feature request: checkbox column

Problem: When I'm writing a review paper, I have to quickly go through hundreds of potential references and identify those that I'm interested in or that I've already included. The current methods available (add a tag, drag the item to a specially named collection, write a message to myself in the Call Number field) aren't great for me (too slow and hard to type and drag, not every item has a Call Number, pressing the option key to see which collections the item is in sometimes jumps to the bottom-most collection in the tree). And it's hard to see at a glance which items in my working collection have already been marked.

Need: I'd like to have a column in the main view that would have a boolean checkbox. I could check that checkbox by clicking on it from the main view (not the item detail view). Ideally, I'd like to have a few custom columns that I could name and set to be either text or checkbox. But if that's not possible under current architecture, then a checkbox would be a great start.
  • Why not use a colored tag? You can assign it by keystroke and quickly filter by it. That's what I use for similar usecases
  • I do use colored tags, but you can only have 9 colors, not enough for me. Also, adding a tag takes time and hand-eye coordination. It might not matter when you're working with a dozen items, but it does when it's hundreds.

    I'm sure you mean well, so this is more of a JEDI talk than a rebuff:
    In general, everyone has their modalities, how they perceive and how they work. And everyone has different abilities. Accessibility is rooted in the belief that, when someone asks for a feature that is an accommodation, we do not tell them that they are silly to ask. We can say that we don't have the ability to do it, but not that they're wrong to ask.
  • edited December 9, 2023
    I'm confused -- where in my post do you see anything about wrong or silly? Those are entirely your words and very much neither what I say nor what an even moderately charitable reading of my post would infer. (You also didn't ask for tje feature as an accessibility accommodation)

    I asked why an existing feature, which I use for similar purposes, isn't sufficient for what you need. You give two answers:
    1) There aren't enough colored tags -- that I can see, it's a common complaint, although there'd also only be one checkbox, presumably, and
    2) Tags take time to add and require hand-eye coordination -- that one suggests you're not aware of the full functionality of colored tags, which can be assigned, including to hundreds of items at once, by pressing the associate number on your keyboard. Try it out.

    That works for most users (and is significantly more accessible for most users with digital accessibility requirements than a checkbox would be), so I'm afraid don't think a checkbox in addition has much of a chance of happening.
  • edited December 11, 2023
    Sorry, I might have misunderstood. A lot of times on the zotero (and other forums s.a. stackoverflow), when a person posts something, people jump in to tell them they're wrong to ask the question. You advised a colored tag, after I've said that tags don't work for me for this purpose, so I felt it was one such response.

    I didn't know about the keyboard shortcut, and might try it. But tags just aren't what I need. It's not just that they're slow. It's also not how I use them. And not where on the GUI I look for such information, and while colors are easy for marking which papers are more important or interesting, it's not as easy to see which have been used, because it's a, I don't know, a stronger visual element need. I can't display a tag column. And yes, I'd have to de-assign and reassign the colors, and that would detract from other uses. And there is no black color. And I'd have to remember keyboard shortcuts. I may be a graybeard, but emacs was a hundred GUIs ago, and I don't like remembering keyboard shortcuts. The full list of reasons is hard to explain, which is why I didn't list it above with the others. But it is, nevertheless, important. Like I said, modalities, abilities, usage, accessibility.

    Main point: it's hard to use a single feature to indicate multiple things, and it is a barrier.

    Ideally, we could have a few Custom columns that we could assign a name and a type to. For me, it would be: "Used: checkbox", "To Use: checkbox", "Maybe: checkbox", "Topic (Purpose For Using In This Paper): text input field". For others, it might be something else. I asked for a single checkbox, because adding a hardcoded column is easier than adding user-defined GUI elements, and I wanted to be considerate. I was careful to read the forums before posting, and I've seen other people ask for custom columns, though. Usually, when someone asks for a GUI feature, the response is: "maybe, when we switch to v7". Now we're at v7, and I feel it might be good to ask again. If there are other priorities, that can still go on the list, further down.
  • Oh, also, I can't use tags for standalone notes. Which I use a bunch.
  • I don't think custom fields/columns were ever suggested for Z7 -- they're in the very maybe we *might* do that in the future set of things.

    You can tag standalone notes, though. The tag field is at the bottom right and colored tags via keyboard work like they do for any other item type.
  • Wait, we're at v7?

