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Simple (simplistic?) example of smart adornments (Read 3960 times)
gph
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Simple (simplistic?) example of smart adornments
Dec 24th, 2009, 10:29pm
 
For more experienced users, I'm sure this is blatantly obvious, but as a new user, I was really struck by the power of smart adornments, even though they are supposed to be just "light weight" agents.  I offer this as an example for prospective users of the power and elegance hiding in Tinderbox.

Here is the situation I'm trying to address.  I am an Emusic.com subscriber, which means I can download 35 songs a month.  I strongly prefer to buy entire albums and hate to leave songs unused in a month (they don't carry over). I also hate to pay extra for tracks over 35 in a month. I have a large and ever changing list of albums that I'm interested in buying.  My goal is to keep track of them over time and have an easy way to play with different combinations of albums that stay within my limit.  I built the attached tbx to help me do so.  [Note: The problem becomes more interesting when one has many more albums with a much wider range of number of tracks.  But, this is what I could do in the limit of the demo version (which, by the way, I think is far, far too low.  It really doesn't allow one to play around and see whether the program would be useful or not.  It's hard to justify $200+ on the basis of toy examples like this). ]

There are three pieces to this tbx, which is at http://files.me.com/ghoetker/56do80: albums, the "Buying" adornment, and the "# tracks" adornments.

1. Albums: All I've done is created notes named for the album and including the number of tracks (a user attribute).  Obviously, one could also enter artist, genre, etc.  There is a prototype to make this easy.

2. The "Buying" adornment:  I drag the albums I'm considering onto this adornment.  Two things happen. First, the name of the adornment changes to reflect the total tracks of the albums dragged onto it.  This is accomplished by setting the DisplayExpression to "$Name+ " " + sum_if(all,#inside(Buying)=true,$Tracks)".  Second, it changes the displayed name of the album so it includes the number of tracks.  This is accomplished by setting OnAdd to "$DisplayExpression=$Name+ " " +$Tracks + " tracks".  I don't sort or order in any way, so I have the freedom to group within the set of albums I'm considering buying (all the Celtic albums in the bottom right, etc.).  This gives me everything I need to experiment and optimize the selection of albums to download that month.

3. The three "# Tracks" adornments (9 tracks, 11 tracks, 12 tracks):  These automagically gather together the albums by how many tracks they have.  This is accomplished by having a query such as "$Tracks=9  & inside(Buying)==false".  Conveniently, I don't have to drag an album from "Buying" to the proper adornment if I decide not to buy it.  Just drag it out of "Buying" and it will be refilled in the right place.   The adornment also removes the number of tracks from the displayed title of the albums (since we know how many tracks it has by the adornment in which it appears). This just requires setting OnAdd to "$DisplayExpression=$Name".  So, if I'm at 24 total tracks, I can select from the 11 Tracks bin.


That's it.  One could do lots else, but I found this a neat demo of how Tbx helps one "play" with one's information.  Once I figured out the strategy, it took almost no time to set up.  I started by trying to use agents and found it problematic to handle the aliases.  It was easier to just manipulate the originals via adornments.  I suspect it could be applied to something more consequential than choice of music (perhaps scheduling classes?).

One question for the pros.  Is there any way to keep notes for slopping over the edges of adornments, as the top line of the "12 Tracks" bin does?

Anyway, I hope this inspires a potential user or two.  This is a really cool program--I see many possible uses.  Happy holidays to all.

Glenn Hoetker
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Mark Anderson
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Re: Simple (simplistic?) example of smart adornments
Reply #1 - Dec 25th, 2009, 5:52am
 
Quote:
Is there any way to keep notes for slopping over the edges of adornments, as the top line of the "12 Tracks" bin does?

At present, no.  At worst this is a visual inelegance as a note part-over an adornment is treated as 'on' the adornment. If the adornment had to re-size itself every time a note got added/deleted likely it would add some overhead to drawing big maps.

If you 're not constantly adding new notes, one rip is to turn the adornment off - set AgentPriority to 0 or use the op-up in the rename dialog. Then you can resize the adornment to contain everything. To ensure you don't forget the state the adornment is in you could use a conditional Rule. So, for instance you might give the adornment a bright red border when the agent is switched off:

if ($AgentPriority==0){$Border="Bright red"}else{$Border="normal"}
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Mark Anderson
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Mark Bernstein
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Re: Simple (simplistic?) example of smart adornments
Reply #2 - Dec 26th, 2009, 12:37pm
 
The cleanup method for smart adornments will be changing in the future to address this.

A note to the original poster: I think you've demonstrated the utility of Tinderbox very well!  Sure, the optimal utilization of a music subscription seems small, and 30 notes is not many.  But using the same sort of analysis, one might:

a) Choose which bands to book into which slots for your nightclub,

b) Schedule which scenes you're going to shoot for you documentary on which days, minimizing the time the costly crew spends moving from place to place or waiting for the gaffers to finish,

c) Decide which of you employees (or divisions, or platoons) will undertake which project in the coming months

Sure, it's hard to justify a $229 program if all it does is optimize a music subscription that costs $200/year -- though your time is valuable too, and Tinderbox might help remind you what you want!  But I think most people find numerous other tasks where it's handy.
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