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Setting up TB 6 for qualitative research project (Read 8474 times)
Mark Anderson
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Re: Setting up TB 6 for qualitative research project
Reply #30 - Feb 26th, 2016, 5:03am
 
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I feel I need to somehow get to the point where I can set up a framework -- through prototypes, KAs, and agents (and whatever else you might suggest)

Sure, but we're not configuring a spreadsheet or a SQL database, we're using a tool that supports 'incremental formalisation', i.e. letting you add formalisation as and when you need it. Try that in a complex spreadsheet and the pain is evident - indeed sometimes change is a do-over. By comparison, Tinderbox is very forgiving of trial and error and letting the structure emerge. But you have to let go of the experience of using programs that punish that approach.

As read from the page it seems you're worried - understandably at this juncture - of making a mistake in how you get started. Viewed from the perspective of some years of Tinderbox I don't see what mistake there is to make that's so bad it is more than an inconvenience. I sense you need a worked example using your data (or similar), but sadly there isn't such. The main reason? As I know from experience, making examples like that take hours rather than minutes to make properly.

I'd repeat my suggestion of:
  • Test first - make a doc you intend to throw away rather than use for your primary work
  • Add only such structure (notes, agent, attributes, prototypes, etc.) that you know you'll need.
  • Add specimen data -i.e. not all your research. Just enough to get some sense of the major strands in it.
  • See if the structure added was actually needed (or remove any errors. Add now-obvious missing structure.
  • Now you can, and should, experiment. This is why you use a doc you've promised yourself you'll discard: there is no cost to error or failure!
  • Can you find things you expect, via agents.  Often you'll find this throws up the need for some extra attributes to hold data you can easily query, or prototypes to more easily address only certain groups of notes (as opposed to the whole doc).
  • See what works and what doesn't.
  • Take the ideas that do work and implement them in a clean new doc that will be the base for your real research.
If you're going to be importing - in either plain text or tabular (spreadsheet-like, see here and here) form - also test that. With tabular import, are the right attributes auto-created? Are they of the right type. If exploding imported text, do the discrete sections split cleanly into new notes? Might you need to re-create the source text with a custom delimiter for clearer Explode? all these things, if tested first make the 'real' work much easier.

Lastly, remember you don't have to set up all your structure before you start.  Wink

Why not import some of your data (as in your RTF doc) set up and do the things above and them post a link to the resulting TBX and we can discuss what works/doesn't, problems, etc.
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Re: Setting up TB 6 for qualitative research project
Reply #31 - Feb 26th, 2016, 12:07pm
 
You can't drag onto an adornment in another window, but you certainly *can* drag onto an adornment in the same map.  

If you'd like to use adornments to code, just create them in the appropriate map view. If you have lots of maps and your coding adornments are complex, you can copy and paste.

For most tasks, I find that coding adornments are ephemeral -- things that you use 87 times on Tuesday afternoon, a dozen times over the next week, and then you're pretty much done and can move on.  If you find yourself doing a similar coding task next April, well, you can throw together some fresh adornments, or hunt down the old ones in the back closet and copy them into your current working environment.

I'm very much of a mind with Mark Anderson about getting your hands on data. Make a throw-away Tinderbox document, import some data, try an approach for coding it.  If some things are slow or finicky, you can automate them with adornments or stamps or agents.  If the coding turns out to be really complex, that may be a sign that your coding scheme is unclear or ambiguous.  

Then, after you have a day or two of work under your belt, take stock: is this doing what you need?  Perhaps the only problem is that you'd like it to be faster; if so, you can tackle that, or grit your teeth, or find an expendable student assistant.  Perhaps the data aren't behaving; that's a sign that you might need to rethink your categories or your plan of analysis, and that's why they call it research.  Or perhaps the only problem is that you're not done yet...
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« Last Edit: Feb 26th, 2016, 12:12pm by Mark Bernstein »  
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Re: Setting up TB 6 for qualitative research project
Reply #32 - Feb 27th, 2016, 8:32am
 
Thanks very much for your input @Mark Bernstein and @Mark Anderson!  I very much appreciate it.

@Mark Anderson, I hear you about your suggested step-by-step process.  It sounds like a good way to proceed.

