Rudimentary Folder Sorting

At present it seems that Folder contents can only be sorted Alphabetically in two directions.
This is not helpful in a number of use cases - long-dated entries for example - and most other developed software now seems to recognise that, including, for example, Created Date and Modified Date. In large non-fiction documents this last option would be very useful indeed.

I’ve been a Scrivener user for many years so this is hardly a deal-breaker, but it would be nice to know if these additional options are likely to be introduced.

Many thanks.

See the user manual: 8.3.5 Sorting by Columns (can be used in the outliner and binder).

Thanks - that sort-of works, but it’s not a permanent sort so, for example, when sorted by Creation Date, adding a new entry requires going through the Outline-Sort-Drag rigmarole again.

Again, not a deal breaker, but if it can be done in the Outliner I’m hoping the feature could be ported to Binder folders.

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Very nice idea. We’ll see …

There are no plans for adding a permanent, dynamic sorting function to the master outline order, as there are few use cases where sorting one’s book, or parts of it, by any condition at all would be desirable. The most common of such cases is alphabetical (organising glossaries, character lists, etc.), and so there are menu commands for those to make it simple.

Such rarer use cases do have a way of doing it—and I say that as one who does that for a few projects already. Yes, you have to spend a few seconds updating the binder order now and then, but it works—and that system as a whole, provides for a whole lot more flexibility anyway, since it is derived from the selection order, which can come from all kinds of things, not just sorted outliner columns.

Meanwhile, if this is a strict chronological folder, like a journal, consider selecting the folder itself when creating a new entry instead of anything inside of it. For instance, from the binder: LeftArrow + Return. That will always pop the new entry in at the very bottom of the list.

Thanks Amber - but I think you are underestimating your user cases: there are plenty of non-fiction writers - like me - using Scrivener as a research tool in which Created and Modified note data is important.

Most other contender research notes apps (even Obsidian) do this, but as they don’t otherwise hold a candle to Scrivener (IMNSHO) you’re not likely to have too many deserters on this point.

I’ll see if I can wangle a Keyboard Maestro masterly key-stroke to do the sorting.

As someone that uses Scrivener purely for non-fiction, as well as journaling, I do get where you are coming from, no fear. I tend to work around it though rather than depending on fixing sort, using the aforementioned trick with folder selection.

Most other contender research notes apps (even Obsidian) do this, but as they don’t otherwise hold a candle to Scrivener (IMNSHO) you’re not likely to have too many deserters on this point.

I use Obsidian as well, for entirely different things though. The design premise of their list is very different from Scrivener’s. For one thing all you can do is sort, there is no freeform ordering, which is one of its downsides for linear writing in my opinion. I understand some do it using transclusion, but that’s as much, if not more, of a hassle as periodically sorting folders in Scrivener.

Scrivener on the other hand, being first and foremost a writing tool meant to produce linear documents of some sort, needs to have a hierarchical, static and canonical ordering that is 100% up to the user. And having one view where that is always what you see no matter what, the binder, is essential. I would not say that is a desire that only fiction writers need. Anyone writing a linear document needs to put their topics into the order the reader will get, and having to work around something that sorts constantly means ugly hacks, like “0023 name of section”.

That capability has more priority than indexing research folders and such, and as a result the internal architecture of the binder is fundamentally opposed to dynamic sorting. It would take a fairly major overhaul to change that—to even make it something dynamic, let alone to make it so parts of the master outline sort but others do not (to resolve the aforementioned awkwardness).

Might as well use the best tool for the job, is how I see it, which is why I split my workflow between software. For flat list notes that need to be in mod order or whatever, where data is constantly flowing in and out, I use Obsidian. The key thing is that one needn’t fork their data as part of that equation. When I say workflow I mean just that, I often work on the same data with two different tools. See this post for details. This incidentally presents some unique opportunities, since the data that I work in with Obsidian can come from all over the binder, meaning I am free to use Scrivener most advantageously, organising these notes more topically (or however) rather than chronologically. I don’t have to, but it’s an option available to me.

And since you do use Obsidian, you probably have more than one toe in the water with Markdown, which makes the folder sync feature spoken of in that thread a lot more powerful since all of such formatting will always sync by nature, whereas rich text users have to worry a lot more about that kind of stuff.

I’ll see if I can wangle a Keyboard Maestro masterly key-stroke to do the sorting.

I think that could work. Some tips:

  • The Documents ▸ Move To submenu also accounts for selection order.
  • Another good general tool for automation is the Edit ▸ Find ▸ Quick Search menu command to reliably load the folder into the main editor with nothing but keystrokes. Just supply the full name, and use Return after that to load it.
  • There are menu commands for focusing the main editor in the Navigate menu.
  • By right-clicking on the editor header bar with the folder selected you can lock the group view mode to outliner, to remove that potential point of variation.

The trickiest part would be clicking on the column header to sort, but KM’s click function, which can scan the screen for a spot that looks like a screenshot you’ve cropped down to the column header should do the trick. Where that might get dicey is if you tend to have the editor split to two outliners.

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Thanks again Amber - I don’t really count myself as a ‘user’ of Obsidian (or Roam or Loqseq etc). I have a copy and I tinker and use it occasionally for odds and sods of journalism ideas, but nothing serious. Like you I split my software, horses for courses, and I have a longstanding relationships with both Scrivener and Tinderbox (and a rather static Devonthink) and together they cover pretty much all of my (sometimes a bit complex) daily research and writing needs.

That’s why I’ve stressed the sort-order question is only a desideratum not a dealbreaker. Scrivener links (and back-links) and the clear distinction I make between Drafts and Research sections of the Binder make it for me the ideal research note app, as well as writing programme, and has for more than a decade now been literally irreplaceable.

Thanks again.

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