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1 hour ago, MarcT said:

Very good idea.

Please don't link the footnotes to a specific block of text as in Adobe Indesign.

Footnotes should be free. We must be able to position them anywhere in the document. See @julienkinkin.

Bye.

<pedant> Footnotes are notes at the bottom of the page </pedant>

Hopefully if we get the ability to add Notes we can set up rules regarding the location, Footnotes at the bottom of the page and Endnotes at the end of the Chapter, Section or book. The distinction between Footnotes and Endnotes is very important.


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13 hours ago, Old Bruce said:

Hopefully if we get the ability to add Notes we can set up rules regarding the location, Footnotes at the bottom of the page and Endnotes at the end of the Chapter, Section or book. The distinction between Footnotes and Endnotes is very important.

Yes, indeed we have to be able to differentiate between Footnotes and Endnotes. It's so important. But it's also necessary that these notes can be positioned anywhere in the document to give freedom to the graphic designer. I think this is the best option.

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The way I see it, there are potentially three options:

  1. Footnotes automatically added at the bottom of the same frame where the reference is (e.g. footnotes setting in InDesign)
  2. At the end of the story (endnotes), whether in the same frame or a separate frame
  3. Footnotes in a separate user-selectable frame on each page—or possibly spread—where the footnotes are still on the same page or spread as the footnote reference.

Concerning the third option, I am a little unclear on a good way Publisher could be informed which separate frame to use on a page-by-page basis. Any ideas?

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Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, garrettm30 said:

Concerning the third option, I am a little unclear on a good way Publisher could be informed which separate frame to use on a page-by-page basis. Any ideas?

It should be done as for linked text frames. By having a visual difference (ex: using dotted lines instead of a solid line, as is currently the case for linked text frames) ?

Edited by MarcT

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How about a linked pinned text frame. Pinned to the bottom of the current text frame. This could be containing overflow text so it can continue on the next page. End notes would be put in one text frame, in order, at the end of the story/section/book as per your own preferences.


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47 minutes ago, julienkinkin said:

Actually the script done by Peter Kahrel for Indesign to create SIDENOTES→ https://creativepro.com/files/kahrel/indesign/sidenotes.html is a very good basis, and can give you an idea of how it could work.

It's a bit weird at the usage but it does work, I'm sure that Affinity team will build something way more functionnal ; )

First thing I noticed was the name Bob Bringhurst being involved, if that is Robert Bringhurst then I need read no further. He knows his stuff.


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To be honest, I am not sure whether the kind of dynamically updating notes we are discussing – footnotes, endnotes, margin notes, multi-column footnootes and so on – would work very well on the basis of currently existing page models and page elements such as pinned text frames. Rather, I would imagine that it should be possible to define functional relations between master text frames that would be associated with rules how to fill these frames with content.

The kind of typography we are talking about is usually a highly formalised one. When you decide for a certain type of notes to be added to the main text, you won’t usually change this type throughout your document. Sure, you may have different sorts of notes, for instance, margin notes as well as footnotes. You may also have different reference or numbering systems in the same document. But unless you intend to confuse the reader, you will most probably make sure to keep the chosen layout structure consistent. It’s not like you’re creating an advertising folder for your local supermarket where each spread might be different from the others.

Therefore, I believe we will need the ability to assign a more sophisticated functional structure to our spreads, beyond the way we can already define a master text frame that is intended for automatic text flow. That is to say, there must be an option not only to determine the place where the main text should reside, but also areas where accompanying notes should live.

Structured.png.51b84cb4fbdd9564230c1740722e8f97.png

If we take the example from Peter Kahrel’s script page linked above and apply the present suggestion to this example, we would be able to define the linked blue text frames containing the main story and, in addition, the red margin note frames, probably linked, such that a margin note could extend to the next page, if desired. The red frames would be logically attached to the first frame of the main story pipeline, and the application would take care of the proper placement of the margin notes within the red frames. There could be, for instance, the following alignment options:

  • Align margin notes with respective text anchor (Kahrel’s example)
  • Collect margin notes at the bottom of the page
  • Collect margin notes at the top of the page

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Of course, the system described above only works when the size and the position of the text frames that contain the notes can be made independent from the size of the text frames that contain the main text. So it will only work for margin notes as in the example above. Otherwise we would need a dynamic constraint-based system like in Designer that would determine the size of text frames dependent on the size of other text frames. Hmm. 🙁

(I’ve deleted the last paragraph of my previous post, as it was basically wrong without further qualifications.)

