Annotation page and index page

This is my first post. I decided a few days ago to move my current ms to Scrinever since it is more “confortable” for my work. So i am a new user. My questions or wish list are dealing with the creation of an annotation page that automatically includes each annotation you introduce in your work. I have just created one In “Research” folder. Basically it contains a table with several columns including, the reference of the page where an annotation exists , type of annotation (i.e. “reference missing”), a comment about it, and finally the solution to be included in the text. I wonder if Scrivener could automatically produce this kind of “annotation page” . I think this would be very useful for any writer.

My second question is related with index pages like in Notebook. For me it is relevant to easily see if a specific word has been cited in the whole ms. So my question is wether you are considering these possibilities (annotation pages and index pages) for new/next versions.

Finally, congratulations for this piece of software. i have found this program a nice room to organize my ms and produce the draft and final versions.
Fablado (Spain)

I can answer some of this for you. Because of the way annotations and footnotes are processed (they are actually just a special case of format; think of it as bold or italic), a dynamic list of every note would be quite CPU and disk intensive. Scrivener would essentially have to trawl through each document in your entire project looking for these format marks to generate a list.

But, as you suggest a list being created as notes are made, that is slightly different. I am thinking of something along the lines of Amazon Kindle’s annotation and marking log. When you create a bookmark, highlight a line, or add notes to a book it not only keeps track of these entries in a database, but adds the source, time of notation, relevant contextual text and position within the source. This text file can then be referenced later, and using the positional and source feature you can get back to a location in a book even if you delete the original mark.

Of course, therein lies the problem with the build-as-you-go method. It gets out of sync. With bookmarks and highlights on a book reading device, that might be preferable as you always will have a record of what interested you, even if you completely delete the book or resource later on. In an active project, however, having a file potentially full of “dead links” would lead to a loss of productivity.

So on the one hand dynamically building a list would be too computationally expensive, and on the other hand a “dead” list would reduce in usefulness as time goes on. Scrivener’s answer to this problem is two-fold. The first is text-string narrowed searching. Using Edit/Find/Annotations… you can step-by-step move through your entire project, and even narrow down annotations by type if you label them appropriately. Second approach is to, by user request, build a full annotation list as an RTF document. This can be generated via the File/Export menu. Since this is a one-shot menu command as opposed to an item in the Binder, the computation expense can be justified. The user expects a certain amount of delay when exporting data.

As for reference page. Well, Scrivener doesn’t have any notion of pages, so that isn’t really possible. The exported list has an option for including at least the document title from which the note came from. Depending on how cut-up your project is, this might be precise enough. It does become a problem if you use repeating generic document names like “Scene 12”.

Thanks, AmberV for your answer. I think the best way to create a “annotation page” or document inside the binder is perhaps using something similar to a clipping page, or just the procedure that Scrivener use to introduce text into the synopsis card in the Inspector. In example, (1) you select the text, (2) clip on the corresponding icon, and (3) the text is automatically introduced (copy & paste) in a new (special) document in the blinder (or folder) called “Annotations” or something similar. I cannot figure out if this is a lot of work to do. To keep productive, the text should appear with some info about its location in the draf (i.e. name of the page or document from the draft). With the page layout options you could visualize this “annotations” on the screen, just for introduce a comment (or the solution) or revising, and then you continue on your writing. This feature could be used for other things, like tasks, references, planning, etc…

Another possiblity if to use the space in the inspector for notes in the same way. You write your side notes and after a click it is introduced in a specific document in “research” or in “clippings”, but all together in the same document to fit with the idea of productivity during writing.

Sometimes you solve an annotation or concern about a specific point of your ms when you are trying to correct/modify another one. This is the reason why i would like to have all the annotations in just one place, to easily revise them. The solution of exporting the annotations is also OK, but you have to open another document (or program) and I feel it result in a less productive (and elegant) solution for Scrivener.

Thanks again for your comments
best regards
Fablado (Spain)

Well there you might have a potential solution. Why not just use project notes for this? Project notes can be accessed from all documents in the Inspector, so once you stick some text in there in one document, you can get at it from another document entirely.

And incidentally there is already a universal place where you can do pretty much what you are describing, the scratchpad. It is a floating panel that can be accessed even outside of Scrivener so it is great for jotting down notes. It has a facility for appending a selection to an existing document, too. Any document you like.

It sounds almost as though you don’t care if the note texts are with the context at all, and having them all in their own place would be more beneficial. If that’s the case, I would recommend using a simple pointer based system. I used to use something similar myself. You just put something unique into the annotation itself—say the date and time (Scrivener makes this easy with Cmd-Shift-Opt-D), and then use that same marker in your “Notes” document (or Project Notes if you prefer). That way, you can get back to the context from the notes document really easily, and you have all of your remarks in one spot easily edited and revised.

Example Chapter Document: Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. [color=red][2008-07-22@11:54]. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Example Notes Document: 2008-07-22@11:54 — Here is the note text.

