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Continuous text editing in Explorer View (Read 9435 times)
Les Orchard
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Continuous text editing in Explorer View
May 20th, 2011, 1:24am
 
I may be missing a trick, but I kind of wish the Explorer View had a continuous text editing mode, for use when I'm fleshing out the outline for an article or a story. Let's see if I can explain:

Currently, I click between outline nodes on the left to reveal note text (and only that note's text) to edit on the left. That gets kind of disruptive, because I lose my context in jumping between outline nodes.

Instead, I'd like the pane on the right to consist of a single, flattened stream of text drawn from all the outline nodes on the left. Maybe use outline titles as akin to section headers. Possibly envelop the text in some kind of tree-map inspired lightweight borders to indicate containment and breaks between outline nodes.

And, vice versa, let rearrangement operations on the outline in the left pane be reflected in bulk changes to the text on the right.

Basically, I want continuous context in the text I've got scattered between the nodes of an outline.
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« Last Edit: May 20th, 2011, 1:26am by Les Orchard »  

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Re: Continuous text editing in Explorer View
Reply #1 - May 20th, 2011, 3:01am
 
As you don't mention it, it's worth noting the Nakakoji view. Whilst I'd agree it falls short of all the functionality you propose, nonetheless it does have the important ability to display continuous runs of text.
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Paul Walters
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Re: Continuous text editing in Explorer View
Reply #2 - May 20th, 2011, 6:03am
 
A bit of a different approach that I've used is to have all the notes whose text you want to view gathered into one container (say, "Root").  In another note (say, "Consolidator"), outside that container, include this rule

Code:
$Text=collect(find($Path.contains("Root")),$Text).format("\n") 



Viewing Consolidator, you will see the combined text of the children of Root.  

This particular rule selects based on $Path, but other attributes could be used as well, allowing consolidation based on different factors, and thus not limiting the consolidation to a single container's notes.

CAVEAT: this is very processor-intensive.  Turn off Update Agents Automatically, Autosave, and any other background task.  Use sparingly.
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Lucas D
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Re: Continuous text editing in Explorer View
Reply #3 - May 20th, 2011, 10:28am
 
I agree that this would be useful. Note that I proposed something rather similar (as a new "view" altogether) back in February, although my choice of the name "Ribbon View" probably poorly reflected what I meant. See here: http://www.eastgate.com/Tinderbox/forum//YaBB.pl?num=1296670936.

In that earlier discussion, Mark B indicated that there was at least some interest in developing something like this.
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Les Orchard
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Re: Continuous text editing in Explorer View
Reply #4 - May 20th, 2011, 10:56am
 
Ah, yeah: Ribbon View is basically what I'm looking for, too. Kind of an editable Nakakoji view - though not entirely: I wouldn't hope for something flexible enough to edit exported text and affect changes on the original notes.

And, now that I look, I see Scrivener has basically the mode I'm looking for, but I've never tried Scrivener. It always looked like a special case application of Tinderbox to me Smiley
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« Last Edit: May 20th, 2011, 11:04am by Les Orchard »  

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Tom Shannon
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Re: Continuous text editing in Explorer View
Reply #5 - May 21st, 2011, 10:34am
 
FWIW +1 on this feature.  I just used Tinderbox to put together a draft of a long grant application and this mode would have been very useful.

Tom S.
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russ lipton
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Re: Continuous text editing in Explorer View
Reply #6 - May 21st, 2011, 1:36pm
 
Scrivener's implementation of this works quite well. I agree that it is a desirable feature enhancement.
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Peter Rich
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Re: Continuous text editing in Explorer View
Reply #7 - May 23rd, 2011, 2:51pm
 
+1 on this request. It's actually something I would really really like.  Nakakoji view wouldn't allow it to be interactive.  Here's how I would use it.

1. Import the transcript of a qualitative research interview
2. Explode the transcript so as to create a different note for each "turn" between the interviewer and participant.
3. Go back and forth between "flow" or "continuous" mode and rearranging the individual notes in map view.

There are many other applications I can think of for this. Overall, though, I think it would be an incredible, powerful new view. Basically, it would require a "ContinuousViewOrder" attribute. Notes could then be rearranged in any of the other views and always "snap back" to view things in continuous view, providing one more dynamic way of working with notes and different views of those notes.

-Peter-
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Les Orchard
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Re: Continuous text editing in Explorer View
Reply #8 - May 23rd, 2011, 2:58pm
 
If I understand you correctly, a "ContinuousViewOrder" attribute detaching the text ordering from outline ordering is a bit different than what I'm looking for in particular.

I wouldn't want to muck around with an attribute, I'd want to reorder my outline view as usual and see the chunks of text rearranged accordingly in the continuous editing pane
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Derek Van Ittersum
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Re: Continuous text editing in Explorer View
Reply #9 - May 23rd, 2011, 4:09pm
 
I like Peter's sentiment here, but agree with Les that it raises problems.  I think dragging notes around as aliases might be a better solution there.

