MVOutline script: Refreshable, dynamic[almost], and portable outline of [smart]groups/tags + merged view of contents within any level of hierarchy

Building on top of the MergeView script this proof-of-concept script does:

  • Show the outline of a group hierarchy in DT (MVO) and the merged view (MVR) of the contents of each group for md/rtf/rtfd/pdf files.
  • All functions of the MergeView script are retained (so the details of MVR will be skipped in this post)
  • Both MVO and MVR can be refreshed to show the latest change in the groups/source files.
  • Allow user to change the depth of the outline view and perform very basic outline-liked feature such as add or rename group, add a comment to a group, and add notes within the groups directly in the MVO/MVR.
  • MVO is portable. If an MVO is moved from one database to another, the user can still refresh/access/edit the group hierarchy and group’s content from within the MVO.


  • Select a top-level group and invoke the script.
  • Only one top group is allowed.
  • The interface is almost identical to the Mergeview script.

  • A new MVO file is created.
    • A and E: The name of the top group and the maximum depth of the outline(group) hierarchy.
    • C: link to the group and D: link to the merged view file (MVR) of each group
    • B: display the content of each file that is directly under the top group.


  • The default location of a newly created MVO is in a group named “MergeView” at current database’s root. The group will be created automatically at the first-time creation of MVO.
  • Same as the MergeView script, all groups/notes can be accessed/edited directly[almost].
  • Any changes within the main group ( e.g. The user adds new group/smart groups or replicates other groups/files into the main group while working in DT’s viewer window) will be updated and shown in the MVO and its MVRs after a refresh.

  • When the MVOutline script is invoked within an MVO/MVR window:
    • User can choose the level of the outline. The user wants to reduce the level of the outline to 1 in this example.
    • A: refresh the MVO. B: choose other actions.

  • The level of outline is reduced to one.

  • If “Other Actions” button is clicked, a list of other actions is shown.

  • A: Select the target group of the action and choose what action to perform. B: for content’s entry. C: Choose the level of the outline to be shown. In this example, the user wants to add a new group with a comment for “Section 1.4” under the group “Chapter 1…”.


  • Obviously, it is more straight forward to add/change the group structure in DT directly. These features are for convenience if only minor group operation is needed.
  • Remember to click “Execute Action and Refresh” instead of “Refresh Only” to execute the action.

  • A: “Section 1.4” is created and shown in the MVO. B: now if we click on the link “MV” that is next to “Chapter 1…”

  • A: “MV” is linked to an MVR file (each group will have one MVR hidden from the user). B: is the merged view of files from under “Chapter 1” and all of its sub-groups.


  • the MVR will be an empty file when it is opened for the first time. The user needs to run the script to refresh its content.
  • the MVR files are located under a resource group (created at the MVO’s creation) under the “MergeView” group.

  • The refresh of MVR file is a bit different. User can choose to refresh the MVR in merged view (MV) or outline format.

Performance consideration: the speed of the script is a function of the number of sub-groups under the main group, the number of files under the groups, and the computer’s configuration. For my computer (pretty well-configured), it takes 10-20 secs to refresh a group with approx. 50 sub-folders and 500 files. However there is no need to wait for the refresh, user can continue to work on other DT’s task and there is a progress bar showing the status of the refresh.

DEMO 2: creating a new project. I’ll let the pictures to speak for themselves:

The script

To run the script:

  • You need to download “Dialog Toolkit Plus.scptd” and save it under “/Library/Script Libraries” The download link here Dialog Toolkit Plus .
  • I spent a good amount of time in tuning the script’s performance, but there is a limitation in my knowledge and in AppleScript (for now).


Script v1b15 updated 2020.05.21 (319.5 KB)

  • A newer v1b14 that shortens the refresh time >50%. The optimisation of repeat loops by refining the coding is a fascinating journey (at least for me)…
  • One minor feature update in the refresh dialog: there is an option of not to show the files immediately under the main topic in the outline view.

Another update v1b15 updated in post#1 and the design is frozen for now.

  • Add an internal preference to sort the outline topics by name.
    property sortOutlinebyName : true -- if false then the group outline topics are unsorted
  • Some speed improvement on the outline and merged view refresh relating to the sorting of the main group that includes smart groups.
  • I change the title of this post to “[smart]groups/tags…” given that the script can now handle the sorting of a much larger number of merged files. IMHO a tag usually contains more files than a group.
  • I would suggest the script is only suitable for <1000 files per tag/group else the MVO/MVR might be jammed by too many texts and links. In fact, that’s the main reason for the script not offering to merge pdf files but only a link.

Note: While the “MVO” file is the main page for the main topic’s outline, the user can tear off any “MVR” file (move from its resources group to any location) and use it as an independent MVO file. The script will automatically regenerate the replacement for any missing MVR files in the resource group.

My usage case: I take research notes in snippets and tag them by three main categories: the purpose of reference ( facts, arguments, models, variable design, evidence, etc.), keywords, and theories. I generate one MVO for each main tag-category and access the merged notes of sub-tags within the MVO. This is very handy if I only want to review my personal notes that are related to a concept - all at once.

e.g. There are >300 tags (>300 MVRs that can be accessed) from this MVO.

1 Like


wonderful addition.
problem here: the created resource files in MVO resources are empty md-files… :-/

any hint what could be wrong?
thx again! oliver