugging me is why are tags so much better, for which I have never had a good reply. Over multiple searches comparing the two, I found the following.

Tag searches

With a tag, you are grouping similar things. One tag will not help much as there can be over a thousand notes with this tag. Use 3 or 4 tags together (with a logical AND function) and you can end up with a quite small number of notes and they are all very, very similar. I not only find the note I was looking for but also other notes that could be helpful too. You discover a gold mine of stuff you may have forgotten about. Tagging is about giving a text a “personal” context. Personal means “for me it means this.” Tags allow you to structure a search in the way you think. The tagging makes finding things for me it is intuitive. Brilliant (whoever thought of it).

Joplin text search

Joplin has a fast text search. With 3 or 4 words you end up with a statistical result and will return a long list of many many notes. What you have is a statistical distribution of the words in each not. Many notes will be excluded because words are misspelt one of the other reasons listed in my first post. The words don’t even need to be together. The whole text is taken as one random sample of words without any context. I am sure this is a statistical valid search but does not understand the words in the context the way I do. This means that with Joplin there are a lot of hits and misses. Things come to the top of the list that are 5 years old: a not very likely result.

ONE FINAL point:

It is highly probable the text I am thinking of is one of the texts that I have recently modified. After all, you are working you need to pull up the same stuff over and over again. So why would the results in Joplin not be ordered so the most recent statistical hits are at the top?

I congratulate the developer(s) on creating Joplin but finding things in it is still too hard.

It’s hard to find the right note if you have a hundred or more notes, and I suppose it is almost impossible if you have thousand of them.
Let us search in the notebook or in the tag scope, or, as last resort, provide more than one directory for storing notebooks - not very good, but better than a garbage bin.

Hi, all. I will include here some thoughts since I have played a bit with tags in Joplin.

  1. Tags should always be visible in Joplin (see this). However, in the center panel (note titles), I would suggest an extra line for tags, like todoist does, with smaller font.
  2. Tags could be searchable, maybe with a tags: prefix. More later.
  3. Searchable tags could accept special characters (@, _, &, etc)
  4. Tags could be part of the meta-data of the notes
  5. Saved searches could be a really good mechanism involving tags
  6. Suggestion of tag operations:
    • tags:tag1,tag2,tag3: presents results for notes with all those tags at same time
    • tags:tag1,+tag2,+tag3: presents results for all notes with one of the tags
    • tags:tag1,-tag2,tag3: presents all notes with tag1 AND tag3, except to the ones tagged also with tag2.
    • tags:tag1,-tag2,+tag3: presents all notes with tag1 OR tag3, except to the ones tagged also with tag2.
  7. Tags with special chars could make use of delimiters if needed, e.g. tags:"this tag" or tags:"-that"
  8. Exact matches are mandatory for tags search. tags:"this is" and tags:"this is not" should not return fuzzy results
3 Likes

Improved work efficiency is a major application of note apps and to-do apps like Joplin. “Getting Things Done” (GTD) is a vastly popular method of task management for that purpose. But, it appears that Joplin cannot be used for GTD because Joplin cannot sort tags.

In GTD, the ability to sort tags is vital to track similar tasks (my next action) in various project categories (work, finance, relationships) across completion time horizons (day, week, month, 1-year, 5-years, or someday). It is vital list the “next action” from every category so that you know what you should be working on today, next week, next year.

“laurent Sep '19 – The main issue is to create a UI that works well for tags. Perhaps we should take inspiration from existing apps. Do you have any examples of apps that handle tags well?”

Good explanations of tag UI’s are given here by Evernote and by Todoist (which calls them labels)

If anyone has a GTD setup in Joplin that you would like to share, I would find it very helpful.

That said, Joplin is a great product. Thank you.