[Better Notes for Zotero] A Knowledge Based Note Manager in Zotero

  • @agam2222
    Hi, you can find the templates you need here: https://github.com/windingwind/zotero-better-notes/issues/85

    1. There are some templates to collect annotations by color from multiple items.

    2. Yes, we can do that. Do you mean you want to collect item annotations with specific tag names?

    3. What do you mean by using "apply to"? The left/right pane is just a place to show the annotations/notes and the template has access to all the data in your Zotero library, thus we can do anything to collect data and insert it into the main note theoretically speaking. Currently, only the main note supports the template function, mainly because I don't know where to put the entrance.
  • edited August 9, 2022
    Hi there,
    I've just downloaded the better-note addon (after having downloaded the excellent pdf-preview). To my view it is very promising I am starting to make tests.

    Previous workflow I was setting up is to use sub-collections as the corresponding chapter structure of my thesis. It is "bootstrappy" but not so bad. Obsidian is also promising to me, especially the use of nested tag, but it still need some clicks, exports, and task-switchs to make it work smoothy on my side. I could use libreoffice but it is already for a more advanced stage of writing... So I decided to try something else from inside zotero. So that is where better-note turns to be interesting to me.

    Meanwhile, I would upvote the 2. feature mentioned above by agam2222. Some times ago I was looking for the ability to use tags with annotations (see https://forums.zotero.org/discussion/94906/future-of-pdf-annotation-tags#latest). That way I could retrieve all my annotations related to "definitionANDparenthood" ; get a list of all definitions of parenthood on the thumb, with references, and having it clickable such way I could find it back within the pdf.

    Still in my workflow wish-list is the ability to auto/macro weekly report of my notes, stores it somewhere and make it searchable. For now I use saved search.

    That was just to share some infos, thank you again and keep up with all the good work!

    PS: If I understood correctly from the linked discussion, then it might be available in some future to find annotations using the advanced search zotero function. So just to mention it may overlaps with your agenda. But no idea of the timeline, priorities etc. so just a mention...
  • edited August 9, 2022
    Thank you very much for the rapid and kind reply.
    Yes that is exactly what I am asking Is it possible to collect item annotations with specific tag names?
    This can be a useful feature as kindly
    also asserted.

    A similar feature existed in Citavi and citavi word add-in pane where you can search for knowledge items (annotations) by their categories (structured tags), and select to insert the items you desire.

    What I am asking for is less complicated: only to to collect all item annotations with specific tag names as you kindly mentioned.

    Thanks again for your great work and support
  • @agam2222 @alflamingo

    The collect annotations by tag/color templates are here:

    The advanced search function @alflamingo mentioned seems to be beyond the scope of this plugin. Users could generate notes with annotations from multiple items and set some custom filters for these annotations. These notes could be used as reports of your library. Notes are searchable.

    Hope that could help.
  • edited August 10, 2022
    Dear hsiangyu_wong,
    Million thanks for the great template. I believe it should be added to the main edit menu of the plug in as it provides an important feature of adding items by tags. Your current "search by a tag template" is already in itself a great addition as it provides the ability to search for annotations' tags in multiple sources and combine them in one note making annotation tags much more useful without being bound to opening each pdf file separately. I believe this a basic part for what @alflamingo and many other users (including myself) have been eager to have: the ability to search for and utilize annotation tags in multiple sources.

    If you allow me, here are some few ideas (I am really sorry for being greedy but I will try to learn programming language to be able to help in future):

    -The Current tag template is really useful to get the annotations with a specific tag from a selected number of sources/pdfs..: but It asks the user to enter "a tag" for every source:

    1- Idea1: Showing source name in tag insertion window:
    The current template is highly useful if the user intends to search for different tags in different sources (one tag per source) but in such cases is it possible to show a part of the name of the source in the question window that asks the user for the tag? This template can be named "Search by a distinct tag per source for multiple sources" or something similar.

