Author Topic: Collection Notes  (Read 5872 times)

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Offline AimHere

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Collection Notes
« on: January 26, 2010, 03:41:28 pm »
Hi,

I'd like to see a feature added, which I would call "Collection Notes". This would be a freeform text-entry field in which I could write notes regarding the database as a whole (as opposed to individual movies or people). For example, one might use this to make note of which Web data source(s) were used for importing information/posters, what genres are included, one's rationale for using the Seen/Wish fields, and so on. If possible, it ought to support clickable links, in much the same way that the Comments/Biography/Description/etc. fields do now.

The "Collection Notes" would appear in a pop-up window, called up from a new toolbar button. The text would initially be locked and uneditable when the window first opens, one would have to click on an "Edit" button at the bottom of the window to actually make it editable (this would prevent accidental changes).

And there ought to be a toggle option in Preferences which, if checked, would cause the "Collection Notes" to automatically appear when a database file is opened. (it should be unchecked by default).

Regards,
Aimhere

Offline nostra

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Re: Collection Notes
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2010, 08:43:59 pm »
That's smth new :) OK, I am adding this suggestion to my TODO list, but I am not sure this functionality is interesting for many users, so if someone needs this as well then feel free to say it ;)
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Offline rick.ca

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Re: Collection Notes
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2010, 10:38:49 pm »
This is an interesting idea! Taking a slightly broader view, it makes me think of using a help authoring tool to do the same thing. I just tried the free-for-personal-use version of HelpNDoc. I'm amazed at how easy and quick it is to create (or edit) and recompile a help project. This includes all the features of help files we are used to—a built-in tree structure, internal and external hyperlinks, images, etc.

I'm not suggesting anyone would want to write a help file, but this would be a very powerful tool for doing the ad-hock kind of thing AimHere is talking about. Having difficulty remembering some alternative configuration settings? Open your help project in HelpNDoc. Create a new topic. Paste in a screen shot of the configuration page. Add some notes. Add a link to a helpful topic here or the wiki. Recompile. It's a little cumbersome if all you need is a notepad-like solution, but this is far out-weighed by the power and versatility available. Best of all, it's not asking nostra to reinvent the wheel for a function that may not interest many users.

As a minimum, a link would have to be added to the help menu that would open the user-created help file (e.g., %install directory%\Help\PVDHelp.chm). But I would hope there would also be a relatively easy way to implement a context sensitive help capability. I don't know how these things work, but I'm imagining an "F1 handler" that would call a help file TopicID that is the same as some PVD object ID (i.e., for a pane or dialog). Obviously, if there were no such TopicID (or no help file), it would have to do nothing, or issue a "no help for this item" message.

Quote
so if someone needs this as well then feel free to say it

Okay, I've talked myself into it... I NEED this!!! ;D

I can't stop... :-[

We don't need this now that we have a wiki, but imagine we wanted to create a user created help system. We could create a new "Help" forum here, with a topic for each of the help-addressable objects in the program. The first post would be used to maintain a current version of the help file page for that topic. The topic would be used for discussing improvements and additions to that topic. It could also be used to discuss support issues that relate to that topic. It would then be easy to maintain a project file made up of the first post in each topic. Users could download that file and add their own notes to it—turning it into a personalized help/collection notes file. 8)

Offline AimHere

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Re: Collection Notes
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2010, 09:09:50 pm »
Rick,

Geeze, all I wanted was a simple text box!  Let's not make a big production number out of it, nostra has bigger fish to fry! ;D

Aimhere

Offline patch

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Re: Collection Notes
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2010, 09:42:07 pm »
Agree enhanced help would be an improvement. Not convinced local user maintained help is the way to go as shared knowledge is likely to be more valuable. Hence linking to online wiki imo is going to work better.

I can't think of why I would want a user note on database give I can already add info to windows file or create a separate text document with associated notes.

Interested to here what others think.

buah

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Re: Collection Notes
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2010, 10:38:11 pm »
Of surplus no one gets headache
« Last Edit: January 28, 2010, 10:42:05 pm by buah »

Offline rick.ca

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Re: Collection Notes
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2010, 10:58:59 pm »
Let's not make a big production number out of it, nostra has bigger fish to fry!

