Build a collection using 'find by format'

I know how to find by format, and I know how to build a collection. What I want to do is build a collection based on a ‘find by format’ search, and that I don’t seem to be able to do. Format isn’t offered in the project search dropdown. Is it possible to do what I’m aiming for?

It can be done, but not automatically, I believe.

I’d say that the best way to go about it, (if you don’t want to add your documents one by one to a collection) would be to search by formatting in a scrivening of your target documents and drop something that can be filtered, in the inspector, for the documents that return a positive.
Say, a dedicated keyword, for e.g. (Have the keyword ready in your clipboard, press the “+” in the keyword panel and paste. Find the next document, +, paste. And on and on.)

Then, filter the whole by that keyword, and create your collection.
A two time operation that will spare you the constant back and forth.

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Could do that or as scroll thru the scrivenings view will see the document currently being viewed with a highlight in the binder and you can click on this to add to a standard collection and call if by the formatting. when done going thru the group of documents you would have added the files with the formatting to a static collection and can add more or subtract as you want.

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Find by format is an inefficient tool (slow), hence it only working forward and backward with button clicks. We can seek up or down in the current chunk of text easily enough, or once reaching the top or bottom, invisibly load the next chunk and see if it has a match, and if not, the next, and so on. This is why if you have two images on opposite ends of 200,000 words in 300 sections, it will take a long time to find the next one, even with SSD.

And that’s why it’s not feasible for this to be in a collection, as designed. Would you be satisfied waiting that long, and realistically even longer, every time you clicked on the tab? It would probably often be longer, because unlike how long it takes to load the next match, crawling from one item to the next, a collection would have to from the very start know everything that has a shred of italic text in it (or whatever), meaning the entire project would have to be crawled from top to bottom every time you clicked.

Of course the answer to such problems are indexing (building a list of notable elements as you make them, where they are, and keeping that up to date), but this has its own challenges. Given how many different things this tool can search for (and all of the different variations within each type), and how much tracking would need to be done to keep the relative position of where these things are updated as you type, delete, merge, split, move items around and so on—well that’s a lot of background work that would probably cause a lot of typing lag, for something that, if we take a look at what is really going on in terms of actual benefit, is pretty slim:

  • Option A: You click on a collection and get a list of things with, lets say inline annotations of a specific RGB colour setting. Now you have a list of these things and can, what, go through them with the find by formatting tool?
  • Option B (what you have): You go through the binder with the formatting tool.

What does the list give you? Sure, there might indeed by some uses for such a list being built, like a list of everything in the binder that has images, so you can compile just that list and proof the output to make sure all your equations and figures are up to date and correct. But I would say there are probably better ways of doing that, than really slow searches (or complicated indexing). Like for example, if this is actually something you envision wanting to do, you could create Section Types for equations, and one for figures, and maybe tables, and then put these elements into binder items that contain just them, and are marked correctly in the inspector for being this type of thing. You could even set up document templates to handle the setting for you, and apply a nice custom icon to set them apart visually, as well.

And now you’ve got something you can very rapidly search for (and thus make a Collection): section types.


Thanks all for your input. Good to understand better, and I’ll play with the ideas.

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