    If it's something you really want, and the zotero team sees things differently, it can almost always be achieved by a plug in. That's the beauty of zotero. You don't have to agree, and you can still get what you want.
  • edited December 11, 2023
    @gothamgreen: Here is the link to the information regarding the colored tags:
    Please read carefully and check if it really does not do what you are looking for. You may be surprised how powerful they are. There are always ways to make it even better, but it is important to acknowledge first what is already possible.
    I didn't know about the keyboard shortcut, and might try it. But tags just aren't what I need. It's not just that they're slow. It's also not how I use them. And not where on the GUI I look for such information, and while colors are easy for marking which papers are more important or interesting, it's not as easy to see which have been used, because it's a, I don't know, a stronger visual element need.
    I understand that you want to get a quick way to put a check mark on some items, with the information displayed right in the center pane of you library. This is exactly what emoji tags can do, as written in the documentation:
    They can even contain emojis, which will be displayed directly in the items list in place of a colored square.
    You can test for example creating a colored tag with name ✔️ (or , or whatever emoji you like). Put it in the first position of the colored tags. Then select an item or a standalone note in the center pane of your library and press 1 on your keyboard. You will see the check mark appear on the left side of the title of the item you had selected. I don't see how it could be faster and more clear than this.

    And you can get 9 of them already, which is what you were asking for, as I understand.
    You have also said:
    but you can only have 9 colors, not enough for me.
    The colored tags are working so well because they are directly accessible from pressing a single number key on your keyboard. There is no simple way to extend this capability, except maybe with sets of colored tags.

    The developpers have already agreed to add emoji tags in the future, which will dramatically increase the number of tags that you can display in the center pane of your library:
    Yes, we're going to separate the handling of colored tags and emoji tags.

    There have been a few attempts to show some tags in a separate column, like for example this plugin (Z6 only):
    But the main limitation of using a column is that it uses a lot of space in the center pane, which is completely lost for items that do not have a tag to display in there. This is one of the reasons why the current design for emoji tags is probably more powerful than using columns.
    You can test with that plugin to see if that is working for you.

    For more powerful use of tags, you can have a look at this plugin:
  • edited December 11, 2023
    Perhaps, in a perfect world the software we use could always be adapted to match the user interface each individual user wants.

    We don't live in that world. There are things about the Zotero UI that I'd like to change. I've made requests / suggestions but the requests haven't been implemented. I don't know why and I don't need to know why.

    In a different context I am responsible for an online bibliographic database. The user interface and webpage design is intentionally somewhat crude by contemporary standards. That is because the users of my free service are mostly from rural or international entities that have low-speed internet connections. Every week I have requests to make my webpages more "attractive" from users with high-speed connections. I could have a system that recognizes a user's connection and provide an interface UI that fits their connection speed. But that would require developer-time to create and I would rather the time be allocated to other things such as improving the speed and quality of the query system and search term thesaurus.

    I recognize that, at least in my case, I provide what I can to meet the needs of most users. That some users experience might be improved if I altered my resource prioritization cannot be denied. But my website cannot be the best possible experience for everyone and I have limited resources.

    A decade ago I tried to list the improvement requests that Zotero users wanted. Lots of colors was among them. Additional columns for new or existing items was among them. (I'd love to have a ISSN column but I can't imagine that anyone else wants that.) There were many other requests and over the years many of these have been implemented. While many might agree with your new color request I for one believe that other enhancements would make a better user experience for me.

    This is why there are plug-ins. This is why, over the years, I've paid for outside writers (two of the contributors to this thread) to adapt existing translator and export scripts to better meet my needs.
  • edited December 13, 2023
    emilianoeheyns: Yeah, v7 is a beta, but I was told to switch to it because of this issue: https://forums.zotero.org/discussion/109526/full-text-content-sync-fails-with-error-connecting-to-the-server-standalone-app-to-zotero-storage
    I don't know, so far the beta v7 feels speedier, but I haven't yet noticed other improvements, they might be under the hood.
    I hear you on the plugin, but I already work 18-hour days, and just can't.

    adamsmith: Omg, I found the tags field in a standalone note, like you said. I don't know what to say. On the one hand, I feel joy. On the other, it's so incredibly hidden and tiny and not at all where it is in the UI in other items, I managed to miss it after three years of using zotero. And that makes me accessibility steamed.

    And to the two fresh people piling on to voluminously explain to me why I shouldn't be asking for that thing I asked for:
    - No, the things that work for you don't work for everyone.
    - Yes, I have the background and experience to know what I'm doing, and I have considered all the things. No forum poster should have to justify their post.
    - Yes, sometimes things that you don't think of as accessibility are, nevertheless, accessibility.

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