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It would be easier to enter "regular" journal names, keywords, etc. with a popup menu showing existing names/abbr. or keyword existing list. In a multiuser environment, people are likely to write Proc. for some and Proceedings for others, to write keywords in singular or plural for the same one, etc.
The popup menu should let the user get an existing entry or type a new one.
This feature would require a table containing the list of journals and keywords and so is not so easy to add.
My 2 cents
Thanks very much for this tool!!!
Nice request. Yes: we have talked a bit about canonical journal names/abbreviations & there are a number of issues.
An easy change we might consider making immediately (and/or which you should be able to do to your installation) is to at least have a drop down for publication and abbreviated publication fields (as we currently do on the search pages). That wouldn't solve the problem of associating the names/abbrevs.
I have no idea how we'd implement the keyword list with the current database structure. I think we'd have to implement a model that is more like tagging (which we've also talked about). And, of course, keeping it usable (easy choice of tags in a single text box, a'la del.icio.us or myprogs.net or others) & featureful (allowing tags with spaces) would be an issue.
Yes, I agree that drop-down menus would ease the manual entry of data.
Originally, I had plans to offer drop-downs for 'Add Record' but problems are that many browsers don't crop the drop-down menu widgets to the specified table cell size (but rather use the width of the longest drop-down item to calculate the width of the 'select' menu widget). This means that the current two-dimensional layout for 'add record' (which I like since it's more visually organized than the long, linear listing of fields in 'Advanced Seach') isn't feasable with drop-downs (I'd be happy to learn that this isn't true, though!).
That said, I would love to merge the positive aspects of 'Advanced Search' (=drop-downs with lists of existing field values) and 'Add record' (=two-dimensional layout of fields for better visual orientation). In my opinion, these pages should look rather similar and offer similar functionality.
Anyhow, you're right in that this topic needs some re-consideration.
Although not really the same, the browser's auto-completion feature can help quite a bit to correctly re-enter previously entered field values. Safari on Mac OSX automatically remembers all entered values individually for each form field and completes them as you type ahead (or offers multiple matching items from a dynamic drop-down). This helps a lot when manually entering data. I'm sure each platform has at least one browser that offers an advanced auto-completion mechanism...
Though the current database structure may not be ideal it's possible to generate lists for fields that contain multiple items (such as 'author', 'keyword' or 'user_keys'). For the 'user_keys' field (in 'Advanced Search' when logged in) we do already extract the user's unique keywords and present them within a drop-down.
Slightly related: Besides public user keys (aka 'tags') we've also thought about a 'browse field values' feature by which you could browse (and search) all your existing field items (or sub-items) such as authors/keywords/publication titles/tags/etc -- kind of a value list browser as is present in commercial packages like Endnote et al. This feature could be combined with the popup window solution described above.
Best regards, Matthias