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Show HN: I made a site where students can create and share flashcards and notes (barbra.io)
133 points by EricMeier 71 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 86 comments

Nice looking website, but may I ask: are these tweets legit? There's no username or permalink, and a quick search didn't return anything… I'm always concerned by products endorsed through fake testimonials. I'm all for asking friends to help out, but disguising it as legitimate user feedback seems a bit disingenuous.

They are friends of mine, but their feedback is legit :) Maybe we should be more explicit about it?

Yes, I think you should at least display them as what they are: testimonials from friends, not tweets from happy users.

Whenever I see a collection of (legitimate) user tweets, it gives me reassurance that a) the product is liked b) the product has been around for a while c) the product is popular. A company will always praise its own product. But if users start to do it publically on Twitter, it's an honest recommendation that is worth a lot in my eyes. It's like a grassroots movement. But if you fake it, it feels like astroturfing.

Totally agree. We are changing that now. Thanks a lot for the feedback. Will rectify this.

Update: we removed it, and are replacing it with feedback people tweeted at us (not friends), and feedback we got from here and Reddit :)

Similarly to many here, I can't get the website to work, but I'll still ask a question:

How is this different than Quizlet and Anki? (Obviously with Anki sharing isn't as straightforward but is possible (there's even a website hosting Anki flashcard sets))

We are live again finally. Sorry for the hiccup.

In Barbra the main difference is that you can take notes and have your flashcards in one place. I noticed I often had to transfer my class notes from Evernote and copy them into Anki. That was a huge hassle.

Another point is that in Barbra sharing flashcards and notes is the default. You invite people, set goals together, and then collaborate on everything. I noticed we always sent photos of notes on Whatsapp to others before tests, and that was a hassle as well. So we built thinking of these 2 things.

This sounds great! That always bugged me about Anki. I knew it could be done so much more conveniently.

I would suggest redoing the intro video, with better acoustics, less "umm" and "so anyway...". The site and product look really polished so it kinda sticks out.

Anki supports creating cards from LaTeX notes via an add-on[0], and for importing from a plaintext-based format there is a command-line tool[1]. After that, one can use Anki’s accompanying shared decks feature to make a deck available to others[2].

Admittedly, all of those options aren’t entirely hassle-free or discoverable.

[0] https://tentativeconvert.github.io/LaTeX-Note-Importer-for-A...

[1] https://metacpan.org/pod/Anki::Import

[2] https://ankiweb.net/shared/decks/

Exactly. It takes 100 add-ons to get this to work. We just wanted to make it so that I can highlight a text and say "create a flashcard" and then it is all done.

We also offer more tests options as you can do Memrise-like multiple choice test or an Anki-like card-flip test.

Is that something that you find useful? :) I know some passion are avid Anki-ers so I would love to get your take on it.

I value integration flexibility and want to control or at least know exactly the spaced repetition algorithm I am using. Additionally, I believe a hosted service without trustworthy end-to-end encryption is a no-go for personal knowledge management. So far I’ll stick with org-drill and Anki, it works for me (not using any add-ons).

There is also my new toy project, apy [0]. It allows, among other things, to add and modify cards from cli.

[0]: https://github.com/lervag/apy

apy looks awesome—thanks for sharing!

Aw thanks. Hope Barbra can give you that convenience.

We are recording a new video right now. That one we just made for our YC application.

Hi folks, When our classes went remote, I struggled to stay motivated; the tools we used didn’t not play nice with one another. It was lonely. So I built Barbra to give students all the tools needed to study together in one place. I wanted to get the best parts of Anki, Notion, and Duolingo and just make them work for all learners. The tool is free. And you can find it at https://barbra.io At Barbra, students have their notes and flashcards together. They can also set a daily studying goal, and hold each other accountable to it by competing for streaks. The tool is pretty bare-bone and doesn’t work so well on mobile, but I would love to hear your feedback. What do you think?

Consider changing the grid texture and re-recording your videos. Depending on the level of zoom, it creates an unpleasing effect: https://send.firefox.com/download/f3465be7ff20fc88/#Ebv76l6w...

Ughh, that looks nauseating. We will definitely fix that and replace it with auto-playing videos. We shouldn't have used gifs there, its a compression artifact I think.