    To illustrate:
    please input a tag for source nye2002, soft power

    pleas input a tag for source Waltz1980, war


    This may require modifying the line:
    let tag = prompt("Please input a tag", "")
    to include attachment name or parent source name

    2-Idea2:Inserting "the tag" once:
    Is it possible to have another template "Search by one tag in multiple sources": where the user inserts the tag only once regardless of the number of sources selected? If the user is searching for only one tag "ie: #definition" in multiple resources, the user only needs to enter the tag for one time.

    This may require auto repeating the part containing the line let tag = prompt("Please input a tag", "") as a loop for the number of selected references.

    3- Idea3: search for multiple tags: Is it possible to allow user to enter two or more tags (separated by , or ; ) to search for within the same source: This template can be named "Search by multiple tags for multiple sources" or something similar.
    Another form for implementing this search by multiple tags would be asking the user whether he needs to enter another tag for the same source(or sources) or not?

    4-Idea 4: The ability to choose searching for tags in both annotations and notes : The new template search for tags in annotations only. If user wants to filter notes by tags, this will require using the zotero search function by tags then selecting notes, then inserting them to the better_note note.
    Is it possible to provide similar tag search template(or templates) for notes?
    I will try to change all "annotation" in the code to "notes" but I am not sure if this will work.

    5-idea 5: related to the previous idea, is it possible to provide the user the choice to search for tag in both notes and annotations at the same time? The result would be somehow like:

    Users may take annotations with tags in the pdf, and may some time take notes within pdf or standalone notes with similar tags (ie: # definition, #measurement, #diagnostic, #recommendations, etc..)
    If it is possible to combine all annotations and notes with the same tag/tags, this can help many users to focus more on gathering ideas in annotations and notes.

    The current template itself is really great and can be used to achieve the previous ideas but with some workarounds. I think providing a group of sub-templates to search and insert annotations/notes by tags will really make this add-on indispensable part of note taking using Zotero.

    Thanks again for all your brilliant efforts.
  • edited August 10, 2022
    I can see it is working without bug, congrats!

    As for now I could get results within some-minutes learning and few trial and errors.

    I totally upvote the points made above : i)multiple tags search and addition (point 3) ; ii)add from multiple source (point 2). Not sure what to understand from point 1 and 4 though.

    Other feedbacks:
    - I use a saved search for all my i) standalone notes ; ii) child notes ; iii) standaloneANDchild notes. I made a test from a child-note.
    - partial workaround for multiple source would be to compile a set of notes (that have tagged annotations) in another new note ; then use the template from here.
    - on another level, there is the alternative to use zotero templates ; make it add "#" suffix for every tag ; export notes to obsidian and make use of their tag system recognition. See a template I proposed couple of time ago for that : https://forums.zotero.org/discussion/97185/basic-template-for-tagged-highlights-when-creating-a-child-note-from-annotation#latest. Of course It miss the point to "keep it inside zotero" but just to mention.

  • @agam2222 @alflamingo
    Yes, definitely we can do all these with templates, as it is programmable.

    For the multiple source, we support that. You could simply select multiple items in the ‘select item’ window by holding shift or ctrl and clicking.

    For the note source(not sure), there are another template type ‘Note’. They works in the same way as ‘Item’ templates.

    I’ll let you know when these templates are ready. Thanks for your suggestions!
  • @hsiangyu_wong
    Thank you very much and eagerly waiting for the templates.
    I spread some comments highlighting the importance of better notes' annotations' tag search and insert template in many other related discussions.
    Best wishes
  • edited August 13, 2022
    Really do not know how to thank you for all great efforts.
    I tried the templates and they worked great after upgrading the better-note add-on (they give error messages without the update, thanks again for your kind notification).

    Entering multiple tags works great. Users should separate tags with commas , , without any spaces before or after the , as this will change the tag (ie: "definition" will be "definition " or " definition" ) and this will return empty results.

    Providing the choice to search for separate tags in multiple sources can be helpful in situations where users know that a specific source is related to specific tags more than other sources.

    As a greedy user, adding a similar template to combine only notes (without annotations) according to tags may complete this group of tag templates. I know zotero advanced search allows searching for tags in notes (item type: notes + tag is ) but being able to combine only notes by tags may be handy for some users.