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Well done @A_B_C, I shall think about your ideas and if I can come up with something that furthers them I shall respond. My brain hurts trying to come up with one rule that fits all situations.


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Indeed, it’s pretty difficult. In a way, I would imagine a possible solution could work along the following lines. What if we toyed a little with the concept of a subframe of a text frame? A subframe would be a text frame inside a text frame, something like a column with its own text flow options, separated from the text flow of the main part of the text frame, designed for receiving secondary contents like notes. Please have a look at the following sketch:

Subframes.png.78df36b532b224925d4024667270ef2c.png

Suppose we would like to have margin notes besides our main text. Then there would be a new section on the Text Frame Panel called Subframes. There we could select a layout type, in our case, Margin Notes. But there could also be dedicated footnote layouts, even a Customize … option that would allow us to place our subframes inside your text frames at will. Depending on the selection made in the layout part of the section, we would get different settings or options. In our case, for instance,

  • width (height) and gutter settings for the subframes, 
  • settings concerning the dynamic resizing behavior of the subframes relative to the enclosing text frames (important for footnotes proper: how to balance the main content and the subframe content, cross-spread text flow options for footnotes etc.),
  • the option to select a type of content for the subframe (in our case, margin notes attached to anchors in the main text with certain numbering options),
  • content alignment options for the subframes,
  • etc.

Following this idea, we would overcome the problem with dynamic resizing that dawned on me shortly after I had made my first suggestion. Maybe it would be fruitful to think forward along these lines. 😀

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It might make things easier if the feature is split into three types, side notes, footnotes, and endnotes. Or, perhaps, a general notes feature with sane presets for each type.

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I'm sure the fact that footnotes are hotly desired in the community is now abundantly clear to Serif, so my thinking is that further "we need footnotes" comments won't make much difference in the timing of when we get them. On the other hand, as we talk about implementations, I do hope that our thinking through this together will be of use to Serif when it comes time to implement a particular approach.

And there have been some good ideas mentioned over the weekend. First…

On 4/4/2020 at 9:45 AM, Old Bruce said:

My brain hurts trying to come up with one rule that fits all situations.

I think that is a good observation—not that I know anything about the feeling of Old Bruce's brain, but that this is no small problem. It is easy to say that footnotes should be able to do X, and it should be better than how InDesign does it, etc. It is a good deal harder to conceive of a suitable UX for bringing this about, so I appreciate Old Bruce's comment.

Before going on, I feel like the term "footnote" is not quite the thing, because we are talking also about endnotes, sidenotes, and who knows what. I propose the term "text notes." Perhaps the term will catch on if it has merit, but if not, at least you'll know what I mean throughout this post.

Before we get too complicated, I do think the basic footnotes at the bottom of the frame and endnotes at the end of the story should be available options, and maybe that is where Serif should start in the first iteration. It's the simple approach for those who are less familiar with advanced features of the software, and, frankly, for all of us in those times when that is exactly what we need—a rather frequent scenario, I would think. But when we need more power, I think @A_B_C's suggestion is the right direction for accomplishing this powerful "text notes" system, (and I would 💟  his post more than once if it were possible):

On 4/4/2020 at 3:55 AM, A_B_C said:

I would imagine that it should be possible to define functional relations between master text frames that would be associated with rules how to fill these frames with content.

A separate frame that is tagged with a particular text notes set would be great, and it opens the possibility of multiple groups of text notes in a single story. Imagine, for example, if you could define different sets of text notes (like you can define different Tables of Contents). You could have traditional footnotes at the bottom of the page. Then also endnotes for, say, bibliography references, another text notes set that would be side notes, that would go in its own frame as defined by the master page. The simplicity is that if I name a text notes set as "sidenotes A," then in my master page I create a text frame and somehow tag it as containing the notes of "sidenotes A," then Affinity really only needs to treat it as a separate frame with its own contents. All it has to do is fill the contents as it processes the main story, but otherwise, it is just another text frame that behaves just like a regular text frame.

On 4/4/2020 at 11:28 AM, A_B_C said:

What if we toyed a little with the concept of a subframe of a text frame?