Consider a simpler page as index, 15Mb javascript only is a tad too much, both for you and your visitors

Agreed. We will optimize it. The website should be live now again by the way.

Reminds me a bit of Quizlet (search functionality on Quizlet was amazing) but looks like a nice cohesive product.

Best of luck!

Thank you. Quizlet is definitely an inspiration. Our benefit is that you can write notes and flashcards in one place and share them easily in study groups. And the study groups motivate each other through visible daily goals. Quizlet only offers flashcards.

If I recall, you can pretty easily share decks on Quizlet, at least years back when I used it. Is the difference with this that theoretically if I were in a study group we could work on editing them together, and then sort of 'compete' with each other to achieve daily goals (sort of like Memrise)?

Exactly right. It is not only about sharing a final product, but rather about creating it together. And then competing to see who shares and learns the most.

Props to the designer for creating a really clean interface :) I can really see this becoming like slack for schools vs. a Quizlet. I was a harcore Quizlet user, but for me it always lacked the opportunity to group study. I think you guys are onto something

Hitting "enter" instead of clicking the button in registration form does not work. Unsubscribe link in registration confirmation E-Mail does not work. Login does not work (gives 404). But landing page looks nice.

You are unsubscribed but Sendgrid sends you to a 404 for some reason, but you won't get more emails.

This is just a beginning of your jurney of not working features, unfortunately. I've played with this for few minutes, and basically this is not even beta :(

I am rooting for this, but this is just too early.

What wasn't working? Sorry your experience was negative. We want to fix everything soon.

We truly just started, but brutal feedback helps, so thank you :)

You should have a "TRY DEMO NOW" button where I get to play with a demo sandbox. I just want to click around for a bit and I'm too disinterested to make an account.

Agreed. As soon as I see a page asking me to create an account, I nope out of there immediately.

You can try it with a dummy account for now. It is ok.

Good idea :D It is something we want to do, but just didn't get the time to do it yet.

Blank page and flashing logo. What's wrong with plain HTML?

Sorry, it is soon back up. We didn't expect this much traffic.

This is neat and like the intro. If you don't mind sharing what is your front-end ui stack (for example, for building the user interface, navigation, panes, etc).

Thank you :) no worries.

We are using React.JS, Apollo and GraphQL.

For the text editor we are using Slate which is pretty good. And other than that we use emotion for styling :)

Our backend is Go, Postgres and Couchbase.

Thanks for sharing. So no library for styling forms? Is all that styled by hand?

The site looks great.

What did Couchbase offer that you found Postgres not a good fit for?

We started with Couchbase and then switched to Postgres. So it's actually the other way around. We needed ACID transactions.

Do you see yourself phasing out couch base, or do you see a reason to keep both?

We are thinking of leaving Couchbase. Most of the new code is PostGres. What was your experience with NoSQL like so far?

Promo video looks very promising. As others have noted getting blank pages more often than not. Google oauth registration doesn't seem to complete

:) thank you. The website should be up now. We were down for a half hour sadly. We managed to scale up our resources now.

If you want me to agree to your TOS or PP on the sign up page, at least provide a link to them THERE.

Also, when returning from "Sign up" or "Sign in" via the back button, the logo and both "Sign up" and "Sign in" buttons and the footer with the links to TOS and PP are missing, need to refresh.

Thanks a lot for the feedback. We will fix that asap.

Update: fixed

I shared this link on social media: https://barbra.io/

Shows nothing on social media. Consider adding some meta data and og and twitter data so it'll show more data and an image when shared.

Will do today! Thanks for sharing.

I signed up and then got a bit confused when I had to create a hub. Might be a good idea to have an example image or video on the right side of the form to illustrate what it is and how it's going to look after I create it.

Agreed, we want to remove the Hub thing altogether for normal users. We recycled the permissions system from something we were working on last year, and that is why we have it.

Hubs work well for schools (e.g. harvard.barbra.io), but doesn't feel very useful for individuals.

What is the benefit of using this site over the cost free, open source, repetition spaced, multi platform Anki ecosystem?

