Tags interface

I would be interested in several improvements to the tags interface.

First, I think it would be beneficial to separate out the user-defined tags and the keywords that are generated from websites, and which I would like to keep in my library, but just not grouped in with my own tags.

Second, I think the interface is difficult to use as there are many tags crowded into a very small box in the UI. I saw a response to one feature request (Add tag shortcut) that there is no point in adding a column of tags because it is a one to many relationship with no inherent order. While it is necessarily one-to-many, I see no reason why you can not have a tag hierarchy. I found the tag hierarchy very be helpful when I have used other bibliography managers (I converted to using Zotero from Sente, so I may be biased). For example, I could label a paper as being a mouse model, and Zotero could then also tag it as mammalian model. I can then easily find all the mammalian models across species by searching on the mammalian tag without ever physically adding that tag to the original mouse paper.

In this way, I also see little difference between a tag hierarchy and hierarchical folders and feel that these two things should be combined. The user interface can visualize the tags as hierarchical folders in a column on the left, but still allow the user to search on tags to identify the intersection of papers that cross tag hierarchies, and also allow the user to move items visually into folders simply by typing out the name of the folder/tag. User-defined tags that are not placed in the hierarchy can simply be visualized as a long list under a folder/tag 'more tags'.

In short, keep the keywords as they are in a non-hierarchical form as they come in from external websites, but combine the folder hierarchy and user-defined tags into a unified user interface of hierarchical tags in a column on the left.
  • If you want hierarchical tags, you can just use collections — as you say, they're the same thing. You can use recursive collections mode or create advanced/saved searches with "Search subcollections" and/or nesting to do some of the searches you describe.

    You can also temporarily hide automatic tags in the tag selector by deselecting them from the tag selector menu (though I agree that better ways to separate or distinguish tags of different kinds might be beneficial).
  • Thank you for the quick reply! I will use recursive collections, I had no idea about that hidden menu.

    Zotero is a great product (I wouldn't be writing this if I weren't committed to it!), but I still think the functionality might be improved with a tag hierarchy. Tag hierarchies allow users to quickly associate a file with many tags by typing, which is far less time consuming than opening up a series of nested collections and then manually dragging and dropping a file into a collection. Its also simpler and more versatile: users can then interact with the UI as non-hierarchical tags or as hierarchical tags (as would be my preference) or even continue to use them as hierarchical collections (i.e. adding references by drag and drop only) as they wish. Further, you already have the search function built in for tags but less so for collections.

    At present, it is almost as though collections are just a less functional version of tags, but with the one advantage of visually displaying a hierarchy. Do you really need both?

    I suggest this largely because I think there is good cost/benefit to this solution -- it is primarily a conceptual change in the UI that would provide significant improvement without requiring very much additional coding.

    All of the above is with the caveat that I still think keywords are a different thing altogether. Happy to explain the idea more if there is interest. Look forward to your thoughts/criticism -- thanks again for considering it at all!
  • Tags, hierarchical collections and saved searches are all great tools, but a process that would allow us to reference the same branch of the collection tree from different places (like a symbolic link) would multiply the value of Zotero enormously ...
  • Never thought of this idea, but that would be really cool indeed!
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