C-Command Software Forum

Suggestion: Making EagleFiler a Better Thought Capturing System

First, my standard disclaimer. Within this proposal I will suggest terminology and keyboard shortcuts. I make these merely as suggestions or ideas. Lacking your internal vision and philosophy, I could not presume to know the right answers. So when I say “This command should be Shift-Cmd-Whatever” I’m merely making a suggestion and providing an internal shortcut relative to this document.


EagleFiler is exceptional when it comes to capturing the thoughts of others, or even your own thoughts so long as they pre-exist somewhere. But it has one crucial problem relating to capturing new thoughts “within the system”. This problem is very simple: Creating a new file requires the user to think about meta-data first. There are two points of meta-data required form the user before they can start typing down their thoughts.

  1. The first is where the new file will reside. This decision can even be as simple as “nowhere yet” and this choice is enacted by selecting the Records root item. I myself prefer this action because it requires no further categorical thinking (for something which may, as of yet, be vague), and doing so places it automatically in the “Unfiled” filter, keeping all of these working documents in one easily accessible area. However, even a decision as vague as this still requires a pre-action. I will most likely have to select the Records root item with the mouse before I can proceed (is there a way to get over there with the keyboard?).
  2. A title is required of the user before they can start typing into the file. This might seem like a small thing, and for some types of thoughts, a title might be readily applicable from the very beginning, unfortunately this is not always the case. As already mentioned, some ideas are just too vague to pin down until the words start flowing out of your brain.

Quite a number of data collection systems on the market have a feature whereby the user can pull up a “quick note” area which allows you to rapidly enter in a thought without any premeditation on where and/or what that thought will be. In keeping with EagleFiler’s philosophy, I would propose keeping with the files and folders mentality, but to enable a degree of transparent automation when it comes to creating new entries.

The specifics of my proposal are thus:

All entries in the New Record sub-menu would obtain an Option key modified behaviour. If you hold down Option while selecting either RTF or Text, the new entry behaviour will modify to Rich Text Entry and Plain Text Entry (again, these titles are less suggestions and just establishing an internal reference for this message; I don’t particularly like those titles), as opposed to file. Note, they will still create files, but this will be transparent to the user. Due to technical and practical limitations (I would presume), stationary entries would not acquire this optional method. While the user can supply custom shortcuts using the OS tool to these entries, it probably would not be feasible for EagleFiler to know that, and automatically supply an option variant, especially given that the user could supply an Option key in the base shortcut to begin with.

The new behaviour of this method would be thus: Entries would be created in the root level ‘Records’ no matter what the working area may be. Existing working area modifiers would still apply in the case of Smart Folders with actions and Tags, naturally. A filename would be transparently supplied by EagleFiler in the background. SHORTDATE - Untitled would probably suffice. All of this would be transparent to the user. The first thing the user would see after choosing these options would be a blinking cursor in the edit area; ready to type. If the user has opted to not allow editing in the edit area, the new record would automatically be opened in respective external editors.

In short this new behaviour would replace the existing workflow:

  1. Choose Records root level
  2. Cmd-Ctrl-N
  3. think of a name and type it in
  4. Press return
  5. Shift-Cmd-O to open if no editing is allowed / or start typing,

with,

  1. Cmd-Ctrl-Opt-N
  2. Start typing

It might seem like a small thing, but the proliferation of rapid entry mechanisms in modern productivity and note-taking software is for a good reason. Thoughts can be fleeting, and if they are not captured quickly they can dissipate or fall apart. A system which allows rapid capturing of information and ideas should involve the smallest number of steps that are technically possible, and the fewest number of decision points along the way.

Perhaps something could be tied in at the global level like EF’s Cmd-F1 shortcut. Another shortcut which does something similar to OmniFocus’ example here, allowing rapid, meta-data thoughtless entry, and then returning to whatever one was doing. This could all work, as described above, within the EagleFiler philosophy of keeping everything to files and folders, and keeping data safe within that system.

It’s a small thing, but it makes a lot of difference in the long run.

At present, there is no direct way to get to Records from the keyboard. You could Tab to the source list and then press Option-Up Arrow. I plan to make this easier.

I agree that this can be useful. I’m working on something like this.

You can get part way there using stationery today. For example, create a stationery file called “Amber.rtf”. Then create a stationery script called “Amber.efmeta.scpt”:

on metadata(_context)
    set _basename to do shell script "date '+%Y-%m-%d - Untitled'"
    return {basename:_basename}
end metadata

You can assign the menu command the Command-Control-N shortcut. When you press the key, it will create a new file with the desired name. Press Tab to get from the File field to the edit area. The main drawback is that the file will be created in the current folder (or tag), but perhaps I can add an option to let the stationery choose where to create the file.

Personally, I think that a flexible stationery system, coupled with a quick entry window, is better than adding lots of very specific behavior when you use New Record with the Option key down.

Forgot to follow up on this. Truly, if a quick-note feature were implemented that created actual files instead of some hybrid format (Together), that would pretty much do away with the rest of this request. :slight_smile:

Stationary Script

I created a script similar to this, but it seems that EagleFiler still asks for a title for the entry. I’ve also set it to return a title key (with the same _basename) with no luck. Is there a way to skip the dialog asking for a new title?

Make sure that the File column is not hidden.

EagleFiler 1.5 adds the Go menu, with keyboard shortcuts for going to Records, Unfiled, etc. It also adds a Quick entry hotkey.

Thanks for the updates, Michael! Quick entry looks like a treat; checking it out.