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Author Topic: Working with (display+format+restructure) big amount of data (text+graphics)?  (Read 14195 times)
Armando
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« on: July 13, 2007, 10:45:16 PM »

I’m really struggling to find out the best way (softwarely speaking) to work with big amounts of flexibly structured data, mostly text and some images(sections, chapters, etc. but that are movable).   stars

I have thousands of pages on acting techniques. Presently, they're all in a Word document (sometimes, I like having big files because otherwise, I tend to duplicate data and get lost if I have to many loose files on the very same subject)… But using MS Word for huge files is just not very convenient (if not downright dangerous — “corruptionly” speaking. Although I've never experienced that...).


What I need is to be able to have:

- a unified view of all the data (one reason for that is that I want to be able to zoom out and see a lot of material at once, I want to be able to jump from page 1 to page 1052 in a second, etc.).
- an outlined view of the chapters, parts, sections, etc., (MS Word does that : Outline View, and Document Map)
- a very easy way to reorganize the order of the different sections,
- a file format that’s indexable (or a database that’s indexable – X1, Archivarius are the Desktop Search solutions I use -- It's just not a good way to use an internal searching engine, separate from the rest of my files!!!),
- an editing solution which allows the same kind of formatting ability, Bold, Italic, bullets, cross referencing, etc. that MS word, OpenOffice or any advanced word processor will provide (to me, formatting is not just fuss : it gives the document a hierarchical outline, makes it easier to read, find info... to me it's not just a matter of content first, form after...),
- the ability to access my data and READ it on an other computer relatively easily. (I might be willing to cede on that one though...)


There are already strategies that I’m not sure I want to try… Unless someone has an effective and safe way of implementing them :

- I don't like the idea of using a Word Master document -- it just doesn't have a good reputation (“corruptionly” speaking...),
- I don't like the idea of using the explorer "folder method" (dividing the document in pieces, placed in a hierarchy of folders) : it's not easy to reorder files and have a global view of the data. (There might be ways to do it in an orderly and efficient way though... Any thoughts? The programmers among you probably know ways I ignore...)


So... What are the other possible solutions? Using some kind of database? :myBase, Ultra Recall, Surfulater? Other softwares FrameMaker, OpenOffice.???

I've superficially tried some of these other strategies, but I'd like to hear your opinion on the matter before I commit to anything…

Thanks !


[edit: I've added some explanations and, hopefully, some clarity...]
« Last Edit: July 20, 2007, 12:35:44 PM by Armando » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2007, 10:46:48 PM »

I don't have any insight into this but i look forward to reading what people who have been through this say about the matter.
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« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2007, 11:32:30 AM »

I'd say oneNote 2007 has all you need. May take a while to get used to the approach with basically tabs left, right, and ontop, but it is indexable (by MS search live) and you can access info really fast.
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« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2007, 11:52:07 AM »

I'd say oneNote 2007 has all you need. May take a while to get used to the approach with basically tabs left, right, and ontop, but it is indexable (by MS search live) and you can access info really fast.

Interesting. Thanks. I've tried OneNote several times (in my quest for the best note-taking solution) and never stuck to it (for different reasons: EverNote is better at tagging, finding, etc.). But I've never thought of using it for really long documents or to structure big amounts of data. Maybe I should give it another try in light of that new perspective/usage. (If only I knew how to think laterally a bit more...)
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« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2007, 04:33:48 PM »

Can you explain what you mean by "zoom out and see a lot of material"?  The reason I am asking is from what I can see, a Good HTML structure, especially with CSS for formatting, might work very well for you.  You can use a masterpage concept to create the outline view, you can skip to any page you want without regard to it's location within the "document", you can add pages with a simple writeup, and you can index it with ANY indexer.  Best of all, if you have it on a web server, you can access it from any computer with web access.  Alternatively, you can compile it into an .mht file (I think that is what it is called) and carry it with you as an archived HTML file.  With the right editor, it is as easy to use as Word as well.  The only catch is, I am not sure how you would impliment the Unified View, because I am not completely certain I understand what you want out of the view.
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« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2007, 07:07:04 PM »

from what I can see, a Good HTML structure, especially with CSS for formatting, might work very well for you.  You can use a masterpage concept to create the outline view, you can skip to any page you want without regard to it's location within the "document", you can add pages with a simple writeup, and you can index it with ANY indexer.  Best of all, if you have it on a web server, you can access it from any computer with web access.  Alternatively, you can compile it into an .mht file (I think that is what it is called) and carry it with you as an archived HTML file.