Maybe; but I think this would have limitations as compared to a separate frame semantically tagged for the purpose. For example, what if you wanted the notes to be somewhere outside of the frame, maybe on the facing page of the same spread? If we had the subframe idea, you would need to make one really large frame to expand the whole area, and then it might be hard to achieve the position of the text notes portion relative the story portion, and the possibly large gap between. A separate frame means that the existing paradigm of how frames work would still apply. Text wrap, for example. Also the ability to override the size of the frame as defined in the master page for particular cases where it is needed.

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The ideas from @ABC are interesting. But if you need margin notes and footnotes on the same page, how would it work ?

I'm a bit skeptical about this need to impose a style of notes from the start.

In any case, I think it should have a panel listing all of the notes in the document ... much like the Index panel. This would provide an overview of all the notes. For example :

Page 12 :

  • (1) : Description of note 1
  • (2) : Description of note 2
  • (3) : Description of note 3

Page 15 :

  • (1) : Description of note 1

Page 23 :

  • (1) : Description of note 1
  • (2) : Description of note 2
  • (3) : Description of note 3

By clicking on the page number or on a particular note, the user would be redirected to the page / note in question.

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22 hours ago, garrettm30 said:

… but I think this would have limitations as compared to a separate frame semantically tagged for the purpose. For example, what if you wanted the notes to be somewhere outside of the frame, maybe on the facing page of the same spread?

Indeed, that would be a limitation. However, I felt there were some issues with my initial suggestion of semantically tagged text frames, as you called them. For suppose, we had a spread like this, A and B being the main text frames belonging to a pipeline, a and b the functionally linked (semantically tagged) footnote frames belonging to the parallel pipeline:

Notes.png.491a27fb63d6792f6da88441bd3510c4.png

What would happen, if the author decided that he or she wanted to expand a footnote in a by some sentences? Then (simplifying a bit)

  • either some footnote text would have to flow from frame a to frame b, pushing some footnote text from b to the next spread,
  • or the pink frame a would have to expand and the blue frame A would have to shrink, pushing some main text from B to the next spread.

In the first case, the last footnote number in the main text contained in B could be separated from its target footnote in b. It could point to a footnote on the next spread. In the second case, the last footnote number in the main text originally contained in B could also be separated from the respective footnote in b, as the phrase or sentence this number is attached to could be pushed to the next spread. Neither would work. Rather, we would need some sort of smart balancing that takes the footnote number positions in the main text as well as the sizes of main text frames and the footnote frames into account. The subframe model that came to my mind later seemed to be able to address this balancing need a little more naturally. But it has its limitations too.

Oh, but thank you for your kind words, @garrettm30😀

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15 minutes ago, A_B_C said:

Indeed, that would be a limitation. However, I felt there were some issues with my initial suggestion of semantically tagged text frames, as you called them. For suppose, we had a spread like this, A and B being the main text frames belonging to a pipeline, a and b the functionally linked (semantically tagged) footnote frames belonging to the parallel pipeline:

How I imagined your suggestion was not that a textnote frame would be linked to a particular primary frame. It is rather that a particular frame could be tagged for a particular purpose. Think about how InDesign allows you to tag a frame as being a "Primary Frame." In that case we have defined the role of the frame on a semantic basis. I am imagining other frames could similarly be tagged to have roles such as "footnote_1," "side_notes", or whatever names a user would give to each of his text notes sets. In that case, the different frames tagged in such away would still have the story flow when necessary.

Please consider this mockup for the following discussion:

1147377967_semantictextframes.png.6ae42c9bc6762c8912cb08dcc7669b34.png

In this diagram I have made what are essentially three separate stories in a single spread, and I have indicated how their flow from one frame to another would work. The blue frame would be where the main story would go. In this fictional scenario, I have also defined two different textnotes sets: one which I have named "Sidenotes" and the other "Footnotes" (I could have named them anything at all). Then, I tagged the frames (or rather the stories) as corresponding to those different textnotes.

So that is the setup. Now if I wanted to add a sidenote reference in the text of the primary frame, I would choose whatever the "Insert Textnote" command would be called, and pick the Sidenotes set I created. Affinity would put the sidenote inside the correspondingly tagged frame on that page. If there is overflow, there is no problem, because it could flow into the next frame in the same story.

A slight alternative to tagging frames would be instead to follow the fields paradigm. That is, after I have created a textnotes set, I could make a different frame or set of frames (story) and insert a field that is named to match the textnotes set.

