Making an alias to a note allows a note to be placed (i.e. appear) in more than one location in a Tinderbox document, just like an alias in macOS. The original note can be in one place in the hierarchy whilst the alias can be somewhere else entirely. Both the original note and the alias give access to the content of the note: the same text window, the same attributes, and so on; see notes below re intrinsic attributes. An original and its alias(es) can share the same container/map, though normally will be in different ones.
A note can have many aliases, or none. Aliases are a flexible way for organising notes in ways that a simple Outline-style hierarchy does not permit.
An alias will always have the same name as the original. Change the name of either the alias or the original, and both will change.
- The name of an alias will appear in italics in all views (more re this further below). Due to limitations in some fonts, there is a (non-default) Document Settings option to underline alias titles instead.
- A copy of any alias does not take the suffix ' copy', but retains the same $Name as its original note.
- An alias cannot contain children/descendants, but those of the original can be queried via its aliases (e.g. in an agent). In agent queries aliases assume their original's descendants for purposes of matching.
- Selecting an alias populates the text pane with the original note (except for intrinsic attributes)of the original note.
- Intrinsic attributes are those attributes for which an alias can have a discrete value differing from the original (more & listing), for example map position and icon size.
- Editing the attributes of an alias actually edits the attributes of the original note (except for intrinsic attributes).
- Deleting an alias removes just that alias: the original and any other aliases are unaffected.
- Deleting an alias in an agent will cause the alias to be recreated as long as the original (or another alias) continues to match the agent query.
- Moving an alias out of an agent effectively duplicates the alias as the agent will recreate its now-missing child alias (see above).
- Original and alias share outbound text links (outbound internal and web links within $Text). All other inbound/outbound basic links are individual to the original or alias.
- Deleting the original note automatically deletes all its aliases; deleting an alias has no effect on the original. Any in/outbound links affected are also deleted.
- in Map views, aliases of containers are drawn in normal container style (i.e. title bar at the top) and show the viewport map:
- if in the same map as the original: same as seen in the original (i.e. with any child objects). Although the alias has intrinsic height and width, the size/scroll state of the originals map is reflected in the alias.
- if on a different map from the original: the viewport is drawn but is blank.
- in Map views, regardless of the map on which the alias resides (same or different from the original), drilling down into an alias' map container results in the view shifting to the map of the original container—i.e. a shift of context.
Creating an alias
If you are in a view window, first select the correct note with the arrow tool. The new alias is inserted immediately after ($OutlineOrder) the source item; noting both have the same title, it is the new alias that is now selected (the styling of the title should indicate this is the alias). There are several methods:
- choose Make Alias from the Edit menu
- press Cmd-L (⌘L).
Drag from Find. A further method is to drag an item from a Find results pop-up/tear-off into the view pane. In this mthod the alias is placed at the drop point (Map) or closest insertion point in other view types.
Newly-created aliases in map view take their height and width from that of their original note, and are placed on the map to the right of their source item (assuming there is suitable free space, the alias is otherwise placed to avoid overlapping/compositing with another note).
Once created, the alias can be moved anywhere in the current document.
Agents. Another method of making aliases is to create an agent as that will create aliases for any notes matching the agent query. Aliases can then be dragged elsewhere, in which case the agent wil spawn a new child alias as the source note still matches the query.
When exporting, aliases also behave as if their original note's children were their own children. Aliases are exported as separate pages in the appropriate location within the output. This makes it easier to use web links to alias content that point to the right place. It also helps when web output uses a hierarchical navigation system as with aTbRef.
When including children that are aliases such as when using ^children^ and ^descendants^, items that happen to be aliases are included as aliases (so reflecting intrinsic attribute values). Since for most purposes the alias and its original are interchangeable, this seldom affects export. However, intrinsic properties of the alias are exportable (and may differ from those of the original).
Reflecting the way aliases are treated as separate entities in an export context, basic links to or from aliases belong to those aliases and they support their own Roadmap view and Browse Links windows. However, the links() action code cannot currently address aliases as a destination object so analysis of links to/from an alias is best done visually or by means of Roadmap view. Originals and aliases export their own basic links (i.e. aliases can differ), but if an alias has no in/outbound basic links it will export those of the original. In the latter case the alias will show no basic links internally, e.g. in Roadmap view, but on export will inherit its original's basic links.
Text links as well as basic links are generated from exported aliases; the destination of the link is the same regardless of whether the source is the original or an alias. An alias can never have $Text/text links that differ from that of its original: that is fundamental of the point of it being an alias.
Any alias can also be copied or aliased. However, do note that when copying/aliasing an existing alias the new alias is created as if being made from the alias's original though it uses the original's attributes rather than the source alias' intrinsic attributes. Likewise, the source alias' discrete basic links are not copied, i.e. the new alias will start with no basic links. In short you cannot make a copy of an alias that maintains the intrinsic differences of the source alias from the original. Aliases cannot be copied outside their current document, as another TBX will not hold the original of the (alias) note being copied. An alias needs to point to its original for many of its attribute values so the two must reside in the same document.
Identifying aliases in queries
The $IsAlias attribute can help with identifying whether a note is an alias or note. This is especially helpful within agents where all matches are aliases, regardless of the type of note being matched.
The $Container attribute is worthy of note as this means the 'parent' designator value of an alias does not equal that of the original note. This becomes important in agent actions where the acted-on note is an alias. It is thus often necessary to use syntax like
$Name(parent(original), i.e. the name of the original note's parent container, rather than
$Name(parent). In an agent action the latter code returns the name of the agent. Incidentally, in the last scenario
$Name(agent) would both return the name of the Features needing more recent OS versions (more on the 'Link type honouring operators', 'original' and 'parent' designators).
Aliases render in italics
In any major view aliases are always drawn with their title ($DisplayName) in italics. There is no way to make an alias be titled in normal type; this is by design, mirroring how the Mac's OSs have shown aliases. One result of this is that when older, pre-v6, TBXs are opened in v6+ they may not render aliases in italics: see more. There is a document setting to also underline alias titles, although they still render in italics (if possible).
Link counts and aliases
$InboundLinkCount and $OutboundLinkCount are intrinsic and report separate values for the alias and original note, those they may often be the same (outbound text links are always the same for original and alias).
Word counts in Get Info/info pane do not include the $Text word counts of alias notes, just the count of the original $Text.