I've thought about that a bit (but didn't really know where to start because I'm not an HTML expert). So... That also could be a good idea. I wonder if the "masterpage" would be flexible (and smart) enough to modify itself when pieces of the structure and their titles are moved around, edited, added, etc. It seems to involve a lot of editing. But maybe that depends on the software.

Some aspects that I really like about that idea are the portability, accessibility and indexability.

Can you explain what you mean by "zoom out and see a lot of material"?

What I mean is that in most word processors (or any viewers for that matter), you can zoom out and see many pages at the same time. I find that extremely useful, especially when I look at some huge tables, graphics... or anything that would benefit from a zoom out/zoom in feature.

With the right editor, it is as easy to use as Word as well.

Were you thinking of any editor in particular?
I need an editor that will not get me in the same kind of trouble I'm trying to escape... I need an editor that can manage huge amounts of data all at the same time. And that brings us to the next point…

The only catch is, I am not sure how you would impliment the Unified View, because I am not completely certain I understand what you want out of the view.

What I mean by unified few, is being able to have (or the illusion to have) all the data accessible at once, maybe in the same file (and if in different files, it shouldn't feel like it), and, maybe, even being able to have all the pages and sections one after the other, like the "continuous view" in text document (which allows to jump from page 1 to page 1051 without opening another file or changing window is a great thing.)

To be able to look at my work from different perspectives, with different views is very important to me. This is one thing that I (re)learned from the “note-taking” thread. Different views of the same data (hierarchical outlines, tag clouds, tabs, multiple windows, mind maps, …) can help to work more efficiently, understand better what the data tells you, and... be more creative -- E. Tufte's work is very much about that.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2007, 06:13:32 PM by Armando » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2007, 06:47:59 PM »

Just want to share some quick comments on the OneNote solution (for the problem I exposed in the first post).

On the PLUS side (comments loosely based on my previous requirements):

- Managing huge files : OneNote doesn't seem to have problems with huge file (but I should say "notebooks" instead of files -- these can actually contain numerous files. I actually find that the way OneNote manages different files and folders in one unified notebook is actually quite clever... I wonder if an HTML solution -- see steeladept,s comment -- could do the same thing?)
- Interface : the interface is pleasing (the tabs, being able to color-code everything, etc.)
- Formatting : the formatting options are great (and it offers a very flexible way of inserting data -- whether it's text or not -- on the note "pages"), it's easy to use tables, etc. Formatting wise it seems that you can basically do almost anything you can do with a powerful word processor.
- Zooming in and out : I can zoom in and out inside a page (but not whole sections and section groups... I'll talk about it later)
- Performance : It's pretty quick and the memory footprint is quite small (depending on the size of note books you're loading in memory of course)
- Structural/outlining flexibility : it's pretty easy to reorganize the order of the different sections, providing they're actual parts (represented by different tabs) of OneNote's outlining system.


On the MINUS side:

-Outlining : OneNote' s "outline hierarchy system" seems a bit limiting. It goes like that :
  • Section groups. Many section groups can be nested into each other; so you can have a section group inside a section group inside a section group... you get the picture. But one has to be careful because "section groups" are actual folders in the Windows filesystem.
  • sections. Aren't nestable into each other : you can't have sections inside sections inside sections... Each section corresponds to an actual file (*.ONE).
  • pages (I couldn't nest them into each other)
  • and sub pages (don't appear to be able to be nested into each other; you can't have... just read my previous comment on sections) so you're basically limited to 4-5 levels easily viewable hierarchy. of course, you can create numbering and outlines inside a page... but that structure doesn't seem to be viewable with some kind of "outline view" (like in MS Word or OpenOffice, for instance).