    Again many thanks for the great effort and brilliant templates.
    I really believe it is important to add these new templates to main built-in templates in better notes and as a basic function in zotero itself. They actually provide a highly required zotero function of externally (without opening one pdf file) searching and combining / collecting /compiling annotations (and notes) by tags.

    And of course all gratitude for the main Zotero developers as without there great efforts and introduction of the leading built-in pdf editor in Zotero 6, all these add-ons would not have been possible.

    Best regards and gratitude

  • @agam2222
    I've added:
    - [Item] collect item-notes by tag seperately
    - [Item] collect item-notes by tag

    to the link above(https://github.com/windingwind/zotero-better-notes/issues/85#issuecomment-1212751592).

    Insert annotations by tag is made to be a default template in the latest version.

    I also added a template for inserting a table into the note editor with specified number of rows and columns. Someone requested this feature before but I cannot recall who.

    In the latest version, templates are allowed to be called outside the workspace tab/window. The rendered template will be copied to the clipboard in both markdown and rich text format.
  • @hsiangyu_wong
    Million thanks for your kind and rapid cooperation and replies.
    All the new features are crucial and add many needed functions. And many thanks for Zotero developers for the great software and potentials.
    Utmost respect and gratitude,
  • Shoutout to you hsiangyu_wong !
    So impressive I couldn't follow with the tests.
    Hopefully I will soon try the new templates and give a proper feedback.
  • Hi, here some update and sharing:

    - it works smoothly on my side, it's great :)
    - I realize that I sometime forget what tags I use for literature reading and writing/memoing. So I don't remember what tag to type in the template. Also, I use '#' as sort of tag-as-I-write syntax in my notes, and as a result I found myself not knowing if I tagged a note with zotero label-tag interface or if I just hashtagged something...
    - As a workaround, I would copy paste a bunch of pre-selected note in obsidian (saved search of all notes and sub-note from last x days). Then enjoy their tag recognition feature to find back what are the ones I want to make us of, and then go back to the better template creation with the specific tags I want to compile or make use of. And create the corresponding tag in zotero if it was only a '#' in my notes.
    - Also, I use zotero templates to add the prefix #hgh/ for all my annotations, so I can make a distinction between my tags-as-I write (straight '#') and what comes from my reading annotations. For that distinction being ready at glance I look in the nested tags "hgh/" from obsidian.
    - So I do make use of obisdian and find value in their feature for my workflow, but most of all for how they manage '#'. I do not use so many 3rd plugins (though I tried a lot of it).
    - Still a work in progress workflow though.
  • edited August 22, 2022
    Thank you so much, @hsiangyu_wong, for this addon!

    And many thanks also to @agam2222, who show me this work!

    Specifically, collect annotations by tag is something really helpful. By the way, i do not understand why Zotero does not include this by default.

    As i see @hsiangyu_wong is open to ideas, i would like to take the liberty to suggest some things. =)

    1.When collecting tags, results comme by item and also items without valid results appears. In my case, who have some thousand notes, this makes the note polluted. If we could have a template which shows only the selected tags and then the valid citations (in this case, there is no need to separate by the title itens, seen that the reference appears at the end of the citation), it will be really really good.

    2. Would it be possible to use boolean operators with tags? For example, i would like to see only annotations with "corruption" AND "democracy" and not annotations with "corruption" but without "democracy".

    One more time, thank you very much. I saw you are asking for help to make documentation (which is really important) and i will be glad to to this in some months. At the time, unfortunately, i'm trying to finish my thesis and cannot do this.

    Best regards
  • Thank you @alflamingo for the sharing!

    Thank you @lisboarocha for the suggestions. I think we can do that with the template.

    I have to maintain 4 Zotero plugin repos, hardly have much time for myself. If someone could help with the template, that would be nice. These would not be too difficult for those familiar with JavaScript coding.
  • I have no skill in Javascript though I could try some template edition when possible.

