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Message started by Mark Bernstein on Dec 27th, 2010, 11:03am

Title: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Mark Bernstein on Dec 27th, 2010, 11:03am

I'd like to invite Tinderboxers to discuss the following question:


Quote:
When you use Tinderbox whilst carefully reading a book -- perhaps when embarking on a review, or in the course of research -- what apparatus do you use?  How do you prepare?  How do you organize your notes?


For example, I myself find it handy to have several distinctive prototypes ready to use:
  • Quotation: to hold notable passages I might wish to quote verbatim, and to record their location. (This can save enormous trouble later!)
  • Query: notes about typographic errors and infelicities you might want to bring to the attention of the author, but which are unlikely to figure in your review
  • ToDo: additional reading, research, and other tasks that your reading suggests.  I find it helpful to note down the task and return immediately to my reading; this reduces the temptation to wander off into the library stacks pursuing other books, or to spend lots of time with Google and Wikipedia in pursuit of wild hares.
  • Objection: notes on topics where I believe the author to be mistaken, or the premises questionable. These might figure in the review, but they might not: a reviewer ought to write about what the author did, not the book the reviewer thinks he or she ought to have written.


Of course, most of my notes will use none of these prototypes.  But I find it useful to mark some of these items with a distinctive appearance.

I keep these notes chiefly in map view, though I might use outline view to select and arrange notes at a later stage of composition.

How do you read with Tinderbox?

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by mrkwr on Dec 28th, 2010, 2:02pm

In my work I tend to use Tinderbox for taking/organising notes on sets of articles rather than books. This might be 30-150 articles of 4–16 pages, so the overall volume can be comparable to a (large) book.

I use two key top-level containers, Sources and MyNotes. (Actually there is another to contain my writing on the topic being reviewed, but that's not essential to the note-taking part) There are prototypes set up for *Sources (including key attributes for bibliographic details, plus boolean attributes for Used (so I can check if I've not used any of the sources reviewed) and for DoNotCite, so I can exclude sources from the bibliography section of my writing), for *Notes (which has a comparable Used_Note boolean attribute. (There's also a rule to change the colour of used sources/notes so I can easily see which haven't been used.)

Because the articles tend to be fairly short I usually make the initial notes on each article within the Text for each source (i.e. there's one tbx note per source). After a while, maybe when I've got a better idea of the overall subject, I make shorter topic-specific notes (using the *Notes prototype), either putting in links back to the Source they come from or just recording and Author/Date reference to the Source. I keep all the *Notes at a single level so I can review them in the Map view, where I organise them spatially, using adornments and links. I think this is critical to getting the real value out of Tinderbox in this type of work.

The *Sources prototype includes key attributes for Theme and Topic (both sets) to help with organising and understanding. One way I've found very helpful for this is to make an agent that selects a particular Theme; set its CleanupAction attribute to "none", and then open it in Map view. Turning off the auto cleanup allows you to move the notes around at will and group, use adornments etc.

Having used keywords for themes & topics on the *Sources, I often find that when I come to write up or just to think about how new notes fit in, that the Find window is very helpful - you can set the drop-down to Theme or Topic as appropriate, type in the keyword and get just the notes matching those keywords (though it took a while to appreciate how picky the Find is for keywords within sets - you have to type the whole keyword, not just part of it, and it is case-sensitive even if you untick the box for this).

I also have a prototype *Questions in which I log things I need to find out or to do.

There are also agents set up in advance to collect *Sources added recently (i.e. in last 2 days), *Notes added recently (and also stuff I've written for output recently), which I find helpful for picking up things the next day or so.

I don't use a *Quotations prototype but achieve something similar with the "quote" badge.

Hope this isn't too far off-topic to be of interest.

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Ben Worthington on Dec 28th, 2010, 3:40pm

I have found that the ipad has made a terrific difference to my process of reading books.  Wherever possible I buy books through the Amazon Kindle app and take notes on the ipad (I have just finished Tony Blair's tribute to himself, A Journey, and made 200 highlights and notes.).  These notes and highlights are then available on the Kindle website - I copy/paste all of these into a single Tinderbox note and then explode the note.  

I have prototypes for quotes (most of the notes will be quotes since the majority of my notes are highlights of the text) and for my own notes.  I go through the exploded notes in outline view, assigning prototypes and tagging key notes - these can be later picked up by agents if I need them.  Then to map view to look for themes, connections etc.

