Allow to create link by drag and drop

Why not implementing a small detail:

drag and drop off a file imports it; drag and drop with holding cmd or ctrl could create a link toward the file instead.

It would be useful for people who want to keep their pdf in separated folders…
  • i second!
    and maybe drag with holding 'shift' to move the file into Zotero (delete from the original place)
  • I'd like something similar for grabbing pdf's off of web-sites. At the moment drag and drop imports them as snapshots. Could we have an option with cmd or ctrl to import them as files.

    Regards, Jon.
  • drag and drop off a file imports it; drag and drop with holding cmd or ctrl could create a link toward the file instead.
    There's a ticket for this.
    I'd like something similar for grabbing pdf's off of web-sites. At the moment drag and drop imports them as snapshots. Could we have an option with cmd or ctrl to import them as files.
    Jon: I addressed that on another thread.
  • I see that this is low-priority on the ticket page. Are there any plans for this feature to be incorporated soon though? It's a minor irritant to open a dialogue box every time you wanna add a link; nevertheless, enabling users to select multiple items, such pdf's or word documents or pictures (anything research-related that you might want to associate with a particular biblio item, e.g.), and drag them into Zotero *without* simply copying them to a Zotero directory would be super-useful. Thx in advance.
  • Being new to Zotero, I'm comparing it to Mendeley-if not iTunes; this discussion seems to be about those with large collections in many appropriately-named folders not being able to automatically import and extract metadata from preexisting folders-that would seem to be a high priority as its the first and only major problem I ran in to; is there a fix planned for this issue or no?
  • Please add the ability to create a link to an existing PDF file by doing drag-and-drop with a modifier key. I know this is a minor issue, but it would be a great convenience to those of us who keep our PDFs in a separate folder hierarchy and just want to link to them instead of copying them into Zotero. I realize there is already a ticket for this that has been around for over 2 years, so consider this a vote for bumping up its priority. Thanks!
  • I second the notion to allow PDFs to imported as linked files that remain in their original folder locations. Thanks!
  • I'd like to see this as well... please prioritize this, for the sake of those who already have a well-maintained directory of PDF files and would like an easy way to link to them.
  • Another vote for either a preference setting or key+drag&drog for having D&D files linked to enable those of us with a well-maintained directory of 2000+ PDF files easily link not store in Zotero. This is possible in Endnote. Its possible in my genealogical program The Master Genealogist. Endnote allows you to set a preference for link vs store. TMG is even better. This program allows you to set a preference for link vs store, and even better they have an option for you to change the link path. My last computer upgrade was a breeze. I just installed the program, set the preference and then set my linked documents path.
  • This would be an incredibly useful feature.
  • edited March 2, 2011
    Another vote - as a new user I was rather surprised this was not standard. I would rather not trust a third party to store my library so putting copies of all my documents into the zotero folders seems to be to be a rather illogical choice when you have the option to create your own storage model and link to the files. Now using the zotero standalone I'd really like to be able to drag tot he interface and create a link as the default behaviour...or at least use a modifier key. Opening a dialog to add linked files one by one is too inefficient.

    So after 3 years of a few vocal minorities voting for a feature ... is there a way to raise the profile/need of this feature or are we just shouting into the wind and most people dont bother with linking to files?
  • have a look at the Zotfile plugin for a link-based solution.

    Otherwise, yes, most people use the built in storage - not least because that allows for file storage to work and thus in the medium term take advantage of some of the more interesting Zotero features. The degree of lock-in is quite limited, too, considering options like virtual folders or the like that exist on all operating systems.

    In terms of priorities, remember this isn't a democracy. There is no "voting". Most of the work is done by the core devs who follow, among other things, grant requirements. The rest is done by volunteers, coding mostly what they're interested in (such as Frank's multilingual and . The only reliable way to get a feature fast is to do it yourself or find someone to code it.
  • edited March 3, 2011
    nm. off topic in a request thread.
  • quite funny… was looking for this feature in the support, and just realized I opened the topic myself 4 years ago!!

    adamsmith, could you please elaborate on the "virtual folders" solution? Is there any way to browse attachments to zotero in a directory tree that would mimick the collection tree? This would be exactly what I am looking for…

