What is Agenda REALLY for?

usecase

#1

To be clear: I’m getting on really well with Agenda, I’m finding the functionality useful and like lots of the planned features and quite a few of the suggestions from users.

But I’ve also been thinking back to various other apps I’ve tried for task management, notetaking and drafting text over the years, on Mac and on iOS. Some I dropped because after a burst of enthusiasm they didn’t work for me, others because they didn’t have some features I really needed.

And some because they just became a mess - both in terms of the app itself with feature bloat and too many options, but perhaps more importantly I couldn’t find the notes I wanted easily and I couldn’t get a clear overview of my notes, I felt bogged down in stuff, overwhelmed with no clear path through it.

I think Agenda is looking really promising - I’ve even subscribed. But when I read all the suggestions for features I fear it may suffer from bloat in the future, trying to do too many things and please too many people.

I’ve not got enough notes yet to have a real feel for how Agenda will help me have an overview - without feeling overwhelmed. But the ‘recently edited notes’ and ‘related notes’ are encouraging.

I’m reminded of early days on the Things forum - but the difference is that the developers there seemed have a really clear vision of what they wanted to achieve, and didn’t get sidetracked by adding features that took them away from that aim.

A bit of a ramble, but my point is this: I’m curious about the developers’ vision for Agenda - what are the fundamental functions of the app in their minds? What are the non-negotiable features?

This would help me think about how I may use the app and give more useful feedback.

Thanks for your time!


#2

+1 for this.

If you want evernote, just use evernote. Don’t try and ruin it for those of us who don’t want evernote.


#3

My current use is more akin to a canvas to sketch, plan, and track my thoughts and actions.

So in that regard an Evernote clone, where I can dump everything and the kitchen sink, would indeed be a bit of overkill.


#4

I’m similar to you.

I use projects as sort of an area of responsibility. Any time someone asks me for something, I create a new note documenting what they want and how I plan to attack it. I’ll set the date and make sure On the agenda is ticked. Once it’s done, I remove the on the agenda and I’m GTG.

Now, I have CYA\documentation of what was done. I’ve tried other apps and Agenda is the first to really click with how I work. :+1:

Just give me some extra search filters that I can pin, maybe some syntax highlight for SQL or Python and what not and that would cover 90% of what I need.


#5

I’m loving Agenda so far for meeting notes and other date-centric stuff.
I’m also still a big fan Evernote for idea development, more sprawling documents, and capturing key attachments.

My dream would be a highly focused Agenda interface that allows Evernote syncing so I have easy single repository when searching my history. IME, integrations like this allow apps maintain their single purpose while still fitting into larger workflows.


#6

I agree, I for one do not want to have an evernote clone. This is my first day with the software, wow am I in love so far.


#7

My original comment wasn’t related to Evernote, although it seems to have struch a chord! (I’ve hardly used Evernote). I was thinking of my experience with other notetaking apps where they seemed great at first, but then as I had more notes I struggled to find ones I knew existed, and therefore found it difficult to get an overview of a project (ie a collection of related notes).


#8

I use Evernote all the time for storing and referring to research, web clippings and so on. The software is perfectly functional for that, and has a decent iOS app.

For me, what I like about Agenda is the date-centric approach — being able to put notes into focus on the Agenda. Really, though, you could do that with something like Bear by having an #Agenda tag, so it needs to offer a little more than that… like being able to order by date, so it offers a hint of organizer/productivity software on top of simple note-taking.

The approach of locating notes in time (plus the beautiful way it looks) are the main pluses of Agenda for me at the moment.


#9

As I just mentioned in this other Talk thread, my plan is to write up an article on how Agenda came about from some workflows that kind of grew over time. Initially as I was managing a team within a corporate environment, but slowly for more and more use cases as I found the date centric approach so useful. What I’ll also show is that indeed, it all grew from using a few simple structures (a #Next tag instead of #Agenda in fact) in a barebones note taking app (Simplenote, not Bear actually). So not fare from the truth at all. It’s also why we want to keep things simple and focused.


#10

Something I forgot to mention that I really like about Agenda’s approach is the way in which you can have a vertical list of notes all showing in the same view. I can’t think of any other note app that does that, and it’s super-useful.


#11

I was at first surprised by all the references to Evernote in this thread. But I have to keep reminding myself that Agenda advertizes itself as a new take on notes rather than on to-dos. As soon as I opened it up for the first time, it became a replacement for OmniFocus (which I bought when it first came out, and upgraded when it went to Version 2, but can’t bring myself to use consistently for more than a week at a time) in my mind, and that’s basically how I’ve been using it. While being aware that that’s not really its genre, the link with the calendar means that that’s how it’s likely to be used, it seems to me.

Of course, users can use whatever combinations of apps they like in whatever way they like, but guidance as to typical use cases would be appreciated. (What, if anything, is Agenda designed to replace?) Scenarios I can envisage are:

  1. Add Agenda to your list of regularly used applications, i.e. use it alongside a notes app (Notes, Simplenote, Bear, Evernote…), a calendar app (Calendar, BusyCal, Fantastical…), and a task manager (OmniFocus, Things…). In this scenario, what kinds of things would Agenda take over from which of the other applications? Should it best be viewed as a kind of calendar adjunct, or as something else?

  2. Use Agenda in place of a notes application and alongside a task manager and calendar. In this scenario, Agenda needs to be robust enough to handle many thousands of notes in various categories and have good browsing and search functionality. Users probably need some guidance in the best ways to link it up with their calendar application.

