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Looking for insight about document scope (Read 3711 times)
Steve Zeoli
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Looking for insight about document scope
Apr 11th, 2011, 1:20pm
 
Hi,

I am looking for some insight about strategies related to the scope and depth of documents. I've found myself mostly creating a new document for each problem or project I'm working with. While I find this focus works really well, I'm sure this creates some data inefficiencies (similar or the same information in two or more documents), and missing the opportunity to benefit from unexpected connections in my data. I don't expect a "correct way" to deal with documents, but I'm hoping to benefit from others' experiences.

Thank you.
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Jean Goodwin
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Re: Looking for insight about document scope
Reply #1 - Apr 11th, 2011, 11:48pm
 
I think this is the longest-standing, and most important, question of Tinderbox Philosophy.  Here's an old discussion immortalized on the wiki, for example:

http://www.eastgate.com/wiki2/wiki.cgi?HowManyDocuments

I've gone back and forth a LOT over the years, but have settled on a pattern of 2 large everything boxes for all the stuff that accumulates in areas of my life, plus a large set of specific project boxes.  I find that once a topic starts emerging into a definite structure (or a definite due date), it makes me feel anxious to have it "mixed in" with the less structured stuff. Alas, I'm probably not making the use I could/should of Tinderbox's ability to connect notes;  I pretty much let my brain do that.  So determinate projects sort of bud off the blobbish main project body.

Since its easy enough to merge and split, experiment!
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Mark Anderson
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Re: Looking for insight about document scope
Reply #2 - Apr 12th, 2011, 6:23am
 
As Jean points out it is possible to split/merge TBXs and certainly easier to do than when some of the early wiki articles were written.  So don't don't give yourself commitment anxiety over the number of TBXs you use. Just split or merge as needed. It's also easy to copy or move many features (custom colours, attributes, code, prototypes, etc.) between TBXs so you don't have to get everything just so before you start. fine if you can, but more often only some actual working of the data will show the need for new attributes and codes.

However the opening question implies some other questions pertinent to the same end.
  • 1. How do I arrange separate sets of data within a common TBX?
  • 2. Can I use a common structure for several TBXs?
  • 3. Should I update my TBXs for new TB features?
#1. The key thing here is to understand scoping of agents (see 'Making Agents More Efficient' topic). don't search across and act on more notes than you need too. You might want your grocery shopping list and Cuneiform research notes in the same TBX but how likely will you need to search both sets of data.  Therefore, if you've discrete bodies of data within the TBX consider placing them in separate branches of the TB outline with the branch roots as siblings (ie.e same $OutlineDepth) unless the topic naturally nest. That way, you can search inside("Grocery list") and not get odd matches from your Cuneiform data.

#1 (cont). If you need to put into from different sections all on one map consider using aliases for the notes you need to use from other data sections of the document. Big maps are fine, but flat - everything on the map is in the same container (or within containers on the map). A quite normal progression as a doc matures is to start with maps and then tease them apart into outline form as structure becomes apparent and/or you need to consider exporting data.
#2. This is useful especially where you make up new documents for tasks - planning and event, a syllabus, etc.  For this (after the first few tries) the core structure is easily known and it is useful to make stationery files and store them in your 'favorites' folder. That way it is easy to start a new file with lots of the structure already predefined to which you can add a required and ignore/delete any bits you don't need.

#3. For some major changes to things like major changes to action code use, TB may force you to update the file (e.g. going from v4.5- to v4.6+). However beyond that it's a matter of choice.  For files of type #2 above is it certainly worth reviewing your exemplar files and making use of current syntax.  For larger, long-lived, documents it is worth reviewing your use code - for instance you might be able to find more efficient new syntax for queries or actions. Flip side - if you don't like raising the hood you can probably leave things alone.

As ever, there's no one true way to do things.  It depends both on the range of activities for which you use TB, how you like to analyse things and the degree to which you're happy to use agents and code.
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Mark Anderson
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Steve Zeoli
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Re: Looking for insight about document scope
Reply #3 - Apr 12th, 2011, 10:38am
 
Thank you, Mark and Jean, for responding to my inquiry. Becoming adept at Tinderbox is an ongoing process.
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