    Thank you in advance
  • edited September 12, 2011
    adamsmith, could you please elaborate on the "virtual folders" solution? Is there any way to browse attachments to zotero in a directory tree that would mimick the collection tree? This would be exactly what I am looking for…
    a virtual folder would allow you to have all pdfs in one folder. A virtual folder is the same as a saved search - in this case at the level of the operating system. You perform a search in the Zotero data folder for "*.pdf" (and any other file formats that are relevant for you) and then save the search results - each operating system does that in slightly different ways, but 3mins of google will get you there)
    This doesn't re-create Zotero's collection structure.
    For that, again, have a look at the Zotfile plugin.
  • Yes, I looked at ZotFile, but as far as I understand, you have to create the file structure manually…

    What would be great, would be to have the ability to mount a virtual file system that would automatically display the attachments in a directory tree paralleling the collection tree… Then any change in the collection tree would be automatically updated in the directory tree. I was actually expecting something like this :(
  • Zotfile allows you to auto-place files in subfolders it creates - though apparently not sorted by collection
    check the .subfolder and .subfolderFormat options:

    I don't think it's feasible for Zotero to create a virtual folder structure (which would be necessary for collections as items can be in multiple collections) because virtual folders work differently on each operating system.
  • Oh my god - still no solution to this "problem"?

    I just installed zotero stand-alone. Looks good. I am still very much in favour for zotero because I came to the conclusion that "big" bibliography programs (like Citavi for example) doesn't work out for me that good - they are a bit time-consuming. So I hoped the drag-and-drop thing has changed with the stand-alone version.

    So when you click Shift+Ctrl zotero tells you that it will "link" the file yet it doesn't. All right - uninstall again. Terrible.

    Sorry, I won't give up my folder structure and the research teams I am into won't either.

    for all those looking for alternatives:
    Have a look into Citavi - they do it right. Disadvantages: It is not that portable - if you (like me) use an android tablet you need some workarounds. And it isn't that "accessible" (for me) like zotero could be. Yet - just because of the missing drag and drop of links to files - zotero is alltogether slower in use.

    Just my thoughts...

  • Using closed source solutions that only work on one operating system is foolish. It's the definition of locking-in your data (and no, the ability to export RIS and BibTex doesn't really help). You're not going to do yourself a favor in the long term. But go ahead.
  • Dear adamsmith,

    thanks for evaluating my scientific work flow. But when you declare somethink like that ("foolish") you should argue more precisly.
    I work for about 25 years mostly on one operating system and can't claim that it is in any way unsuccessful.
    Regarding the lock-in argument: I just export everythink and then I can have my whole bibliographic data in another programm, which maybe runs on different systems - so where's the problem? Nowhere!

    Why should I be in need to work on different operating systems?
    Yes, if that helps in having a more effective workflow, it is a good reason. Yet as I described I do have different preferences - e.g. a fast possibility to link to my files.
    It is all about personal workflows - if you do have yours and it works out for you, great!

    I go ahead, you grow up!
  • You came here and recommended a commercial and proprietary product to other Zotero users.

    I'm glad you have a solution that work for you, but I think it's appropriate to warn other users that your recommendation is - yes - foolish.
    If you don't like that, no one forces you to spend time on the forum of a software you're not using.
  • Äh, that's not allowed? I am sorry then I did that.

    As I have described before I am very interested in using zotero. Yet I am also interested that zotero maybe improved by features which might be useful to some users. That's the reason why I spend time on this forum. I haven't just recommended another software. I tried to do constructive critique. And citavi just does have a good implementation of the feature we're talking about in this thread.

    So please read the posts right.
    I have to admit that I may to sound a bit harsh in my first post in this thread yet I was just so disappointed.

    That my be another thread topic yet I am still interested why you insist that this may be foolish? I really don't get it.

    I have been thinking about it a bit:
    Maybe it has something to do that people think with cloudbased solutions they are on the right side. You have the freedom to use your data on different hardware and OS. This may be right.
    Yet you're stuck on the file system of the specific software - even if it is open-source. If you want to use other software with your research literature which maybe useful in research and which do have features zotero doesn't have (e.g. qiqqa, colwiz) you can't do this easily. You depend on the file system of the particular software. That's what I really call data-lock-in. Don't you agree?
  • Let me quickly answer the offtopic and the leave it at that to not get the thread off-track too much:
    1. I think the OS issue really matters. It's not just about you switching to a different OS (though I do think that matters), it's also about potential co-workers. E.g. I use Linux - I can co-author with someone using Zotero or Mendeley - if need be (though that involves a bit more effort) bibtex. Endnote, Quigga, Citavi, Papers2 are all no-goes. Linux is a tiny fraction of the market, of course, but Qiqqa and Citavi don't even support MacOS and that's a pretty substantial, and rapidly growing segment of the market, especially among academics.