- Zooming in and out : predictably, I can't seem to be able to zoom in and out a whole section or even a section group. Of course, I can have the outline view of what's inside a section group (and see the different sections and pages), but I don't get to have a continuous view of "everything"... as if it was one big chunk of text. I don't know if I'm being clear...

- Exporting : that was not necessarily a big consideration, but... since OneNote doesn't seem to be able to give me a unified view of the my texts, it does become a problem : in onenote the only way for me to get that unified view would be to export it to a single file. And that's when I realized that I can't export a whole notebook to another format than OneNote's own "2nd" native format for that specific task (*.onepkg). Of course, I could export a notebook section by section (each section can contain an considerable number of pages and sub-pages), but that doesn't seem very convenient if a notebook contains something like 50 different sections or section groups.

- Searching : I like OneNote's searching abilities. Pretty quick and thorough.  But, for more power I'd need to add another desktopsearch software to my collection (I use Archivarius and X1, mainly -- and for good reasons...) to be able to index OneNote's files. And I'm very reluctant to do that...


Temporary conclusion : right now, I find that the minuses are a bit hard to deal with...
Still pondering.

I might have a look at the HTML solution... but which editor should I try for that?
« Last Edit: July 15, 2007, 06:53:40 PM by Armando » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2007, 11:22:23 PM »

Maybe evernote would do more of what you want.
And the underlying format is html.

It uses tags, so your idea of a giant outline may not hold.

OneNote does have all the minuses you list.
here are some definite pluses from my POV:
- best outlining (inside a page) ever.
- fast tables
- easy to reorganize and tag items
- keyboard friendly
- images containing text are OCR'ed and can be searched (!). Ideal to paste stuff from an article
- formulas possible (!)
- quick napkin operations, e,.g. 2 + 2 = will produce 4 automatically.
- most flexible "page": point where you want to start writing and it works.
- can save video and record sound (dictation!)
- can attach any file type
- no need to hit save ever
- recognizes handwriting. Ideal with a tablet or a wacom interface
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« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2007, 08:25:06 AM »

Thank you for the explaination, that helped a lot.  The zooming, to my knowledge can not happen the way you described if you want to keep the pages separate.  That is just one of the drawbacks of using HTML.  As URLWolf mentioned, maybe using Evernote would work for that.  Other than that, though, HTML can do exactly what you want.  Since I tend to code my own HTML directly in a text editor like Boxer or Notepad++, I can't really make any good suggestions as to what WYSIWYG editor would work best for you, but hopefully someone else here can.  Perhaps Microsoft Visual Web Developer Express?  Just a though where to start anyway.  What I can say is you would need to put a lot of thought into the underlying structure before the editor would work the way you want (for pagination and navigation for example).  Most likely that would also require a lot of custom coding before using the editor.  I think if I were you, though, I would try Evernote first, as this route could take a long time to streamline and make effective (assuming the missing zoom feature didn't disqualify this to begin with).
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« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2007, 08:53:02 AM »

Had you thought of using a wiki?  There are so many indexing and categorising possibilities with the sophisticated ones (MediaWiki, obviously, but also PMWiki for example) that jumping around should be easy.  And I believe with most of them you can insert pages, which dynamically update when they are edited, into other pages (like master pages).

By zoom, do you mean visually until text is unreadable, like with a pdf file?  I don't know how you could get that view of a collection of pages on a wiki or with html but with html you can zoom in and out of tables very easily in a browser.  Also, you can click around pages with indexes and categories and use inserted pages to make very long pages with automatic indexes and stuff like that.

