Occurrences - making new ones

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An occurrence is an item of information about a topic. It is generally made up of a computer file and some additional information like a description, source and author. An occurrence must be part of a topic, but a file (i.e. the same file) can be associated with more than one topic if that is useful.

There are two types of additional information: Notes that you can add in separate .RTF files (Wordpad-type document files) and background dates that Topicscape tracks for you.

Types of occurrences:

Notes you add to occurrences

These are description, author, source and authority.

  • Description is up to 2000 characters of text.
  • Author can be up to 100 characters.
  • Source will be filled in automatically if you save a web page -- it will be the URL -- but you can overwrite it if you wish. The URL will be 'live' - it will open the web page in a browser if you click it. If you're making notes from a book, you might want to record its details in source.
  • Authority lets you record who is responsible for the occurrence, in cases where this is important. So if an occurrence were the text of an international standard, you might put ISO in here.

Background dates

These are dates when the file was created, opened and modified. You can see these but not change them.

You will probably make new occurrences most often by dragging and dropping or by using the Import functions (File | Import). Please refer to Drag-and-drop / Import -- to make topics, occurrences and associations. To make a new one from scratch when you are in the Topic Center, you can press the Insert key or right-click in an empty area and select "Create a new occurrence" from the pop-up menu.

Occurrence flagging

Five colors

Occurrences can be flagged with one of five colors, so that you can assign your own classifications to a color and group occurrences under those classifications. You might assign red to 'urgent', orange to 'in-progress' and green to 'completed', for example, or red to 'released' and blue to 'draft'.

You can adjust the colors, within a limited range, so that they stand out on your screen.

The color is chosen by a radio button at the top of the occurrence Details Panel. It affects the text of the occurrence's entry in the Topic Center's occurrence list, the Hit List and the History List. In the Topic Center, you can select multiple occurrences and apply one color to all selected items.

White remains the default text color for occurrences. If you copy an occurrence with Ctrl+C or Ctrl+X (or menu or button) the color is not copied. You need to make a separate decision about whether it is appropriate to color the occurrence.

When searching you can include color as a criterion. So, if you like, you can choose to include only red and green occurrences in your search.

"Finished with"

If you like to keep old versions of occurrences, but you want to keep them with the latest version for possible future reference, you will find this useful: Occurrences can be flagged as "Finished with" using the checkbox in the occurrence Details Panel. This does three things:

Pushes the occurrence to the bottom of the list of topics in that Topic Center, under a "Finished with" divider. The top of the occurrence list will then be all the current material. If there are no "Finished with" items in that topic, there will be no divider. Makes the text for that occurrence gray both in the Topic Center and in the Hit and History Lists. If an occurrence has a color when you mark it as "Finished with", the color disappears from view but is not forgotten. If later you decide to uncheck the "Finished with" box, the color will be shown again.

Allows you to exclude "Finished with" items from searches if you wish, improving the relevancy of search results.

If an occurrence has a color when you mark it as "Finished with", the color disappears from view but is not forgotten. If you decide to uncheck the "Finished with" box, the color will be shown again.

Paste special

Copy and Paste Special works as well, so even when a part of a document is stored in an occurrence, the full original is immediately accessible if you choose the Windows OLE 'Link' option.

There is a 'How To' article about that in Doing a 'virtual' carve up of a big document in Topicscape.

We have found that MS Word 2007 cannot open a Word 97 file from an OLE object made from that W97 file.

When accepting a drag of files or a folder from Windows, Topicscape does not use the Windows conventions of simultaneously holding the Shift to signify 'move' and Ctrl to signify 'copy'. Instead it asks for your decision on this, providing the additional option 'Link'.

Fileless occurrences

There is another type of occurrence called a "fileless occurrence". Use these to make a quick note in the description of an occurrence -- you can fill in the source, author and so on if you wish, as well. But you do not have to attach this to a file.

To make a fileless occurrence, right-click on any empty part of the Topic Center in which you wish it to appear and select "Create a new occurrence" from the pop-up menu. Provide a name and then click on the Details button to start editing the description.

You can add a file to a fileless occurrence later if you wish -- just click on the "Add file" button.

Making occurrences from Outlook

You can drag Emails, Notes, Tasks, Calendar items and Contacts from Outlook to Topicscape. This will make an occurrence which is a Livelink to the Outlook item (not an .msg file) in Topicscape. This applies to Outlook XP, Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007. Livelink (as we call it) is the method of making shortcuts (URIs) to individual items: A task or a meeting entry say, in Outlook where the shortcut will open that specific item in Outlook. (It works in some other applications as well.)