I suppose you're just kidding, but... The whole point of my suggestion is there is already a robust solution available that would be much more useful, and doesn't require nostra to do much of anything. (Although it would be wonderful if he could do whatever is necessary to enable context-sensitive help.)

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Geeze, all I wanted was a simple text box!

Use Notepad. ;D

If nostra is going to add anything, maybe it should just be a "run external application" item that could be added to the toolbar. You could use it to run "notepad.exe CollectionNotes.txt," and others could use it for anything else.

Not convinced local user maintained help is the way to go as shared knowledge is likely to be more valuable.

I'm not suggesting anyone would want to write a help file, but this would be a very powerful tool for doing the ad-hock kind of thing AimHere is talking about.

Of surplus no one gets headache

Is it just me, or has something been lost in translation?  ???

buah

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Re: Collection Notes
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2010, 11:09:46 pm »
It's a saying. Let me try to rephrase it: of getting extras you don't get headache? Never mind, forget it...

Offline rick.ca

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Re: Collection Notes
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2010, 01:43:19 am »
Then my self-serving interpretation shall be... With the "surplus" of features included in a help system, everyone will be happy. ;)

buah

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Re: Collection Notes
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2010, 08:00:42 am »
Totally agree

Offline CAD

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Re: Collection Notes
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2010, 03:19:09 am »
Quote
I'm not suggesting anyone would want to write a help file,

The wiki I created for work (pmwiki) has - "Export to PDF" module (optional install)
Perhaps pvd wiki could have an export to PDF module added.
Not sure if tikiwiki has the option - i'm sure it does.

This way you could create a manual automagically from the wiki.
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Offline rick.ca

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Re: Collection Notes
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2010, 04:36:47 am »
Quote
Not sure if tikiwiki has the option - i'm sure it does.

I don't think it does. It doesn't even have a Print to PDF function.

I see DocuWiki can import TikiWiki, and export PDF and HTMLHelp. So it would be possible to convert the wiki to a PDF manual or a help file. That might work for a one-shot conversion, but is probably too tedious a process for keeping those things up-to-date. Besides, there doesn't seem to be much interest in developing the wiki and keeping it up-to-date.

Offline CAD

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Re: Collection Notes
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2010, 04:51:21 am »
Quote
I see DocuWiki can import TikiWiki, and export PDF and HTMLHelp. So it would be possible to convert the wiki to a PDF manual or a help file. That might work for a one-shot conversion, but is probably too tedious a process for keeping those things up-to-date. Besides, there doesn't seem to be much interest in developing the wiki and keeping it up-to-date.

Getting users to use a wiki is always going to be tough to start with. It has to have the information in it to start with.
I spent a huge amount of time doing a wiki dump (uploading info to the wiki). Then when people asked me something  - i tell them to check the wiki. Now they check the wiki first before asking me.

From experience, to get the wiki going, a data dump is needed, and instead or as well as updating the forum , the wiki is updated.
When someone asks a question they can then be referenced to the wiki. Even if it is unformatted, if the info is there people will start to use it.

Docuwiki is ok. For database stored wiki mediawiki a good choice ( my preference is for pmwiki as i am familiar with it, it has heaps of options and good user base )
Check http://www.wikimatrix.org

The manual could be a link to export to PDF on the wiki. PDF file gets dynamically created.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2010, 05:04:46 am by CAD »
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Offline rick.ca

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Re: Collection Notes
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2010, 08:00:14 am »
We're fortunate to have the wiki we do—cwdean put a huge amount of work into it (and then mysteriously disappeared :'( ). So I'm certainly not thinking we need to be changing the software at this point. Essentially, I agree with you...I was musing about ways we might get the information out of the wiki in different forms so people would us it more.

