Tinderbox Forum

Attribute default

Hi, just a thought, and I wonder what the reasoning behind it is.
The attribute Date and Number have default settings that you apparently cannot change. In column view that gives you the annoying “never” and “0” with any note that has no value for these attributes. It seems a good idea to me to have the opportunity to at least use ‘empty’ ("") as an option there. Some workarounds work but seem counterproductive. Having to make a parallel attribute just to clean up a column view feels a bit ‘bizar’, and when you have a lot of these two attributes it causes a lot of programming for… for what?
But maybe I don’t understand it at all.

Essentially all attributes are a type of string except:

  • Date. This is actually an underlying number (Unix dates), so zero and no defined date are 2 different things. The ‘never’ is a necessary and useful distinction.
  • Number. Well, it’s a number, so we expect something. Column view defaults to showing ‘0.00’ (likely because it helps those tracking expenses). Personally, I change the decimal place figure to zero when setting a Number based column, so see ‘0’.
  • Boolean. These render as a tick-box in column view so the underlying ‘written’ value is moot.
  • Interval (Time). As an amount of time, the default of 00:00 (i.e. hh:mm) seems entirely sensible.

These are long-standing conventions. Tinderbox launched in 2001 and I first used it in late '03, though column view itself is more recent (circa v5.0). I’m not sure cosmetic changes would help existing users at all and actually create confusion. FWIW, I find a ‘never’ date much easier when scrolling/scanning columns than an empty box in a string-type column. I don’t know why that should be but I as I say I use column view a lot and don’t find the defaults difficult to work with.

TL;DR - some values have a value of some sort for a good reason. :grinning:

Hi Mark,
Thx for your reply. I do understand these conventions, and I wasn’t pleading for changing them. But I do think the option to choose between the standard and ‘empty’ for those who need/want it would be nice.

No problem, I quite accept it might look neater for display, print, etc.

As things are (v7.5.4), beyond setting the number of numerical decimal places or date formatting, you’re into feature request territory. Thus, I’d suggest dropping an email to Tech Support with your suggestion and underlying use case.

For instance it might be possible to add a ‘no nulls’ tick-box to the column head selector such that 0/never/00:00 aren’t printed; I’ve no idea as I’m not a developer and also I’ve no idea how much engineering (cost!) such work might involve. Your use case, when presented with your suggestion helps figure the ROI. History shows that some simple-seeming things are hard/expensive and more complex ones the reverse.

Whilst you can post in the relevant sub-forum here, now the idea is at this stage, I think it more useful to all if you could just email it in.

Will do. Thx for the suggestion.