Milanote – Review of a Collaboration Tool

by Guest Blogger, Dagan McCarthy @DaganMcCarthy

Milanote (https://milanote.com) is an interesting tool that allows for creating and sharing outlines with groups of people. It is sort of like Google Doc in that way. Milanote is intuitive allowing for you to hit the ground writing such as its whiteboard at: https://www.milanote.com/product/online-whiteboard. Within five minutes of working with the tool I learned most of what the tool had to offer. I find this to be Milanote’s greatest strength and weakness. It does one thing, and it does that thing well. The tl:dr would be Milanote works best as a quick tool for outlining projects in a format similar to a web. Its small static pages make it hard to recommend Millanote for anything big.

The biggest appeal for me was the ability to easily share and work on projects with multiple people. This to me was the defining feature along with it being free to start using over Scapple. Scapple is a similar product in function except for it can only be used by one person. This comes with the perk of offline use. It also has bigger pages although it does not have any page nesting. I am happy to say working with multiple people feature works nicely. You can work on the same page as another person. But it locks bubbles to only one person at a time. This would be more of a problem if Milanote incentivized longer pieces of writing. Due to small pages Milanote mostly only wants you to use blurbs, single words, or short sentences. So, I never found the fact I could not work on a bubble someone else was working on a problem. It never became an issue because people clicked off bubbles fast. If page sizes ever gets the option to be bigger this will become more of an issue. The only other frustrating bit I found while working with someone is that unlike the text editing, moving bubbles around is not locked to one person. This led to several times where one person would move a bubble as another person clicked it the bubble would teleport across the screen to where the other person put it. This was confusing the first couple times it happened but as time went on, we got used to it.

The page sizes are too small. While nesting pages in more pages is an option, it is one that I could see getting bothersome if I had bigger webs or just 2 webs that I wanted next to each other. This is compounded by the fact that you cannot seem to have multiple links to one page. For example, if I have three pages A, B, and C. B and C are nested in A, I cannot have a link from B to C or vice versa. This can become frustrating if you want to flip between B and C. While I would prefer the options of bigger pages if nesting is the solutions, I would like the ability to link between pages because pages get busy looking fast.

Milanote is incredibly user friendly. When I said I learned it in 5 minutes I meant that as a complement. It is not often I can just open a program and start doing what idea I have in my head. Everything is intuitive or easy to learn from trial and error. The only command I had to look up was the undo command because there is no back-arrow button like a lot of programs. Other than that, I did not need to look up anything to get started. I do hope they add an optional tutorial for users who are not tech savvy at all and will not just try things and see what works. I am thinking of someone like my grandmother who I think would like this program a lot but probably would not give it a try if she didn’t have someone there to help her through what most of the buttons do.

Also, something to keep in mind is there is no traditional main menu that you can look at your files in a list format. You must create new files like you create new pages in the rest of the program. This feels like a cool idea in theory but annoying in practice. I would at least like the option of a traditional format so I can more easily filter and find what I am look for instead of the mess of squares that I will enviably create.

I quite like the program, and will continue to use Milanote. I hope that others will too. Milanote is a great tool for outlining and putting your thoughts together in a webbed format through its whiteboard feature.

1 comment

    • Claire Murray on November 10, 2020 at 5:04 pm
    • Reply

    I enjoyed reading this lively and concise piece about Milanote. It sounds easy to use and helpful. I hope a lot more people try it.

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