I thought of a wiki because it is organised on the fly and yet links are easy and maintain themselves automatically, and categories are easy to change and add.  Most of them have good search engines too.
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« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2007, 03:18:13 PM »

Maybe I'm just drowning inside the smallest cup of  water...  embarassed


OneNote is definitely well done and powerful.

Urlwolf : in your list, I notice that the most unique OneNote features are probably not the one I need the most :

[…]
- images containing text are OCR'ed and can be searched (!). Ideal to paste stuff from an article
[…]
- quick napkin operations, e,.g. 2 + 2 = will produce 4 automatically.
- most flexible "page": point where you want to start writing and it works.
- can save video and record sound (dictation!)
[…]
- no need to hit save ever
- recognizes handwriting. Ideal with a tablet or a wacom interface

I must admit that I like the “no need to hit save ever” and “most flexible ‘page’ ”features.  They're not absolutely important to me though. Not at that point.

And, maybe predictably, the other features you mention are almost all (albeit not exactly in the same way) found in MS Word,  :

here are some definite pluses from my POV:
- […] outlining (inside a page) […].
- fast tables
- easy to reorganize and tag items
- keyboard friendly
[…]
- formulas possible (!)
[…]
- can attach any file type

So am I back to square one ?  Do I finally just need a word processor, one that can gracefully handle huge documents and show me the data in different ways (mostly, structurally speaking) with great outlining capabilities?  I'm starting to think that, stupidly, it could very well be the case… Especially since other solutions like Ultra Recall, myBase, Surfulater, etc. seem to limits what I want to do (although they're great in many other aspects).

TexNotes Pro could also be an option. But... TexNotes seems to suffer from the absence of a zoom in / zoom out feature. (TexNotes aficionados : please tell me if I'm wrong) .That zoom in / zoom out feature might seem a bit of a caprice but, actually, the more I think of it, the more I realize it's really not a whim  — especially in cases where I want to be able to see the totality of a big diagram.

Maybe evernote would do more of what you want.
And the underlying format is html.
I think if I were you, though, I would try Evernote first, as this route could take a long time to streamline and make effective (assuming the missing zoom feature didn't disqualify this to begin with).

Thanks for the suggestion guys. I'm already a big EverNote user. After using it for several months I have decided that I would not use it to structure data in any fixed ways, but just to capture random bits of text and images, articles and web pages, that I can categorize loosely (using specific tags), to be used later in more structured thought processes (in my own articles, research projects, etc.). To be used in any other way I find that EverNote misses some kind of “knowledge tree” like Surfulater… plus, you can't zoom in/out and the formatting options are more limited. smiley

Thank you for the explaination, that helped a lot.  The zooming, to my knowledge can not happen the way you described if you want to keep the pages separate.  That is just one of the drawbacks of using HTML.

Yes, the zooming in and out seems to be a problem, I might still look at different html options.

Other than that, though, HTML can do exactly what you want.  Since I tend to code my own HTML directly in a text editor like Boxer or Notepad++, I can't really make any good suggestions as to what WYSIWYG editor would work best for you, but hopefully someone else here can.

No problem. I’ll wait for suggestions and try different options on my own too…

What I can say is you would need to put a lot of thought into the underlying structure before the editor would work the way you want (for pagination and navigation for example).  Most likely that would also require a lot of custom coding before using the editor.

Since I need a very flexible structure, all that custom coding and thought concerning the underlying structure would definitely be a drawback.



Had you thought of using a wiki?  There are so many indexing and categorising possibilities with the sophisticated ones (MediaWiki, obviously, but also PMWiki for example) that jumping around should be easy.  And I believe with most of them you can insert pages, which dynamically update when they are edited, into other pages (like master pages).

I have to look at that too. Thanks!
I have the feeling that these wiki solutions might require a lot of maintenance work. We’ll see…

But I have the feeling that I'll be coming back to some kind of more traditionnal word processor. Nothing else seems to really fit the bill. Oups?

I wonder if some of you actually use Word 2007. Like many others, I'm still using Word 2003 and never really considered buying office 2007. But what if word 2007 handles huge documents beautifully? Any first hand experience?

