Polar Usability Milestone

Last week we were lucky enough to get on the front page of Hacker News again which resulted in a lot of new users providing valuable feedback.

I’m going to be focusing on usability in the next few releases (as well as shipping Polar as a webapp) and I wanted to include the features (and bug fixes) we’re prioritizing in the next couple weeks.

I’ll try to update this post as some of these new features come onnline.

New Features

First priority (easy)

  • Restore of pagemarks when opening up new documents when resuming and I have to improve performance here.

  • Tour of the pagemarks as this is important and one of our main selling points.

  • Ability to edit flashcards inline without having to delete and recreate them.

  • Support for area highlights on the sidebar now and storing them in the datastore as binary screenshots.

  • Annotation bar changes for highlighting text: https://github.com/burtonator/polar-bookshelf/issues/651

  • Toggle pagemarks visually on/off. For now / key binding and context menu options but we need to create a menu bar for some of this functionality.

  • Button to toggle/the annotation sidebar

  • Button to toggle the pagemarks

  • Automatic resume of position from last time document was opened: https://github.com/burtonator/polar-bookshelf/issues/673

  • (done) Missing padding in the comment box confusing to users: https://github.com/burtonator/polar-bookshelf/issues/662

Secondary priority

  • Make inviting users to Polar a top level feature so we can hopefully encourage people to invite their colleagues.

  • Include document information in exported annotations

  • Add content button should have ‘import from directory’ not just importing from files. The work for this is 95% completed so I just need to incorporate it into the UI. Right now the files need to be selected in the dialog but expanded in the Electron renderer process so that we can show the recursion status to the user and potentially allow them to abort.

  • (done) Enable feature to create tables within notes

  • New menu / dropdown system on the top right for key buttons.

    • Tasks
      • Invite Colleagues
      • Anki
        • Sync - key binding for this…
        • Full Sync System
        • Repair Repository
        • Check for Update
  • Highlight ‘mode’ to create highlights automatically when the text is selected.
    The model should be popup by default and ‘by selection when the user picks the dropdown

  • Search + filtering of of the annotations view with a filter bar like we have in the documents view.

  • Display comments on annotations in the annotation view like they are in the sidebar.

  • Delete annotations from annotation view: https://github.com/burtonator/polar-bookshelf/issues/645

  • Slow loading PDF: https://github.com/burtonator/polar-bookshelf/issues/661

  • Faster anki sync: https://github.com/burtonator/polar-bookshelf/issues/676

Changes to the Tour

The tour has proven very valuable with 75% of people using Polar completing the tour on first install.

I want to improve on this by expanding on the tour to highlight more key Polar features.

  • Explain that comments can be rich text and have images

  • New sub-tour explaining how to work with Pagemarks or at LEAST a brief explanation of them via text.

  • New sub-tour explaining content capture or at least a auto-triggered tour the first time the user tries to capture a document.

  • New ability to show key “highlights” on the right like that fact that Polar does not waste disk space due to keeping the file in another place

  • Prompt to allow the user to automatically import files from local folders including Documents, Downloads so that we get them a large number of files in the repository automatically. I also want to be able to automatically import from Zotero too if the user has that installed.

  • Improved tour for creating annotations explaining how to use text + area highlights and how to attach comments and flashcards.