To that end, could someone advise me on my last post re: how to set up Note titles ($name) along with "pPerson" KA'a for prototypes (and maybe $Deployment attribute)? Are there any other suggested KAs / settings for setting up the kind of info I'd like to include for my notes (e.g., timeframes)?

I'm still crawling before I can walk with TB...  But it has been helpful to try to imagine how it would fit into a larger workflow process.  Thanks again!
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Re: Setting up TB 6 for qualitative research project
Reply #33 - Feb 27th, 2016, 10:23am
 
I'd like to add my own experience using Tinderbox. I have 400 notes with a lot of text, and needed to index each for many themes and then see all the notes that have a particular theme and how that theme is used in them. After some experimentation, I set up two key attributes that were sets: 1. theme name and 2. how the theme is used. Then (after a day or two of hard work) I was able to get a method working that would display #2 in a window including each note in which it occurred, with the actual text notes as children. This made writing a paper possible and quite easy: all I had to do was collect the data, write about it, and where necessary include the pasted text (from the children notes). I could not have done this in any other program I know of -- and believe me, I've looked at just about everything out there. By the way, for me Devonthink+Tinderbox+Scrivener(+Nisus) is a winning combination. Each of these programs is awesome.
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Re: Setting up TB 6 for qualitative research project
Reply #34 - Feb 28th, 2016, 1:28am
 
Thanks so much for your input!  400 notes...wow!  It's amazing that you've been able to distill your key attributes down to two selections.  Were these pre-selected key attributes or did you have to customize them?  I fear I'm still a bit confused about how to set up KA's that match what I'm seeking to do -- i.e., through pre-selected attributes (which I'm simply unable to locate) or through customizing attributes (which I haven't yet grasped).  I'd certainly appreciate any guidance anyone could provide about this.  

Would it be possible for you tell me able to tell a bit more about how you integrate a workflow with  Devonthink+Tinderbox+Scrivener?  (Or even provide screenshots?)  I use  Devonthink and Scrivener, but separate and distinct functions.  

Thanks again!
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Re: Setting up TB 6 for qualitative research project
Reply #35 - Feb 28th, 2016, 12:07pm
 
I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "pre-selected" and "customizing" attributes.

Tinderbox has a bundle of system attributes which are automatically created with every document.  Most of these are attributes which have special meaning to Tinderbox. For example, $Color is the color of the note.

You can also add your own user attributes.

System attributes can be found in the System (Attribute) pane of the document inspector, and User attributes can be added, deleted, and viewed in the User (Attribute) pane of the document inspector.  Both can be viewed in Get Info: Attributes, too.
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Re: Setting up TB 6 for qualitative research project
Reply #36 - Feb 28th, 2016, 1:58pm
 

Thanks for your reply, @Mark Bernstein.  Yes, I understand what you mean re: attributes.  I'm not not clear on how to set up: Note titles ($name), the "pPerson" attributes, and $Deployment attribute for prototypes, per @Mark Anderson's suggestion.  I do understand that TB has a bundle of system attributes, but as I said, I'm not grasping where these settings for KA's are located for what I'm trying set up.  

I've hit the "+" sign to Add Key Attributes in the right pane, beside the outline view, and have gone through all of the categories, but haven't seen Note titles ($name).  Is that (along with "pPerson") a KA that should be customized through another KA setup?
And are there suggested KAs / settings for setting up timeframes?

Thank you again.
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Re: Setting up TB 6 for qualitative research project
Reply #37 - Feb 28th, 2016, 6:14pm
 
Have you worked through Getting Started With Tinderbox?  Creating new user attributes is discussed on page 36.

The attribute $Name is found in the General category. (There's a nice search tool in the Quickstamp inspector that's handy for locating attributes.  In the Key Attribute Picker, you can simply type "Name" to make Name a key attribute. Of course, one wouldn't typically make Name a key attribute, since it's already visible and easy to edit!
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Re: Setting up TB 6 for qualitative research project
Reply #38 - Mar 3rd, 2016, 12:42am
 


Thanks very much for this!  I have been reading through Getting Started With Tinderbox - thanks for that suggestion.

Here's the thing... We've been discussing Key Attributes to include for the kinds of notes I'm trying to create for characters in my project.  It seems you're saying that the KA "Name" would be selected to make Name a key attribute for characters - though it would be redundant, since that's a default setting (correct?).  But, if I'm understanding you properly, it seem that the other attributes I'd need for the character prototype I'm creating would have to be more customizable - and would actually be "User attributes." Is that right?  


