"I am your father": help me understand parents, children, and interlinked shared cards

Friends, I’m new to Supernotes and I am very impressed. I’ve been hacking on different use cases, and I wanted to reach out to see whether you think I’ve organised the following in a sub-optimal fashion, and / or perhaps there’s something I’m misunderstanding about parents, children, and shared cards.

I’ve taken a run at building a personal Star Wars canon wiki. (You’re just going to have to look past the deep nerdery of this OK?) I made my index card — ‘Star Wars Canon Media’ — with all the individual items in it; they’re in checklist format so that I can see at a glance which I’ve re-visited and made notes on. Individual entries on that list then link to their own cards, with the notes on that particular item.

So far, so good. Next I wanted to add some organisational structure:

  • I applied tags to each card, so filters allow me to drill down;
  • I separated each section of the index card into its own card and made those six cards children of the index.

That gives me an outline in the Tree that I’m happy with; it looks like this:

However (and this is where we finally come to my two questions), I hit a couple of snags:

  1. I realised that any changes I make to the index card would have to be made separately to the corresponding child in order to keep them in line. (eg. If I tick a book off in the ‘Star Wars Canon Media’ parent card, I also have to go tick it in the ‘Star Wars Books’ child card.) Do you think this speaks to a fundamental misunderstanding on my part of the parent / child system? Am I a dingus?

  2. After making each card in the stack ‘Publicly Viewable’, I thought that someone who navigated to the index card would be able to click the links within it to view the other (publicly viewable) cards. That doesn’t appear to be the case (clicking a link routes to the sign-in page). Again, is this a case of me misunderstanding how the sharing system should be used?

Thanks so much for taking the time to read all this, and for any help or ideas!

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Hi @aswfyi, thanks for sharing your use-case, this kind of knowledge base is one of the main things we’re trying to build Supernotes for!

  1. Not sure I understand what you mean here. Are you saying you have a checklist of links going to other cards (in this case child cards), and when you check off the checkbox you want something to happen? To clarify, the “internal links” feature is actually entirely separate from the hierarchy (parents/children) feature. These links are bi-directional, in that “backlinks” show up on cards when they’re pointed to (you can click on the quotation icon in the bottom right of a card that has been linked to to see the backlinks). However anything to do with links will not in turn affect a parent/child relationship.

  2. This is currently a limitation of the public page sharing feature. If you want to collaborate/share child cards with someone else, they need a Supernotes account and to first “join” the card (this is the “joinable” option when creating a share code). We are considering adding the ability to share all children of a card publicly, but currently have decided not to do so, mainly for performance concerns (supernotes cards are very dynamic and it can be hard to cache content when you start allowing internet-accessible pages of many cards).

As an addendum to (2), this is also where publishing comes in. When someone joins your parent card, in this case “Star Wars Canon Media”, they will be able to open that card and see all published children within (publishing is the default). Any cards you choose not to publish will not be accessible to other members of the parent card. Likewise, your collaborators can create child cards of “Star Wars Canon Media” that are unlisted, so that you will not be able to see them. This allows for a style of collaboration which is entirely piecemeal/opt-in, which has been one of our main design goals when building Supernotes.

Hope that helps! Do let us know what exactly you were looking for in point (1), if the functionality is not currently there it might be something we could add.

@connor Thanks for posting a reply so quickly, and apologies for being unclear in my original post.

I’ve drafted this follow-up a couple of times in ways that risk introducing further confusion. I think what I’ve realised through playing around with this is that maybe parent & child cards aren’t suited to this kind of setup. Perhaps the best course of action is maybe just for me to ask you how you would implement something like this personal wiki in Supernotes.

Is an index card with dozens of interlinks the most efficient way? I can see how tags and filters will allow me to eg. show all of the cards related to #starwars #books and that feels like a powerful tool. I just want to make sure I’m not missing a neat solution by virtue of misunderstanding some of these systems.

(Thanks also for answering the second question - totally understood.)

First I’d just like to summarize the system design of Supernotes with two main ideas:

  1. There is no “right way” to organize content.
  2. People should be able to collaborate constructively even if they don’t agree on which organization method is best.

To this end, Supernotes is built around three primary methods of organization:

  • Tags: allow for a completely “flat” structure. Collaboration is aided by the existence of public vs. personal tags.
  • Linking: allows for a flat “graph” structure, as seen on the web and other digital Zettelkasten systems.
  • Hierarchies: similar to how a folder structure works in a typical system, with some important additions
    • cards can have multiple parents (very useful for collab – the same card can be in one place on your system and in another on mine)
    • cards can be published or unlisted, allowing for collaboration within a shared hierarchy without needing to share all content with other contributors.

With that said, currently the best / only way to easily collaborate with others is through the hierarchal system. With the linking system, you can link to other cards, but if the other user does not have access to the linked card then they will just get an error when they try to open that link. With the hierarchy, users get access to any child cards that have been published in a shared parent, as many levels down as you want to go.

So to answer your question:

  • If you want this personal wiki to be shared/collaborative, the best/only way to do it at the moment is by using the parent/child hierarchal structure.
  • If this is a mostly private wiki and you only ever plan to share cards one-at-a-time, feel free to organize them with any of the three methods or any combination of them and then generate one-off share codes for each of the cards you want to share as needed.
  • If you want a fully public personal wiki, ala what you might do with TiddlyWiki, then unfortunately Supernotes is not well-suited to that at the moment.

The good news: we’re actively working on a new organization method that should allow for better collab no matter which system you’re using. It’s still in the design phase, but we’re making a lot of progress and hope to have it released in some form in the first half of this year.

Additional pro-tip: you can easily add a card to a parent by drag-and-dropping the name of the card you want to make a child onto the name of a card you want to be the parent.

@connor I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to go into this much detail. My primary takeaway is that I need to do more playing around with Supernotes. I’ve been a Bear user for some time, and it seems I need to do more experimentation and thinking to get my head around the repercussions of moving from software with tagging and interlinking to a system that also incorporates hierarchies and publishing.

In the near term at least the vast majority of my cards would remain private. So I take your encouragement to keep experimenting, build a system that works for me, and rest assured that I will be able to publish & share sections of it at will later down the road.

Thanks once again for your time and attention, and congratulations on building something special.

My pleasure, that is what I’m here for! “Private-first + share as needed” could probably be the third pillar of our system design philosophy, so I’m hopeful that Supernotes will suit your needs well.

And of course if you have any bright ideas for how something could be done better, we’re always happy to hear them!

The docs need to be updated (development is moving quickly!) but they are still a good resource for getting familiar with Supernotes. Even better are the the videos on our YouTube channel.

:wave:t2:, this is just a follow-up post for anyone who stumbles across this thread. I think I’ve discovered a solution that works for me, and it’s not necessarily what I expected, so I thought I’d share.

This forum only allows me to embed one image and share two links, so instead, I made a card! Right this way please.

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Thanks for the follow-up @aswfyi , and sharing the discovery of your workflow! Really happy to hear that the helpful tips are doing the trick. Not sure if you have tried this yet, but you can use the ‘click mechanics’ (i.e. shift + click to open a card) on anything that represents a card name, not just in the side bar, such as card titles, parent badges, card links etc. The same goes for pinning, so ‘alt + click’ any card name to pin it to the right bar.

Also thanks for pointing out the restrictions on the forum, I have increased the no. of images / links that new users can add to a post; although to be honest you just found a perfect use for a Supernotes card!

This is the way.

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