Thanks a lot!
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« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2007, 03:35:00 PM »

I use Word 2007, but not the huge documents.  I know the specs are for much larger documents though if that helps.
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« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2007, 07:44:01 PM »

Thanks steeladept. I've checked around and saw Zaine Ridling writing that :

Quote
For the sake of sheer size, Word 2007 allows the biggest documents and most processing power. After creating a 32,767-page document, Word 2007 had reached its upper limit.
http://www.thegsblog.com/?m=200609

That's a lot of pages. But I wonder how safe (and smooth...) it is to use at that point. Prone to crash or not?

Let's see if anybody else has something to say about Word 2007's ability to handle really large documents.
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« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2007, 08:23:12 PM »

Hi Armando -

Amplifying suleika's suggestion, I'd suggest you take a look at TiddlyWiki: http://www.tiddlywiki.com/

TiddlyWiki will do a lot of what you want, and addresses many of your concerns. It is a strange beast - halfway between an application and a document. What it is is a wiki system written entirely in JavaScript, and therefore it runs entirely in the browser. Your tiddlywiki is a single file that you can take with you (or save on your hard disk) but you can also put it on a server or other network spot and access it like a regular web-based wiki. You define chunks of content that can be as long or as short as you want, and you arrange them however you like by opening and closing them. It uses a fairly comprehensive wiki format for editing. Since the content is all HTML, it should be indexable by any search engine you've got.

Outlining and other formatting capabilities are similar to what HTML provides (hardly surprising.) You can even create tabbed sections within the body of your text, if you'd need that for some reason. Tags are built in. Topics are tracked by both a main menu of links (which you maintain) or by an automated list that lets you view topics by timeline, by tag, by link info, or just all in a list.

Printing is going to be pretty much limited to what your browser can handle, so that might be a concern. On the other hand, all formatting based on CSS so it's immensely customizable if you know what you are doing. (It's possible to create custom CSS files for print and do some fairly sophisticated DTP-style layout - or so I've read. Don't ask me how to do it, though! :-) )

You can set Tiddlywiki to make backups whenever you save it (or whenever it autosaves) so corruption shouldn't be an issue. It has some synchronization features as well. It's really kind of hard to believe this thing does so much and works as well as it does, and requires only a web browser. It's an amazing system! Oh, and it's open source, too.
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« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2007, 02:23:24 PM »

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, jimdoria.

Right after I read your post last night, I tried tiddlywiki for about 3-4 hours. You're right : it IS a strange beast and an amazing system.

At first, I had some problems saving my “wiki” in Maxthon (even after following all the indications), so I decided to download and install the latest version of Firefox, which solved the problem.

So…I like what I saw and I can see how flexible tiddlywiki is or can be.

Some notes on…

What I really like:

-   Portability and accessibility
-   visual presentation (pretty sexy)
-   “indexability”
-   possibility to zoom in and out within the browser (a bit weird, but it does work…)
-   its structure flexibility, and all the other things you said (“create tabbed sections within the body of your text […] Tags are built in. Topics are tracked by both a main menu of links (which you maintain) or by an automated list that lets you view topics by timeline, by tag, by link info, or just all in a list.”) + being able to jump from one section to the other, jump from one concept to the other, etc.
-           the formating options (but these could be a bit hard to really master... : html.. will talk about it in a few lines)
-   the saving and backup features
-   the fact that it's… open source and that it’s just HTML (This is one thing that I don't like about *.doc, and even more about *.one, or *.docx… since these formats are not as widespread and they’re closed.)
-   It is possible to have a kind of “unified or continuous view” of all my data — even if a bit awkward (maybe a plugin could allow me do that, I don’t know…)


And some notes on…
What “frightens” me and makes me hesitate:

