Anytype — Interesting app concept for PKM and teamwork

Focus on locality, privacy, encryption, open source, totally free :0) Serverless. Secure direct connection between program users (for teamwork).

Anytype.io — Just the other day we have changed their landingpage. I liked the previous one better, it conveyed the idea of the application better.

There is a demo video from 01/30/2020, gives some idea of the application — Anytype demo — alpha version - YouTube

I think they managed to add a lot in a year and a half. Since the beginning of this year, in a closed alpha, it has been massively tested by users.

The most interesting thing happened in September. They switched to a model somewhat similar to Fibery: types, relations, sets. And on top of that is a suite of apps that expands freely.

You can read more on their blog — Our new metaphor for Anytype

The functionality of teamwork has already been announced and is working. But it is not yet clear what it will be in the final form.

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I’ve been an alpha tester of Anytype for about a year now, and am also currently consulting with them. So I’m glad you bring it up. I think in the long-term their goals overlap with Fibery, but for a while yet it is in practice more of a personally-focused tool. That said, I think their Types, Relationships, Sets (i.e. “views”/collections) approach has some interesting implications and benefits that may be worth evaluating and learning from (both what works, and what doesn’t).

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I too have tried Anytype. They seem to have boiled everything down to objects and relations.
This has a simplicity which is appealing, but it also seems almost dogmatic in its universal application. For instance, a person object doesn’t just have a birthday, it has a date of birth relation to a date object.
For the more simple object properties, this seems to me to be an unnecessary contrivance.
Personally, I like the distinction between inherent properties of an object (what you might think of as simple fields of an entity in Fibery) and relationships, which are connections between objects (or entities).
If a person has a d.o.b. relation to the 4th May 1985, does that mean that the 4th May 1985 has a ‘was born on’ relation to the person (and maybe other relations to other objects)?
What about a simple integer property, e.g estimated task duration. In Fibery, this is just a number field, but Anytype would seem to treat this as a relation to an integer number object :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

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I agree wholeheartedly with your concerns! Remains to be seen whether they can figure out a way to make this tremendous flexibility actually A: intuitive to use and B: distinctive/advantageous enough in the end-result capabilities, to justify the greater complexity/lack of structure to guide users. I think more flexibility is needed, beyond even that provided by Fibery, but that does not necessarily mean “total” flexibility (i.e. everything is the same type of primitive with the same options/functions). Several companies are somewhat going that way, Remnote actually is something of an example too (“everything is a Rem”), just as Roam (“everything is a block”). And I have yet to see it made truly intuitive for the average person. Knowledge/DB/coding enthusiasts love it though. :grin:

Totally agree with you @Chr1sG on the object-relation dogmatism. Despite the “simple” concept, it is anything but simple to build the data structures and apps you have in mind. And yes, a date is an attribute, not a relation IMHO.

With Fibery, I was able to wrap my brains around the concept in minutes, and it took me another few minutes to build the first functional core app for my needs.

Now I have a fully working project/kanban app in Fibery that was super quick and intuitive to set up.

With Anytype, whenever I start something, I never manage to end up with the app I had in mind.

The only killer feature for me is that data is local-first and encrypted.

For now, I stick with Obsidian for documents and Fibery for planning, project tracking, and daily kanban. A great combination for me.

But I am happy to give them some more time to make the Anytype UI more intuitive to use.

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They are still in alpha, which in itself means that this is not the final look of the app.

In any case, they are interesting for their concept and architecture. And they did not abandon the development of the application, despite the “long distance”. So it’s worth watching them.

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I spent an hour in AnyType and here are my thoughts:

  1. It’s almost not possible to build process management tool inside. There are no Views (Board, etc) and you have only Objects. I imagine they will add Views later, but so far it’s not possible.

  2. I think they “stretched everything is an object” concept too far. For example, Relation is an object itself. It’s not intuitive. It may be so under the hood, but it confuses me… I might want to create different Type of Relation. Is it possible? Unclear…

so meta…

  1. There are no restrictions yet, and it leads to weird things. You can assign Book to a Task…

  1. There is a concept of Type, but surprisingly there is no concept of Field. It makes Type design a very complex cognitive task. I have deep experience in all no-code concepts, but I struggled to build a new Type to handle Invoices let’s say. You have to think with Templates, but even in a template there are no Fields. It’s very hard to capture Numerical data and Dates are objects? Insane… Templates idea is quite good BTW, the problem is in execution.

  2. Maybe as a personal life-organizer it works better, I didn’t tried to use it this way. There are many ready-to-use objects, like Book, Article, etc, so it might be attractive to keep everything here, but I am not that kind of person…

  3. I do like the idea of a distributive and fully controlled system, but in its current state I don’t like the execution based on items above. They should find the balance between internal complexity and UI. Now you have an access to the guts of the system. Blocks editor is also good though :slight_smile:

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I’ve discovered that you can add Fields via Relations!!! Crazy…

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Indeed, the whole ‘everything is an object’ gets too crazy for my tiny brain.
So, a relation between two objects is an object, and an object type is an object.
Which means if you want to create a relation between a task and an assignee, you’re linking two objects, each of a specific type (=object), using a relation (=object) of a particular type (=object)
:exploding_head:

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Well I know that adding attributes to relations is one of the more popular requests for Fibery, so in that instance I’ll give Anytype thumbs up!

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This is not the case Chris, they just hide usual fields under Relation. So it is not a relation attribute in fact.

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Ah, sorry I see what you meant.
It’s a while since I played with Anytype, so I’ve forgotten the UI.

It is necessary to look at how it is implemented at the database level. The Graph database assumes that “relationships are first class entities”.

It is possible that the current UI implementation is still incomplete. Therefore, it simply does not work correctly.

And it’s better to look not now, but somewhere in six months :laughing:

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Yes, this is more an issue of terminology than anything, I think. I have told them that using “Relation” here is not ideal and causes confusion. :man_shrugging:

Yes, this is exactly right. The “database” features (Relations, Sets, Types, etc.) were only added a few months ago, so there is still a lot of work to do to make it intuitive and easy to use. Lots of work is happening internally on this stuff.