Original on Medium.com: Why Capacities?
There is more choice than ever for PKM apps these days, which makes it hard to know which apps to put your time and energy into. Here are a few statements I think Capacities lovers could have- see if any of these ways of thinking suit you, it might convince you to give Capacities a try!
If you like metadata… but you don’t always remember precisely what fields to use or to fill them in
- If you like seeing your data in different views without needing complex queries
- If you don’t always want an outliner
- If you love Markdown
- If you want a tool that helps you out and just lets you work.
If you like metadata… but you don’t always remember precisely what fields to use or which terms
Metadata is super useful and allows you to query your database of notes.
I use Logseq extensively and add some form of metadata to the majority of notes I take, though I want to add it to all pages. This is hard in practice for me- I am not good at remembering to fill out page properties. In Logseq you can create pages as easily as wrapping square brackets around text. Doing this creates a blank note with no metadata which gives you ultimate freedom. You can use templates easily when creating new notes, but you have to do this manually by entering the page, loading the template, then filling it out. That can disrupt your note-taking flow, or just get forgotten, in my case.
Conversely, Capacities forces you to slow down and makes you choose at least one property: which object it belongs to, at the point of creating a page.
I think ‘Objects’ is capacities-speak for a supertag (Tana), or a (far better) database (Notion): a type of content with a prescribed set of properties attached to it. Every time you add an entry to that content type, it is automatically given those fields for you to fill out if you wish. It’s an amazing helping hand.
You can create and customise as many content types as you want. The set-up process is quick and easy, and you can change it whenever you need. You can also switch content types if needed, there’s a handy pop-up window to help you convert.
Taking the time to do this once gives you structure you defined in every new page within that database. This just lets you just get on with note-taking, and you know you can find your content in at least one place. No more lost pages.
If you like seeing your data in different views without needing complex queries
As well as helping you structure your notes, Capacities lets you see notes and metadata in four different views (gallery, wall, list, table) and you can filter and sort them all, without the need for any plug ins or difficult syntax. There is no need for 15 min videos on Dataview or query builders for Datalog, it’s just built-in.
This is a big time-saver, but for now this only works for relatively simple query needs. But for that, Capacities offers more than enough. Smart queries are on the roadmap though and given the speed at which updates are shipped, we might not have to wait too long for this.
Referring back to the point above, you can use the table view to fill in metadata easily without having to go into each page. Batch properties are useful for my notes in Capacities as these are the permanent notes so I want to take the time to make sure I have the information I want, and be able to clearly see where my knowledge gaps are. It’s much easier to do this with a birds-eye-view look at properties, instead of having to open each specific page.
If you don’t always want an outliner
Outlining is great and suits my needs most of the time, hence why I love Logseq. But when it comes to synthesising my notes and writing essays up, I prefer the freedom of a page without bullet points.
I found this most acutely when writing up profiles for people who regularly feature in my notes. I wanted a picture of them on the right with some metadata such as date of birth, death, nationality etc and notes on the left, synthesised from what I have learned. My own Wikipedia. I cannot do that in Logseq or Obsidian with my skill level and avoidance of plug-ins.
So when I saw that capacities Believers had access to an encyclopaedia layout, I had to sign up for it, and it’s worked perfectly. This was so simple, but it felt like this was the missing piece in my PKM app stack.
Capacities also has profile, and index card layouts which are equally great. I personally use the index card for my collection of definitions. But knowing these options even exist gives more power to my notes and makes using the app more enjoyable.
If you love Markdown
The best part about all this though is you can still export to markdown. I worry that if Notion dies, I have systems and databases in there that I don’t think I can export to function elsewhere. I had this fear with capacities until I saw that you can export to markdown.
This gives my notes the longevity I wish for and I get to use a really incredible app in the meantime. It also means if Capacities dies (God forbid), I still have my notes. Granted the layout I chose capacities for wouldn’t work in other apps, but my work won’t be lost.
If you want a tool that helps you out and just lets you work.
My next capacities post will be about the little things that help make Capacities really good, as it is a growing list, but overall it’d describe it as an app that just wants to help you out.
Overall, it’s the best app I’ve found to combine aesthetics with (my version of) good PKM practice and it’s a joy to use and look at. I am so excited to keep using capacities and expand on it for my use case.