Exploding Notes

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Exploding Notes

You can convert a large text note into several notes by specifying where Tinderbox should make the divisions.

This process can be used to help with the import of data as well as for existing notes. For imports, drag, a plain text format file into an Outline or Map view, so as to create a new note. Now with that, or with a large existing note selected, choose Explode... from the Note menu. This presents the Explode dialog.

Next, decide whether to create each new note after a certain number of characters or after a delimiter such as a period, then click the radio button next to your choice. The choices are:

  • Break at paragraphs. Breaks each paragraph into a new note (default option).
  • Break at tabs. Breaks on every tab or tab sequence.
  • Break every. Change the number of characters after which to break the existing text.
  • Delimiter. Break on a delimiter. Delimiters you can use include:
    • \n (new exploded notes will begin with new line feed character). [More on line end character codes.]
    • \r (new exploded notes will begin with each carriage return or hard line break).
    • \t (new exploded notes will begin with each tab, e.g. for tab-delimited content pasted into a note).
    • \, (new exploded notes will begin with each comma, e.g. use for CSV content pasted into a note).
    • Otherwise use a custom string of your choice, e.g. a sequence of characters unlikely to occur in normal copy, e.g. '####' or 'XYXYXY', etc. The text is case-sensitive.
    • Delete delimiter. Only available if the 'Delimiter' option is set (default = not ticked). Tick this to remove the specified delimiter from the new exploded notes. When the delimiter is a complete line/paragraph, ensure the string used includes the line return character at the end or some output notes will have text starting with a blank line.

The Explode button starts the Explode process using the choices set above.

New to v4.7.0 are the title controls discussed further below.

The newly created notes contain an appropriate segment of the original note. There will (should!) be no empty notes, e.g. caused where two hard line returns are used as faux paragraph breaks, as these are automatically deleted as part of the Explode process.

The exploded (source) note itself remains unchanged and a new child container of the selected note is created, called "Exploded Text", and which contains the resulting new (sub-)notes. Using this secondary container allows for the fact - more so for exploding existing notes than for new import - that the note being exploded might already have children. Thus note that the Exploded Text container is added to the outline order after any pre-existing child notes for the exploded note.

The Title settings give control of what part of each newly split note is used to form the note's title, doing so by a measure of sentence or paragraph. A 'sentence' is delimited by a terminating period, exclamation mark or question mark. A 'paragraph' is delimited by a line break.

  • first sentence. Only the first sentence forms the new title.
  • first two sentences. Only the two sentences form the new title.
  • first paragraph. Only the first paragraph is used for the new title.
  • Remove title from text. If selected the text used for the above choice is deleted from the new note's body text.

When Explode constructs a note title, the title may now extend up to 512 characters, and will include either the first line or the first sentence of the target note - whichever is the best fit. If still over 512 characters the title is truncated at that point with an ellipsis. Prior to v4.7.0, truncation occurred at about 64 characters.

From v4.7.1, the rule and action of the source note are not inherited by the 'Exploded note' container. Although the original method allowed exploded notes to inherit from the original parent, this proved not to scale well with more complex tasks like running command lines on the exploded notes.

As the name of the explode container - 'Exploded Notes' - is always the same, there may be more than one such container unless they get deleted after the new notes have been moved elsewhere. A benison of this is that it is possible to write a generic agent to act on the contents of all explode results using an AgentQuery:

$Name(parent)=="Exploded Note" 

By adding a preceding descendedFrom() query argument to the above query, the scope of action can be reduced to items descended from a given container.

descendedFrom(To Do) & ($Name(parent)=="Exploded Note") 

This might be done because of the nature of the resulting agent action to be applied or simply to reduce agent update cycle time.

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[Last updated: 14 Dec 2009, using v5.0]

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