I'm obviously not a great promoter of the wiki. When users come here with questions, I try to answer them—rather than direct them to the wiki. My main reservation with the wiki has always been there is no good integration with what goes on here. That's why I like the idea of some sort of unified forum/wiki where users could discuss issues and ask questions—right in the same help/wiki topic. The top message in such a topic would be just like a wiki topic, and a snapshot of those topics could be published periodically in a help file. Users would then have off-line access to context-sensitive help. The help topics would be linked to the source forum topics where they could see the current edition, read the discussion for more information, and post a question or comment.

I suppose some wouldn't like such a system. They'd feel obligated to wade through all the answers before they could ask a question. Sort of a naturally enforced "RTFM!" ;D

Offline CAD

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Re: Collection Notes
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2010, 05:38:39 am »
Quote
They'd feel obligated to wade through all the answers before they could ask a question. Sort of a naturally enforced "RTFM!" Grin

i'm not suggesting that people shouldnt post here,
but if we know that the answer is already in the wiki - refer them to the wiki rather than referring them to an existing forum entry or typing the answer out again.
This generates interst in the wiki as a source of how to do stuff and the forum as a source of discussion.
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Offline rick.ca

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Re: Collection Notes
« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2010, 05:56:33 am »
Quote
This generates interst in the wiki as a source of how to do stuff and the forum as a source of discussion.

I agreed with you the first time. But it doesn't seem to work very well when the wiki is at a different site, and those of us who know the answer to a question aren't inclined to check to see if it's answered there so we can tell the questioner—who can't be bothered to look there in the first place—to look there. A conundrum, for sure. ;)

Offline CAD

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Re: Collection Notes
« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2010, 12:49:10 am »
http://www.videodb.info/forum_en/index.php?topic=1692.0

may go some way to providing a solution.

I have dumped part of the wiki (menu structure) into pmwiki with a view to producing a PDF file.
(not as easy as it sounds)  ;D
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Offline AimHere

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Re: Collection Notes
« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2010, 08:44:46 pm »

Geeze, all I wanted was a simple text box!

Use Notepad. ;D

If nostra is going to add anything, maybe it should just be a "run external application" item that could be added to the toolbar. You could use it to run "notepad.exe CollectionNotes.txt," and others could use it for anything else.

Yes, I certainly could do that... I'd just prefer the notes be embedded within the database, not as a separate file. That way, the notes would be permanently associated with the database, backed up along with it, moved when it's moved, etc.

The "external application" idea would be okay IF the name of the .txt file could be specified on a per-database basis (in other words, if I have multiple databases, such as one for movies on DVD and another for TV shows, I would want PVD to run "notepad.exe movies_notes.txt" for one and "notepad.exe tv_shows_notes.txt" for the other).

So maybe there could be some kind of string substitution within the command line for the external app, e.g. "notepad.exe %n_notes.txt" where "%n" gets replaced with the name of the database (minus the .pvd extension).

Thoughts?

Aimhere

Offline rick.ca

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Re: Collection Notes
« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2010, 10:26:23 pm »
A standard help function, along with the user's ability to create and edit help files using something like HelpNDoc, is a more universal solution. Judging from nostra's response in In Line Help, it's going to implemented before anything resembling this. And, while not quite the same thing, it does provide a workable solution to what you're looking for. You would simply include a page of "Collection Notes" for each one of your databases at the top of your help file (so they're readily accessible after invoking help).

I still think the "run external application" thing might be useful. If it were implemented, perhaps more than one instance could be allowed. Then it could be used for many different things, including opening different versions of "collection notes," if that's what you want to use it for. The first thing I'd use it for would be to load my help file in HelpNDoc, so I could edit my collection notes. ;)

But wait...we already have this functionality in Web search! Just add "searches" like:

  • file://[data path]\[my help file].chm to open Help;
  • file://[data path]\[my help project].hnd to open help project in HelpNDoc;
  • file://[data path]\[my database name].txt to open collection notes.

A few minor limitations:

  • the file must exist and be associated with an application;
  • it's not possible to pass the search term (i.e., "%s") as a parameter;
  • like any Web search, the search has to be selected first (but the last selected search remains active throughout the session, so this is a handy way to turn the search button into one that does something else (e.g., opening Help).

 

anything