Date metadata, Ourliner sort, and folders

Hello all,

I have read the forums about making a timeline based on creating a custom metadata field (I will call it CustomDate) and using the YYYY-MM-DD format. Then, when you go to the ‘Outliner’ mode, you can sort using the ‘CustomDate’ field to see a basic chronology of events. I am having difficulty with this method when using a hierarchical folder structure. This CustomDate-sorting method works as expected within a single folder, but when multiple folders are involved, each folder seems to ‘capture’ its contents and not provide a book-wide chronology. I apologize if this has already been addressed, I could not locate this specific problem after a number of searches.

please see attached picture for a better explanation

In the example picture I’ve attached, each chapter contains a number of small writings, and each is associated with a CustomDate. In the Outliner, I sort by CustomDate. The flashback in chapter 1 seems to be sorted properly, but the flashback in chapter 2 (titled “a second flashback”) is stuck at the top of the chapter 2 folder instead of appearing besides the other flashback at the very top, even though they have the same CustomDate. You can see that I am sorting by CustomDate, and the events are sorted within their own folders, but not from the viewpoint of the entire story.

I apologize if my explanation is a little strange. I was wondering if there was a work-around for this. I realize the metadata option isn’t necessarily intended for this purpose, although it seems if it would work if there was a way to ignore the folder structure. (As a side note, it does work as expected if you don’t use multiple folders or if the folders themselves are assigned a CustomDate)
Screen Shot 2013-01-22 at 6.13.57 PM.png

The problem you are running up against is that for sort to ignore hierarchy it would have to pull it apart and the outliner would no longer be a representation of your project structure. So sorting works best in flat lists. With that in mind there are some easy ways to get a flat list. The project search feature is one such tool. If you search for an asterisk all by itself, that will find everything in the binder and return it in a list. You can use the project search tool’s magnifying glass to constrain that to the draft folder if you wish. In the search result binder list, at the very top, click on the “Search Results” header to view the results as a group. Now you have an outliner with a flat list that can be accurately sorted, no matter where the items may be located.

Of course, a search merely creates a special ad hoc Collection. These display items in a flat list no matter what. You could for example, save that search as a dynamic Collection so you don’t have to keep typing it in. You can even lock that Collection’s view mode by switching to the mode you wish and clicking the Collection’s header bar icon (next to the back and forward buttons). Select “Lock Collection View Mode”, and now no matter what view mode you choose to use elsewhere, whenever you click the binder header for that Collection to view it as a group, it will show it as an outliner.

Ah, that actually works very well, thank you, AmberV!