For instance, would a $Deployment attribute fall under a Key Attribute or a User attributes? If it's the latter, what would be the process to accomplish that?  Ditto that for the timeframes I'd like to set up in my prototype - i.e., would that fall under a KA or User attribute?  And what would be that suggested set up (esp. if there would be several timeframes)?

Forgive me if I'm a bit dense here, but I'm trying...  Thanks again for all of you help!
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Re: Setting up TB 6 for qualitative research project
Reply #39 - Mar 3rd, 2016, 3:42am
 
I explain more fully below, but the TL;DR here is that key attributes are not a type of attribute, but simply a means to decide which attributes are shown above a note's text

Tinderbox is a series of notes. Some are special note types (adornments, separators), but essentially every thing is made of notes. Notes have attributes - I guess you could think of them like database fields. Just as a row in a spreadsheet has a cell for every column in the sheet, a Tinderbox note 'has' every attribute, even if you can't see it.

Attributes. Tinderbox, when creating a new document, also creates a lot (313 as at v6.4.0) of attributes. These are termed 'System' attributes - you can see a list of them. You can't delete system attributes or change their data type, name, etc. They remain configured wether you use them or not (and in the latter case don't worry - there's no overhead from the unused ones). Of course, you may need additional attributes by nature of a given project. You can add such attributes and these are all referred to as 'User' attributes. Unlike System attributes you can add/delete (and to some extent) alter the properties of) user attributes. Again all note possess (the ability to use) all attributes - both system and user. Once configured, you can regard them essentially as the same.

Thus all notes have all attributes. Attributes are described as either System (app-created) or User (added as needed by the you) but both offer the same data types and have the same manner of use. Be aware that a small number of system attributes are read-only because they hold calculated values, e.g. the number of words in the text of a note ($WordCount).

Importantly, notice I've made no mention of key attributes (KA) thus far. This is because KA are not a type of attribute. Instead the term describe a feature that lets you decide which - if any - of the overall list of System and User attribute you wish to display in a given note. Indeed, a note's KA configuration is a System attribute $KeyAttributes; it stores a list, in top-to-bottom order, of the attribute names to be shown in that notes KAs.

~~~~~~~~
So, you need a $Deployment attribute. As there isn't a system attribute for this, you will need to make a User attribute. Most likely you'll want to use a 'String' data type (the default type: text, single value). Now, once you've got a $Deployment attribute, it is available to be used - i.e. displayed - as a key attribute.

~~~~~~
Footnote: System Attribute Groups. These cause some confusion as, for reasons now historic, the System attributes are divided up into a series of Groups, broadly by similarity of purpose (over times those similarities have got stretched a bit). There is a 'User' group that holds all User attributes. These groupings actually mean nothing to you as a user, other than that when looking at system attributes in Get Info pop-over's 'attributes' tab, the Add Key Attributes pop-up or the Inspector (here, here and here) the attributes are sub-listed under their groups. New to v6, these UI listings now generally have a search box: you no longer need to know the attribute's group, you type the attribute name in the box and the app auto-selects the right group and attribute.
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« Last Edit: Mar 3rd, 2016, 3:45am by Mark Anderson »  

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Re: Setting up TB 6 for qualitative research project
Reply #40 - Mar 4th, 2016, 1:39am
 
This was hugely helpful, and seriously cleared up a lot of confusion that had stalled my efforts at TB.  So, thank you!  It's incredibly helpful.

You've suggested a number of approaches with selecting, creating, and editing attributes (e.g., Main view: Get Info, Text view: Key Attribute, Inspector - Properties Inspector - Quickstep tab, etc.).  I realize that not each of these approaches will allow one to edit or create attributes.  But, apart from the ability to achieve different methods to to achieve attribute set-ups for notes, is there a preferred approach -- or approaches that are more limited in ways that I ought to know about?  For instance, the Inspector - Properties Inspector - Quickstep approach seems to be a pretty straightforward and flexible way of setting up user attributes, but I'm wondering if there would be any unforeseen limitations (or downside).

One more question...  I'd like to try out timeframes before I include them in a prototype.  What would be the best user attribute set up for timeframes --  esp. if there would be several timeframes (e.g., several deployment dates for a single character)?  