I’m not sure if that appeals to you; it doesn’t to me anymore. That is what I was using before Scrivener came along. Now working right in the context is what I prefer, and occasionally producing an exported list of all my notes is good enough for a master list.

I do still mark each annotation with the date and time, however. It makes cross-referencing easy, and also serves as a handy time bomb. I can address things before I forget what I was talking about if I keep working with a certain interval of time. Cross-referencing helps with the issue of resolution chains, as you brought up. Sometimes fixing one thing in chapter 12 fixes eight problems in prior chapters. If I give a certain issue a resolution number, then I can find all eight of them rapidly using the annotation finder with string matching, and delete them.

I’ve always just imported the exported list back into the Binder. :slight_smile:

What you are talking about here would be even more complicated than what I was originally thinking. I am not the developer, so I could be off on my estimation, but I would imagine that an interface allowing remote edits of what essentially amount to specially formatted sections of multiple documents throughout a project would be very complex indeed, and prone to all manner of synchronisation problems.

Again, consider that an annotation or footnote in Scrivener is nothing more involved (technically speaking) than a set of four words set to italic. Appending text to a “clipping document” via the operation of creating an annotation from an existing portion of text would be one thing, as you described in your example, but this example does not address what happens when you turn annotation/footnote marking mode on and then proceed to type in some text from scratch. How is Scrivener to know when you are done editing that remark? When you move out with the cursor, turn the mode off, click to another spot? I can think of plenty of scenarios where I’ve done just that while editing a comment. I’ve even moved to other documents and back again to check on something before finishing. Say I cross-check while typing a note, when I start back up typing again, how does Scrivener know that is the same note? If it just assumes, then it starts to make errors in assumption when a user places to completely separate notes next to each other. The notion of having a clipping document track the text contents of an annotation or footnote area is one of those ideas that seems simple to describe, but from a programming standpoint it is a nightmare.

And that is just one complexity in the most simple method described: Appending to a clipping document. Live database-style dynamic collection with the ability to edit notes as in say an Edit Scrivenings mode for notes would be, as far as I can tell from an outsider’s point of view, practically impossible. I’m sure there is a solution, but it would not be very practical in other words. The main problem would be synchronisation. Since notes are text in a stream, you cannot use byte positioning as the removal of a single character anywhere in the section prior to the note would move it. Byte positioning calibrated every time you click on this hypothetical index page would only work so long as the user was very strict about not using splits. Considering that the operation we are talking about would be exceptionally heavy in just that kind of editing, it would strip a lot of the power from the technique. To put it another way, notes are often used to remind us of how to treat a section of text. If we are going through a list of notes and editing sections of text, those very edits will de-synchronise the position of the notes and Scrivener will lose track of what went where unless it was constantly recalculating and that would grind nearly any computer to a halt. Typing in Leopard is bad enough all by itself.

It’s very messy. Edit Scrivenings works because it is taking whole documents and pasting them end on end in a single window. What you are suggesting is taking only small slices of those documents and pasting them together into one window. There is no magic in a text file that would make this easy, it’s just a long stream of characters (even paragraph breaks are just another character), so re-assembly of a document in slices would require quite a lot of effort. You can’t use string matching instead of position because you might have fifty annotations that all say “SCI: Research” where the context is more important than the words of the note. Try to visualise a text document as a long string of beads. You are wanting to extract 9 beads from a strand of 8,000 where the bracelet designer is constantly changing the beads on the string, and then hoping that Scrivener can get those nine re-arranged beads back into the same spot, even though the new string doesn’t look at all like the old string.

Hopefully that made sense. Again, I’m not privy to what is actually going on, but from what I know of the process, I’m pretty sure my explanation here is accurate. I wouldn’t hope for anything along these lines any time soon, and would instead highly recommend finding a process whereby you can find a way to work within the existing set of tools. There are a lot of existing tools, too. You might come up with something using Scratchpad, Project Notes, References, who knows.

Thank you Av for your “huge” post and time. You describe very well some features of Scrivener and you have provided me some new interesting ideas to use them.
I´m working on a ms and I have also decided to move here (Scrivener) my Lectures project for the next academic year. I´m a mac user since 1991, and I do not know why i hadn´t met Scrivener before. I think this program is going to help me a lot with my manuscripts and research projects
Thank you

It’s my pleasure, and welcome to the community. Scrivener is still a relatively new piece of software. The original betas (which look very little like what we have today) started popping up in late 2004. On top of that, the “genre” of software is relatively new as well—at least as a movement away from structured writing programs and sprawling word processors toward loosely defined project management programs with strong writing emphasis and tools.

Anyway, the next free update is already in the works, and from the scattered messages dropped on the board, I think it will represent a fairly big step in Scrivener’s development path. I wouldn’t hope for an annotation index page, but we might see some interesting new developments that make notation management easier and more powerful.