Book Draft Generation & Notes

I still haven’t found an ideal way to handle notes on sources and convert my data into a book draft. It seems simple and most reasonable to collect data, organize the data by topic, and then make hierarchies of groups with chapters at the top level and parts of each chapter equal to the data topics.

Steven Johnson suggests something similar: … e-a-b.html

So far, so feasible. The key move is to do a conversion on any given topic folder and create a text file from all the notes. If I do this for every chapter folder I’d ideally get a rough draft text file for each chapter. Cool.

The big problem: Notes are stored by default in the separate “Annotations” group. I’d like my annotation to be stored in the same group as the source material so that the hierarchy of data (with both the source material and my notes on that source material) mirrors the eventual sequence of topics in the book. And when I convert from a folder to a text file I want ONLY the notes exported, not the sources.

In Sum, two questions:
1- How to store notes next to source data in my hierarchy of folders? Just manually move it every time from the Annotations folder?
2- How to export only the annotation notes from a folder and not the source material?

Hard Bonus- Also export the hilighted material from the PDF sources (I use PDF Pen so I’m guessing an AppleScript may be possible)

Any suggestions from some DT aficionados?



Critical to sorting your data in the expected order of your book is to get rid of the sorting criteria you’re using currently:

With your DB selected, go to View–>Sort–>Unsorted

This will allow you to move your files and folders (groups) around and match the file organization to the expected organization of your book (article, etc.) rather than being stuck sorting alphabetically, by date, URL, or whatever.

Annotations are in the Annotations folder because the script that creates an annotation document puts it there when it is first made. You can move the annotation document anywhere in the database and DT will find it when it is needed.

If you want to collect and export annotations as a set, use tags to, well, tag them and a smart group that searches for the tag(s). Or, on the fly, use Tools > Search when you want to find appropriate annotations for export. Select the contents of the smart group or the search result and export or drag copies to your destination.

Use Skim when you want to export your markups from a PDF. Faster than crafting your private script. I explained in a recent post how to do that, IIRC.

Thanks Korm,

It turns out that I have two annotation scripts under Data–> New from Template, and one of them puts my annotation in the Annotations group, the other puts it next to the selected PDF. One was probably from an older version of DTPRO. I like my annotations next to the document with the same title as the document so that’s fine.

For selecting annotations only, yeah, tags will work or simply searching for the “(annotations)” part of the title would probably work, or just manually selecting. So that’ll work ok, too.

For transferring nots from a PDF into the annotation, I’ve decided to only highlight my PDFs, not put notes in the PDF, but rather put all notes in the annotation. If I transfer from PDFPen to Skim, though, it’s got a rich Applescript library that can be used to programmatically have notes transferred, a la this way: … think.html

That only leaves my ever-present problem with bibliographies which is a bit off topic…