Suggestions for a new built-in Zotero PDF reader

Hi there,

I am so excited about your new built-in PDF reader. I have installed a beta version of Zotero, and I am enjoying it already.

I would like to suggest two features, if you haven't planned them yet:

1) Ability to quickly see the overview of the whole document as in Mac's View and PDF Expert;
2) Ability to split the screen horisontally to be able to see references and notes, as in PDF Expert, AND/OR a quick pop up link to the-just-seen-page, as in PDF Expert to quickly travel from the text to references and back, AND/OR another clever way to quickly see references and notes at the end of the document.

I hope it helps. Thank you very much again for introducing a PDF reader.
  • 1) Ability to quickly see the overview of the whole document as in Mac's View and PDF Expert
    Not sure what you mean here.
    a quick pop up link to the-just-seen-page
    Note that, if you click a link within the PDF, you can use Cmd-[ to go back. A more general Back/Forward or jump-back mechanism might happen but isn't yet implemented.
  • Thanks, dstillman!

    By 1) I mean the view of all the thumbnails. Not sure how it's properly called, sorry.
  • You realize you can view thumbnails in the left-hand sidebar?
  • Yes, a do. What I am talking about is a view of thumbnails scattered across the whole screen.

    Anyway, a new smart way of checking the references would be much more useful, yet, I don't know whether it is possible at all. On a more general note, I think research gets creative when it gets non-linear. Being able to jump from one part of the electronic document to another without much thinking would be a blast.
  • @dstillman I think they are referring to a view like the Organize Pages view in Adobe Acrobat. That would be helpful to jump quickly to a specific page (as well as to facilitate rotation of all the landscape pages if that functionality is added).
  • Yes, bwiernik, thank you very much, this is exactly what I was talking about — sorry for a clumsy way of describing it.
  • edited April 8, 2021
    I've got an idea of how one can read an article and see its references at the same time.

    Currently, I open articles in Zotero's pdf reader; then right click on the item, open the folder where the file is stored; open this file with my default pdf reader (which is PDF Expert). I use a large screen, so I am able to put Zotero on the right side and PDF Expert on the left side. I then click Cmd+down to jump on the last page of the document and voilà, I am seeing references.

    So the idea I've got is to introduce a split screen option within Zotero's pdf reader, that would do exactly what I described, but, for instance, in one click (right click on the item in the library, 'open in a split screen'.

    Just an idea.

    On a different note, I am still enjoying Zotero's pdf reader very much. I can clearly see that it increased my productivity. The only problems I see so far are:
    - There are neither underline option, nor drawing tools in the pdf reader;
    - Notes are very slow and make the whole Zotero freeze for some time;
    - It would be helpful to be able to close the 'add note' pop up window that emerges over the Word document when the 'add note' button is pushed (I've tried erasing '{citation}' but it did not help so I had to insert the shortest note into my Word document and then erase the text).

    I hope this feedback is helpful.
  • I have another suggestion related to the Notes.

    It would be cool if a note with references, once copied into a Word document, contained enough metadata to produce the bibliography section. Now, if I insert a note into a Word document containing quotations and references, it is impossible to generate a bibliography section from this only. Let me know if what I am saying is obscure.
  • Another suggestion related to Notes from Annotations — to make the quotes visibly different from the comments.
  • @auster - Inserting a note into Word using the Zotero add-in within Word (as opposed to copy and paste) does retain citations, so you can generate a bibliography (just did that)
  • Oh, indeed, it works. I suppose I did something wrong yesterday, when it didn't. Thanks, bentle!
  • Hi, I have another suggestion for Notes. Maybe it is something completely irrelevant, but I just thought that it would be really cool to be able to somehow see all the notes of each folder, in one window/editor.

    What I have in mind is something similar to the Memo Manager in MAXQDA where you can see all the memos of the project (or some of them).

    This would be incredibly helpful in literature review writing when you first read and annotate files, write notes, and then look at the notes only and write a meta note which is basically your literature review.
  • edited May 6, 2021
    Better still, why not allow multiple virtual assemblies of notes in user-defined orders? Biblioscape had such a system and I guess it is similar to what Scrivener has. Not that different from the existing Collections system if one adds the way to see the whole stack of notes and export.
  • Yeah, that would be nice to have (re sdflewrit783's remark).

    I have another suggestion for the Notes. It happens quite often that after I insert a quote with a citation, I try to put the cursor right after the closing bracket with the mouse, but I simply cannot. Instead, the whole citation gets highlighted/selected, and if I press any key, it gets deleted and replaced by this key.

    What I do is I place a cursor on the preceding line and then move it down with the keyboard's arrows.

    It would be nice to be able to place the cursor after the citation with the mouse.
  • Also it would be more convenient if when I add a quote to the note via 'Add to Note' command, no blank line preceding the quote appeared.
  • I found a bag: when I insert in the note two citations, they are displayed with no space between them, like this: (Author 2009;Author 2018).
  • @auster
    I have another suggestion for the Notes. It happens quite often that after I insert a quote with a citation, I try to put the cursor right after the closing bracket with the mouse, but I simply cannot. Instead, the whole citation gets highlighted/selected, and if I press any key, it gets deleted and replaced by this key.
    Yeah, it is a known problem. A little bit difficult to fix, but we will do it.
    I found a bag: when I insert in the note two citations, they are displayed with no space between them, like this: (Author 2009;Author 2018).
    We will add a space.
  • Thank you so much! I am really enjoying the new notes and reader: the workflow is just amazing!
  • I have another suggestion: it would be cool to be able to turn on and off the copying of the text from the documents to the notes so that the quotes are automatically formatted as block quotes.
  • Sorry for yet another crazy idea — I am just spending a lot of time in Zotero these days writing this big literature review, and new ideas about how to make this process easier come to my mind.