I rarely do anything particularly complicated and find it's best to avoid imposing too much structure up front; most of the real work is in map view, reviewing and considering the material, making links, clustering notes and so on.

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Paul Walters on Dec 29th, 2010, 4:07am

I also use the Kindle reader on iPad and the techniques Ben Worthington described.

Most of what I read is not books.  PDFs from many sources.  For work and for research I do a lot of annotating, highlighting, and clipping.  "How do I get this into Tinderbox" is always in the back of my mind.  I store most of my source material in DEVONthink, and lately have synced this to the iPad, where I do my annotating and clipping in GoodReader or its relatives.  Now that iOS 4.2 is out, I'm enjoying the ability to toggle between apps, so I'm developing outlines and clippings in Carbon Fin, toggling back and forth to the PDF reader.  It's easy then to grab that notation file from Carbon Fin and import the OPML into Tinderbox.

Then the fun begins, because as I read I'm thinking of "how does this relate to that" and Tinderbox is the only place where I can fully work through the questions that the reading raises.

My answer to Mark's "how do you prepare" question is: I get a lot of funnels - on the desktop, on the iPad, on the Kindle - so that I can cull and direct the material I need for my research into Tinderbox, which is at the top level of a value pyramid.

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Jean Goodwin on Dec 29th, 2010, 11:08am

It's always cool to read about people's workflows.

For me:  working largely with articles, I do a detailed outline, interspersed with quotes and comments (bolded) in whatever I'm using to organize the pdfs--at the moment, Papers as an inbox and Endnote for long-term storage and Word integration.  That way when I come back to the article, I can read my abstract instead of the whole thing.  I've never made the transition to putting this info into Tinderbox, since I've never put in the time to have Tinderbox emulate the pdf-management facilties of these more specialized programs.

Tinderbox holds my workproduct--basically, anything with value added by my brain.  These notes are about what happens when the article I'm reading rubs up against one of my large/sprawling/ongoing or proto-article/focused/due-dated projects.  Depending on what I'm doing in the particular Tinderbox document, these notes might get a specific prototype (like "to do" or "top priority" or "source"), but generally, they're just notes, stuck into the document or container for the project.

I know I'm missing out this way on the  discovery of "related notes," but for some reason those serendipitous connections just don't do much for me.  In fact, even with my own notes probably 80% end up in the archive, never really re-used!  But the act of making the note--that really makes a difference.

Awaiting Tinderbox on the iPad ;) at the moment I'm pasting quotes and making notes in a Dropbox-synced set of plain text files, using Notational Velocity on the desktop and Plaintext on the iPad, and uploading relevant ones every so often into Tinderbox.  Having multiple syncing services (Simplenote, Kindle, Carbonfin) was messing with my mind.

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by JeffAbbott on Dec 30th, 2010, 10:16am

I'm going to try and use Tinderbox as a book journal this year, as my blog will feature more mentions of books that I've read (not full blown reviews, though). I will probably organize it as follows, with values for each note:

Chronological (books read in January, February, etc.)
Genre of book (nonfiction, historical, suspense, mainstream, etc.)

I want to keep it very simple to start. Before I've kept this sort of information in notebooks. But it would be nice to have it in a digital form more easily shared.

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Mark Bernstein on Dec 30th, 2010, 12:14pm

I've found it handy to keep a list of books bought, and books read, in a big archive.

Then, it's easy to use agents to pull out and present useful sets:

  • books read in 2010, 2009, 2008...
  • books, sorted by author
  • the most recently-read dozen books


What metadata do you include with your book prototype?  I keep track of ISBN (mostly because it helps me link to the books in online stores), cover thumbnail jpeg (eye candy for the Web site), author name, and title.

One attribute I think I might add in 2011 is, who told me about this book?  Several times in the past year, I've finished a lovely book put, though I recall someone suggested I read it, I can't remember who!  With the size of my book queue growing intolerable (I've still got a book I borrowed from the truffle farmer in 2006 that I'm definitely planning to read and return very soon!), remembering why I'm reading a book might be helpful or, at least, sociable!

In addition to sharing, I'm hoping that collecting these notes might lead to a more reflective and intelligent selection of reading.  That hope seems distant, I confess, and few people in the book trade seem to think it's a sensible concern.  Yet when there's so much to read, and I can find time for so few books, it seems worthwhile to consider the ideal selection with at least some passing attention.