Our tool does everything Anki does, plus it let's you organize your notes and decks in one place and create them collaboratively with others in a group.

It also lets you set a daily learning goal to hold you accountable to learning.

So it does spaced repetition?

Yes. SM-2 algorithm just like Anki.

Bug: I have loaded once before, but at times it get stuck (with show blue logo showing at top/middle of screen).

Thanks for letting us know. Weird. Just tested and it worked here. We just scaled up more resources, so maybe it should be better now if you hot reload. Are you logged in? :)

Was using chrome. When I last checked again, it is working again. Keep up good work!

Works in chrome for me but not brave.

Edit: now works in brave.

We should be online again now. I am sorry for the inconvenience. We hope we can still get your feedback.

Looks great, unfortunately stuck on pulsing loading logo after initial Google log-in (OS X Safari)...

Can you please hot reload? Our server almost crashed. We just scaled it up. Should be back any moment now

still down.

Should be up now.

Hi guys, Barbra co-founder here too. Would love to hear your thoughts on the tool as well.

Tool looks great! Out of curiosity, are you planning to monetize? If so, do you mind me asking how?

Thanks for asking. Yes we are, but we want to always have a super generous free-tier. We were looking into charging educators for using Barbra in the classroom with more features (like tracking, permissions, etc), and also charging power-users (people with a lot of flashcards and notes) a small subscription fee of around 5-8$ a month.

What do you think? :) is it fair?

> charging power-users (people with a lot of flashcards and notes) a small subscription fee of around 5-8$ a month

Don’t charge that little monthly. Maybe $30 a quarter for more than 5,000 text flash cards or $50 for that plus photos and videos. No one has yet made a success of flash cards with a real big company. Anki is one guy. Remembr.it focuses on Chinese vocabulary. Memrise needs to figure out a way to make real money because they took VC.

Good luck. Counting to $40,000 a year in $8 increments is really hard. Don’t handicap yourself by charging so little.

That is true. Thank you. We want to empower ourselves enough to invest back into product and make it awesome.

Specially during Covid we need to figure out how to stay alive without necessarily fundraising.

Personally I strongly favour building a sustainable business - but surely you can raise funds despite (because of! Given your market) the crisis?

Maybe you could allow creators to make their decks purchasable? Maybe take a cut from that purchase

Hmm yes. Could be good. We are trying to build this "study group template" library. So we are putting the notes and flashcards from our university lectures up for free in the platform. Maybe asking students to do so too for their lectures and then giving them money based on how many people use it would be nice.

It could look like this (mockup) https://imgur.com/JVdhnco

What do you think? :)

tryed, saw hotjar & lots of blocked resources by blockers and a near empty screen

We should be live again now. Let me know if it works. I would love to get your feedback!

You still have GTM, Hotjar and Fullstory included by default, without opt-in and no way to opt out. This significantly reduces your trustworthiness for me, as well as my willingness to try out or recommend to others what looks like a pretty useful tool.

Consider if you really need all that analytics, and whether it's worth the invasiveness (edit: and GDPR breach, you being located in Germany). Page hits, sign ups, created flash cards and other usage is something you have available without any of those tools.

Thanks for letting us know. We are removing Hotjar. And we don't use GTM (we forgot we had it) so that is also gone. We use Fullstory just to track bugs and it helps us a lot – I hope that is ok.

That's great to hear! I'm not too familiar with Fullstory, so I recommend reading up on their GDPR docs[1] and judge for yourself :)

[1] https://www.fullstory.com/resources/gdpr-and-fullstory/#how-...

Update: removed Hotjar

Where did the name come from?

It was the name of a great primary school teacher I had. Well. Her name was Barbara, but then we changed it to Barbra to make it sound more like a company name... The good thing is we can rock to the tune of that Barbra Streisand song.

Edit: the original = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WK4HHaNhcgU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWhtcU4-xAM this one? :)

It's the first thing that came to my mind as I read the title

Exactly. How great is it to rock to that tune?

Can't create an account, a graphql request is pending

Hi I'm so sorry. We are fixing it right now. Our DB was down.

Any plans for spaced repetition functionality?

All flashcard you create are tested with SM-2 Spaced repetition, so we already have that :)

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