    So, building on my earlier suggestion to have a Note Manager where only notes could be open for review, I am suggesting to introduce tags for quotes — identical to codes in QDA software.

    How much easier it would be to write literature reviews if one could:

    1. Go through the documents and code them with word tags (just like the new reader already allows one to do with colours!)

    2. Retrieve the quotes tagged by the same codes — already with quotation marks and citations (as new Zotero already does when Notes from Annotations are generated!)

    This way, I could read my documents, tag their PDF content with tags, introduce new tags for emerging themes, write new thoughts in standalone notes, then retrieve quotes with citations under selected tags in new notes, come up with more genius ideas, write them right in these new notes, amongst quotes, and voilá — that is basically your literature review. One perhaps just needs to remove some quotes to give more space to one's own text, but keeping the citations, copy-paste to a Word document, in a draft file of the article or book.

    Sorry for the lengthy message. I hope you can understand what I am saying.
  • UPD: I understand that I can already tag highlighted segments. That is already half of what I am talking about.

    The problem is that I do not see how I can retrieve tagged segments.
  • Another suggestion: it would be nice to have a keyboard shortcut for switching between the reader and the library.
  • Another suggestion: it would be cool to be able to highlight a smaller fragment over an already highlighted larger fragment of text.

    Now, only the opposite is possible: to highlight a small fragment first and then to paint over it, which is of course nice.
  • Another suggestion: to be able to 'Add to Note' where the cursor is in the note.

    Now, regardless of where the cursor is, the 'Add to Note' command posts the text at the bottom of the note.
  • Another suggestion: It would be cool if when I click on an already highlighted segment of the text and when the pop-up window for comments appears, to have the cursor already active in the comment zone. It will save one click which is a lot of conscious work when one is focused on the text.

    It would be cool to have a shortcut combination for switching between the reader pane and the database pane, or to be able to open the document in the Zotero PDF reader, but in a separate window — all for the same reason as I stated above.

    Also, it would be nice to be able to change the font colour in the notes, not only highlighting it (thanks for introducing it though!)

    Thanks for all the great improvements to the reader!
  • Another suggestion for the reader.

    While in the horizontal scrolling view (which is awesome!), it would be so nice to be able to jump somehow from the bottom of the page I read to the top of the next page without needing to scroll and adjust the next page manually.

    In PDF Expert, they have a pop-up navigation panel that only becomes visible when one moves the mouse to the left-bottom corner and only if one has previously jumped from one page to another through a hyperlink. Something like this would be nice to move forward here.

    Alternatively, perhaps it could be something analogous to the Cmd [ or ] combination that makes one jump back and forward when one has clicked on an internal hyperlink.

    Could you also introduce shortcuts for going to the first and the last page, please?
  • edited June 30, 2021
    A few sets of ideas below:

    Following-up on the shortcuts idea to move inside the doc @auster
    - enable bookmarking the doc and move from one to another with a button; alternatively, a button "move to the next item" whether it is a note, a highlight or a bookmark. This is directly inspired from okular pdf reader features. Could be left-righ and up-down arrows icons, doubled for jumping from the first and the last.

    Smoothing highlight to note:
    - when highlight is finished, focus on the "add comment" field in the left panel; so it feels also like a note taking. Indeed, some highlighting workflows make you want to take note without having to click again. Comments emerges in your mind during the highlight. (Which is different from "I have a comment in mind and I will click to add a comment button". The latter being a different. In my case happens at the end of a reading section in general, I add note to sum it up or resume)
    - alternatively:
    when text is selected, display an add note icon besides the colors for highlight icons.
    And when you click, you are put in the comment field section. When you are done the text is highlighted and commented. This implies to set a color default If i am correct. Could be yellow or a parameter the user set...

    Highlight to tag
    - similar to above, when text is selected, add a tag icon beside colors icons. When clicked, open the field and put the cursor on editing this field.
    - maybe also implies a default color set

    Find your highlights back using colours criteria:
    "show me only my blue highlights please"
    - display the colors icons on top of the left panel; when click, display the highlights associated to the selected color.
    Usecase has to do with color coding: one color for quick marking during quick first read, another for second read, third color for quotes only, last for reflexive coment. And a last color for personal reformulation. See for example citavi workflow.
    - alternative would be to use tagging, see above.

    Many thanks!
  • Please, consider @tfavre 's great suggestions!

    I would only point out re their 'smoothing highlight to note section' that sometimes you just want to highlight, so their second, alternative, option, would be fantastic. But tfavre is also absolutely right: sometimes commenting is your priority over highlighting.

    And, yes, yes, and yes — displaying the highlights of one colour only (as well as displaying the selected inter-text tags) would be a blast! That would basically bring the QDA software functionality to Zotero, giving the users so much more power for creativity!

  • What a wonderful feature (Apply Annotation Colors) you introduced!

    It would be nice though if one could switch between highlighted annotations and annotations with coloured fonts.

    The reason I am asking for this is that the highlighted annotations make the text a bit too thick and sometimes difficult to perceive quickly, while the text with coloured fonts is easy to grasp.

    It would also be nice to have comments more visible somehow. In its present state, they blur with the quotations.
  • Also, it would be helpful to have the pop-up menu with colours a bit closer to where the cursor ends after it selects a fragment of the text so that the user could save energy on the movement of the mouse.
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