But I really like the idea of dumping in transcript data, exploding it, then using explorer view to navigate.  Here's another wrinkle:

would be great if, when a note was selected on the left pane, the right pane displayed the key attributes, the "ribbon" / continuous text of the container notes, and highlighted the text specific that that note.

This lets me see the full context of the snippet (especially if the window is maximized) along with the specific metadata applied to it.

This feature would also lead me to do much more "actual writing" (as opposed to brainstorming, analysis, mapping, etc.) in TBX, something I've been keen on for some time, but reluctant due to several constraints (this being one of them) that make it easier to just write elsewhere.

Would be interested to hear Mark B's ideas on this feature and to further elaborate if there's interest.
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Mark Bernstein
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Re: Continuous text editing in Explorer View
Reply #10 - May 23rd, 2011, 4:46pm
 
I'm listening. This is an expensive feature, both in terms of development resources and in terms of performance. Not entirely outside the realm of possibility.
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Peter Rich
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Re: Continuous text editing in Explorer View
Reply #11 - May 24th, 2011, 12:33pm
 
I agree with Les that the simple ability to highlight a group of notes in outline view and then being able to see/edit the text of all those notes would be sufficient for my needs.  I'd be happy with just that implementation.

With the simple ability to work with notes as "sections" but to view the sections continuously, one could really work with outline view as an outline while working on a manuscript in the continuous view.  I like Derek's suggestion that the attributes shown at the top in a "ribbon" would dynamically change based on where the cursor is at in the continuous editing pane.

This could be the next "the view I didn't know I was going to need until I saw it" (like timeline view).
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Mark Anderson
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Re: Continuous text editing in Explorer View
Reply #12 - May 24th, 2011, 1:29pm
 
Across all users rather than an idealised flow with similar notes, key attributes could change a lot from note to note, so might it make more sense to use a 3 pane view.

For my personal 2¢, given the engineering cost, I think this sort of task is perhaps better done in an authoring/WP tool and the resources be used on features closer to TB's core analytical functions. Isn't this the sort of thing for which use uses the likes of Scrivener? But we're a broad church here...  Smiley
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Tom Shannon
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Re: Continuous text editing in Explorer View
Reply #13 - May 24th, 2011, 3:37pm
 
Hi, Mark A.

You are correct in that Scrivener does this extremely well.  However my research files and pretty much everything relevant to my writing projects are in TB.  True, these can also go into Scrivener but then they're in two places with the information in Scrivener being of limited use.

The Explorer view and the Map view seem very similar to the Scrivener views already (though I do recognize that the similarity is superficial and that this would be a lot of work).

Tom S.
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russ lipton
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Re: Continuous text editing in Explorer View
Reply #14 - May 25th, 2011, 11:34am
 
I have always been fascinated by writing (and structuring) texts/notes for transclusion. My usage of Tbx is largely driven by the gradual progress made for its support - just in the natural course of varied feature enhancements.

As my current method, I gauge whether varied sets of notes which include the same transcluded (and aliased) note(s) 'feel' continuous to the reader when embedded -  using ^include^ and HTML export for browser views.

This is clumsy, due to the small, but repetitive, number of write-save-export-view steps added to the edit-... etc steps.

My view requirement could be met by a non-editable preview which flattened complex notes sets/transclusions into linear 'trail' note sequences and displayed a given sequence for immediate inspection. I would apply optionally a preferred user template to generate the preview. While it would be nice to request generation in parallel of a finite number of integrated note sets simultaneously, one-at-a-time would still be nice.

(I also wish we had previews of single notes within Tbx natively. The difference between this and my current method may seem minor, but the impedance reduction would be significant. Even 'just' an integrated preview comports neatly with Tbx's philosophy of allowing me to defer formal commitment to action/organization/export until appropriate).

[EDIT- even as the simple preview-before-commit feature for this forum does ...].

As I inspect several view sequences, I usually see which note(s) need tweaking to improve the continuity effect across all sequences. To the degree I could edit those notes and re-view the impacts in real-time without the impedance of start-stops to editing, exporting, viewing, etc., the happier I will become.

(I have name-dropped transclusion to illustrate why this will be thoroughly Tinderbox-ish, rather than feature-bloating to mimic a task better achieved with another tool).

[EDIT- Here is a lovely example of how 'unrelated' product upgrades may change the way one writes: the dramatic speed-ups in export of large documents made more frequent edit/save/export/view workflows very much less painful.  I commenced larger, more complex experiments, thus learning so much more than I had before ...]



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« Last Edit: May 25th, 2011, 11:54am by russ lipton »  
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