FoldingText and the PAPER notebook app - does it exist?

mi
michaelbywater
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Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:26 pm Post

No shortage of notebook apps of one sort or another. But they are computer versions of paper notebooks.

What I need is a computer ADJUNCT to paper notebooks. And I haven't come across one; and I wonder if anyone knows of one.

What I need to do is this:

Fillet my paper notebooks, which, of course, have multiple entries for multiple projects and 50% of the stuff is no use.

I want to transcribe the good stuff into ONE DOCUMENT and tag it as I go -- this one's for the Oscar Wilde musical, this one's for the next book, this one's a vague idea etc etc.

I then want to hit the Magic Key and have all the Oscar-tagged notes gathered into one continuous page (perhaps with separator lines between individual notes), and ditto for all other tags.

I can do *part* of this in various apps. But not all of it.

The idea's terribly simple in concept, but I don't know of one which does it. Can anyone help here?

(I could make something using Tinderbox agents -- "Look for everything with the #Oscar tag and dump its text into a given note" -- but that requires some under-the-hood work that not everyone would feel happy doing.)

Suggestions gratefully received. It looks like something FoldingText *might* do, but doesn't. Yet.

Ni
Niran
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Thu Oct 18, 2012 1:45 pm Post

How about DevonThink ? It has tagging and AI sorting. Screecastonline did 2 recent episodes on it. You would need to to drag your selected text to the available tags or just into a separate document within the database(then let the AI sort things out later)

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brookter
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Thu Oct 18, 2012 2:14 pm Post

You probably already know about both these products, but....

Devonthink.It needs to have the notes as small individual documents (one document per thought) for tagging to be effective for your purpose, but if you're going to be transcribing the notes anyway then this shouldn't be too onerous.

– Create a document covering a single thought.
– Tag it with one or more tags.
– Click on a tag to see all related document for that tag.
– Sort the documents within a tag as you fancy then merge them into a single document.

You've now got both the individual notes and a single combined document per tag. If you want all the notes with both #Oscar and #AliensFromMars tags, you can do that too.

Or, what about Circus Ponies Notebook? It's an outliner where you can you can add keywords to each line. There is an index of keywords, which shows you at a glance all the relevant lines, but leaves the original intact. You don't have to have a magic key for this one -- it's done automatically.


EDIT: I've just realised you' already use Devonthink, which must mean you'd decided not to use it for this....Sorry!

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Sean Coffee
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Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:48 pm Post

I just posted in another thread that I love the hell out of VoodooPad, but I can't figure out a really good use for it. I think you may have found one. Maybe?

It'll let you make an index—essentially a hotlinked table of contents—and as many pages as you want, all of which links together as a wiki. It supports tags, and has a bunch of other useful features. You'll also be able to go back and forth between Mac and iOS.

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AmberV
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Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:17 pm Post

CPN is indeed one of the few things I can think of that does this automatically. It has an interface that takes a little getting used to, however. Of course Scrivener can kind of do this if you break outside of the single document notion. If a 'document' is actually a file group with a bunch of individual quotes, and these quotes are keyword tagged by author, then you could have your keyword search return a list that could be viewed in Scrivenings as a single 'document' of just the Wilde quotes. You'd have to approach things in a similar fashion for Tinderbox, too. Small chunks of text making up larger "documents".
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michaelbywater
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Fri Oct 19, 2012 11:33 am Post

Ah, but there's the rub -- I want a single-document model in the same sense that my notebooks are single-documents. (I've tried the various methods mentioned and though they work they're not ideal and take some setting-up.)

Thing is this. What I don't do when I'm walking the dog and an idea comes to mind:

(1) Select the appropriate notebook

(2) Select the appropriate page in the current notebook

(3) Think up a title for the note.

(4) Add text to the title

(5) Tag the note.

Things I *do* do:

(1) Grab notebook.

(2) Write the tag ("Oscar").

(3) Write the note


Most "notebook" apps adhere to the first model and anything else is an add-on or a kludge. It's odd that such a simple process should have slipped through the net...

However, it looks as though something very like what I'm after did exist in a very recent beta of FoldingText and has been temporarily deprecated but will soon be back. Type a @tag anywhere in a line -- that is, anything not demarcated by <CR> -- and clicking on any one of those tags will gather ALL notes that contain the tag and hide everything else.

[Edit] PS I will try the VoodooPad process but as far as I can see VP doesn't aggregate notes. It will watch for CamelCase words or aliases and link them to a page with that title. What I need, in the VoodooPad model, is something which watches for tags and copies the tagged paragraph to the relevant page. I can't see an immediate way VP does that, but I'll have a play. I, too, find VP a wonderful idea which I can't think of how to use...

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AndreasE
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Fri Oct 19, 2012 3:10 pm Post

I have difficulties to see why the process of jotting down inspirations in a notebook while walking the dog (which, indeed, should be as quick and simpel as possible) and the process of, well, processing those notes for further use should be the same. The second look, transfering relevant notes from paper into a file/system/database, involves thinking, pondering, rethinking, development, catching additional ideas etc., so there should be no point in handling a slightly more sophisticated interface.

