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Paragraph Spacing in Notes Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I really appreciate that OF now allows us to change our default styles. Often, I use the notes section for brainstorming or recording details about a project. These notes are easier to read when there is space after each paragraph, but the option to set the default paragraph spacing isn't available in Preferences.

I notice, however, that when I cut and paste text from Text Edit into the OF notes field, the text carries over all its formatting, including paragraph spacing. Therefore, OF does support it.

So, my question is: is there a way to change the default paragraph spacing for notes?

Last edited by abh19; 2008-10-27 at 08:07 AM..
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by abh19 View Post
So, my question is: is there a way to change the default paragraph spacing for notes?
Unfortunately, no, I don't think so. About all you can do is set up the spacing in another app with a standard Mac OS X text view ruler (like TextEdit and Yojimbo and many, many others) and then copy and paste into OmniFocus.

I'm still hoping the standard Mac OS X text formatting ruler will be made available in the OmniFocus notes field. This was discussed back in April on this forum (Help with note formatting), but I suspect it was de-prioritized with all the sync stuff and iPhone app, which makes sense considering the release of the iTunes App Store and the huge market there for OmniFocus.

Not only would the text formatting ruler give you the ability to control paragraph spacing but also to set tab stops and indentions, text alignment, use OS X's text view lists and tables, and use the system-wide styles pulldown in OmniFocus' note field. Maybe they could even add non-contiguous selections by Command-clicking text and column selections by Option-dragging, like can be done in TextEdit and other OS X text views.

Here's a screenshot of some of these features in action in TextEdit. Imagine being able to do this in OmniFocus' notes field. That would be really nice.

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If you're interested in this, please let the Omni Group know (Help -> Send Feedback).

-Dennis

Last edited by Toadling; 2008-10-27 at 10:30 AM.. Reason: Added screenshot from TextEdit
 
While I agree it would be cool to have this in the notes field in OF (and OO), it strikes me that it's likely to involve at least a bit of work on Omni's part to get us something we can already trivially get by selecting the contents of the note, invoking Services->TextEdit->New Window Containing Selection, editing the note, and pasting it back. Isn't any edit involving making tables and so on going to take more time than doing the copy there and back? Surely there must be some other equally cool feature they could build with that effort that we can't emulate so easily?

Yes, I realize that 5 seconds here and there adds up if you do it often enough, but I'm optimistic that they've still got ideas for things that will save bigger numbers of seconds, whereas making it too easy for me to beautify my notes will encourage me to do that instead of completing the associated actions and projects :-)
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
Yes, I realize that 5 seconds here and there adds up if you do it often enough, but I'm optimistic that they've still got ideas for things that will save bigger numbers of seconds, whereas making it too easy for me to beautify my notes will encourage me to do that instead of completing the associated actions and projects :-)
There is a common misperception that the styling of note content is somehow petty or superficial, resulting in a waste of time that is better spent doing your tasks. But I contend that in many cases, improving the organization and legibility of your notes will greatly increase your productivity, especially if you adopt a common set of sensible styles used through your content.

The styling I apply to my notes (and I use a lot of notes) takes no more than a few seconds to apply and makes it much easier for me to digest the information later, especially if I don't come back to the item for a while. These styles include a fixed-width font for code snippets (like many on this forum, I use OmniFocus in a software development environment), a light sprinkling of bold text for headings, and an occasional indentation. Yeah, I like it to look pretty too, but I'm doing this more for practical reasons than aesthetics.

I can apply all those styles now and do the TextEdit-switheroo for indentions, but it'd certainly be better with a built-in formatting ruler. Others have also asked for a means to create lists and basic outlines in their notes; the list formatting options in OS X's standard text formatting ruler might satisfy those requests.

Now, I understand that every feature request must be prioritized against a bevy of other feature requests. Some are clearly more pressing than others. And this text formatting ruler one is likely somewhere in the bottom half of that list. That's fine.

But I'm hoping that maybe it'd be a relatively simple thing for the Omni folks to fully adopt Mac OS X's NSTextView for the notes field (things always look simple from the outside, don't they? :-).

From here, it looks like they're using a subclass of NSTextView already since we have text completion with F5/Esc and emacs key bindings. The notes field even starts to respond to a columnar selection (option-click) by changing to the typical crosshairs cursor, but doesn't actually select more than a single row of text.

OmniOutliner, too, shows these behaviors. And it also has a text formatting ruler that looks suspiciously like the standard NSTextView ruler.

