See “Notion, Roam Research, Obsidian, and RemNote” for the list of related articles.
RemNote is very rich in features and it gives me the impression that they tried or are trying to include every feature found in similar products; whatever feature you find in them, it is likely you can find it in RemNote as well.
At the same time, RemNote has its unique features too. Possibly since Mike and Matty, two brothers, one of whom is a medical doctor and the other a medical student, “work with” RemNote (I don’t know what exactly that means, but at least I know they create a lot of videos on RemNote), there is a palpable focus on studying and researching, particularly memorization.
Active recall and spaced repetition are said to be key to efficient memorization. Both Notion and Roam allow you to practice active recall in a rudimentary form by utilizing the toggle feature, but for spaced repetition, it is up to each user to come up with his method. RemNote goes much further than that in both fronts. “In-Depth Biology Textbook Example” discusses problems with old-fashioned, simple flashcards.
First, it has a built-in flashcard feature; it can actually show ques in the card format. In fact, the whole RemNote is built on top of the flashcard concept. Just like Roam, knowledge is represented by a network of nodes in RemNote, but with RemNote, every node is called a rem and is conceptually a flashcard. Whether you actually use it as a flashcard is entirely up to you.
Each rem can be either a “concept” or a “descriptor,” both of which is coupled with its content. A descriptor denotes a relationship to the rem’s parent rem. You can create flashcards in either direction: forward and backward. In a concept’s case, the forward flashcard shows the concept name and the user is asked to give its content. The backward flashcard asks in the reverse fashion. In a descriptor’s case, the forward flashcard is what you expect, but the backward flashcard isn’t — it shows the entire descriptor, i.e., descriptor’s name and its content, and the user is expected answer the name of the parent rem. You can also a create a “question” flashcard, which is a generic conventional flashcard, as it were, in that it consists of a question and an answer. For more, see “RemNote Tutorial #2: Making Flashcards – YouTube.”
Second, algorithms for spaced repetition comes built in.
Third, you can create more advanced forms of flashcards: i) “cloze” type, and ii) image occlusion type. The first type is those with blanks in a passage on the flashcard and you are expected to fill them with answers. The latter form is a graphical version of the cloze type. The flashcard shows an image with masked parts, which, for example, cover the names of certain parts of the image, and you are to answer those names. See “RemNote Tutorial #23: Cloze Rem – YouTube” for more on the cloze type, and “RemNote Tutorial: Image Occlusion – YouTube” for more on the image occlusion type.
Both allows for multiple “blanks.” They give you fine control over the order of the blanks to be uncovered, e.g., all at once; one by one in a specific order; some at the same time, and then some more together, etc. But the order is set by the person who designed the flashcard. So what you cannot do as the answerer is to uncover the blanks in the order you like; you can only uncover them in the prespecified order.
It can even import and export data from and to Anki. See “RemNote vs Anki, SuperMemo and other Spaced Repetition Tools.” for more.
Comparison with LiquidText
There are also features for studying from the PDF files (see “RemNote Tutorial: PDF Editor (Pro Version) – YouTube” ). In this regard, you could say RemNote occupies the same problem space with LiquidText. “LiquidText supports PDF, Office 365 Word, Web Pages and PowerPoint, among other popular input formats; LiquidText also supports content management systems like Dropbox, iCloud and Box. LiquidText exports projects in most popular application formats.” I am not sure if the same can be said about RemNote, but I know for sure it can handle PDF files and Web sites.
Though sharing the same problem space, RemNote and LiquidText seem to have subtly different use cases in mind. Both allow you to extract information from materials, such as PDF files, Web pages, etc. Also, both allow you to form and organize ideas of which process extracted information plays a part. I would argue LiquidText is better suited for extracting information; and RemNote, for organizing ideas.
LiquidText lets you organize your ideas in a graphical way, which is intuitive, flexible and possibly visually pleasing. This works favorably until its complexity hits a certain level. Once it does, the table gets turned, and RemNote has a relative advantage; it is essentially an outline editor with unlimited depth, so it handles complexity better. LiquidText is thus good at organizing information of a relatively small size, while Remnote is good at organizing information of a relatively large size.