On the other hand, I have to admit that although I've spent a lot of money on software like DevonThink, Tinderbox and the like, I manage my thoughts, ideas and relevant notes from four decades still in binders and filing boxes, because until day, nothing beats paper for this purpose. At least for me. To use a computer is already "post-processing".

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Niran
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Fri Oct 19, 2012 4:42 pm Post

How about notsey/simple note for ios There is no need to select a notebook. You need to "title" a note, but I see no real difference between naming oscarX 1, 2 etc ... Storyx ... Or tagging a file as Oscar. The notes sync with Nvalt or notational velocity. My running files end with x, so if I want a list of my recipes I search for recipex or x for just a list of running files. If you want to get even geekier, have devonthink index Nvalt files, so you can have all the goodness of devonthink's AI. Writing and indexing are now simultaneous.

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Hugh
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Fri Oct 19, 2012 4:55 pm Post

I think there's a gap in the market for precisely this type of writer's notebook. I had need of such a thing a couple of years ago. In lieu of anything else I used MacJournal: I transcribed each notebook item as a separate entry, separately tagged, and used smart folders to collect the tagged entries together. The separate-items part was quite time-consuming and tiresome, but I managed to find a routine using the keyboard only. Then I exported the contents of the smart folders as rtf or txt, which exported as a single continuous document that I could then split in Scrivener, explode in Tinderbox or preserve in one piece: MacJournal has quite a few export alternatives.

As I say, this was a couple of years ago, my memory may be slightly askew and MacJournal has a new version now (although I don't think it has merge or split features, unfortunately).

Not exactly what you want, but it worked for me, sort of.
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AmberV
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Fri Oct 19, 2012 8:10 pm Post

Ah! I thought of another one that does this, if you are willing to throw a substantial amount of time at learning not only a system, but a text editor, the Emacs Org Mode is widely considered to be the single greatest system for the scrapbook approach to document creation. It's basically Circus Ponies Notebook as a system of plain-text conventions in a .txt file, strapped into a Ferrari level text editor's scripting system.

http://orgmode.org/
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Siren
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Fri Oct 19, 2012 8:36 pm Post

Oh, dear. I looked, I read, I shrivelled in horror. How can one person learn all this in a single lifetime? :-)

And then I got sidetracked and read the linked page <http://www.catb.org/esr/faqs/smart-questions.html>, and cringed with self-flagellation.

To think I thought that Tinderbox was the worst of my bogeymen... :-(
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michaelbywater
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Sat Oct 20, 2012 12:47 pm Post

AndreasE wrote:I have difficulties to see why the process of jotting down inspirations in a notebook while walking the dog (which, indeed, should be as quick and simpel as possible) and the process of, well, processing those notes for further use should be the same. The second look, transfering relevant notes from paper into a file/system/database, involves thinking, pondering, rethinking, development, catching additional ideas etc., so there should be no point in handling a slightly more sophisticated interface.

On the other hand, I have to admit that although I've spent a lot of money on software like DevonThink, Tinderbox and the like, I manage my thoughts, ideas and relevant notes from four decades still in binders and filing boxes, because until day, nothing beats paper for this purpose. At least for me. To use a computer is already "post-processing".


Doesn't that just mean your workflow is different to mine? When transcribing a notebook I just want to get the stuff off the page and into the computer. Post-processing ("writing") comes later.

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mwra
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Sat Oct 20, 2012 4:24 pm Post

Going back to @michaelbywater's posited problem, I believe Tinderbox (for those who have it) can do this, thanks to some recent improvements in its internal scripting. Yes, it involves some 'code' but, once inserted (and in one place - a prototype), the hard work's done and you don't need to do it again.

The answer was something I stumbled over the other day in exploring auto-indexing of text. The result is summarised here. Sadly, I didn't keep my TBX file used for the experiment but if anyone's actually interested, I'm sure I could start over> Even better if someone wants to offer up some specimen source data (always better than made-up test data).

This isn't to say a standalone app wouldn't be neat. But for those already with Tinderbox, you may not need one.

[edit - typo]
Last edited by mwra on Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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bgood
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Sat Oct 20, 2012 7:06 pm Post

I have been noodling with Workflowy (https://workflowy.com) for a little while now and I think it addresses some of the issues.
It is a web-based outliner with an iPhone client and it supports tags. I haven't used it a great deal yet but it appears to have real potential as a low-friction note taking system. All the tags can be gathered together by clicking on one tag, it will also show all the headers above it which is a mixed blessing.
It is very simple and relatively new, the iphone client only came out in the last month or so.
The more I think about it I realize it needs a more thorough look.

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Juddbert
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Sat Oct 20, 2012 10:31 pm Post

If I've understood the requirement correctly, why not use Taskpaper? One text document, each note entered as a simple task (there's no requirement to introduce the project structure) and tagged appropriately at any point. Filtering by tag criteria works as expected too; a single list of all associated notes. Just a thought...
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