organizing within collections

While I’ve had a Scrivener license for a long while, I never became comfortable with it. Recently I upgraded and have begun to explore Scrivener’s possibilities.

The binder serves me marvelously well. I use the Draft folder to organize thoughts on a research project, and the Research folder to collect PDFs and other relevant documents.

I am also teaching a course on these topics. So I thought I would make a collection, and within that collection create a folder for each date that I teach, placing “aliases” of any documents that I assign to the class. However, it turns out that folders exist only in the binder, not in collections.

I then considered using meta-data (labeled something like “course date”), and then somehow setting up a search-based collection so that it collects any files that contain a “course date” and sorts them. Unfortunately my addled brain cannot quite figure out how to do this. And maybe there’s a better way to organize my coming semester (with over 40 class dates), but I’m not familiar enough with Scrivener.

Any suggestions for this situation? Thanks in advance.

I would use keywords for this. Using the label will probably get to be too much management. Every time you need a new date, you’d have to go and make a new one before you can use it. With keywords you just add a new one in the Inspector and it’s added to the list for easy reuse in the future. To find all items set to a current date, you can open the project keyword list (Project menu), select the date, and click the search button. If you want you can even save that search to a saved search collection so you don’t have to do that again in the future. Another nice benefit of keywords is that, unlike labels, you can apply many to a single item. So if you reuse a topic on another date, just apply the new date to it as well. Of course, keeping the old date may not be important so that is up to you.

Thank you for the advice. I see: I could create keywords such as “Course Date: 2012-01-18” (automating with TextExpander or Typinator to save time and reduce typing errors). Or I could open a folder within the Keyword HUD called “Course Date” and create separate keywords in that folder such as “2012-01-18”.

When I tried something like this with a copy of Tutorial.scriv, the search results appeared exactly as desired. However, they seemed to be sorted in Binder order rather than in alphabetical order of keyword, and I didn’t see how to force sorting by keyword. I think this won’t work well for me, because there are many times I’d like to view the entire flow of the semester.

Staring at the search results gave me another idea: set a label or status called “Course Date: 2012-01-18” for each of the 40+ days the class meets with students this semester. That way I can sort the search results by clicking on the label or status column.

There’s always going to be some awkwardness adding a label or status, but I’ll find the most efficient way possible soon enough. One question: besides assignable color, is there any real difference between keyword and character? And one big concern: using label or status to organize course dates looks like it will work for me well this semester, but does not seem to be a sustainable model – when I teach the course again in the future, it’s not clear how I can easily duplicate all the materials in the same order over to a new semester while retaining information of the old semester. Is there a way to do this that I haven’t considered? Thank you again.

Personally, I wouldn’t create so many statuses or labels as it will become unwieldy fairy quickly. I think you can do what (I think) you need: it needs a bit of setup, but not too much (I think…).

Create a new label “Course” (with no date). Then on the Custom Meta-Data tab, create a field called, for example, C-Date. Finally, add the new field C-Date to outline view (View > Outliner Columns). That’s the setup done…

For each new course, label it, then add the date in your new C-Date field using reverse notation as you did before. (BTW, ctl-opt-cmd-M takes you straight to the meta-date inspector to simplify matters).

Search (Project > Find > Search in Project) filtered by Label and Course will give you all your course documents.

Click in the Search Results sidebar, cmd-A to select them all, cmd-3 to go to outline view and click on the C-Date header bar. You’ve now got all your course related documents sorted in C-Date order…

Does that help?



I think David is steering you in the right direction. If you go the keyword route, then you can always just add new keywords, leaving the old ones for historical reference. To quickly add the next set of keywords to documents that you’ve used before, you can just search for the previous keyword and then select all from that result and add the new keyword en masse.

If you think you’ll make changes to the contents of those documents, you can create a named snapshot of each document (or all of them at once) before you make changes to them.

These operations on multiple documents at once can often be accomplished by right- (or CMD-) clicking on your selection in the binder/collection.

Aha – the Outliner view. I haven’t wrapped my mind around how to use it, but this seems extremely helpful. Thank you very much – I’ll play with this.

Also note that keywords, once you make them, will auto-complete while typing them in, so that should negate any need for setting up Typinator shortcuts for each one. Using a date format that is biased on the left-side for the most variable piece of data would help, so you don’t have to type all the way through the stuff that rarely changes (like year), to get to the most specific part of the keyword. The only drawback I can think of with that method is sorting. Sorting works better with a top-down date. DD-MM-YYYY would produce day centric sort results.

And yes, as already mentioned, sorting by Keywords in the Outliner view is a good way of accomplishing the sort of view you are working toward, I think. You can reorganise keywords in the Inspector table, so if you keep the date at the top it will sort correctly (assuming you end up using keywords for anything else, like topics).

Another tip: if you don’t want to keep the old dates for historic purposes, you can update a keyword universally from the Project Keywords list. Changing the text of it there will update all documents using that keyword. So when the next cycle rolls around, you can administrate all of the date blocks in one central location.