  3. Use Agenda in place of a task manager. (As alluded to above, this is the most obvious scenario to me.) In this scenario, the fact that Agenda doesn’t look like OmniFocus is no doubt deliberate. Agenda is a more “friendly” or a “lighter” competitor. But, arguably, it still needs to offer much of the core functionality of OmniFocus. It seems to me that one important criterion for a task manager is that it’s possible to see an overview of everything in one laptop screen. Obviously, a lot of details won’t be visible, but I dislike having to scroll up and down just to get an overview. That’s why I think it needs an extra layer of hierarchy in the sidebar: The current setup of Categories and Projects mean that every new Project takes me further away from that goal, so I’ve started setting up a Miscellaneous project in each Category that houses what should really be separate Projects. Failing that, it needs a Focus/Hoist command, so that users can look at one Category/Area only with a single command (rather than going to every other Category/Area and clicking Hide).
    Leveraging categories

  4. Use Agenda as a combined notes application and task manager for a specific area of your life, keeping your notes application and task manager for everything else. A teacher might want to organize teaching notes in Agenda; a university professor might want to use it to manage research schedules; someone working in a business might want to manage meetings or one core project in Agenda; and so on. I’m not sure how realistic this scenario is, because I think that having experienced the fine integration with your calendar you would want it in every area of your life. That might lead to an argument for document-based software (like TaskPaper), one for each project or perhaps one for each area of your life.

I know that developers don’t want to be or appear arrogant and therefore tend to avoid being too prescriptive with how people use their software. Thanks to that attitude, innovative uses such as


or

emerge. On the other hand, developers of innovative apps such as Agenda have spent countless hours of deep thought coming up with solutions to the real issues that people face in their daily lives with all the information- and time-related issues that life throws our way. I for one am eager to be educated by them.

Sorry for the excessively long message!


#12

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and kind words, we would like to indeed write a number of show and tell articles in this section, stay tuned!


#13

I enjoy using Agenda, and have been trying to make it part of as many projects as I can. I acknowledge — as is implied throughout this thread — that Agenda does have a “neither fish nor fowl” feel to it. It is like a diary, but not really, and it isn’t a replacement for a full-blown note-taker. So I agree that providing some guidance for new and would-be users could be beneficial to your sales.

The two aspects of Agenda that so far appeal most to me:

  1. The timeline view, in which you can scroll through related notes as if they are one long document.

  2. The robustness of the notes you can take with Agenda, adding lists, headings, checklists, quotes, etc…

Those two are related, of course, because without number 2, number 1 would be less valuable. So, for me, any project that would benefit from those two aspects are what I’m putting into Agenda. It’s a surprisingly varied group of “projects."


#14

A post was split to a new topic: Using Agenda in Clinical Trials


#15

In my case, it is really scenario 2 where it will shine for me once it gets better at a few things. But I don’t see it as attacking Evernote/OneNote/Bear directly. Instead, I find it makes for a better journal-style notebook, versus a notebook that’s an “organized” jumble of things that I will want to refer to later. So if you are more likely to record work in something like Day One, than Evernote, Agenda will probably appeal to you.

You comment about using it in place of OmniFocus, which makes me think that maybe seeing how it works in a Bullet Journal-ish kind of way might help you out?


#16

Yes — item 1 you mention (being able to scroll through notes and see them all in a page) is a definite plus for me, and somethingn I haven’t seen anywhere else.


#19

Interesting thoughts. Yes, the bullet journal thing might be a good way for me to go, perhaps letting OmniFocus just be OmniFocus. I used to use Day One, but decided reluctantly to leave it behind when it moved to a subscription model, so a replacement for that is most welcome.


#20

Nice feedbacks. On my part, I use Agenda alongside Omnifocus. I prefer to separate my notes from my task manager app. I write my drafts, plans, or extra details on Agenda. And the finalized and structured tasks on my Task Manager. Before, I tend to just dump everything in Omnifocus and I get overwhelmed with the extra details. I also do not want to mix my notes with all tasks because I might overlook them. With Agenda, life is much more simpler now that before.

I have tried to use Omnioutliner with Omnifocus but there’s a missing link that’s not being adressed. I’ve used Bear Notes also (love the UI and features) but it’s not calendar-based and I am not really into subscription-based app.


#21

Personnally I wanted to split task management / meetings notes & working notes / following up with other people.

So it leads to

  • Omnifocus : task management with references
  • Ulysses : preparation notes and formal meetings notes, i.e. everything that can be exported at some moment
  • Agenda : following up with people on différent subjects.

Each part is link to each other because in Omnifocus tasks I may have a reminder to follow up with somebody, and when doing so I will add the result to Agenda.
Once the project is finished, I’ll export it as Markdown from Agenda to Ulysses for references.

There are some more complex details, but here is the big picture.


#22

The way I’m moving is to treat Agenda as a replacement to Notes and to use it alongside Things. My note-taking needs are fairly straightforward – except that I need to move across them in an organised way that isn’t possible in Notes. I even think Agenda can be suitable for long-term note storage. In other words: my note-reading needs are more complex than my note-taking needs. Agenda seems to be solving this problem for me.

What I miss now is an “Inbox” where I can just dump notes, coming back to them to organise later; the virtue here is as with Things, simply being able to get something down, and then worrying that it’s in the right category and project later on. Do please give us an Inbox! :smiley:

S.