Wondering about Coda

So, I’ve been exploring Coda for a short time now (2 or 3 weeks I think?) and there are a couple things that have me puzzled and very curious. :thinking:

Now that I’ve gone deeper and started building my own docs I find Coda to be exceptionally powerful and flexible, and that other apps I used before don’t even compare. There are a couple key features I’m hoping Coda will adopt, but even without those yet I’m blown away.

I’m coming from the personal task and knowledge management side of things for some context. I’ve used Notion, ClickUp, Airtable, Fibery, Todoist, Evernote, etc etc. If it exists in this area I’ve probably tried it.

When I first stumbled upon Coda, I was SURE it would never be for me. In fact, it took me 5 tries I think to really dive into it. I hated it and thought people who liked it were crazy. Why? I’m not even sure what it was about the first impressions that turned me off so much that I came to that conclusion. Are other potential users experiencing what I did? Why, when Coda’s features fit so well for me did I write it off so quickly?

One thing I can’t help but compare is Notion and Coda, especially the social/community aspect. Why is it, when Coda can do almost everything Notion can, and so much more in other cases, that Notion is blowing up on YouTube and has vibrant communities on pretty much every social platform, and I could barely find anything on Coda?

For example YouTube: there are productivity “influencers” (Thomas Frank, Ali Abdaal, etc) gushing about Notion and countless videos with people showing their setups. ClickUp also has quite a lot of tutorials and channels, as does Airtable. With Coda there is very little content, and what there is is either quite old, or basic stuff from the official Coda channel.

I’m very glad I finally discovered this community because I would have been really lost otherwise!! :nerd_face:

So why? Why isn’t the reddit channel active? Why isn’t there an active community on Facebook? Why aren’t people doing tutorials on YouTube and showing off their awesome creations? What am I missing? Is Coda that much newer than the others? Is it the pricing? Is Coda not geared towards individuals? I feel like I’m blind.

Another example: I contacted another app this week to request a Coda integration and their reply was that they have had countless requests for Notion, ClickUp, etc, but I was the first person to ask about Coda and they had never even looked at it! They didn’t even understand that it could be used for personal use. What??

Please don’t take this as complaining or being down on Coda. It’s the opposite really, I love Coda and I want to understand. Maybe Coda has a thriving customer base and social presence somewhere that doesn’t intersect with my circles and I’m just missing it? Maybe I’m lucky enough to be jumping in at the beginning and just need to start a Coda YouTube channel? lol :crazy_face:

I don’t know, this is a bit of a ramble, but I’m curious to hear the thoughts of others.

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You know, I found Coda by accident when searching for something else :yum: … and it took me some time to “get in there” too .

But, once I was in, I couldn’t leave it for, I think pretty much all the reasons you mentioned :blush: .

Something that might help you to understand why Coda doesn’t have the social visibility the others have (especially Notion), it’s simply because Coda is still far younger than at least Airtable and Notion.

When I joined last year, Coda was still free and the pricing came around the fall or winter 2019. So actually, Coda is still growing and evolving, at a very good pace, I’d might add :blush: ! But, because there are still missing features, Coda is, for me, still not entirely ready for the next step : more social visibility and co. :blush: (But it’s surely getting there thanks to the hard work of Codans :+1: )

As far as YouTube Tutorials go, you could check the channel of one of the masters here : @Paul_Danyliuk :blush:

(I’m on mobile, so this might not be the best reply I could give :innocent: )

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I appreciate your thoughts. :thought_balloon:

Yes, I have watched some of @Paul_Danyliuk 's videos. I’m just shocked that that might be one of the only channels talking about Coda that isn’t the main company channel and it’s not very active yet!

Maybe I didn’t realize how new Coda is, or what is considered new in this space. :woman_shrugging:

Haha I think you should start a Coda YouTube channel!

I think that the primary reason Coda is a bit less loud than Notion is that many of us that are thinking about the product are a bit more on the business side and less on the personal side. That makes many of the applications we build more private in nature and harder to share on YouTube without exposing sensitive information.

Plus, while the “productivity hack” subgenre of YouTube is alive and well, the “build an inventory management tool” is perhaps a bit less breathless.

I think two things conspire here:

  1. The business attribute makes reddit, discord, etc. prohibitive to access. I’m at work when I use Coda, and that means I would prefer to be on sites intended to inform me and not to distract me.
  2. Coda has consistently pushed people toward the community here, which is great because it centralizes all ideas. That means it’s easier for them to monitor, and us users only have to check one place if we want to remain informed.

