Tag Me – a Paragraft update

I really like the tag lozenges in Paragraft.

Their creation began with having an idea of how they might look, how they might be dragged between an ‘available’ to a ‘selected’ bucket, and  how, with a bit of animation, they might neatly re-order themselves after every disruption.

The idea was quickly formed. Then there was the long process of initial implementation followed by the even longer process of debugging and refining the operation of the feature.

What looks great in the mind’s eye can all too easily lose its lustre when it’s realised in pixels and code. But I found that months on I was still enjoying tagging my Paragraft documents. Often, I would idly re-order the tags just to watch them do their little dance as they shuffled themselves into their right places.

But for all that I liked tagging my documents, over time it began to dawn on me that I just wasn’t making use of the tags for finding my documents. The process felt too fiddly. And so I just didn’t use it.

Oh dear.

The problem was that although the process of applying tags to a given document was a delight, the process of selecting tags in order to filter the document list was awkward. Of course, describing the problem like this – a description only available in hindsight – immediately suggests a solution: adapt the process of applying tags to a document to the operation of applying tag filters to the document list.

After a short burst of intense activity, I had a rough but working version of the new approach. And now I found that I was using tag filtering all the time. Applying tag filters and removing them was quick. And fun: I got to do more dragging of those lozenges and more watching them do their little shuffle dance.

This shows all the documents tagged both Paragraft and coding, but excludes any documents tagged v05.

As ever, the rough implementation required plenty of polish to get ready for release. And, along the way, many further developments to the user interface now seemed obvious, such as:

  • an indication of how many filtered documents were being shown
  • a tap or drag on the title of the document list to change what meta-data is shown, i.e. tags, edit date, creation date, or key date
  • an option to flip a tag over to make it exclude rather than include matching items (see the grey tag in the picture)
  • an overhaul of the iPad interface so a tag filtering pane was shown side by side with the document list.

Of course, what people do and don’t like in a user interface varies a lot. And just because I now feel that the first shot at tag filtering was catastrophically clunky, doesn’t mean this iteration will suit everyone. But I think the odds of it suiting more people are definitely on the up.

Paragraft v05 is available now.

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