    2. The second issue is Word processor integration. Citavi's citation styles and word processor implementation is closed source. Zotero's is not just open source, but developed separate from Zotero and implemented in other software as well - definitely Mendeley, I'm not sure about exactly what Colwiz and Qiqqa do. That means - starting with Zotero 3.0 and current Mendeley - I can co-author with a Mendeley user without even installing Mendeley and I can switch to Mendeley and keep my Word/LibreOffice documents working - because of open standards.

    3. The third issue is export formats. RIS and BibTex are poorly standardized and relatively high-loss formats. (RIS is just a bad format, BibTex is much better but there is no unified standard). That means you will lose information - at times quite a bit - when you transport data that way. If you check Zotero export, it supports multiple content-rich and open export standards - not just it's own RDF, but also MODS, TEI, DublinCore RDF etc. That still not perfect, but makes you much more flexible on export. Citavi has a total of four export formats. That's not tied to open source per se, but tightly connected to the mentality of close vs. open software. Zotero also has it's database in an open database format, allowing e.g. Mendeley to access and locally sync a Zotero database.

    4. Fourth - what happens when they go under? Citavi is a small software maker in what has over the last five years become a highly competitive market with multiple high-quality solutions offered for free. They may do fine, but there's a decent chance they may not. If that happens to Zotero the code is already in the open there are a number of people not associated directly with Zotero who know some parts of it quite well (there is, in fact already a Zotero-fork - though it's a friendly one which will hopefully merge back into Zotero at some point), so chances are it would be possible to keep it going. With Citavi, if the company goes under that is likely it. You can keep using their software for a bit longer until it becomes incompatible with current versions of Word and Windows.

    So yes, there is always some degree of lock-in involved in using software, but using Citavi you're maximizing your lock-in in every possible way.
  • I am thinking about the same thing - a quick way to make links to a lot of pdf files.

    I just dragged 127 of my pdfs in, but I was going to drag them all out again, because the minor two byte character bug that required me to drag them in was fixed in an instant (thank you again Dan Stillman!).

    But then if I have to make a link by hand every time, that would be quite a nuisance. I thought that there would be a quick way but....

    Don't be rude Tim.
  • How would you like it to work from the user interface perspective?

    The problem with dragging and dropping is that at least on Mac, Drag and Drop is either "copy" or "move" or "open", depending on the context. It is never "link". If it was "link" in Zotero, it would be confusing for the users.

    I would rather have some kind of mass import dialog instead, because this is probably something that you would not use that often.
  • @mronkko, yes, that's a good point. I don't use linking, so I don't have a strong option on this.
    Mass import is already possible, though. You can use "Attach Link to file" and then use shift and/or ctrl(cmd) to select multiple files as long as they're in one folder. Designing something faster than that is probably not worth the effort. I'd rather have a drag+key combination that sufficiently obscure (shift+ctr - drag or so) that it would only ever be used on purpose.
  • edited March 10, 2012
    I was also surprised of the missing drag&drop (using a key variant) link feature. The competitors do have this feature, and Zotero, overall, seems much more modern than such competitors.
    As the key variant to use, the Human Software Interface would suggest Alt+drag in the Win world, since Alt+drag in Explorer would create a shortcut link.
    Some applications use also a pop up mini-menu that appears when one drags the file, letting chose what to do. In Zotero such mini-menu could be the same of the sub-menu that already exists with the right click.

    The workaround that I implemented was to make first a file shortcut of the pdf file where the file is located (Alt+drag), and then drag just the file shortcut (which will be stored as attachment) in Zotero. Then one can delete the original file shortcut that was made in the first place.
    Cons: the "rename file from metadata" changes just the file shortcut stored in Zotero, not the real file. And probably no indexing contents available either (if one uses it).
    Pros: If the real file is moved in other folders or it is renamed the link in Zotero will still work, since it autofixes. Not so with the menu driven link feature currently implemented by Zotero, that instead will break.
  • Interesting idea and I did not know that windows links auto fix. One drawback is that, while using windows shortcuts allows the use of ALT drag, but they do not facilitate the retrieval of pdf metadata, whereas Zotero's file links to pdfs do allow the retrieval of file metadata.

    adamsmiths' solution:
    > You can use "Attach Link to file" and then use shift and/or ctrl(cmd) to select multiple files as long as they're in one folder.

    Largely works for for me, thank you Adamsmith.
  • This suggestion makes sense to me. I created a ticket, so you can follow the progress here.
  • @mronkko, many thanks. Looking forward to it
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