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by JeffAbbott on Dec 30th, 2010, 12:33pm

I think those are excellent ideas, Mark. Thank you!

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Christopher Menice on Jan 7th, 2011, 1:25pm

Being incredibly new to Tinderbox it can all be very confusing.  I'm intrigued to track books along with notes etc.  I looked through the Tinderbox file exchange for a template, but didn't find one.  

Could anyone post a template for me to play with?  I'm particularly intrigued about how to do what Mark B describes as

Quote:
I've found it handy to keep a list of books bought, and books read, in a big archive.

Then, it's easy to use agents to pull out and present useful sets:
books read in 2010, 2009, 2008...
books, sorted by author
the most recently-read dozen books


Thanks so much.

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Rich Shields on Jan 7th, 2011, 1:51pm

Thanks for all the comments.

One question: How do you coordinate the bibliographic data in Tinderbox with your bibliographic program? I use Bookends for that latter purpose. Specifically, it seems like there is a duplication of typing to enter into two programs.

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Mark Bernstein on Jan 7th, 2011, 2:23pm

You can option-drag references from Bookends to Tinderbox.

When using Bookends, I also copy a formatted reference (cmd-K) and paste that into a Tinderbox note.

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Ben Worthington on Jan 8th, 2011, 5:03am

Christopher,

I've done a very quick example file for you, you can hopefully find it here:  https://public.me.com/ben_worthington

I cannot post my actual reading notes as they're mixed in a file with lots of confidential stuff.  Hope this helps.

I dont think I did this in the example posted but for sorting just go into the rename dialogue box of any container and adjust the sort order at the bottom.

Ben

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Christopher Menice on Jan 8th, 2011, 9:41am

Hi Ben,

Thank you so much for the document.  I was able to download it no problem.  I understand about confidential information as well.

The document opened in outline view and I can see one Prototype, 2 books and 2 agents.  

This is probably a simply question, but how to I see how the agent is made?  Or even the results of what the agents do?

I know I need a lot more practice with Tinderbox.  I've been trying to use it, but I don't have a ton of time to figure out how it works.  I think I might just have to make the time and having lots of examples will surely help me along.

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Mark Bernstein on Jan 8th, 2011, 2:44pm

To inspect an agent, select the agent and choose RENAME the note menu.  Shortcut:  press Enter (fn-Return).

For example, Ben Worthington's agent for 2011 Books has the query

Code:
CompletedOn(2011)


which means, "The attribute "CompletedOn" contains the substring 2011. This will work nicely in the UK but might not work in the US, where default settings give you two-digit years like "1/8/11".

Another way to write this might be


Code:
$CompletedOn>date("1/1/2011") & $Compeleted<date("11/2012")



Yes another way to write this:


Code:
$CompletedOn.year=2011



Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Jean Goodwin on Jan 8th, 2011, 3:31pm

Wow, this shows why it is so great to have new people asking new questions.  I didn't even know that I didn't know about adding the ".year" to a query for a date attribute.  I had figured out a workaround to do the same thing, but it was pretty involved.  Thanks, Christopher!

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Mark Bernstein on Jan 8th, 2011, 6:20pm

This, incidentally, reminds us of a useful Tinderbox lesson: read the release notes.  They describe nice new features and additions that are easy to overlook.

For newcomers, release notes are sorted in three flavors:
  • Major (not otherwise categorized): new features, new views, new capabilities.  Everyone will want to know about these.
  • Minor: Extensions and improvements; new actions and queries. Frequent users will want to review these.
  • Details: Cosmetic fixes and improvements that you might be able to observe, but that you probably won't notice.



Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Christopher Menice on Jan 9th, 2011, 8:17am

Thank you Mark.  I'll be reading the release notes from here on out.  I think I'll even go back and read some previous ones.

I'm also working my way through The Tinderbox Way, but there's a lot in there.  Thanks again for the help so far.

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Annabel on Nov 11th, 2012, 10:33am

Hi, I've been searching for a way to organize my book notes and wondering if Tinderbox is the most appropriate tool or if it's overkill given the relative simplicity of what I want to do (and if so, what alternative would you recommend):

–collect quotes with bibliographical and page reference. I saw from Mark' s and Ben's posts that this can be done. I'm just wondering how that works when I've accumulated notes and quotes from hundreds of books–would it be better to have one document per book or is it better to have them all under one document called "book notes" so that I can do searches between books?