Side question: I thought I read recently in this thread or perhaps somewhere else that we can define primary frames in Publisher, but I can't find it. Is this so?

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On 4/3/2020 at 6:25 PM, Old Bruce said:

How about a linked pinned text frame. Pinned to the bottom of the current text frame. This could be containing overflow text so it can continue on the next page.

Thank you @Old Bruce for your thoughts. I think that pinning text frames (side notes) to the main text is too fragile and is a hack as far as I am concerned. Peter's script does it because this feature doesn't exist in inDesign. I hope that Affinity will be able to come up with a solution that is more maintainable. And hopefully we the community will be able to push Affinity in the right direction.

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One issue concerning flowing sidenotes that I can think of would be how to keep the notes in their relative position horizontally to the body text reference.

I cannot envision a better method than what Peter's script accomplishes...if a goal would mean the relative positioning of notes.

Well, I can think of a method even though under certain circumstances it can seemingly fail: Ventura Publisher's ability to have a paragraph style that has a no-break attribute. One needs to plan their presence via the text frame being wider and an indent on body paragraphs to equal what would otherwise be the main text flow's frame edge. The main issue is the handing of away from spine on l/r pages. At least if I recall.

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3 hours ago, garrettm30 said:

How I imagined your suggestion was not that a textnote frame would be linked to a particular primary frame. It is rather that a particular frame could be tagged for a particular purpose. Think about how InDesign allows you to tag a frame as being a "Primary Frame." In that case we have defined the role of the frame on a semantic basis. I am imagining other frames could similarly be tagged to have roles such as "footnote_1," "side_notes", or whatever names a user would give to each of his text notes sets. In that case, the different frames tagged in such away would still have the story flow when necessary.

Yes, that’s basically what I had in mind. Nonetheless, from a practical point of view, you cannot avoid the need for dynamically changing the size of text frames in many cases. Think of scientific books where footnotes often have an explanatory role in addition to the main text. It’s impossible to give those green frames at the bottom of your diagram the same height on all pages of such books. Rather, there will be the need to balance the heights of the main text frames against the heights of the footnotes frames, even if the contents are separate stories. You can’t work with footnotes frames that have the same height on all pages.

Here are two randomly picked spreads from a book published by Brill. I’ve used your colouring scheme to indicate what would be the primary text story and what would be the footnotes story in this instance:

Brill-Example.thumb.png.ee9c3913c351df0de647463ae1b44019.png

I’m sure you can see what I mean. I admit that my initial idea may work with sidenotes or margin notes (red in your colouring scheme) where the frames could extend all along the long edge of the type area (and therefore have a fixed height), but I still cannot imagine how it would work with footnotes as in the example above. Can you? 🤔

 

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1 hour ago, MikeW said:

One issue concerning flowing sidenotes that I can think of would be how to keep the notes in their relative position horizontally to the body text reference.

Yes, that would require a new definition of paragraph positioning relative to anchor points defined in other frames.

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23 minutes ago, A_B_C said:

Nonetheless, from a practical point of view, you cannot avoid the need for dynamically changing the size of text frames in many cases. Think of scientific books where footnotes often have an explanatory role in addition to the main text. It’s impossible to give those green frames at the bottom of your diagram the same height on all pages of such books. Rather, there will be the need to balance the heights of the main text frames against the heights of the footnotes frames, even if the contents are separate stories. You can’t work with footnotes frames that have the same height on all pages.

I do agree with you there, but that would be a case for the typical implementation where footnotes are automatically put at the bottom of the same frame. I do advocate for that basic and familiar approach no matter what other more powerful approach is adopted. A few posts up I suggested that there could be three potential options, the first two being footnotes and endnotes like we have seen them in other software. The suggestions I have made in the subsequent posts were concerning the third option, to cover different cases where the usual approaches falls short. It is an exciting idea, but I do not mean it should be done instead of the traditional approaches. In fact, I would still likely use the traditional more often if it were there.

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I see. I’m sorry, I misunderstood your intention. You didn’t want to advocate a unified approach. Somehow, I would appreciate if we could find one. But as @Old Bruce already said, it’s difficult. 🤔

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Maybe we should think a little outside the box, or rather, outside the frame, as it were. What if we thought in terms of grids and areas instead of text frames? I imagine there could be a new structural (“logical”) layer in a Publisher document for complex book typography that would define semantically tagged layout areas where the application would dynamically place (linked) text frames according to rules we define. Have a look at the following diagram.