With RemNote, you have ideas first, and then extract information from such materials as PDF files, Web pages, etc., to verify or fortify your ideas. With LiquidText, in contrast, you have materials first, and then you form ideas from them. Admittedly, this is a rather extreme characterization and either tool can be used for either use case; yet I believe there is some truth to it.
LiquidText originally started out as an app for iPad, so one of its strengths is the ease of use on iPad (though there are also Mac OS and Windows versions now), particularly making full advantage of finger gestures and styli (i.e., Apple Pencil).
Everything Is A Rem
Documents and Folders
In RemNote, everything is a rem: tags, templates, documents, folders, etc. Documents are merely rems that are marked as documents. When they are, they show up on the left sidebar for quicker access; it’s thus a convenience feature. Folders are just documents that contain a document or documents. A document is automatically “upgraded” to a folder once it contains a document.
Unlike with other similar products, tags are not just text fragments in RemNote. Tags are, again, rems, and thus can have a hierarchy associated with them. Because of this, you could use RemNote’s hierarchical search function to find and give the tag you want. This also means you can potentially have tags with superficially exactly the same text, as long as they are separate rems.
However, I do not see any further advantage taken with the hierarchical nature of tags. For example, if TagC is a child of TagP, in certain scenarios you might want rems with the tag TagC act as if they are tagged with TagP as well. This kind of behavior might be desirable in tag-based filtering as well. This should generally apply when the parent-child relationship represents a specialization relationship, or a partitioning relationship (the latter of which may be a special case of the former).
Incidentally, in RemNote, the nature of the parent-child relationship between rems are not explicitly specified. When the child is a descriptor rem, then the descriptor could be said to be a human readable description of the relationship. But there is no systematic support of the specific nature of each relationship.
“Power-ups” are special kinds of tags that act differently than usual tags. Some are virtual tags that represent the states of the rem, e.g., those that represent the background color, and those that represent the checked-off status of the to-do item. See “RemNote Tutorial #18: Power-Up – YouTube.”
See “Tags” for more on tags in RemNote.
Templates in RemNote are special kinds of tags. They might be more sophisticated than those in Notion. When a template is applied (by giving the corresponding tag to a rem), it does not get fully instantiated by default. The UI gives you a list of “slots” you can add to the rem as prescribed by the template, and the user adds whatever he chooses. If you update the template by adding new slots, you are able to manually add those new slots to the instances from that point onwards.
By adding “Automatically Add Template” tag to the template, you can have RemNote create slots too when you instantiate the template (“RemNote Tutorial #18: Power-Up – YouTube,” “A List Of RemNote’s Power Up Rems And What They Do — Red Gregory” ) but
I have not been able to do it I managed to do it by invoking a slash command.
Closely related to the point above is a to-do list in a template. When you do multiple projects of the same nature and every one of them has the same to-do list, you’d want to create a template for it, instantiate it every time you have a new project, and have a brand-new, pre-populated to-do list. I believe this is a fairly common use case, and Notion lets you do this. I am not sure, however, if this can be done with RemNote. To-do items need to be specified as slots so they can be included when the template is instantiated, but when you instantiate such a template, what is supposed to be a to-do item gets created as a regular descriptor.
Templates seem to be just that — boilerplates from which new rems can be created. When a rem is tagged with a template, you can create child rems from the slots of template, either automatically (when “Automatically Add Template” tag is given) or manually (otherwise). Child rems are created based on the slots of the template at that time. You can remove the template tag after instantiation and nothing will change, except the backlink to that template will be lost.
Portals are referenced rems, which allow for in-situ display and editing of the content.
Edits to shared documents are not automatically propagated. “Sharing Documents”
One last thing — text in RemNote can look cluttered and visually distracting. References are shown as ” | aReference ” with surrounding spaces and a pale blue background. I can see they wanted to make it clear it is a reference, but to me that is a bit too much.
“Creating Frontend Plugins”