Thanks so much again!
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Re: Setting up TB 6 for qualitative research project
Reply #41 - Mar 4th, 2016, 4:15am
 
Quote:
I realize that not each of these approaches will allow one to edit or create attributes.


The only attributes that can be created from new are User attributes and these are created only via the User tab of the Inspector. The System tab of the Document Inspector allows the default value (inherited by all new notes) of System attributes to be altered.  The User tab, as well as default values, also allows the attribute name and data type to be changed or for the attribute to be deleted.

The other methods - Get  Info, Quickstamp, KAs, action code - only allow modification of attribute values for a selection of notes. Actually, Get Info and KAs apply to a single note. Quickstamp applies to all selected notes. The scope of action code depends on what code you write in the rule/action/etc.

Which is best to use? The one that suits you. My observation is that most people will have a reflexive 'first' choice though likely from habit as much as real choice. Season users will use whatever method is eaiest for the task at hand. Try them all, make most frequent use of the method with which you feel most comfortable.

'timeframes'. Dates - as in dates in Date-type attributes - are actually stored as a number of milliseconds from a reference date so as to allow date arithmetic. As such, a Date attribute is alaway single value. So for example, if you need to store a start and end date - as a Date-type - for (up to) 4 deployments, you'd need 8 Date-type user attributes (or six if you also use the built-in $StartDate/$EndDate). If you only need to store info like 'Spring 1990 thru Fall 1991' or 'Mar 89 - Jun 90', that those strings (text) could go in a List or Set type attribute. These types both allow multiple values. Their main difference is that Set type doesn't allow duplicate values, i.e $MyList might have values "Bob;Carol;Ted;Alice;Carol" (list values are stored as one string with a semi-colon value delimiter) but if the same data were puut into $MySet the result would be "Bob;Carol;Ted;Alice" as the duplicate 'Carol' value would be discarded.

Quote:
What would be the best user attribute set up for timeframes

As per my previous advice, make a new document as test the laternative. Which better fits what you want from the data. In this scenario, with dates in the frame, you might even want both. A List or Set for general reference and a Date for timeline view work. Don't forget, you don't have to display (e.g. in KAs) every attribute you create.

I find that if I don't get the concept right off the page, then it's only actually seeing a running version that makes sense. So, make a doc with Lists, Sets and Dates and put some of your data in. Which aid your work and which hinder it. At worst, you'll have new questions that are now rooted in the actual context of your work rather than the wider one of use for anything.

Good luck!
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Re: Setting up TB 6 for qualitative research project
Reply #42 - Mar 6th, 2016, 1:12am
 
Ok, great.  Got it.  Thanks so much!  

Two super quick questions... Would would the advantage of choosing a Set over a List for timelines?  Also, does choosing one choices versus the other affect Adornments / timeline set up?  

After I hear back from you I'll get to work, and will report back soon afterward.  Thanks again!
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Re: Setting up TB 6 for qualitative research project
Reply #43 - Mar 6th, 2016, 3:53am
 
I think my previous answer holds. Set attributes only allow one instance of a value per note. Thus for any given note you can't add the same value more than once to a Set (but you can with a List); if you do add a value already stored, the Set automatically discards the duplicate.

That said, using List.unique you can easily get a de-duped output of a note's List values, or use values() to get a document-scope unique value list.

I've no preference on Sets vs Lists - as stated all along - chose what's best for the job at hand. For manual data input via KAs, I often go with a Set but otherwsie more generally use Lists given it's easy to de-dupe them by other means.
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Re: Setting up TB 6 for qualitative research project
Reply #44 - Mar 7th, 2016, 8:47am
 
A simpler rubric for Sets and Lists - especially for someone new** to Tinderbox - is that if you need a multi-value text (string)
based attribute use the List data type unless you know you need a Set.

** Longer-term users of Tinderbox will have seen Sets arrives as 'list' attribute long before List type.

If starting to use action code (rules, agent actions, etc.) users will at some point need to understand the nuance between a List and Set:
  • Sets don't allow duplicate values at note scope.
  • Sets can't reliably be sorted (use a List!).
Most action codes that create a multi-value output and which used to return Set-type data not return a List; at worst the user may need to de-dupe the output themselves via List.unique. The values() operator is a notable exception in returning Set-type data, although that is desired in this context as the aim is to have a list of unique values for the given attribute.
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