Hello, my name is Sinus and I’m a metadataholic.
I started trying out Scrivener in search of the ultimate notebook, letting me compile the dozens of notes I have for my would-be opus magnum. One thing my work style involves is ridiculously heavy use of metadata. I tend to write down everything I can categorize into some kind of meta fields - characters’ eye color, height, age, chapters’ themes, amount of violence, amount of sexual themes, if possible: narrative to dialogue ratio, and that’s even before I start linking characters to places, places to countries, countries to continents, items to characters, characters to each other, ideas to pretty much anything… So far I’m riding an odd mixture of self-written scripts and text pre/postprocessors, but I’m growing tired of managing this contraption. So, having read that Scrivener is the ultimate “no strict templates” editor, I plunged in. And… either I didn’t yet find the proper features, or it’s not all pink.
Custom Metadata. It’s not a big problem to have to define it in a settings panel, though I’d prefer a hands-on, type-it-and-it’s-created approach. What is a bother is that the same metadata is always visible for all objects - so my “places” are becoming riddled with characters’ eye-colors, heights, items’ prices and sizes, etc. It would help a lot if the metadata pane had a layout like: [ Fieldname (dropdown) | Fieldvalue ] with the field name chosen out of a dropdown (or typed on-the-spot, autocompleted or autocreated), and only as many fields would appear as there were picked.
Searching. I’m sorely missing a way to search for metadata alone. If for some peculiar reason I need to list out all the blue-eyed characters, I’d very much like to see support for some kind of “eyecolor=blue” queries, Searching for just “blue” is obviously polluted by everything else that happens to be azure - or sad.
Search results. Am I missing something, or do the search results only show titles of documents found? It would be great if the results could show in a wider format, with a few words of context, and possibly some chosen metadata, statistics, labels, wordcounts, date of last edit, etc.
Bookmarks as links. If I understood it correctly, adding a link in object A to object B also creates a reciprocal “bookmark” from object B to object A - but the bookmark is not permanent at all, it’s easy to just delete it in object B, while the link from A to B remains. I don’t think this serves a lot of purpose - I’d think “what links here” would be read-only, not modifiable from the target. Also, as bookmarks in object A pile on, it’s no longer easy to see where the link’s origin is located - especially if object A is a longer piece of text, I’d like to be able to see why it linked to B in the first place.
Corkboard. Since this is the only place where objects are shown as “cards”, I’m missing a way to organize them as I see fit. Obviously their placement would have to have a “context” in which it would be stored, but if, say, a Collection could be recognized by the Corkboard and save its cards’ placement, that would serve as a great visual organization tool. And if the cards could have lines joining them where the documents link to each other - oh my, THAT would be something!
Outliner. Finally, a table view of selected items! It took me a moment to find the column settings (usually it’s the right-click on column headers, but whatever works). The only thing I’m missing here is a way to show keywords as plain text, instead of colored boxes; having to tickle them with the mouse to read them seems like reading Braille, as well as a means to edit them right there. But the right-hand pane can show a keyword editing panel, so that’s just fine.
As far as I can see, that’s as much as I could squeeze out of the metadata capabilities - while way ahead of other popular editors, in this area at least, it’s still not my dream tool… yet. I really wish it were, it seems like a great piece of software otherwise!
Oh, one more thing that’s been bugging me: Undo doesn’t work on any structural changes! I can’t undo changing a label, moving a document into another hierarchy, adding a comment, changing keywords… It’s all too easy to do serious damage this way, by, say, carelessly dragging an intricate selection of objects, each in a different folder, all into one target. Comments, since I mentioned them, would be way more useful if they were shown on the margins, not in a separate panel.
What do you (guys/girls/people/L&L) think? Am I the odd fish with such weird expectations, or would these sound like a good idea?