–make notes with my own summaries and observations, linked to appropriate quotes as needed (I understand that this can be done as well)

–sort notes and quotes from different books by topic, be able to both make connections between ideas from different books by hand (with links or whatever) and serendipitously discover connections through some kind of intelligent search mechanism. I read about how Steven Berlin Johnson does that with DevonThink but that program seems like overkill for what I want to do, plus I like the visual tools included with Tinderbox

–be able to sort my book list by topic, author, etc.

–take bits and pieces from various notes on various books and assemble them into an outline for an essay (or book, eventually) and export it into a word processing program

–store blog posts/essays and ideas for new blog posts, sorted by topic so I can see at a glance what topic I haven't written about in a while, with links to book notes or other relevant articles or websites as needed

Thank you for indulging my total newbie questions.


Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Mark Bernstein on Nov 11th, 2012, 12:03pm

This is a great Tinderbox application.

You'll find some discussion of this sort of Tinderbox task in the forum, the old wiki, and in my blog (and other blogs) under the heading of "commonplace book", the early modern practice of copying extracts and comments about borrowed books into a personal notebook.

My suggestion would be to keep notes about related books together.  It's easy to split them apart if the document growns unwieldy, and you might well want to search related notes together.

If, on the other hand, you've got a lot of booknotes about (say) ancient Southwestern archaeology, and also have a lot of book notes about the Victorian feminist utopian novel, I don't think there's much to be gained by keeping them together.

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Mark Anderson on Nov 12th, 2012, 7:29am

There are a lot of very open-ended questions which are best teased out into separate thread (topics) to explore in depth - I'm not clear if you're asking whether tto do these things or the mechanics of how to do them. Anyway, Mark B has answered the one/many document question. In ssence it boils down to the breadth of your data and personal choice.  Get the split wrong? It doesn't really matter. Splitting or merging Tinderbox documents is possible so if in doubt it's better to just dive in rather than get stuck in analysis paralysis and not get started.


Quote:
–make notes with my own summaries and observations, linked to appropriate quotes as needed (I understand that this can be done as well)

You can make notes and and link them to references to books (or store the reference in the note), or make notes representing books you're studying and link your commentary notes that. The 'right' way will again on your style and needs. Visually-focused people will tend to Maps as a primary view, others prefer Outline or Chart view.  The context (app view type) in which you do your main review and analysis will colour how you will want to customise your file. If you use Bookends (BE) as your database for citations, Tinderbox (TB) supports drag-drop of BE reference data.


Quote:
–be able to sort my book list by topic, author, etc.

All TB containers (notes containing other notes) and agents can sort their contents on pretty much any system attribute and any user attorbutes (the latter being those you add to your TB document). The simplest way is via a container's (or agent's) Rename dialog.


Quote:
–sort notes and quotes from different books by topic, be able to both make connections between ideas from different books by hand (with links or whatever) and serendipitously discover connections through some kind of intelligent search mechanism.

To sort by something like 'topic' you will need to decide how this is indicated. It might be a word of phrase in existing note text ($Text attribute) or it might be values you have placed in a user-created attribute. For instance you might add an attribute $Topic that you could populate and then search via agents. In making such an attribute, consider whether it will only hold one topic per note or several; for the former a String-type attribute is got whereas for the latter a Set-type attribute would be a better choice.


Quote:
–store blog posts/essays and ideas for new blog posts, sorted by topic so I can see at a glance what topic I haven't written about in a while, with links to book notes or other relevant articles or websites as needed

Sorting has already been covered - but if you want help with the mechanic of sorting do post a question in the Q&A forum

Tip: you'll find you get more/better answers by separating questions into more tightly defined threads. Posting a number of different questions in separate threads is actually a help to everyone - more posts are good - as topics can be dealt with in more detail.

Do keep the questions coming, and don't be wary of just diving into Tinderbox use - unlike many applications it doesn't penalise for not making 'correct' guesses about use as you start out. Indeed, one of it's strengths is allowing you add any necessary structure as its need becomes apparent.

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Annabel on Nov 12th, 2012, 8:52am

Thanks very much, Mark B. and Mark A. I just wanted to know if those things were possible and whether or not using Tinderbox to do them was overkill. Time to go play with the program!

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Jack Baty on Jan 28th, 2013, 6:08pm

I've recently begun using the built-in StartDate and EndDate to record when I start and finish reading each book. I can then use the Timeline view to get a nice visual history of my reading habits.

Here's a screenshot of this year so far...




Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Steve Zeoli on Jan 29th, 2013, 2:23pm

That's a brilliant idea. I am afraid that if I used this trick it would make me cry to see how long it takes me to read a book. I just finished the one I've been working on for the past three weeks!

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Martin Boycott-Brown on Feb 8th, 2013, 7:51am

Hmmm. I've just counted ten books on my shelves that I've got half way through and then stopped -- one at least that I started about six years ago, if my memory serves me correctly. And then there are about five more that I started but never got beyond the first twenty pages. Somehow I don't think I will be using this idea!

Martin.

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Sumner Gerard on Feb 8th, 2013, 2:16pm

I confess to a similar problem with "irregular" reading habits. I mean, with TV and the Tinderbox Forum and Twitter and everything, these days who actually *finishes* magazine articles, let alone full-length books?!

To feel truly inadequate (but also glimpse other Tinderbox approaches) check out this page and this map. When I first saw that imposing map cluster–at a Tinderbox weekend before Timeline View existed–I remember asking something like, "How long did it take to read all those?" To that I received the astounding reply, "Oh, just an hour or so on the plane."

Clarification that the "hour or so" referred to the time it took to put the Map together, not to read the books, made me feel a *little* better.

Anyway, great idea to use Timeline View for something like this. Timeline for me is another one of those truly unique features of Tinderbox almost impossible to replicate elsewhere with the same combination of ease and power.

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Mark Anderson on Feb 8th, 2013, 5:43pm

It's too easy to get up on setting both start and end. Even a single date can help. When did I read that paper? Put it in $StartDate and timeline can show back to you the order and rate of your research. YMMV: it might mean a lot to one user and nothing to another.

Still, I think the concept is interesting. The point to remember is that if you want to use a Timeline you must at minimum set $StartDate. In this context if you want to use this info you might use a prototype and make that use a rule:

$StartDate |= $Created

Thus the former is set once, and once only, to the date your note was created which is likely the date you started reading the reference. Setting $EndDate is quite optional.

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Sumner Gerard on Feb 9th, 2013, 12:13am

@Mark A That rule is a great idea, perhaps a worthy candidate for suggestion to be default behavior. I have been puzzled to read assertions elsewhere—I think on Scrivener forums—that TB's timeline is hard to use. That's a bum rap. As you point out, for it to be up and running and immediately useful all it needs is a value for $StartDate in notes placed in a container. Things don't get much simpler than that. If $StartDate were populated with a default (that of course can be overridden, just as with the rule) this great feature would probably seem much more accessible. As it is I would guess I'm not the only one with a first encounter something like this: Choose New Timeline View from the menu, see a bunch of notes at left instead of spread out on a timeline, and think it must take a lot of work to get this thing set up so maybe I'll try it some other day, if I have time.

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Mark Anderson on Feb 9th, 2013, 6:47am

To avoid setting every $startDate - which might be overkill you could always make a stamps with this code:

$StartDate |= $Created

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Sumner Gerard on Feb 9th, 2013, 1:27pm

The stamp idea is practical for me. Thanks.  But I'm thinking probably the distinction between stamps and rules and things is lost on a lot of people trying out Tinderbox who then opine elsewhere about it being too hard to use, even to set up a timeline. Having $StartDate populated with a default would be one way to reduce the initial friction in setting up a timeline while taking nothing away from more experienced users looking to take advantage of Timeline View's fantastic multiband flexibility. I'm always happy to tinker with the great ideas for rules and stamps and action code I see here on the forum, in aTbRef and the Cookbook, etc. Prospective users, though, may rule out TB as "too hard" before realizing something like Timeline View is really *very* easy, and, as demonstrated in this thread, useful in perhaps unexpected ways.

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Mark Bernstein on Feb 9th, 2013, 3:04pm

You could always use an OnAdd action in your container

    $StartDate |= $Created

This will set the start date to $Created if you haven't already set it.  Hard to be easier than that.


Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Mark Anderson on Feb 9th, 2013, 6:12pm

I think making every note have a $StartDate would cause a different "too-hard-for-new-user" problem as now every note would go into a timeline … and that's likely not what the user needs (apart from a trivial 'hello world' test).

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Jack Baty on Feb 10th, 2013, 8:18am

> You could always use an OnAdd action in your container

I use that Action so frequently I created a Stamp called "OnAdd to set StartDate" to add the OnAdd action!