-   the “work” (and language learning) involved to be able to insert images, numbering, graphics, tables, etc. Like I said ealier, I’m not an html expert. I’m willing to learn, but I must not forget my — ahem — other work (this thing for which I’m trying all these productivity software for… Grin)
-   the “tiddlers” indicated by “[[ ]]” don’t seem to be treated exactly as the “normal” CamelCase one : the cross referencing and hyperlinking doesn’t seem to be created automatically  throughout the wiki. (While I was playing with tiddlywiki, I couldn’t help but wondering why word processors and most note-takers haven’t integrated this feature yet)
-   The outlining is not as clear as a “regular” outline — like in a word processor, or like in a “tree view” (Surfulater, EverNote…). Off course, it does work in a different way : each series of levels can be opened  from a tiddler, etc.
And the reorganizing of all the structure levels (+ the sorting, etc.) could become a bit of a daunting task (remember, I want a “very easy way to reorganize the order of the different sections”).

Well, this is the outcome of  my limited experience.  I have to do a bit more work now, but I’ll continue my explorations later.

Thanks again for your suggestions.

And I’m also still willing to read about others experience with MS Word 2007 (dealing with huge documents).

[edit] PS : jimdoria : have you used Zulupad before ? Just wondering...  http://www.gersic.com/zulupad/zulupad.html
« Last Edit: July 17, 2007, 02:52:44 PM by Armando » Logged

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« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2007, 07:17:40 PM »

Perhaps http://www.lyx.org/ - it's probably going to be very different from anything else you ever did before, though. Never personally made too good friends with TeX based stuff, it's hard to find something that's better for mathy stuff, but I still can't help think it sucks a bit.
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« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2007, 08:04:10 PM »

Well... 10 years ago (I was 23), my computer science roommate tried to convince me LaTeX was the best thing ever. I must say that MS Word or Word Perfect weren't too hard to beat back then...  Grin
Anyway. I do find that LaTeX and its cousins are pretty neat, but… maybe a bit abstract if you're trying to do what I'm trying to do, and especially if text formatting is not really about prettiness but more about  displaying info in the most readable way.
LyX is a  bit of a different story though. I remember trying it in my *n*x ( Wink )days, but that's about it.
I'll try it again and report.
Thanks f0dder.
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« Reply #17 on: July 19, 2007, 10:16:04 PM »

Hello there,

I’ve tested MS Word 2007 today for about 4 hours at some friends place and, for what I want, I'm not too impressed. I was hoping that the experience with “huge documents” would have been encouraging… but it really hasn't been the case.

Not only did I find the 2007 version sluggish compared to Word 2003 (on my  computer, Word 2003 fires up almost instantaneously; on my friends laptop — an 8 months old HP with an Intel Core duo, which compares favorably against my inspiron 6400 — Word 2007 took at least 15-20 seconds for… a blank page,) but it refused to open several of my biggest documents (I admit that they contained a lot of text boxes and frames — they were mainly precious OCRed material — but still…).

Isn't that amazing? (At some point, one of these documents opened after 10 minutes!). Maybe not actually…

So, I'm still finding it hard to find an application which would allow me to manipulate big amounts of mostly textual data (but ALSO containing some images and tables — some kind of visually attractive structured database, I guess…) with formatting and all that, AND which also provides a flexible outliner.

I haven't tried LyX yet (I will, in 5 minutes…), but, from what I read, I doubt that it will provide any good solution. I might just go back to my old strategies. [Edit : Nope. LyX won't do it... Way too much tinkering and it's more a "write it, edit it, format it, and publish it solution" where format comes in third or even fourth place. i.e. :To much of a "styles, formatting and WYSIWYG is for prettiness" mentality. I might use it to format articles though... But, for that task, Endnotes + Word seems already more than enough...]

