Annie & how to

How to ?

An normative view on usage part I — intro

Christiaan Huizer
7 min readMay 13, 2024


When we write about ‘how to

we mostly write about functions and thus code. This approach is most vivid in the community where technical solutions are mainstream. The user group that likes the coding part of is in absolute terms small, almost niche I would say. How many of your friends like writing code? And when you read this, you are already part of a specific sub set having like minded friends. Users like you understand that although simplicity looks easy, you need hard core tech skills as for example shown in this blog. This is not for everybody to make, but for everybody to use.

I guess it was in 2021 that the leadership team made a choice to simplify

. We got a more polished presentation (eye candy) and an effort to provide a better user experience. Although the latter is in my opinion not an overal success. My idea is that the simplification we notice may be an answer to the question: what sets apart and is in reach for the majority of non tech users?

In short: bring data together. This perspective is supported by packs, by the focus on simplification and by the

(social) media activities: mainly about — in technical terms — simple docs related to meetings and decision making . On the bottom of any new page you find templates to get you started. They are all about collaboration.

templates provided when you create a new page

That explains why the home page of for non clients looks like this.

how to according

The promoted approach does not exclude the building of a CRM or the next invoicing system, but is simply not (or no longer) the focus.

Certainly when we take into account the acquisition of Plato, we understand why the focus on rituals matters. This step will force

to consider the simplification of the transpose logic to handle the output of a form in a database friendly manner.

How to part II

Yes, there is also the partnership with

and although Artic AI will likely empower a lot of the work allows in her docs, I look at this AI development as a back end integration to support a smarter front (the docs with pages & tables) in which collaboration circled around shared data and insights is key. More about this partnership in June 2024 according Ryan Klaus.

That brings me back to question on how to interpret ‘how to


There is obviously the tech side and there is the social & collaborative side. Both have a normative aspect. There is good code and there are good ways to collaborate. This implies we can evaluate code and processes.

When it comes to collaboration, the modern identity driven approach preaches something like: ‘what feels good, works well’. This not so innocent, but nevertheless populair believe contradicts all sorts of academic studies (unrelated to tech) and shows a flagrant misconception of how humans operate in general when they try to work together.

Leadership has been studied and shaped in the military, it arrived at (business) schools and today even on social media we have access to principles guiding and shaping successful human interaction. Some methods work, most don’t and we have the science to understand the difference.

Crucial for successful collaboration is that we understand the importance of a safe space to discuss ideas. Second that we understand how we as humans are prone to make specific mistakes over and over again (like the confirmation bias). Cultural patterns have their effect on the surface, below an older systems drives our behavior. In this blog we touch upon some parts and relate it to

as a tool to help us in making good decisions.

I start with a screenshot of what is possible in


discussion of input


as a tool to support organisations with team meetings, note taking, road maps and so forth, makes more sense when the procedures and interactions we program follow a pattern that relates to how people for example decide best, based on scientific studies.

From a practical perspective, the ultimate

power lays in its tables, buttons and functions driving actions and calculations. Everybody can press a button. Some can create buttons that work fine and few can set up a doc with buttons that really work well. To make meetings work well, we need docs with tables and buttons that work really well together.


well in the broadest sense, a good understanding of the formula language is required. It is however not enough. You need to enrich your understanding with insights from social sciences, not only for the UX part, but very much for setting up procedures that support good outcomes.

I invite you to listen for a few minutes to what Annie has to say about how discission making works and so you will understand why specific rituals result in good decisions and others likely won’t.

discovery, discussion & decisions

How to

in this context is about creating a framework that supports the logic Annie describes when she shows how discovery, discussion & decisions are related. I am not going to repeat her story and only reference an existing ritual often promotes (dory) that has similarities but lacks the rigor Annie promotes.

A shorter and incomplete version describing the same principles you find here. They have in common that making up your mind without pressure and providing arguments for your ideas, enables for much better insights and perspectives. That said, you need more to get good decisions, I’ll come back to this in an other blog.

How disappears in this ‘how to ?’

When sharing a decision framework based on scientific insights and explained in laymen terms, the tool itself comes second. In this approach the

doc enables us to set up a smart meetings logic. The tool is not evaluated on its technical merits. The only thing we expect of is that it helps us to arrive at the decisions possible.

To show you how that works I created a doc with an example. It works rather well, partly because I master the tech part of ‘how to

. That said, it would be good when the team would take this collaborative oriented approach even more serious. When we see robust permissions, decent print to pdf and smart transpose functions, we all understand that is determined to support any collaboration driven processes friction free.

The objective and the means to get there come together, blend and finally one is no longer thinkable without the other. In this approach we no longer discuss

features supporting these solutions, we have a seamless integration of means and ends. I celebrate the day when becomes a metonym by name to describe any collaboration.

AI at work

The questions in the template are mine, the responses and the feedback is mainly the work of

AI. I believe we could benefit more from AI in these specific contexts once the AI applied is more powerful. AIs in general do better regarding empathy of their reappraisal than most humans.

My name is Christiaan and blog about

. Since the summer of 2023 often (but not only) about how to with AI to support organisations dealing with texts and templates.

The latest major Coda AI update was on Dec 7, 2023. With the announcement of Snowflake as partner on April 10, I expect to see a new

AI logic put in place before the summer holidays. The current AI implementation is not sustainable.

Why I focus on

AI you can read here: ⤵️

I hope you enjoyed this article. If you have questions feel free to reach out. Though this article is for free, my work (including advice) won’t be, but there is always room for a chat to see what can be done. You find my (for free) contributions to the Coda Community and on Twitter.

Coda comes with a set of building blocks ー like pages for infinite depth, tables that talk to each other, and buttons that take action inside or outside your doc ーso anyone can make a doc as powerful as an app (source).

Not to forget: the Coda Community provides great insights for free once you add a sample doc.



Christiaan Huizer

I write about how to Coda . You find blogs for beginners and experienced makers. I publish about 1 / week. Welcome!