13 min read

Switching from Notion to Coda

5 key differences in Coda and Notion

Notion and Coda both help consolidate your tool stack and streamline your workflows—but there are some key differences. This guide will walk you through those differences and give you the details you need to smoothly make the transition from Notion to Coda.

1. From wikis to hubs.

In Notion, everything is a page. In Coda, everything is a doc. Notion’s wiki-based organizational model means your information lives in a page that sits amongst infinite pages in your workspace. With no real container for your pages, it can be difficult to find what you need. Docs let you group everything about a team, project, etc. into one cohesive place. Docs can then be organized into folders in your workspace, so you can quickly find what you need. It also allows you to scale your docs with your teams, connecting to new docs when needed, but always keeping your team hub yours. In Notion, you navigate between pages, teamspaces, and workspaces through the lefthand navigation menu. In Coda, there are different levels that allow you to organize and manage your work. Starting at the workspace level, you get a bird's eye view of your folders, docs, templates, and even Packs (or integrations) in the doc list. You can also search across workspaces (if you have more than one), manage Packs, and organize folders and docs. The next level in Coda's organizational hierarchy are folders. Folders are groups of docs that contain shared permissions. For instance, you can group all of your product team’s core docs in one place, or all your onboarding materials in a folder that is shared with the whole company. Finally, the third level is docs. Docs are the atomic unit of Coda. Within them, you can create infinite pages and subpages that are organized in the left-hand page list. Docs have their own sharing permissions, which we’ll cover later. To summarize, Notion’s hierarchy looks like Workspace > Teamspaces > Pages > Subpages. Coda has a few more layers that make it easier to find what you need when your team grows; this looks like Workspace > Folders > Docs > Pages > Subpages.

Flow chart of Coda's hierarchy

You’ll see that a lot of the differences in Coda vs. Notion stem from this foundational difference.

2. From sharing pages to sharing docs.

Notion shares at the page level. Coda shares at the doc level. Wherever you put that page in Notion, it's now stuck there. But in Coda, you have the flexibility to see that page anywhere—without the pain of actually having to move it. With sync pages, you can embed specific Coda pages into another Coda doc without worrying about exposing any sensitive data that needs to stay secure.
Codan Hannah Rochau says it best in her Notion to Coda Migration Guide:
Differences in the hub vs. wiki model create downstream effects on things like sharing. In Notion, you share at the page-level—again, that’s because unless you want to share your entire team space, there isn’t another container to share! In Coda, you share at the doc-level, so when you grant view only, comment, or edit access to a doc, those permissions are applied across all pages and subpages in your doc.
Practically, this means a couple things for you:
  • Instead of sharing pages, you can share entire docs in Coda.
  • Pages within Coda docs are not confined to that doc. You can embed them anywhere.
  • Embedded Coda pages come with controls so you can manage the transmission of information in and out of your organization.
Tip: You can also create templates for your whole workspace. Notion lets you create templates for you personally. Coda lets you create a template and publish for your entire workspace to use.

3. From table formulas to anywhere formulas.

Coda and Notion both have their own formula languages. Notion's formulas are used solely in tables (columns and filters). Coda’s are a bit different in that you can use them anywhere, they’re more flexible, and they let you do more. But for all their differences, you can start a formula in the say way, by typing = to begin. For a full list of Coda formulas, check out coda.io/formulas. You certainly don’t need to know everything,—knowing a handful goes a long way. Not only can you use them in tables as column formulas and filters, but you can use them practically anywhere in your doc. For example, you can write a personalized message by typing “Welcome, =@user!” to ensure everyone gets a warm greeting when they open your doc.
Coda formulas are also a bit different than Notion in that they active, meaning they allow you to actually take action on the data in your doc. For example, you can use them to trigger actions in Coda (e.g. add rows, create pages, notify users, etc.) and even in external services (e.g. send calendar invites, send emails or Slack messages, update records in Salesforce, etc.). Tip: Want to dive deep into the difference in formula languages? We like this doc by SimplaDocs.

4. From databases to tables.

Databases in Notion = tables in Coda. Simple tables in Notion = grids in Coda (coming soon!). In Coda, you can still summon tables alongside text (through the slash command), but while tables and databases look similar, they have major differences. Notion self describes databases as “collections of pages” where each row is a page and each database is a page within itself. While you can treat rows like pages in Coda by clicking the expand row button which appears when you hover on the first column, tables are much more than just that. It’s a place for you to store, track, analyze, and take action on data that’s critical to your business. For instance, Coda tables can be your weekly to do list, your company’s OKR tracker, where you crowdsource feedback (Dory), or even where you plan your next holiday get together (never get stuck with three green bean casseroles again!). In Notion, you can link databases. You can also create connected views of tables in Coda, so that when something changes in one view, it changes everywhere.
And you can change how you view the information in tables under the table options. You can also turn standard tables into kanban boards, detailed views, charts, graphs, forms, and much more. You can even turn tables into databases that are synced with outside apps, like Salesforce, Jira, Snowflake, and hundreds of others. Notions databases sound powerful; Coda's tables are powerful.

5. From connections to page embeds and Packs.

Like Notion, Coda lets you create link previews of other applications, as well as inline embeds of other services, videos, images, etc., in the canvas. But Coda also has a number of powerful ways to connect to your tool stack that Notion doesn't. First, Coda lets you bring all of your tools under one roof through page embeds. Page types let you embed Figma files, Miro boards, Google Sheets, Google Docs, Mode dashboards, and practically anything else as a page in Coda. Plus, many of these embeds are two-way editable, so you can make changes without leaving Coda too. This helps you avoid tab switching, giving you all the context you need from one link.
Page embeds are great when you’re working with visual tools (e.g. Figma, Miro, Amplitude, etc.) or want to make updates directly in that app without switching tabs (like Google Sheets).
Second, Coda has a vast marketplace of extensions and integrations known as Packs. Coda has over 600 public Packs available to teams through the Coda Gallery, including the likes of Salesforce, Jira, Gmail, Slack, and Snowflake. Packs let you bring data from external applications into Coda as sync tables so you can analyze, visualize, and take action on your data from one place. Some Packs even come equipped with two-way sync, so you can make changes to the data from your doc—without needing to switch tabs.
Packs are great when you want to bring data into Coda or action that data (like sending and email or Slack message).

Now what?

Now that you have a general overview of the differences in Coda and Notion, check out our other resources to dig a little deeper into the power of Coda. And, as always, if you have any questions, you can contact our support team using the "?" in the bottom right corner of any doc. Happy building!

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