Yeah I found it difficult to get into, too. For me, the issue was that it was a really foreign concept to think in terms of tables rather than in terms of cells. I think that AirTable (and perhaps Notion, though I’ve used it less) have made an effort to allow users to remain “Execlish” in their thinking, whereas Coda demands a full conversion to the religion of table oriented thinking. And tables are a different beast.

While Coda has been WIP since 2004, they only left stealth mode in 2018. Notion has also been out since about then too, but they were more fully featured when they came out (which came at the cost that they don’t have the rich formula language Coda now has).

Coda also has many customers, not as many as Notion perhaps, but it will definitely surpass Notion. It’s just a better tool.

Finally, Coda is targeting a different customer segment than Notion. Notion is for personal makers, Coda is for small businesses and startups. Their outreach is therefore targeted to project managers, etc. That’s why they gun for the G2 reviews more than the reddit posts. This is a sensible move, since businesses are generally more willing to pay to organize their work than individuals are to organize their lives. Much much bigger market.

For comparison, the product Excel and the office product on the original macintosh are credited with being the primary “killer apps” that drove the adoption of Microsoft and Apple respectively. So, imagine how valuable Coda will be if it owns the market for the 2020+ equivalent of those products. And that would just be the beginning, because then Coda would have a platform advantage so that it can begin to offer additional products that easily interface with companies’ existing data (and are all bundled in a single recurring monthly fee).

That’s their goal and their target market. Way different (and bigger) than Notion, who has a bit of a bent toward the personal use (like Evernote before it). I’m not even sure Airtable is Turing Complete.

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Notion was very aggressively marketed, that’s all.

Also thanks for the mention @Pch and @Sarah_Arminta. Sorry that my channel is not that active yet and I still haven’t launched my blog. I’m a perfectionist and that’s my curse; things I write or record are never good enough to be published. I post mostly in the community because these posts don’t feel like a medium where I should obsess over each sentence (although more often than not I edit my post or my reply several times before I’m in peace with it.)

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Lol, maybe I will, what an opportunity!

I think you’re right and that makes sense. You’ve made a lot of good points here.

As a personal user it worries me a little bit that users like me might get left behind or that the feature set will veer off in a direction that isn’t quite in line with my needs. But I also want Coda to be profitable and to grow. Maybe I’ll get some more insight tomorrow from the webinar.

Please don’t apologize! My comment wasn’t meant as a dig in any way. You have some great and helpful content. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: (I do have my eye out for your blog though :wink:)

I get it! lol. I’m the same way. I’m definitely not judging you :sweat_smile:

Makes sense. I think that it’s probably the case that the two are largely overlapping. Generally, businesses need the same features as individuals but just faster and for larger teams. I could be wrong, of course, but look at the Google Docs suite. It’s certainly eminently useful for individual users, and it was only by satisfying that initial market that it became adopted by the enterprise market. So, I’d guess Coda is possessed by that same insight

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I’m going to tentatively trust that that is the case, and forge on with Coda. Perhaps I’ll ask @shishir about it tomorrow if I have the chance.

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Nice point @Sarah_Arminta!
I think that when people will understand what’s CODA is really about, many companies like Notion and Airtable could take a serious blow!

Check this post to see what was possible for me to do with no coding background in just one year of use.

But you also have to consider this; many people are consumer, not creators, so they would prefer to have a finalized and less “intimidating” product or service, but far more limited than take the time to really master an entire crafting system. Think about a huge Lego set with little instruction on the box and really endless possibilities; the vast majority of apps and services customers aren’t probably yet ready for this kind of mental approach. Anytime I show to someone what you can do in CODA people are amazed but also they are worried about how much time they will need to create something. They didn’t see that it can really start as a simple doc or sheet that eventually could scale up to incredibile complexity levels while you master more advanced architectures and functionalities.

I put great faith on this community, this is the place where I want to be! I am teaching Boolean logic to my 10 years old son while creating documents with IF statements. One year ago I barely know what Boolean logic was about. :see_no_evil:

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This is a deep and interesting analysis of the Coda business model: I work on corporate level of a big organization, but I use 99% Coda for personal use because of the restrictions imposed by the productivity app, hacks and software I can use at work. It certainly helped me out a lot to create fast marketing plans, product roadmaps, project management and very quick and omnipresent bi directional referencing for research and follow ups.

