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Nonlinear Work Habits and Tagging

Posted on: Sunday 6/10, 2007;  10:07 PM

When I work in Mathematica I very often place a variety of things in a notebook: random calculations, bits of text (both well crafted text, and quick commentaries), code development leading to final results, and so on...

When I wish to be a bit more organized I can place these various things in their own separate notebooks and preserve them in whatever form is right for the way I might plan to use them later on.  One way to manage things like this—or, in some cases, to avoid having to do this—is to tag cells in the original notebook according to the way one wants to use them.  And, using those tags, one can then find those cells that one wants and perform operations on them. For example, copying them and pasting them into a new notebook, or executing them if they are Input cells, or...    ....well, there are unlimited ways that one can use a subset of cells in a notebook, especially given that those cells are expressions—Mathematica and mathematical expressions—that can then be manipulated and use as data for a computation by Mathematica.

Mathematica provides a very basic interface for tagging which looks like this:


It is quite limited, but the potential afforded by tagging is huge.  In A WorkLife FrameWork the Tagging Palette opens up some of the many possibilities for tagging.  Here is an example of the Tagging Palette with three tags shown:


These possibilities afforded by tagging open up very many ways in which you can extract information and content that is embedded in a very nonlinearly-created corpus of work contained in a single notebook. (And, indeed, the boundaries of what one can do are not fixed to a single notebook.)

In fact one can envision doing a piece of work in a Notebook where that notebook contains all of the supporting bits of research—including all of the starts and stops and all of the embarrassing bits that one generally doesn't want the world to see.  But one can then have tagged those portions that are the essence of a paper or report or memo and which are contained within and scattered throughout the notebook.  Then. using the tagging palette, one can automatically extract and generate a pristine notebook containing only the report that one wants the world to see.

I have created a screencast that demonstrates this along with several of the many things that one can do with tagging and A WorkLife FrameWork's Tagging palette.  


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