Tags Usability Feedback

Hi! I am loving the Drafts 5 as an upgrade to Drafts 4.
I particularly appreciate the Tags feature as my predominate workflow is to send notes to Evernote. Assigning Tags via Action has been tremendously productive, especially when defining specific sets of keywords and assigning the action to a button on the Extended Keyboard.

After using it for sometime I have some specific feedback regarding the Tags feature and usability. I have written some notes on it (in Drafts, of course!) to share with you. I intend this to be constructive and helpful, more like beta testing feedback.

Tag feedback
Confusions with tag suggestions bar just above the keyboard:

  • For tags that are selected, the “on” state is not entirely affirmative.
  • Tags already selected reside to the left as they are selected. However, tags applied previously via action (not manually selected) are not grouped with other tags in use. I assume this is an oversight and that the property used to determine if they should be grouped to the left must be set differently for tags that were selected by action step.
  • I lose my place on the tag suggestion bar when, after a tag is selected, it disappears out of view to the left end. That action causes me to lose my existing visual reference point in the suggestion bar and causes me visual confusion in trying to find my place again. This confusion is enhanced by the tags being listed in an order that is not readily comprehensible (presumably how recent it was used) so there is no apparent order to where my eye lands on the suggestion bar. If I am looking for another tag, I don’t know if I should scroll to one side or the other. While recency may seem logical for listing tag suggestions, I feel it requires more work to find a previously used tag than alpha order.
  • The X at the right of the tag suggestion bar appears to remove all tags from memory. That function and result is not self evident by the button itself. It does so permanently without warning and no explanation of the ramifications. This button is adjacent to the button to minimize the toolbar and is too easily selected by mistake. This function seems a more rare need and maybe better served out of the way in Settings or possibly in a dedicated Tag Management center.
  • When a tag I believe has already been used does not auto-populate the lower bar, I am not clear if it has already been selected but is just not visible in the string of tags in each bar. Scrolling for it is a treasure hunt because they are not alpha-ordered. I am not clear the order.

The Tag bar at the top of the Note interface is located a half-screen from the tag suggestion bar on the keyboard and causes a visual tennis match between the two. I can understand their separate placements as inherently being a child of the Note construct or the Keyboard construct, but also suggest they should be co-located or reimagined in a more productive form.

I am not clear on how to remove, recover, or recreate tags — even after reading the documentation and forum suggestions, my experience of the interface is confusing, fragmented, and inconsistent.

When all drafts with that tag (including ones in the Trash) are gone, the tag will automatically be deleted.

I’ve read this countless times and still not clear about the expected behavior of tags attached to notes in the trash. I’ve seen tags persist only found in a note in trash, even after deleted.
I’ve had inconsistent experience with trying to make one go away.
I’m also not clear on how to get them back.
In all, Tag management seems more complicated than it should be.

I presume Tags are auto-generated from Notes to avoid tracking them as more significant and persistent data entity. Hence the kludgey interface and minimal controls.

After taking time to consider how Tags work, the feature seems more like it was wedged in than built in.


  • Maybe Tags could be easier to apply to a Note if the two Tag bars are merged into a more functional unit?
  • Tag Sheet: instead of two bars, maybe present in one sheet a list of tags in alpha order with indicator of being selected or not {for reference: Evernote tag selector}, with a field for adding new keywords. Maybe filter the existing list as user types to show existing Tags that alpha match.
  • I’d appreciate having one interface to view and manage Tags — just as you can do with Notes and Actions. I’d like to review or delete existing Tags and even proactively enter new Tags for arbitrary use in future notes.

I understand these suggestions may require significant changes to the UI and note that the present Tags UI is already a contextually presented interface, well, two of them.

Is this feedback helpful? :love_you_gesture:

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Think of drafts in the trash as awaiting final deletion. After a week in the trash they are deleted if not manually removed. At that point, if a tag was only used on a draft that is deleted, the tag reference *should* also be deleted. It shouldn’t be listed as an in use tag any more. Are you seeing behaviour that is different to this?

It’s akin to the recycle bin on desktop operating systems. It is filed ready for deletion but isn’t deleted until it is removed from the trash.

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My reference to the citation on Notes in the Trash is to say that the way it is written is confusing.

After your clarification, @sylumer, I suggest the statement will be more clear without the parenthetical clause.

Maybe add further clarification, such as:

Note: Tags attaches to Notes in Trash are still available until they are deleted.

Part of my issue is making the expectation/documentation more clear. Part was having a contradictory experience. I did have problems getting rid of a mangled Tag even though I trashed and deleted the Note. I’d need to try to recreate the issue to document it now.

Trying to ensure I correctly understood how it was supposed to work led me to find these confusing aspects of the app.

In the process I inadvertently — and so easily — deleted all tags, which I thought was rather ironic. Since then, I’ve tread lightly around the Tags because I had to start typing them all again. I didn’t find a way to re-populate the Tag set from existing Notes.

Maybe I just didn’t understand well enough at first. Maybe I am missing something.

The essence of my feedback is that Tags shouldn’t be this hard to manage from the perspective of app usability and user success. I suggest there is opportunity for this feature to function more successfully by being more intuitive or self-evident.

Hope this helps. :ok_hand:

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Confirmed deleted Tag persistence with test:

Created Note with Tag “test”

  • [x] Filtered all notes by that Tag.
  • [x] Removed it from two Notes, kept it on one Note in Trash.
  • [x] Emptied Trash “Delete All”
  • [x] “Test” Tag disappeared from list of Tag Filters.
  • [x] But Tag remains in Suggested Tag bar.
  • [x] Even after restart of app.

Do I understand correctly that it should not be listed in the suggested tag bar because all notes with that tag were deleted?

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That is functioning as intended. The suggestion list starts with a simple list of most recently used tags suggestions. As you start to type to becomes a query of actual tags that exist, but it’s just the last n tags you’ve assigned otherwise and those suggestions drop off the list as you use others…thus the ability to clear them if you have junk you don’t want.

I can see how that might not be clear as-is.

There’s definitely room for improvement in tag entry, thanks for the feedback. I’m personally not a fan of the complete alpha list popping up. It doesn’t scale well to dozens of tags, but I’m open to opinions.

What UI works best depends a lot of how many tags you maintain. Drafts is still centered around being a capture front end and was optimized around the idea people would just keep a few tags to sort/group pending items but I may have to do some re-thinking of that as people use it for more long term storage of notes…and some would use no tags at all, so I wanted to keep that functionality out of the way for those that don’t need/use it.

Happy to hear how others feel. I’ve never seen a tagging UI that wasn’t a bit clunky in one way or another. In my testing use case and general feedback I’ve found whats there works well for up to a few dozen tags. Recent are often useful for a quick tag - type of the first character and the list is quickly honed to useful matching suggestions.


How about if a tag is selected the only other tags other are visible are the ones that contain the first selected tags. This is a quick way to filter drafts that contain the same tags.