Hi, I have a couple of feature requests related to the maps filter in DEVONthink. I find this feature quite useful, but I think these small tweaks would really elevate it to a common tool in my toolbox. I hope that others feel similarly.
Firstly, I’ll describe my current main use-case for the maps filter. I have a workspace set up to view properties in the Kyoto area. I have DEVONagent set up to pull in new properties posted on the sites of a couple of real estate agents in Kyoto that I like, convert them to PDF, and add them to DEVONthink. I then tag them up with some information such as price and floor space, set the geolocation of the item to the actual address of the property, and drag the floor plan image into the “annotations” box. The workspace that I use to view these properties is as follows:
As you can see, this gives me a nice way to browse new properties posted on the sites! I can order by when they were last updated, or by price or location. I can very quickly see the floor plan for each property as I click on it, or view the full listing in the preview pane.
OK, so what are the features I want? They both relate to the maps filter view in the bottom-left of the screenshot.
Different colour for currently selected item(s). In the screenshot, you can see that I have one of the items selected. However, it is not at all clear which of the many pins in the maps filter corresponds to the selected item. It would be great if the pin for the selected item(s) could be coloured differently to differentiate them.
Select item by clicking on pin. The current behaviour of the pins is as a literal filter: by clicking on the pin, the list of items is filtered down to the particular item you clicked on. Because the maps filter itself is based on the items in that list, this causes the map to be redrawn with the contents of the new list, which is usually just one item (the one pin you clicked on). I think it would be more useful if clicking on a pin caused the selection to change, but left the list intact. That way, you could click around the pins to explore different items in the current map view.
Please let me know if you’d like any clarification on the above two points. Also, if there are any use-cases where the current behaviour is more useful than the behaviour I suggest above I’d be interested to hear them, as especially suggestion number 2 would be a change from the way it works currently so if there are people relying on the current behaviour I understand it would require care to make sure their needs are still met.
Thanks for the suggestions. That’s a very cool use of the Maps filter and one I have sometimes wondered if real estate people would utilize. Not being in the market for a house (or in the housing market - haha!), I hadn’t considered property hunters would use it in this way.
Also a nice use of the annotation file feature too.
I thought about this a little more and realised there’s a third feature which would help to clear up the confusion (at least in my mind) between the notion of filtering and selecting. A problem with my suggestion no. 2 above is that it means the “maps filter” is more of a selection tool than a filtering tool, which is perhaps a little confusing. At the time, I thought that the benefits in usability outweigh this problem, and the idea of a “filter” that can only really filter down to one item (or a few, if there are pins extremely close together, but this is rare and somewhat unpredictable) didn’t seem that useful anyway. However, I’ve realised that there is still scope for filtering, if you would consider including this third request:
Filter items to those within the current maps viewport. Currently, when you open the maps filter the viewport is scaled such that all of the items within the currently open group will fit in it. An intuitive way to narrow down these items using the map would be that if you zoom in on a section of the map, only those items whose pins are visible in the current viewport are listed (the remainder are filtered out). When you zoom back out again, items will reappear as their pins become visible. This is consistent with something like the tags filter, where as you add tags (zoom in), items are filtered out, and if you remove them from the filter (zoom out), they reappear.
I think that the combination of these three features would result in a much more intuitive and useful maps view. There are still some open questions – should items without any geolocation remain in the list or be filtered out?, for example (I think they should remain, but I don’t feel strongly enough to include that as part of the functionality I’m requesting here, and would defer to your design team).
Each of the three requests I’ve laid out here would be useful independently, so deciding to include one does not commit you to the others. But, if you can do them all, I think you’ll end up with a much more cohesive approach to geolocation and mapping in the end