OmniOutliner Pro ruler:
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TextEdit's ruler in Leopard:
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I know things are rarely free in the software development world, but I was hoping that maybe, just maybe, this would be a piece of cake addition. And if that's the case, then the cost-to-benefit ratio swings way in our favor, even if you're only going to use the formatting ruler to make your notes look pretty. ;-)

-Dennis

Last edited by Toadling; 2008-10-27 at 01:24 PM.. Reason: Added ruler screenshots
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toadling View Post
There is a common misperception that the styling of note content is somehow petty or superficial, resulting in a waste of time that is better spent doing your tasks. But I contend that in many cases, improving the organization and legibility of your notes will greatly increase your productivity, especially if you adopt a common set of sensible styles used through your content.
I don't mean to suggest in any way that styling of notes is a superficial feature; I think the structured components in particular are much more useful than being able to customize the background color of my actions, and I don't begrudge them the effort spent developing that in the slightest, even if the only time I use it is experimentation to answer forum questions. The outline styling support is clearly a feature that can only be provided by Omni, and there's nothing one could do without their support.

Quote:
I know things are rarely free in the software development world, but I was hoping that maybe, just maybe, this would be a piece of cake addition. And if that's the case, then the cost-to-benefit ratio swings way in our favor, even if you're only going to use the formatting ruler to make your notes look pretty. ;-)

-Dennis
And as a software developer myself, I know the things that end up being the most trouble (at least on a trouble per amount of time budgeted for implementation and support) usually are the things that seem like they ought to be just a small matter of programming :-)

Have you ever used TeX? You can get things pretty much the way you want them without too much trouble, and see just how perfect they could look with "just a little more effort" which ends up driving you mad when the nearness of perfection lures you to your misfortune with its Siren-like call...avert your gaze from your notes and step away from the keyboard before the madness takes you! :-)

Don't get me wrong, I'd be happy if they can give you what you request with some minor tweaking. I wouldn't mind seeing some cool-looking note examples for inspiration, either! I'd never noticed the table support in TextEdit prior to your post...now I'm going to be looking for excuses to make a few tables in the next week or so, thanks buddy :-)
 
Well, a little experimentation with copying complex formatting over from TextEdit suggests that I apparently didn't investigate quite far enough yesterday! You can paste in a nicely formatted table, but as soon as the edit on the note is closed, the formatting goes to hell in a handbasket. I'm submitting my vote right now...
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
Have you ever used TeX? You can get things pretty much the way you want them without too much trouble, and see just how perfect they could look with "just a little more effort" which ends up driving you mad when the nearness of perfection lures you to your misfortune with its Siren-like call...avert your gaze from your notes and step away from the keyboard before the madness takes you! :-)
No, I can't say I've ever had the pleasure of working with TeX. But your experience sounds disturbingly familiar to getting complex CSS layouts to work in both standards-compliant browsers and that horrid plague on web developers: WinIE 6. :-)

So I think I know what you mean. And I fully respect the complexity involved, even if it's not always apparent to the end user. I'm only hoping that maybe the Omni people could take advantage of some of Apple's work in this area; but only they know what that entails. And if it's not practical, for whatever reason, it's not a big deal. I'm pretty happy with the current capabilities of the notes field. And it's not exactly like this feature is in high demand.

Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
I'd never noticed the table support in TextEdit prior to your post...now I'm going to be looking for excuses to make a few tables in the next week or so, thanks buddy :-)
You're welcome. It's still pretty basic, but OS X's standard text view has some cool features. Too bad Apple hasn't publicized it more.

You know, the strange thing is if I create a table in TextEdit and then paste it into OmniFocus' note field, the text and table get copied over, but the table is oddly missing most of its styling. I can then right-click on the table to edit it (select Table… from the contextual menu, as can be done in TextEdit) and get the table editing palette, but all of the options are grayed out.

So apparently the OmniFocus note field at least recognizes tables but doesn't support pasted styles or editing options for them.

-Dennis
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
Well, a little experimentation with copying complex formatting over from TextEdit suggests that I apparently didn't investigate quite far enough yesterday! You can paste in a nicely formatted table, but as soon as the edit on the note is closed, the formatting goes to hell in a handbasket.
Another problem would be how to represent tables and other styled elements in OmniFocus for iPhone. Right now, I don't think the iPhone supports styled text in its text views.

As long as you don't edit a note in OmniFocus for iPhone, the styling is preserved through syncing and can still be viewed in OmniFocus on your Mac. But if you edit and save a styled note on the iPhone, it'll be missing its styling on the Mac too once you sync it back. An unfortunate limitation, but I'm not sure there's much Omni can do about that.

-Dennis
 
 


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