But — sorry if that seems like a dumb question — what are the writers, researchers and Ph.Ders in the DC community using when structuring and restructuring big amounts of mostly “textual” data (ALSO containing images and tables — almost inevitable in my field)?  Softwares like myBase or Ultra Recall? Despite the format restrictions they impose? Just wondering…

(Of course, some clues have already been provided... :

suleika and Jimdoria --> tiddlywiki or other wiki solutions
urlwolf  --> OneNote
steeladept  --> HTML editor
f0dder --> LyX (with some... reservations?) )
« Last Edit: July 19, 2007, 11:13:12 PM by Armando » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: July 20, 2007, 11:56:58 AM »

Quote
what are the writers, researchers and Ph.Ders in the DC community using when structuring and restructuring big amounts of mostly “textual” data (ALSO containing images and tables — almost inevitable in my field)?  Softwares like myBase or Ultra Recall? Despite the format restrictions they impose?

I don't know about everyone else, but I'm spending a lot of time fiddling around with various programs, too!    undecided

The beta version of LyX (1.5) has an outline view now, much like Word, but I think that it is kind of a steep learning curve and it doesn't quite do what you want, I don't think.  I'm learning to use it because after spending a solid month trying to get my MA thesis formatted correctly in Word, I'm favorably impressed with how LaTeX effortlessly formats things.  However, for day-to-day writing it's kind of a pain.  I've been using Word to write in and exporting it on occasion (using a Word to LaTeX macro http://kebrt.webz.cz/prog.../word-to-latex/index.html) and it works okay with a little fiddling.  Not really what you're after, though.

The Wiki route sounds promising to me, although it also has a bit of a learning curve for me.  I've found some potentially useful info here, including an add-in for OpenOffice that will convert a document to a Wiki, although I haven't had the time to mess with any of it yet:

http://www.pmwiki.org/wiki/Cookbook/WikiToBook
http://nothickmanuals.info/doku.php/writertools
http://www.jhorman.org/wikidPad/
http://www.bellz.org/treeline/index.html
http://www.dklevine.com/g.../tc1000/jarnal-basics.htm

Post it here if you come up with anything good!
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« Reply #19 on: July 20, 2007, 01:38:13 PM »

There's also a commercial product you may want to lookinto: askSam

It's a database system designed to handle free-form text. It has a lot of capabilities, and I would imagine a fairly steep learning curve, but this is often the case with truly useful applications.

From the website:
Quote
askSam is a different kind of database - a free-form database designed for users rather than programmers. askSam makes it easy to turn anything into a searchable database: email messages, word processing documents, text files, spreadsheets, addresses, Web pages, and more.

askSam can import existing word documents and turn them into "reports." You'd have to dig a little to see if it can handle the output you're looking for. There are two quick tours, one for researches, and one for general users.

The company (and the product) have been around for a very long time, so it is definitely a mature and robust application. There's a free trial version available. The "standard" version is $150, but the version you really want is $395, so it's not cheap. But it might be a worthwhile investment of time and money if it makes your life simpler for years to come.
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« Reply #20 on: July 20, 2007, 08:27:23 PM »

I don't know about everyone else, but I'm spending a lot of time fiddling around with various programs, too!    undecided

Thanks for just saying that. Starting to feel like I might be the only one struggling... or the only one struggling for... nothing? Not that I haven't had any useful feedback though!

  • @ Mandork + Wiki like Solutions : You'll see that there are some posts around about ZuluPad (and ZuluPad Pro), wikidpad, tiddlywiki, etc. I really like tiddlywiki. But after some more fiddling around, I've decided that to manage text+complex tables+graphics, it's not the best solution. There seem to be ways to achieve what I want, but it doesn't look very intuitive... Or am I missing something?  embarassed

  • On simple formating only VS “multimedia” + complex formatting : What I find is that there are a lot of solutions to manage plain text or simple RTF textual data,  but not that much for more "multimedia" kind of data (text + graphic + complex formatting, in my case). Unless, of course, you're willing to invest like what seems a lot of time dealing with issues and trying to make the software do what it wasn't really meant to do in the first place.  Yes, some of these solutions do offer more control, but at what price!

