Quickly bulk-manipulating the "unsorted" ordering

DT offers sorting of items in a group by various means (name, dates, kind …), including “unsorted”. The latter allows us to establish our own ordering by dragging the items into the desired position. For groups with many items this can become very cumbersome. Often the “unsorted” ordering is initially completely arbitrary, typically given by the order you dropped the items into the group. If you want another, arbitrary, permutation for some reason, you’re out of luck: You have to drag dozens or hundreds of items into place.

However, sometimes we (or at least I) want a manual ordering that is fairly (but not perfectly) close to one of the other options. Say I want an alphabetic list with a few exceptions. I.e. items such as “Overview”, “Table of Contents” are on top, the rest is alphabetic.

Here is quick procedure to accomplish this quickly. Say the items are in “mygroup” and the unsorted ordering in that group is not what you want.

  • Choose the sorting option that is closest to your final goal, say “by name”.
  • Create a dummy group “temp” somewhere in your DB, and put it in “unsorted” mode.
  • Select all items in “mygroup” and move them into “temp”. The unsorted order in “temp” will be alphabetic, because that’s how the items came from “mygroup”.
  • Make the minor corrections you want by dragging the relevant items.
  • Put the now empty “mygroup” into “unsorted” mode.
  • Move all the items back from “temp”, and you’re done.

This sounds a little cumbersome, but in reality this is dead easy and quick to do, once you got the hang of it.

Why is this useful:

  1. Large groups. If you want to make some smaller modifications to a group of 500 papers, i.e. that should be all ordered alphabetically, but with a few exceptions, this makes this incredibly fast.

  2. The “export to web” option. As I recently found out ([url]Export as Website - Sorting Order (answer: by manual sort)]) this function creates an index.html page for all items in a group based on “unsorted”. This means that for this export, you DO NOT have the usual sorting options available that you have in an ordinary DT window. So whatever order you want for your items on your exported webpage, you have to establish it manually. For a list of 10 items, just do it by hand. If you publish hundreds of items, the above method lets you create “unsorted” orders that mirror any of the available DT criteria (name, date …) quickly (and also allows you to make minor, hand-crafted adjustments).

If you are working in one Group, you can set the order as noted, select the items and press Command-Option-G to group them. Open the Group, switch to Unsorted, and do your sorting. When you’re done, step back to the parent Group, select the newly sorted Group and unGroup it. It should maintain the sort.

Nice, that simplifies and speeds up the procedure.