Two-Layers.png.41b5af17da2866506031fc7aeb0349c6.png

In developing a layout template for a book, we would not start with defining primary and secondary text frames for our contents, but we would start with defining semantically tagged layout areas that come with certain rule sets (A). These areas could be of different types. We could define, for instance, shared spaces for body text and footnote text frames in a more or less traditional sense (A, solid turquoise rectangles). On a layout spread (B), at the beginning of a story, we would initially be presented with a text frame there, and the application would dynamically create body text and footnote text frames according to the contents we would paste or import into this initial frame (B, turquoise rectangle frames).

But there could also be tagged areas that are of a different type, but semantically or functionally linked to other frames, such as the solid pink areas indicated in the diagram on level (A). By defining these areas, we could tell the application

  • “See, we want to have our side notes placed here. Whenever there is an anchor of a certain type in our body text frame, create a text frame in the side notes area, and add the side note text which is the target of this anchor to this frame.”

Or we could set a different rule. We could tell the application

  • “See, we want to collect all our side notes in one text frame at the bottom of the page. So when there is an anchor of a certain type in our body text frame, create a single text frame of variable height, aligned to the bottom of the pink area, and add the side note text which is the target of this anchor to this frame. In case there already is such a text frame, simply add the note text to it.”

Let me emphasize that I do not think of the tagged areas in (A) – or of the entire “layer” (A), for that matter – as objects in the current sense of the word “layer.” Like a text frame or a vector shape is currently thought of as a “layer” in a document. The word “layer” has a merely structural (“logical”) meaning here. Sure, there would be a UI for drawing tagged areas of the envisioned kind, but this UI would be much like an UI for drawing a complex grid or creating a set of guidelines.

All in all, I think the current idea would very much reflect the actual way in which typographers develop the layout structure of a complex publication. There are always structural questions to answer. “What kinds of content do we have?” – “Will there be footnotes or endnotes?” – “Do we need margin notes?” – “What about images and illustrations?” – “How can we organise our spreads, depending on the contents we have to care for?” – and so on. The more technical questions, for instance, the question concerning the best layer structure for the document, will almost always come later.

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I find all these ideas very interesting and highly thought provoking. @A_B_C, I must congratulate you on some highly imaginative forward thinking.

But if I can just interject with a thought: of all the different styles of 'notes', I would think that endnotes are the easiest to achieve as it entails placing a single block of 'notes' at a specific place in the document, i.e. end of chapter or end of book. This, from a personal point of view, would satisfy me and probably many other book publishers, so would it be worth Serif progressing this feature to completion prior to all the other different types?

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@A_B_C Points would be awarded to you for that slick graphic if there were points in this forum. I do like it.

I think we are starting to hover around the idea that we need to be able to define some kind of semantic relationship. The exact how is tricky, but I am enjoying all of these ideas.

@Last Chance That is a sensible point. Obviously Serif has to start somewhere, and personally I wouldn't mind their releasing in iterations rather than the full end-goal all at once, if that is how they choose to do it. Even forgetting for a moment all of these proposals for more capable models, between the basic footnotes and basic endnotes, endnotes would seem to me the logical place to start. By implementing that, you would have developed the system for keeping track of references and for printing those references to another location, which would be basic elements of every kind of text note scenario. Unlike endnotes, footnotes in the same frame have the added complication of fitting notes and the main text to the frame and flowing the text appropriately. In that case, there is a catch-22 possibility when a footnote reference is added near the end of the text in a given frame, such as on the last line. Imagine that you want to add a footnote reference to the last line in a frame. Now with the additional space needed for the note, the note and the last line of text with the reference get moved to the next frame in the story. But now that they are moved, the original frame has extra space, and so the layout engine wants to fill it with more text. It must be a tricky situation to solve, and I have seen InDesign trip up on this scenario on occasion.

That is to say, I appreciate the work it will take for Serif, and I could also understand if they choose to release endnotes first. But for the record, I rarely use endnotes. Basic footnotes is what I use the most.

…I lost my way a little bit in all that. The point I meant to make concerning what Last Chance said was that while it would be a reasonable approach to start with endnotes, it is still good to have these ideas out now so that development proceeds along a fashion with the end goal in mind. Otherwise, they risk starting in a direction that makes achieving future goals difficult.

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