Extended Meta-Data (Label/Status)

Hi Keith,
I think I remember these topics being mentioned previously in some degree, but hopefully not repeating someone’s request exactly as they asked for it.

Obviously, with the next release so close, this is probably more of a 2.0 change, but I thought I would get the suggestion in early.

I really appreciate the icon tinting in the binder, but I find that I have different uses for it at different stages of the writing process, or even sometimes want to toggle between 2 different uses at the same time.

As an example:
During the drafting process, I can think of several different ways you might want to visualise your documents (I just happen to find icon tinting to be my best visualisation technique): Point of View, Tension, etc. At the moment you are forced to choose just one of these uses for the “Label” meta-data, which is used for icon tinting.

At later times, when the bulk of the writing is done, the most important meta-data for me to track was “Status”. But as Status can only print on the corkboard, which I find less useful than icon tinting, I changed my Label to contain Status values, such as “Done”, “Reviewing”, “Editing”, “Annotated” etc.

For the work I just imported from Word, this was easy, as I was already at this stage so I immediately set up the Labels to work that way. But in something where I am writing start to finish in Scrivener, it would be much better to change between them without having to lose the other meta-data, or make wholesale changes to the Labels and Status categories.

The way I would suggest this to work would be as follows:

Rather than simply renaming and using 2 pre-defined meta-data fields, users should be able to add their own additional fields. So you could setup meta-data for POV, Tension, Status, Location, etc. Each of these meta-data would consist, like the “Label”, of a name-colour pair.

You would then be able to associate one of these meta-data fields with the icon tint, or the card tint, or the pin colour, or to be printed across the card. And with a simple menu option, you should be able to change which of these is associated with the particular indicators on the fly.

So you might work with your POV tinted most of the time, but if you want to check the story structure, you could quickly switch to tint based on the Tension (hence providing some kind of visualisation for people who were asking for a Tension graph). Then when you were at a stage where most of the rough-drafting is done, you could switch the tinting to Status and see which sections need further work from the icon tint in the binder.

This post is getting to be a little long, but I thought I would explain my suggestion fully, and why it would sit in well with Scrivener. In some ways I am biased because I happen to like the Binder, but don’t tend to use the Outliner or Corkboard nearly so much. But I would expect that Corkboard and Outliner users might also be able to benefit from changing what the card pin or card tint indicates, depending on which area they wish to focus on at the time.

At the moment, to do this, you would need to define all the fields in the Label with overlapping colours, and manually change the “Label” for each document (hence losing POV information as soon as you want to consider Tension).

Matt

PS - As goes without saying, already love the software as it is, just dreaming of ways to make it better still :slight_smile:

PPS - Why are so many of the writers using Scrivener also programmers (of which I am one). I wouldn’t have thought they were two fields that went together particularly well, but a lot of people here seem to have at least some experience developing.

Is it perhaps because the majority of software developers/writers assume there must be better programs than Word and actively seek them out, whereas less technically-minded writers assume an editor is an editor is an editor?

Hi Matt,

Thanks for your suggestion. As you note, this is definitely more of a 2.0-future thing. One question would be, how would such meta-data appear in the inspector? With labels and status, it is easy to have two pop-up buttons. With user-customisable meta-data, there would need to be another table of some sort, which would render the differences between the meta-data fields less visually obvious. There would also be the problem of how to represent such meta-data on the corkboard (the outliner would not be a problem as it could have user-definable columns, I suppose).

All in all, a lot to think about for the future, but it’s certainly the sort of thing I will consider for 2.0 (that distant and misty horizon).

All the best,
Keith

Hi Matt,

Thanks for your suggestion. As you note, this is definitely more of a 2.0-future thing. One question would be, how would such meta-data appear in the inspector? With labels and status, it is easy to have two pop-up buttons. With user-customisable meta-data, there would need to be another table of some sort, which would render the differences between the meta-data fields less visually obvious. There would also be the problem of how to represent such meta-data on the corkboard (the outliner would not be a problem as it could have user-definable columns, I suppose).

All in all, a lot to think about for the future, but it’s certainly the sort of thing I will consider for 2.0 (that distant and misty horizon).

All the best,
Keith

I have to concur with Matt. I like having the ability to track POV with the color coding in Binder (and as a column in Outliner). But I’d also like to plot other fictional elements, like SETTING, etc.

Perhaps instead of using one thumbtack, users can have multiple tacks on the corkboard. Same goes for the inspector – I don’t think it would be too crowded…if a user adds too many columns perhaps the general tab could be a tear off/floating tool.

– Maa

Like I say, I’ll think about this in the distant 2.0 future. For now I will just say that having multiple pins on the corkboard would be horrible - you could end up having so many that you couldn’t read the text! Moreover, I don’t really like the idea of the inspector becoming a tear-off panel - I went for the single-window interface for a reason (simplicity). So, I’ll ponder this in the future, but for now you have keywords to add things such as setting.

All the best,
Keith

Just off the top of my head, I guess one solution might be colored stamps of some sort that can go in the index card’s header area, or maybe colored cards (which work better for me to indicate something, because I don’t always notice the color of the thumbtack).

I agree with your later comments that you wouldn’t want to cram too much information onto the corkboards etc. at once.

Rather than adding extra representations, which would look cluttered, allow the user to switch the meta-data fields associated with the card tint, pin colour, or stamp with an easy to access menu. It would be preferable to allow a fast switch, which means not going through Preferences. I would visualise a couple of discrete drop-downs at the top-right of the corkboard: one to select the card tint (either OFF or one of the meta-data fields), another for the stamp.

Visually, what you have now looks appealing, so it would be best if the drop down list could be retained. I guess you just need to have a flexible number of drop down lists, rather than the two. I haven’t done any work in Cocoa to know how easy it is to programatically add or remove extra drop-down lists, but I would assume Apple hasn’t overlooked it entirely.

If space becomes an issue, I guess an extra tab would be necessary, so you toggle between Inspector, Notes, and Meta-data, for instance.

I’m not sure how that would turn out… chuck it into the melting pot for 2.0 and see how the idea sits with the other changes you make. Who knows, maybe between now and then yourself or another user might come up with a way to make the selection of meta-data more visually appealing.

Matt

Hi Matt, yes, this is exactly what I want to leave this sort of thing for 2.0. Trying to force a solution early would only cause trouble and a bad implementation. Letting it sit somewhere at the back of my mind, and on the list of things to consider for 2.0, will more likely lead to a Eureka moment or another suggestion that clicks on the road to 2.0 (a road I have yet to step upon, mind).

It would be possible to add extra pop-ups programmatically, but the trouble with that - as you note - is space. An extra pane would indeed be necessary for this sort of thing.

Thanks again and all the best,
Keith

Hi Keith,

BUMP!

I just remembered about this post. Since you said “maybe 2.0” and it is now 2.0, I thought I might see if it was still on the maybe list.

Matt

Hi Matt,

Although I did always say that I would consider custom meta-data and columns for 2.0, I’m afraid it still hasn’t made the initial list. It would take a completely new inspector and a whole interface for adding columns, which still a bit beyond the initial scope of 2.0. Sorry!

All the best,
Keith

What? What do you mean? This is the demand list, isn’t it? :mrgreen:

Vic-k! New orders. See that matt guy? Get him!