← Back to team overview

zim-wiki team mailing list archive

Re: Zim alternatives?


I really liked Zim after trying about 20 alternative databases etc. in a
weary search over 5 years to support my PhD and planned books. It was a bg
disappointment to have to drop Zim as it was definitely the best in so many
I have now devised a system by myself of just using text documents. Not
ideal but workable.

What stopped me going with Zim was Tags which for me needed more power.
This was the main function I was looking for all along.
I have a set of Tags on Zotero for my main bibliog, but only about 30
because like all other systems the Tags pane displayed is small so cannot
display many at once.
That means my Tags categories are quite crude. I can assign LANG for
linguistic theory but not select further on English Latin French Spanish
German because there are too many other main categories of Tags I need.
Ditto I can assign MSS for Manuscript but not a specific MS from a list of
6 of them.
I hope that's clear. I wanted a fine grained system where my Tags could be
much more specific.
With only 30 Tags on Zotero my searches throw up a long list of items on
each one, or even on a combination of 3 or 4. That idn;t too bad working my
bibliog which is only about 1,000 publications. I'm familiar with them so
can search an approximate list on Zoetero's 30 Tags, getting about 50 -100
results. I can then recognise the ones I need.
But quotes and notes units of data run to way more than 1.000 - more like
5,000 or perhaps 10,000 short units. 30 Tag categories is not enough to
manage them.

In theory Zotero - Zim and many others can hold a whole mass of Tags. But
that means only a handful show in a Tags pane list. Some systems try to
cope by doing word completion like a google search. But to do that you
still have to remember the start of the word!
So when assigning Tags to an item we're thrown back on human memory to
remember all the Tags we have and which ones apply to this item. No one can
remember more than about 30 Tags/ keywords without help. In fact I find I
miss one even on a list of Zotero's 30. When I later do a Tag search I find
something missing in the results I know ought to be there. I can correct
it, add the missing Tag as this is only 1,000 entries. With 3,000 or more
... no.

A longer list Tags need to be right in front of you, tickbox selection, in
columns, organised in categories..
That way when setting up an entry in the system, I put in its title, date,
and the quote or note in the body. Then one click open the Tags screen and
carefully select all the Tags that apply.
Then when searching for all quotes and notes which fit a concept I can get
much more specific results. between 10 and 100 out of 3,000.

Best wishes anyway - my manual system usng text docs is not bad and has the
merit it will survive well which is a consideration for national heritage