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When it comes to organizing items for convenience, should it be files, bookmarks or any other kind of item, there seems to be only two ways to go:

folders

Example:

  • Media Tools
    • Image editors
    • Sound editors
  • Tech stuff
    • Computer stuff
    • Mobile stuff

The problem being that items can belong in several places (a mobile image editor app can go under Tools > Image editors or under Tech > Mobile)

tags

Media Tools Image editors Sound editors Tech stuff Computer stuff Mobile stuff

The problem being that this is not convenient to browse when you have a lot of tags of different kind, and that you can't see the hierarchy between for example Media Tools and Image editors.

However, I can think of a way to combine the best of both worlds: hierarchical tags. It enables to navigate a tree in an intuitive way, however the tree levels are tags, so you can find what you're looking for displayed under several folders-tags. It also enables to conceptualize different kind of tags, like a very simple database model, e.g. for language, license, etc.

Example:

  • Media Tools
    • Image editors
      • [that mobile img editor app]
    • Sound editors
  • Tech stuff
    • Computer stuff
    • Mobile stuff
      • [that same mobile img editor app]

I have been looking for a very long time for a bookmarks manager that has this feature and I never found it. I tried Pocket, Pinboard, Wallabag, and others.

The result for "hierarchical tags" or "tag tree" doesn't provide any evidence that this feature exist anywhere in bookmarks manager or even in software in general. Surprise me...

3 Answers 3

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there seems to be only two ways to go

There is a third way: go both. Modern knowledge systems have multiple ways to model relations.

I'll describe two of them, but there are much more.

RemNote

RemNote have both folders AND tags. In RemNote tags can also be tagged, providing inheritance. This way, you can model two separate relations.

you can't see the hierarchy between for example Media Tools and Image editors

You can satisfy this requirement by putting tags hierarchy into a separate folder. So, you'd have this structure:

* Software pieces
** GIMP #Image editors
** Inkscape #Image editors
** Audacity #Sound editors #Computer stuff
** ...
* Software categories
** Media Tools
*** Image editors #Media Tools
*** Sound editors #Media Tools
** Tech stuff
*** Computer stuff #Tech stuff
...

# is RemNote's shortcut for tags

RemNote also provides two more ways to relate one thing to another: properties and mentions (links).

There are some disadvantages:

  1. As of know, you cannot see the whole hierarchy of tags AND tagged items on the same page. You can either see the list of items tagged directly, and go down into each one, or see the list of all tagged items (including inherited), but without intermediate hierarchies. I think this could be worked around with portals and templates, but this is another question.

  2. It's not specifically designed for bookmarks. Adding a bookmark from a browser requires more steps than just pressing a button.

    Personally, I use both RemNote and a bookmark manager. The bookmark manager is just a temporary inbox for unread and maybe useful links with poor classification. Periodically, I triage them: check out what it actually is, whether it's useful for me, and if it is, move it to RemNote, assign tags and so on.

Notion

Another knowledge tool, Notion, can also fit. Here you'd have the same parallel hierarchies as above, but in different terms:

  • Software pieces and Software categories are databases, not folders
  • Each of them has parent-child relation inside, for hierarchies
  • Software pieces have many-to-many relation with software categories

Notion has folders too, but they wouldn't help in this case.

The major differences with RemNote are:

  • Models in Notion are more formal and strict than in RemNote. Comparing to classic bookmark managers, Notion is closer

  • Usability of classic database table UI in Notion is better

  • This requirement

    you can't see the hierarchy between for example Media Tools and Image editors

    could only be satisfied in a table view. From a single item, you can't see all its ancestors or descendants

  • There is no inheritance. So, if something is tagged with Computer stuff, it doesn't make it automatically tagged with Tech stuff

  • You can use Notion Clipper browser extension to add links directly into Software pieces database. Just like a bookmark manager

  • Notion is an online tool, while RemNote could be used offline

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  • Welcome to our community Basil! Thank you for writing such an excellent answer. So that people can vote on individual recommendations, our community generally prefers one recommendation per answer. Do you think it would be possible to separate your single answer into two answers, one for each recommendation? Or do you think it would diminish the quality of your answer(s)? Thanks, and again, welcome! Commented Jun 18 at 8:55
  • I think I have one recommendation: modern knowledge system. These two are just examples. But if you insist, I can separate them Commented Jun 18 at 12:18
  • I'm personally good either way. I think your answer is quite helpful as is or as 2 separate posts. I see advantages each way. Whatever you prefer works for me, personally. Of course, I can't speak for others! You do get 2 upvotes from me if you split it up, as opposed to the one you have right now. ;) But seriously, either way has it's benefits, so I'll leave it up to you unless there is an outpouring of complaints (which is unlikely). Commented Jun 19 at 4:19
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TiddlyWiki is a multi-use database that can be used among other things as a personal notebook, wiki, database, note taking etc.

It can store arbitrary structured data with custom fields, and at its base has a tag system that can be used hierarchically. While tags are not hierarchical by nature, you can tags with other tags effectively building a hierarchy of sorts.

The Table of Contents macro can then create a recursively expandable tree of contents showing the tree given a specified root.

It can work as a single file flat database contained in a single HTML file, you can open on any modern browser, including mobile, or can be installed and run as a Node.js server application.

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TreeTag is a custom outliner like application for Windows, Android and Linux that is specifically designed to automatically organize data nodes into trees based on custom field data.

It can store arbitrary data into definable custom fields, and may be adapted as a bookmark manager as well.

TreeTag is a personal data manager. It stores information in a hierarchy (the "Tree" part of the name). But unlike other tree-based applications, TreeTag automatically positions items in the tree based on field values (the "Tag" part of the name).

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