On Organizing Content, in Surfulater-NextGen

If you’ve read my earlier posts about Surfulater-NextGen (SNG) you’ll know I’m moving to using Tags as the way to categorize and organize content.

Surfulater’s Folders work pretty well and the ability to have an article in many folders at once is a great feature, which is not often seen. But it also has Tags, which means you have two quite different ways to handle organizing and locating content. And the Tags aren’t hierarchical! Finally putting an article into multiple folders is a little cumbersome.

To simplify and enhance content organization SNG uses Tags exclusively, albeit greatly enhanced from what you currently have. Tags can be nested, letting you use a neatly structured tags hierarchy or tags tree. And you can use as many levels as you want.

Tags Tree

Articles can have as many tags as you want. And Tags aren’t restricted to just a single word, as they are in some systems.

Article Tags
Tags in an article

You enter new tags in the Add Tags field.

The Auto-suggest dropdown list makes it easy to add the tags you want, including adding multiple tags at once and removing existing tags.

Tags Auto-suggest dropdown

If a tag doesn’t exist, click on Create to add it.

Create a new Tag

In this example I want to add a tag named XBMC. The Tags tree lets you select the parent Tag for this new tag. A given tag can be added to as many tree branches as you want.

This should give you a good overview of some of the Tags capabilities in SNG. I’ll continue with more on Tags in the next blog post.

Clearly I’ve been remiss in not posting on the blog in way too long, likely a record for me. Part of the reason is that I’ve simply had my head down working hard on SNG. I’m working on a lot of minutia and haven’t felt that I’ve had a lot to say, but in fact there is.  I’ve already got the next post in my head, and there is quite a bit I can’t write about I just need to force myself to do.

All the best,

15 Replies to “On Organizing Content, in Surfulater-NextGen”

  1. Neville, greetings from Canada!

    I am pleased to your latest blog installment on Surfulater ~ the Next Generation. Nice approach to tags.

    I understand not having folders, and am happy with tags. However, I know from my Evernote database, which has more than 7,000 notes, that the tag list gets very, very long, and at times becomes unwieldy. EN uses notebooks to manage that issue. It’s only partly successful because only two levels of notebooks allowed. As an upshot of that, I try workarounds, which usually mean more tags in an already long list. Prefixes in front of tags help to categories them, for example:
    …Master Task List
    A1 Income
    A2 Personal
    A3 Writing

    I think, as I’ve written before, that EN has shown itself able to clip all kinds of information reasonably well, and to synchronize well across platforms. However, EN is weak in terms of actually managing that information, an area where I think you and Surfulater excel. For example, EN does not have a highlighting feature. Its capture of metadata is so limited as to be almost non-existent. The one strong point it has, is that several windows can be open at the same time, which helps in getting an overview, and in writing, when information is being pulled from various notes.

    Right now, I’m excited about SNG. If you need beta testers, or alpha testers, please count me in.


    1. Hi Daly,
      SNG continues with the use of Knowledge Bases to help organize information, however they are enhanced and deliver even more functionality. This includes the ability to have any KB open in as many Tabs as you want, so that you can easily work on different areas of content within a KB at the same time. This should address your EN point re. multiple windows.

      I’m also including some methods over and above tags to help organize content.

      More on all of this in future blog posts.


      1. Neville, just to clarify, will it be possible to have multiple windows open at the same time? In other words, can I be writing in one window while two or three other windows of information related to what I am writing are open simultaneously, so that I can write in the one window and scan information in the others at the same time?

        For serious writing this ability is essential. When you describe the tab system I wonder if you’re meaning many tabs, but only having one tab’s window open at a time.

        Evernote allows multiple open windows, so although it’s limited in management of information, it’s writer-friendly. My hope is that Surfulater NG will be both writer friendly and strong in information management (the current version of Surfulater is great in terms of managing information).

        I’ll be glad to test any preliminary versions of Surfulater NG.

        Thanks for all your work.


        1. Hi Daly,
          Thanks for the clarification. I did think you meant a KB open in multiple tabs. One way to do this would be to enable a tab to toggle between being a pop-up window and a tab. In the pop-up-window state it would be visible as long as it wasn’t behind another pop-up window.


          1. Neville, I think the option of having a tab being able to be toggled so it opens a new window is ideal. The value of multiple open windows, though, cannot be overstated for when writing and having to refer to, or compare side by side a number of documents.


  2. Hi Neville

    great to see that the next generation of surfulater is coming along. I think that making it cloud accessible is the correct direction as I’m currently having big problems keeping a single true knowledgebase up to date between work and home computers. One thing I am interested in is whether you’ll be able to have tags within a document, rather than restricting tags only up at the document level.A long clipping may have multiple sections necessitating multiple tags, but no other product on the market allows you to tag within a note.

    1. Hi Taras,
      I agree it would be very useful to allow tags to be embedded within article content and this is a feature I plan to try and add. It does entail a small performance hit, but I think it’s worth it.

      And +1 for Cloud.


  3. Hi Neville,

    Glad to hear that SNG is coming along. As always, we all probably need it yesterday. Do you have any timeframe for release?

    Re tags.
    1. It’d be nice to be able to add them by highlighting a word or phrase, right-clicking and “Add (this) as a tag” or something similar.
    2. It’d be nice to be able to see added tags in temporal order.
    3. It’d be great to have some interaction between SNG and Zotero’s tags. I have no idea what this means practically, but since I use Zotero to organise journal papers and SUL (at present) and hopefully SNG to organise other material, it’ be great to be able to jump between the two. Somehow!

    1. Hi Nick,
      I don’t have a timeframe for release yet.

      Re. Tags.
      1. Planned
      2. Why?
      3. I don’t know anything worth commenting on re. Zotero. I can look at at some point after release.


  4. Neville
    You said on…September 11, 2013 at 5:31 pm
    …I don’t have a timeframe for release yet.

    Today is November 22, 2013… do you have any timeframe for release yet?
    Tony M

  5. Hi Tony,
    I working towards an alpha release which should be available early in the new year. It is going pretty well and looking good.

    – Neville

  6. Looking forward to the release as I have been following your decision to change things up over the last 2 years. I really liked the desktop app and the folder tree/etc. but I can see the potential for the tags to work just as well or better in their own way. Hope everything continues moving along for you and that the update is well received.

  7. Hello,

    I don’t own Surfulater, but have been watching it for a good while. I’ve just been hanging around the break room here listening to the scuttlebutt and thought I might add some thoughts to the mix.

    Method is 9/10’s of success. Millions of people have already been “trained” to use embedded tags due to the wiki craze. If SNG incorporated a similar method of the (double-open-bracket) blah, blah, blah… (double-closed-bracket) inline SNG would be immediately available to the masses and the masses would be ready to hit the ground running with SNG!

    As I said, I have been “playing around” with Surfulater for years and have recently been considering forking over the $80, but as SNG is coming with the new paradigm shift I have been gun-shy. Frankly, I do not/can not see why I should spend this type of cash when my Tiddlywiki and custom tags already does what I need? Please, I am not criticizing Surfulater, per se. I have to deal with a small organic brain imbalance which really impairs my multi-matrix comparison, i.e., if I have to mentally sift more than three to four choices I become very confused very quick. Trying to compare S, EN, ON, etc. becomes overwhelming. So, in light of what I said about “why” I should license Surfulater, I would be very grateful for any *specific* bullets on why my Tiddlywiki would be anemic as compared to Surfulater. Feel free to post as many comments as you would like or just make a quick bulleted list.

    Thank you for your assistance.

Comments are closed.