Now, I might sound a bit like an heretic, but, right now -- and even if that software still figures as my "not good enough" starting point in this thread --  MS Word (maybe followed by OneNote, OpenOffice and TextMaker) seems to me like the most rounded solution (and, yes, it is not LaTeX… and it doesn't know the diffrence between typefaces and fonts...).  embarassed   Word does almost everything I want. ALMOST. Of course, if it was perfect, I wouldn't be looking for something else.

  • Interlude : some thoughts about a... New Generation File System Organizational Interface — NGFSOI?? (not very elegant, I know) : I believe that my problem is a multi faceted one, not only linked to "individual software" limitations, but ultimately  also to the way NTFS (and even other FS) is currently used by the OS and the file explorers. Some posts  by Spivey, jimdoria, superboyac,  nevf and nudone in the "note-taking" thread were heading in that  direction. Some quotes :
Quote from: Spivey
Instead of creating a database and bringing whatever I wanted into it, let the file system be that database and use the program to impose whatever forms of order upon it I saw fit.
http://www.donationcoder....ic=2362.msg25341#msg25341

Quote from: jimdoria
[…] of using the file system as the back end for the ultimate Note Taking software. It does have some excellent benefits, and addresses the interoperability issue neatly.
http://www.donationcoder....ic=2362.msg25400#msg25400

Unfortunately, like some said, that king of solution seems like a hard thing to achieve… We have software like Eclipse, tag2find (which seems to use the alternate data stream in a pretty clever way), ACDsee, Directory Opus, tiddlywiki, etc. but no unified system and interface which would allow the use of flexible categories (keywords, tags, etc.), virtual folders, file cloning, file linking, seemless searching,  etc. implemented in a very robust way.

To me that “NGFSOI” (don't laugh) would be the real deal. Vista seemed like it was going to offer something in that direction, but… it looks like it’s not for now.

I know, I'm drifting, and the solution I'm looking for right now probably doesn't require such a "radical" shift.

  • @ Jimdoria + askSam: thanks. I remember you talked about it in another thread, superboyac too, and I checked it at that time. I’ll have to look at it again. But, from what I remember  it's very expensive (as you said too), it's strictly windows (meaning that everyting that’s imported in asksam will have to be dealt with… asksam), not unicode compatible, everything has to be moved in its database to be searchable, it doesn’t deal with images, etc. BUT I’ll have another look at it. (Something like askSam would so much better if it was, like I’ve suggested, more of an organizational layer on top -- and taking advantage of the inherent possibilities -- of the ntfs fle system…)

Anyways... Sorry for that long post. I'm still searching. I'm presently testing Word + Links to a database (like Evernotes' database). I know, simple, but it could be (????) the most effective-powerful-simple-flexible-portable-etc. thing at that point.
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« Reply #21 on: August 10, 2007, 03:09:13 AM »

and it doesn't know the diffrence between typefaces and fonts...

I also don't know the difference, could you explain it in simple terms? This is just to humor my curiosity; the rest of this thread is much more interesting and important.
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« Reply #22 on: August 10, 2007, 11:29:07 AM »

Hi, thanks for having a look at the thread!
(And here's an explanation that seems to be pretty straightforward: http://www.grantasticdesigns.com/fonts.html )
By the way, I still haven't completely solved my organizational problem. I will eventually post my current "simple" solution. In the mean time, I'm still open to suggestions!

« Last Edit: August 10, 2007, 11:30:49 AM by Armando » Logged

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« Reply #23 on: August 10, 2007, 11:33:56 AM »

Thanks Armando! Now it is clear to me.  Thmbsup
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« Reply #24 on: August 10, 2007, 11:36:31 AM »

I still haven't completely solved my organizational problem. I will eventually post my current "simple" solution. In the mean time, I'm still open to suggestions!

I am also eager to hear of those suggestions. IMHO it is more of a personal organizational problem than a technical problem. But maybe the tools I know are too limited and I would have to do all the work myself instead of relying on a tool...

I want to have a tool, so I won't have to use my brain so much :-)
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