Someone on the discord suggested I transfer my post here with the comment,
You may want to copypaste your experiences on the forum, so they aren’t buried on discord. I expect the devs are looking for onboarding stories.
I’m a brand new user. I’m complaining about things that bother me. My intent is for it to be constructive. Sometimes it’s worthwhile to hear from someone who’s never worked with your product before. I don’t know where to write all this so I’m just putting it here. Sorry if it’s the wrong place (it will get buried in discord history soon enough)
The start was rough because RemNote will not function in Firefox v78. Infinite load time for Documents or the Walkthrough. The status bar says
Loading… (1 loaded) 100%
But nothing ever shows. Fortunately, Opera doesn’t have the issue.
The very first place I went is the Getting started section.
Getting Started > RemNote in 5 Minutes > Section 3:
Above, we see two types of Rem:: :::
This really put me off. YOU see two types of Rem. A new user doesn’t know what to look for. Why not just tell us what differentiates the two types? Nowhere in this page does it mention that the difference is from the capitalization of the Rem.
My first guess wondered if the difference was 2 or 3 colons because that’s what shows after your instruction, :: or :::. But I couldn’t find a triple-colon in the examples.
Was it because you used a parenthesis or a pipe character???
My next guess was to manually bold or italicize the word.
I figured it out. But I had to go through the live demo first to do so. By then it was much more than 5 minutes before I could learn this fundamental formatting quirk.
Suggestion: Be diligent about clear instruction for new users. For this issue, all you have to do is add something like the following to your guide,
Upper case creates a definition. RemNote will automatically bold definitions. Lower case creates a description. RemNote will automatically italicize descriptions.
Speaking of these differences, I can’t seem to find a style guide that explains all the weird formatting. What’s up with all the pipe characters I see everywhere? It’s just weird visual clutter to a new user unless you tell us what the point of it is. I’m sure I’ll figure it out by repetitive association later on, but I’m trying to get a function overview so I can dive in quickly. Give us a Getting Started section that efficiently lays out the reasons why everything looks so weird in RemNote.
It’s weird that clicking the folders in the table of contents does nothing. It should do something useful. I expected a page to show with links to the content, maybe with some spoilers of the content. At the very least, a click should fold the section so we can focus on other sections better if we want.
It’s also weird that we can’t click the breadcumbs at the top of the page. Too many impotent features.
It sucks that the Ctrl-F dialog that pops us does NOT find or highlight the word we type in on the page we’re viewing. Going against common convention is a bad plan.
It’s seems like a poor choice to not give any indication whatsoever that a folded section has information hidden underneath it. The only way to know your missing something is if the mouse pointer hovers over it and the fold triangle appears.
The pop-ups on links…
Some of them show the Rem answer. That’s cool, but many don’t! It just redundantly says the same thing as what my mouse pointer is on. Lame use of feature real estate. It does appear to show a breadcrumb. But then they don’t seem to have any relation to the table of contents, so how do I find them? Is it a breadcrumb? And then, the most annoying thing is that we can’t interact with the pop-up. I can’t click it to go to the location of this information. So annoying! Doubly annoying is that we can’t even click the friggin link! I guess it’s not a link. But to use the same formatting as hyperlinks – which everyone who has used on webpages for the last 20 years and has associated to hyperlinks – is a downright insane design choice.
I give up. Can’t deal with being blocked by so many weird UI choices. It’s not worth the effort to have to rewire so much of what we know of UI for one app.
In truth, this is the third hopeful time I’ve opened up RemNote. Every few months I forget and then give it another chance because I resonate with the concept and philosophy that seems to drive the app. I really want a flexible spaced repetition tool like this. And it really seems like the developer’s hearts are in the right place. There’s just so many off-putting UI issues that whenever I try, I get notably angry at the design choices and I swear off using RemNote because it’s just not worth the cumbersome frustration. It’s downright painful to make this choice because I can tell there are so many thoughtful and powerful features built into this. Features that I want! But everything is obfuscated by numerous violations of common UI comprehension.
Maybe I’ll come back in a year and discover that someone has written a front-end plugin that offers an intuitive experience similar to the rest of the online world.