    Meanwhile, I could invite you to take a look at the following workflow. It might behave such as responding to the needs mentioned at point 2. by @lisboarocha but probably come with too much complications:

    - It implies using the search by tag feature in obsidian
    - It might also implies a pre-selection of your note in zotero with advanced search before exporting.
    - And most important, you may need to 1) edit zotero templates as described ; 2) re-create yours notes from your annotations so the updated template add a suffix for your tag, so that obsidian will recognize after importing your note. Core reason is the workflow needs '#' to work, and I don't think you could add this retroactively from zotero.
  • Thank you both, @hsiangyu_wong and @alflamingo.

    I'm trying to find someone who codes on JavaScript to help and I'll take a look with care on the workflow.

    I hope come back with good news.
  • @lisboarocha
    This doc describes how to create a template: https://github.com/windingwind/zotero-better-notes/blob/master/TemplateDoc.md

    There are also some examples here:

    Let me know if you have any difficulties. Good luck!
  • Hi there, this add on looks very, very promising, but I simply cannot understand the instructions as they are. I have been trying for almost an hour to no avail, I do not know if it is only me? Are there other instrctions / videos? Thanks in advance
  • @enrique.eguren
    Hi, here's the documentation in Chinese(translate to English with the top-right button): https://zotero.yuque.com/books/share/f3fe159f-956c-4f10-ade3-c87559cacb60/biigg4

    We'll provide an official EN version of the document in the future.

    Here's a video showing how to use it(in Chinese as well, recorded in an online meeting about this plugin): 【start from 1:07:07】 https://www.bilibili.com/video/BV1Cv4y1M7BY?share_source=copy_web&t=4027
  • Hello @hsiangyu_wong,

    Add-in seems very promising- thank you! I'm struggling to use the network graph feature. All I'd like to do is graph nodes for each of my documents with links representing references to each other. How can I create links on the network graph to existing nodes?
  • Hi, @nha4601 . Currently, the graph(mind map) is read-only. Sorry, I don't have much time to improve this part, though an editable graph is planned a long time ago.

    I'm not very sure what the graph should be like and what's the core function. Few threads mention the graph and I doubt if most users really need it. Welcome any suggestions!

    By the way, would a note-level graph be useful, or should I focus on the graph inside a note?
  • Hi @hsiangyu_wong, thank you very much for your excellent work! BetterNotes is very useful!

    I know a bit of javascript and have managed to adapt some templates to my needs. However, I can't understand if it is possible to have a template like this: after selecting documents and tags (as in the "[Item] collect annotations by tag" template) I would like to show the list of annotations sorted first by tag and then by item (not vice versa as in "[Item] collect annotations by tag" template).
    For instance,


    Item 01

    Annotations A

    Annotations B

    Item 02

    Annotations C

    Annotations D


    Item 01

    Annotations E

    Annotations F

    Item 02

    Annotations G

    Do you think it is feasible? Could you give me a suggestion on how to make the template?
    Thanks in advance!
  • @dany111


    The Item template has 3 stages, see https://github.com/windingwind/zotero-better-notes/blob/master/TemplateDoc.md#stages

    You could do the scan of item attachments and output in the desired format similar to other templates in either the beforeloop or afterloop stage.
  • Hello @hsiangyu_wong and @dany111
    Hope you are doing well
    If it is possible to add the template that dany111 suggested that will be great
    (This will be much more like exporting the category system in Citavi which is one of the main points of strengths of that software)
    Thanks again for all your great efforts
  • @agam2222

    Please post an issue on Github and we could have further discussions there.
  • @enrique.eguren
    We'll provide an official EN version of the document in the future.
    Glad to announce that we have it now! The EN version of the documentation is here: https://github.com/windingwind/zotero-better-notes/wiki

    It is synced from the CN doc on Yuque platform(https://zotero.yuque.com/staff-gkhviy/better-notes/biigg4) with a python script and translated to EN using NiuTrans API.

    Thank you all!
  • Dear BetterNotes users,

    The new alpha version 1.0.0 of this plugin is under test. See what's new and leave feedback here: https://github.com/windingwind/zotero-better-notes/issues/345
  • When referencing the note, it would be beneficial to incorporate the citation key created by Better BibTeX. Doing so would streamline the process of transferring the notes to writing platforms like Overleaf or Word. While the current method of providing a link to the cited paper is useful, integrating both features would enhance the overall utility.

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