What's not obvious about Zotero?

I'm in the process of adding first-run guidance panels (see here for an example) to make it easier for users to discover Zotero functionality the first time they use it. So far, I've implemented panels to point out the save icon (screenshot linked above) and the author selection menu (appears when editing a book section for the first time).

I figured it would be worthwhile to ask people here where we could benefit from this type of guidance. To implement a panel for something, we'd need a well-defined trigger, and I think we want to limit the number of panels to avoid clutter (i.e., we should never show more than one at once).

We also need to decide whether to only show these panels once, or to show them repeatedly until the user does some action (e.g., for the example above, saving an item via the address bar icon) or else dismisses them by checking a "don't show again" button.
  • - Trash (first time user deletes an item from library)
    - The suppress author function in the word plugin, though I don't know how to solve that with a guidance panel.

    I would think that it's much preferable for them to show up only once - and maybe it should be possible to disable them entirely - lest people are reminded of that notorious MS Office paperclip.
  • It is not obvious that you need to have the first name of an author always stored in the same way to avoid triggering given name disambiguation. (See this thread: http://forums.zotero.org/discussion/19570/option-to-disable-disambiguation/)

    I do not think that this can be solved with a guidance panel, though.

    Another possibly non-obvious thing is the lookup-button.
  • The processor could return a flag when disambiguation is invoked, if that would help.
  • - how to find out which collections an item is in. (Tricky to define a trigger here though.)

    - that (direct) links to PDFs can be dragged onto an item to add the PDF as attachment to that item.

    - how to add a tag to multiple items at once (you have to "add the items to the tag")
  • -that items that aren't in any collection get placed into the "unfiled items" folder: http://forums.zotero.org/discussion/19970/finding-entries-not-in-a-collection/#Item_7
  • - Importing is not meant for importing article PDFs, but reference databases.
    -What "Create parent item from attachment item" and "Retrieve metadata for PDF" actually mean.
  • What would be nice that if a standalone attachment is selected, Zotero would suggest to create a parent item or to retrieve metadata. The parent item and metadata could even have their own buttons on the attachment details pane.
  • - Switching between single and two-field authors is both hard to find and it's not clear that single field should only be used for institutional author (I believe other programs let you enter Smith, Adam as well as Adam Smith and require a special marker for institutional authors. This would seem to be well suited for a guidance balloon the first time an author is edited or entered manually.
    See here for a recent case of confusion.
  • edited November 1, 2011
    Just by way of filling out the record ...

    After 2.1 was released, the CSL processor's implicit handling of single-field entries as institution names caused some confusion -- among other things, we discovered that people had been using it to force personal names to a particular format in the style, and the imposition of institution-name formatting messed things up in their output.

    Dan commented at the time that single-field mode is not tied to institution names. I'm unable to find that post, but it reflects an earlier (very early, in fact) discussion over name handling, the upshot of which was that institutions should eventually be represented in the UI by single-field entry plus an explicit toggle (as adamsmith suggests above).

    The implicit institution name formatting behavior of the processor has been disabled in the official release. For most input this doesn't affect output; the difference becomes visible only when a personal name is followed by an institutional affiliation, or where the style calls for short-form formatting of an institution name (which isn't possible in official CSL 1.0).
  • - The difference between "Report errors" and "Debug output" is not clear. Why there needs to be two systems for reporting problems?
  • edited November 2, 2011
    mronkko: http://forums.zotero.org/discussion/18776/error-report-id-155066620/#Item_10

    Start a new thread if you want to follow up.

    I'm going to close this thread, since it's going in way too many different directions to be useful. Feel free to start new threads for new suggestions. I think we want to keep the use of guidance panels to a bare minimum of core functionality, though, lest we get into Clippy territory. ("It looks like you're writing a dissertation...")
This discussion has been closed.