22 // A First Look at Anytype
There are hundreds of apps in the tools for thought category. Every now and then I take the time to check out intriguing ones. I previously published first looks at Thunk and Supernotes.
Writing about them in comparison to Formable doesn’t only give you a better idea of how the competition differs, but also forces me to reflect on them in a different way.
This week I’m writing about my first experience with Anytype, “Tools for thought, freedom and trust”. I like that line.
The ideas behind it seem super similar to Formable’s. It aims to
replace several tools with one
everything is an object (what Formable calls blocks)
Anytype is a personal knowledge base, a digital brain that allows you to capture, describe, and connect information. You can use Anytype to create tasks, notes, ideas, documents, workflows, and more, and organize them any way you want. Future versions will allow you to share your work and safely collaborate with others.
Just like Formable.
(ok, data on Anytype is encrypted, on Formable it isn’t, and their product is 100x more polished, two points for them)
To get an account, one currently has to sign up for a demo.
doc.anytype.io offers a look into the app too.
Ok, so I’ve seen that demo, now let’s download the mac app
The onboarding is a bit rough, but that can easily be excused during their alpha program. I for example almost didn’t write down my keychain phrase because it was blurred and I pressed a skip button. Luckily you can get it in the app’s settings.
Yes, data on Anytype is encrypted (they use IPFS 💯).
Getting to know their data model does have a bit of a learning curve. Took me a couple of minutes to figure out.
Unlike Formable’s current version, the graph—or at least their current UI—kind of follows a schema, to make navigating it easier.
Everything has a type. That helps with the UI. Some of the initial types are contact, task, bug, and diary entry. You can also add your own, with custom relations.
When you then view a collection of a certain type’s objects, Anytype can suggest you which of the objects’ relations to show.
They currently offer a list, grid, and gallery view.
I like how the list view shows relations inline.
Filtering and sorting are what you’d expect.
To look at a collection of objects, you have to create what’s called a set.
Now, this is where I’m a little disappointed. A set can only contain objects of one type if I get that correctly.
That would of course add its own complexities, but it would be nice to be able to view your diary entries and your meeting notes in one list, as an example. You could of course link meeting notes to diary entries, and for most use cases this limitation probably makes using the app easier. I still think that the underlying graph might be limited by this system though.
I like Anytype’s model:
Many tools in one
Everything being an object, and relation names make it super powerful
It ticks a lot of boxes like sporting encrypted P2P- and free cloud backups
With some familiarity of the data structure, it’s quite straight forward to use
I’d appreciate if you could share this article with one person that might find it interesting
Thanks for reading
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