$OnAdd="$StartDate|=$Created"

In Tinderbox documents which rely heavily on dates (which most of mine do) I create all sorts of date-based stamps. For example, in my book reading log (to try keeping this thread on topic) I have Stamps such as...

End Now: $EndDate=date(today)
Started Yesterday: $StartDate=date(yesterday) (I frequently update notes the following day)

All of these could be done by typing into a KeyAttribute easily enough, but using Stamps is faster and helps prevent errors.

I use the Timeline view in Tinderbox for many things I never thought I would. Book reading history being just the most recent example.

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Sumner Gerard on Feb 11th, 2013, 1:23pm

These approaches (Rule, Stamp, OnAdd Action, and a Stamp to add a frequently used OnAdd Action) are great ideas that showcase the flexibility of Tinderbox. And they're all super easy, *as long as* one knows:

- Choosing Timeline View won't present anything resembling, well, a useful timeline, *unless* an initially empty attribute somewhere deep down there in the Tinderbox engine room is first populated.

- Sending the information down into the engine room to populate the attribute (assuming one has figured out what an attribute is) is "easy" after first learning specialized Tinderbox vocabulary words and some special signals, e.g. "|=".

Though not "hard," perhaps this asks too much of prospective users in a hurry? I suspect it immediately reinforces the (mistaken) impression that Timeline View is harder to use than competing products (and other Tinderbox Views). Unfortunately, that initial impression gets shared with other folk who are very smart but who have deadlines to meet and don't have time to delve deeper to see the ease and flexibility of Timeline View. And so the undeserved reputation builds.

@Mark A is, of course, correct that many users do not want *every* note on a timeline. And many in the end won't want $StartDate values underlying their timelines to be the same as the values in $Created (though that is a better starting point than nothing). Similar things, however, can be said of Map View too. There the user is not asked to first populate $XPos and $YPos before seeing something immediately resembling a map that can then be developed into something more useful.

Anyway, just a thought. Timeline View and the ideas here are great stuff.  More people should use them!

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Mark Anderson on Feb 11th, 2013, 2:22pm

Oh dear, now people will get confused. $Created is a built-in auto-populated attribute that you can't remove and which, in truth, most users do need (even if for reasons not related to any a given view - and on which point i'll not digress here).

I think we're getting thread drift. Might I suggest that further discussion (if any) about how to set up for Timeline use start a new thread and leave this one to to return to discussion of book notes…?

I've updated my 'starter' file to show some basic Timeline usage example to help those starting out.

Title: Re: Tinderbox: book notes
Post by Sumner Gerard on Feb 11th, 2013, 7:40pm

In response to reply #33 I've edited the wording in my reply #32 above to be more precise.  I did not and do not suggest that $Created should be "removed" or touched in any way!  The issue, I think, is whether when $StartDate is not populated (which, unlike with $XPos and $YPos, is often the case) Timeline View could use a default date value, with the value in $Created seemingly the best candidate, at least for my work habits and for the book notes example upthread.

My two main points are not confusing, I think:

1) Timeline View is much easier than it seems for applications like taking book notes discussed in this thread. One does have to know how to take a couple of crucial initial steps, though. But after that it's truly a piece of cake, and wonderfully flexible to do more complicated things too (say, different timeline bands for different book genres, etc.). Plus it looks good. The competition can't touch it.  It's a pity it's perceived as complicated when it isn't, really.

2) Having seen "it's too complicated" comments about Timeline View elsewhere, I think those less familiar with Tinderbox (including those considering whether to "kick the tires" to see if they want to buy it) would think it much easier if the Timeline View default behavior roughly paralleled other major Tinderbox views in the sense that something instantly recognizable and often useful emerges by default that can then be explored, without the user first having to rummage around in Help, aTbRef, starter files, the Cookbook, and/or forum threads like this just to figure out how best to just get the thing to start showing something that looks like a timeline. Just a thought.

Regarding perceived "thread drift": I happen to learn better from concrete usage examples I can "relate to" (such as arranging book notes in a timeline) than from generic separate discussions about the mechanics of such and such Tinderbox "feature" that I can follow but can't quite manage to see how to apply in a practical way to "real life." Maybe some others reading this are like me. So I do hope the replies (and the replies they elicited) dealing with the specifics of how to get Timeline View to produce the really nice book notes results @Jack Baty offered upthread remain an integral part of this thread.

The enhanced starter file, despite its necessary level of abstraction, is very helpful as well.  Many thanks!

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