Tinderbox Forum

Sorting notes alphabetically

Another noobie question - can I sort my notes alphabetically? I’ve got several dozen notes in outline form that are scattered that I need to sort but can’t figure out how to do it.


Hi Warren,

You can set how containers (both normal notes and agents) sort their children by visiting the Sort tab of the Action inspector:

You can choose what attribute to sort by — $Name, $Text, or what have you. I believe lexical (i.e., alphabetical) sorting is the default (or perhaps the only option?) for String attributes.

More info in the indefatigable aTbRef: http://www.acrobatfaq.com/atbref7/index/Windows/Inspector/ActionInspector/Sorttab.html

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See also: http://www.acrobatfaq.com/atbref7/index/ObjectsConcepts/Codingconventions/Sorting-lexicalandnumeri.html

Edit: I’ve now cross-linked the above two cited aTbRef pages and added a few more notes on sorting to the Sort tab article.

Edit2: I’ve also now cross-linked the main sorting article to mention locale(). the latter post-dates the former by some way and shows why aTbRef is a constantly evolving and accreting resource.

Excellent! Thanks everyone!

I have the same question, but after trying process described I am still having a problem with the sort function. I have a large set of files for a conference I am managing. The all have the last name of the person submitting a proposal as their title. I have them in a container, but when I bring up the inspector and apply the rule to sort the title nothing happens. I have tried “select all” and several other variations but still no response. Any thoughts on what I am missing?

Remember that you want to set the sort criterion for the container that holds the notes you want to sort.

If that doesn’t solve the problem, email the document to info@eastgate.com and we’ll take a look

To clarify, the sort is applied to the $Sort of the container. Could you post a screen grab or description of what setting you’ve applied to the container. If you want to sort on the last ‘last word’ of the item, do ensure the name is the last word/words of the title. “Fred Brown proposal” won’t sort on Brown. But, rather that rename all your files, you could capture the person’s name $Full Name and sort on that, still using ‘last word’ as the sort transform.

I would suggest sending a note, with current TB version number, to tech support: info@eastgate.com. I know there was a specific previous version that had some sort-latency issues, now entirely resolved. It’s possible that you’re on that exact version – they can tell you, or figure out whether it’s something in the way you have sorting set up. For me it works smoothly now.

Update oops I see that @eastgate has already weighed in to similar effect.

Here is a screen shot of what I have at this point. In the container each file has only the last name of the personson submitting the proposals. Thus you would see Smith on one file, Jones on another file, etc. No compicated information.

Is $Title a user attribute you created? The label for the note is $DisplayName, which is typically the same as $Name.

The first thing I now see is that the top of the drop down list contains the items that I have in my Prototype for these files. Title in this case would be the title of the proposed paper, as noted in the prototype field. Clearly not what I want to sort by. I now see Display Name further down the list, but there still does not seem to be any sort taking place. Is there supposed to be some actuating action, like hitting return or something. I have been hitting return a lot so I guess that is not it if there is one.

Just tried Name as well, again with no effect.

Yes but you’ve not shown us examples of the titles ($Name) that you wish to sort. The screen grab above implies one note has a title ending ’ pdf’. If so the last word of the title would be ‘pdf’ and that’s what the ‘last word’ transform would use.

Can you please either post a file showing the problem or a list of example note titles, the settings you are using and confirm there are no actions affecting the titles and that you’re not using a display expression - i.e. the titles you give us are the actual $Name values being sorted.

Here is a small segment of the file set–there are 324 total.

Sorting applied to outlines (which are list-like), not to maps (which are, well, maps!).

Though, if you have sorted the outline, them View ▸ Arrange ▸ Clean Up To Grid will do what it appears you want to do here.

Is the issue that you’re looking for a sort in the map view? I am not very much of a map-view user, but my belief/understanding is that sorting applies to outlines, rather than maps. (So that items in a map can be moved around and so on, independent of sort order.) Have you tried seeing whether the items are properly sorted in an outline view?

That certainly clarifys things. They are sorted in Outline. Cleanup in Map is now sorted. Sorry to take so much time to figure this out, but appreciate the patience and help. I like the map for this project because I will ultimately have to move things around to put in various presentation categories, where the map view will be valuable.
Best regards–and on the next step.

Reviving this somewhat - thanks to this information I can now sort outlines within specific containers; however, is there a way to sort the outline view at the root level?


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When I have to do this, I make sure all notes at the root are fully collapsed. I add a note to the top of the root outline (say “Top Node”). I select all the notes except Top Node, the press tab to make them Top Node’s children. Set the sort for Top Node. Select all of Top Node’s now-sorted children. Press shift-tab to un-indent them, back to the root. Done.

Sort of a 5-star kludge, admittedly.

I think a problem with “sort at the root” is “sort what?” I have lots of notes that I use as containers for tools, and I always want them at the bottom of the root.

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Ah OK, thank you. I didn’t want to risk doing that for fear of messing up the map view coordinates of my notes. But good to know that I can.