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Love this quote. The Doc Gallery usually shows polished end states and not how a doc evolved to get to that point over many months and versions.

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Many share the same curse of you @Paul_Danyliuk! :relaxed: But we will encourage you to push forward! Done and delivered it will be incredible more valuable than perfect and unpublished. Many famous YouTubers, Bloggers and writers has really started with nothing, with videos or posts that are far from perfect and they always tell the same success story. Also people today tends to prefer original and not so polished content if it’s amazing and useful (think about TikTok with 30 seconds attention lifespan!) Don’t fall entrapped on perfectionism as you will learn and improve incredibly more faster by doing and making some error than passing your time on learning any aspect of content marketing, placement, etc etc. You have done a really interesting job until now! Keep going!

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Hey, @Sarah_Arminta
I couldn’t agree more with you.
It’s very difficult to find good content about Coda.
What brought me here in the first place was this YouTube video below.
This guy is an AirTable expert and his tutorials are really good. He posted this “Getting started with Coda” and I almost immediately left AirTable. (It sucks in comparison).
I wish there were more tutorials like this.
The only thing I dislike about Coda is that it doesn’t handle well tables with more than 10.000 rows or much much less if you have buttons in it.
Overall I think it’s amazing what you can achieve with it and I happily pay for the Team plan

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This conversation is great. I agree with all of you so far, but I’ll chime in with my thoughts. I started testing Coda out at some point, but left before I got hooked. That happened a few times, actually. I can’t recall the specifics of why, but it was mostly just not fully understanding just how useful it could be.

Once I saw the search console pack, I knew I could make something awesome if I had access. I actually paid for Coda on my own before finally getting approval to get the team version for my company. During that few months, which coincided with the onset of the pandemic really sent me into the deep end. I have moved everything I had in Notion and Airtable over to Coda. I use it for several personal projects as well, and I’m a legit Codan through and through.

I think that it’s power is what steers people to more simple things like Notion. But for those of us who can eventually wrap our heads around some of it (thanks to this community of course!), it renders those tools and many others completely worthless.

The ONLY thing I need Coda to improve upon is the handling of huge tables. I want to move everything I have into Coda, but some things would just be impossible because of performance reasons. Oh- I guess, too, app-wide searching. I need that, as well.

I want to post about my personal projects eventually, but sharing and permissions is a little tricky because of how I built them. Once I start fresh, I’ll try to do so. I did post one on Reddit, but like @Sarah_Arminta said, it’s pretty dead.

Overall, if you show the right person the power of Coda- they’re going to be won over. It’s unbeatable. Trying to use Notions formulas after Coda is comical. I was an Airtable early adopter, known at my company as “The Airtable Guy”, but it took all of 15 minutes on a Coda paid tier for me to say goodbye.

I’m rambling, but just know I love building and using Coda, and I hope more and more people realize how amazing it is!

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You could have posted it here :wink: in the How To category :wink: ! You still can :wink: !

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Out of curiosity (and a bit of schadenfreude) what’s the Notion formula language like?

Edit: Looked up some examples. Seems that the major inelegance arises from the use of the prop function. E.g.


thisRow.[First Name] is just much more elegant.


It seems a filter with both AND and OR operations can also be a bit of a mess (unless this have since been fixed).

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I understand well what you are saying and agree. It would be a great idea that you start a YouTube channel about Coda. You do a fantastic job with your current videos.

Excellent videos (3 so far) demonstrating the power and flexibility of Coda. Straight to the point, showing clearly the Formulars etc…

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Hi @Sarah_Arminta I think I saw that you came over from Clickup too. Same here :slight_smile:

I think one reason why is coda’s features are toward business people (the tables, calendars, kanban, those are excel killer features) and we know the slash commands kill word docs as well. Business people tend to just do their work and go home. Take it from me - I run my entire company on coda. We have a massive document for the entire company - >100,000 words in total, hundreds of tables. I think I told in total only a couple of my friends so far about coda, but me being totally focused on work doesn’t mean I’ll actively rave about coda.

Meanwhile notion is for personal use - people who want to feel good organizing their life. Naturally they are going to want to talk about this to their friends. Notion’s customers are probably a lot more social and they gain more word of mouth. Where coda is better is in the workplace - and signing those big enterprise contracts worth hundreds of thousands of users, so it’s a whole different ballgame than notion

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