Forum feedback: Backlinks and Info Column

Hello everyone,

We’d love to get your feedback on the design of a couple surprise new features coming soon in a beta: Backlinks and the Info Column. Please read through this and let us know what you think of the designs.

Backlink

Backlinks are coming in Bear 2.0! The current design is for the Info Panel to gain a third tab that shows all backlinks to the current note. This includes unlinked mentions (the last one in the screenshot below) with a quick action to turn them into proper backlinks.

Backlinks for each note are collapsible (note the disclosure triangle) and the unlinked mentions will be positioned after all the proper backlinks.

Info Column

We’ve had requests for the Info Panel to get a dedicated column, but we feel that would add too much visual complexity. This new, contextual Info Column is our solution: the Info Panel—usually a floating popover—can become an Info Column on Mac and iPad only when the Editor window is wide enough. We work hard to keep the Bear UI as simple and minimal as possible, so we’ve opted for something that fits within the Editor without stealing the focus from your content.

The column contains the same content of the Info Panel: Statistics, ToC and the upcoming Backlinks panel.

The Info Panel ⓘ button will open the popover or this new column depending on the current size of your Bear window: if there is enough space, the new embedded column will be shown. If not, the standard popover will appear to avoid shrinking the Editor.

Let us know what you think about these new features!

32 Likes

Wow! I love it! Without using it its hard for me to imagine what’s not great about this implementation.

6 Likes

Amazing, I was thinking about how it would be nice to have a static element instead of the popover and this looks like a simple way to implement it while not forcing the user to take any decision.

1 Like

Nice implementation ! But I find there’s not enough context when the backlinks are expended. I would love to have a way to see more !

8 Likes

I like this a lot. The only request I’d make is for persistence in the selected pane for the info button – if I last looked at backlinks, have that be the default pane until I change it. An alternative would be a preference setting to set one’s most preferred info pane.

10 Likes

This is why I never left Bear, although I must admit there have been times I was close because Bear 2’s development starting up took – let’s be honest – ages.

What you cooked up is IMO the best of two worlds. It’s amazingly simple and elegant, so much more elegant than listing them at the bottom. It’s Italian design all over, which can’t be beaten in furniture and it can’t be beaten in the note taking app market either, so it seems.

This looks great.

My ideal version of backlinking would be something that includes backlinks within the note. Either at the beginning or at the end of the file, collapsible if/as needed.

This would make daily journaling or long linked lists much easier to navigate.

1 Like

To clarify, is it still possible to keep the Editor wider with a detached popover? What if I want to expand Bear’s Editor but keep the popover in the upper right corner of the desktop?

Regarding the backlinks (aka “here, let me search that for you”), they are probably in the best position you can put them in the popover.

Regarding the contextual panel, I have no clue why it’s necessary. Do people want to see the stats as they write? There’s a configurable stat toolbar, and there really aren’t enough stats to show in a dedicated panel. TOC or backlinks list length? It can’t be that as those will be longer than the editor’s height in many cases (especially backlinks). Writing more than two notes at the same time and needing a live stat counter for each note?

I’ll just leave this here: Cortex podcast talking about UI sidebars

I suggest not to include back links as 3rd tab. Instead it can be at the bottom like a drop-up tab space. When you click it opens up from bottom. In mobile this may cover the entire screen and it may be collapsed down to see the note content.

This way, you can accommodate as many back links (unlinked too).

This way the entire note content doesn’t have to change as the width of right side pane changes. (The markdown characters hiding is already changing the length of content, it is not wysiwyg in terms of length / line of the sentence.

The wider screen may benefit from the proposed design. But for screens like 13” MacBook it may not look nice especially when the tag column and notes list column is in open state.

Moving back link ref to the bottom also gives better length (screen space) to details the context of the back links.

The toc can stay as a pop over as it is now. Because keeping TOC in side reduces the scrolling as you can jump within notes by headings listed in TOC.

The bottom palates containing BIU may over lap or it may be automatically hid when backlinks panel is opened.

This is purely an opinion.

1 Like

I like both very much!
If the info panel is shown as column, will it disappear when losing focus, like it does with the pop over today? I’d like the column to stay open when I opened it, especially for jumping back and forth using the ToC.
For navigating the info panes, it looks like it’s a icon tab bar in the pop over, but a dropdown in the column. I’d prefer tab bar for both.

Don’t know if this was clear, I mean this one below to be used for the info column too.
image

Avoid using a pop-up button to switch between tabs. A tabbed control is efficient because it requires a single click or tap to make a selection, whereas a pop-up button requires two. A tabbed control also presents all choices onscreen at the same time, whereas people must click a pop-up button to see its choices. Note that a pop-up button can be a reasonable alternative in cases where there are too many panes of content to reasonably display with tabs.
~ Tab views - Layout and organization - Components - Human Interface Guidelines - Design - Apple Developer

4 Likes

Design is awesome. I have following comments:

For backlinks if possible it would be great to see more context, like upto a paragraph where the mention is. A toggle button to reduce or increase context will be awesome.

I don’t see stats too much but I understand they belong to the info panel. So, for example, if I only use info panel for backlinks, can I set it such that whenever I open the info panel it will directly open the backlink tab? This will reduce friction in making an extra click to see a particular tab.

Some people have understandably requested backlinks within the note. But I don’t find that useful. For long notes you will have to scroll all the way down to see the backlinks. For small notes, the editor window will become cluttered by the many links just below the actual note. So for me, backlinks within info work well.

5 Likes

It looks great. It has everything I want.

One tentative suggestion: An important aspect why I’ve chosen Bear over Obsidian/Roam/etc… is it’s focus on images. I find that images make it easier to identify a note, even when they’re only marginally related to the content. How Bear displays images in the note-list is great.

Perhaps it makes sense to also show images in the backlink panel?

1 Like

This is exciting news! I love this. I don’t have any other useful feedback at the moment.

This looks like an elegant solution to displaying backlinks when one wants to see them without interrupting the flow of the editor. The real test will be how it looks on an iPad, especially with Stage Manager. I’m looking forward to putting it through its paces on the [hopefully] upcoming iPad beta (hint, hint).

1 Like

Thank you for asking for feedback and sharing your design—great approach!

My main comment regards Bear’s long-term vision for intra-notes linking: some users, me included, heavily link to sections and would benefit from an ability to see what links to a particular section. Your current proposal seems to consider the note itself (and not sections of it) to be the entity being linked to. Is that also what you have in mind going forward?

Asked differently: what’s the story around backlinks for sections?

1 Like

I like how this is shaping up! I would however second (or third) the request for more context around the backlinks.

2 Likes

This looks absolutely beautiful!

Couldn’t be happier :blush:

That looks great in aesthetical and functional terms: the backlinks (as the other columns) seem to part of the editor so that i really don’t know now why they should be placed under the content of the note.

I have a question: is the width of the column fix or can i make too and backlinks wider in the case i want to show longer names in toc and backlinks?

Definetely i have to agree with many other comments: that little snippet as surrounding of the backlink is useless. In the popup it is absolutely acceptable but in the column the opportunity should be seized to show meaningful context of the backlink. What is meaningful? Either the whole paragraph (obsidian) or in case of bullet/numbered lists the parent bullet and subbullets (logseq). A toggle option that switches between more context and small snippet like in obsidian makes sense.

This is exactly why Bear is incredible. I’ve made the journey through the notes-iverse, and I come back over and over again. Updates like this make me glad that Bear is the app I just can’t quit!

Love this design. I cannot wait to use it! Excellent job, team!

3 Likes