When Microsoft released Office 2007, they dropped support for external applications wanting, as Livelink does, to use the Outlook protocol. This can be fixed with a registry change that is automated in Topicscape. When you install Topicscape Pro, if it finds Outlook 2007 already installed, it will offer to enable this function. Just reply OK, and the change will done.

If you install Outlook 2007 later, you will have to enable the function from the Tools menu: "Enable Outlook 2007 drag and drop".

You can learn more about this from Microsoft. (Click on "The Outlook protocol no longer works outside Outlook" link on that page.)

Outlook Web Access (OWA)

Topicscape cannot accept items dragged from Outlook Web Access. You will need to drag the item to the desktop first, then drag it into Topicscape.

Outlook Express/Windows Mail emails

You can drag an email straight from an Outlook Express or Windows Mail window to Topicscape and it will save the author, subject and date in the Details Panel for that file. When making the filename, it will use the message subject as usual, but it will also add the date and time as a prefix. This overcomes the problem of emails with the same subject (especially with "Re:" on the front) resulting in files with the same name.

Inter-Topicscape links

Another Topicscape

Dragging and dropping files into Topicscape will work for any type of file (even another Topicscape file -- a 3DT file. The next paragraph describes how to make a general link to another Topicscape. The paragraph after that shows how to link right to a specific topic in another Topicscape.

You can make a simple link to another Topicscape by dragging a Topicscape file (for example, "Reference.3DT") to the currently open Topicscape (say "Work"). This will make an occurrence which, when opened will take you to the Topicscape. In the example, if you had opened the "Work" Topicscape and double-clicked on the occurrence called "Reference", the "Work" Topicscape would disappear and be replaced by the "Reference" Topicscape. Unlike the targeted link described in the next section, which opens at a specific topic, this kind of link would open at whichever topic was current when you last used "Reference".

When you drag the Topicscape (.3DT) file in to make an occurrence, the only option available to you is "Link". In other words you cannot move the 3DT file in or copy it there. This means that if you move the containing Topicscape to another computer, the link will be lost unless you move or copy the target Topicscape as well. This is true of all 'Link' occurrences, but its significance is that there is no alternative with Topicscape occurrences. The reason for this limitation is that the Topicscape file expects to find its occurrence files in the same directory as the 3DT file unless otherwise specified.

Another Topicscape, precision link

You can also make targeted links to another Topicscape (inter-Topicscape links) to open it right where you want it. These will open the target Topicscape with the specified topic as the Current Topic. The link can be used as an occurrence or as a type of shortcut file in Windows, and Topicscape's installer will associate these files (.tpc files) with Topicscape, so that clicking on them will start Topicscape and open that specific one with the desired topic as the Current Topic.

To make these links you have to pass information from one Topicscape to another. This is done using the Pending Tray as follows:

  • Open the target Topicscape (the one you want the link to point to).
  • Find the target topic (the one that is to be the Current Topic when the destination Topicscape is opened by the link). Drag the green dot from that topic to the Pending Tray. The Pending Tray item will show with the usual small cone icon.
  • Using the File menu, open the Topicscape where the link is to be held (the containing Topicscape). The icon of the item in the Pending Tray will have changed to the Topic Link icon.
  • Find the topic in which you wish to place the link.
  • Drag the Topic Link item from the Pending tray and drop it on that topic. If you go into the Topic Centre, you will see the item there as an occurrence.
  • Double click it, and the target Topicscape will open at the target topic.

If you just want a link that functions like this to put on your desktop, in a regular Windows folder or in some other software, please do step 1 above. Then export it using the right-click pop-up menu on the Pending Tray item. You can then put it into other applications that will accept embedded documents and open their associated applications. You can also have shortcuts on your desktop that open frequently referred to Topicscape at exactly the right topic. So your "Main To Do List" Topicscape can be opened at a topic "Today" for example.

Cloned occurrences

An occurrence must be part of a topic, but a file (i.e. the same file) can be an occurrence in more than one topic if that is useful. To make such 'cloned occurrences', select an occurrence or several, use one of the copy controls (say Ctrl+C), then paste it in any topic other than the original. Both will point to the same file. If you actually want a separate copy, you can paste it in the same topic and it will make a physical copy of the file. Then move it to wherever you want that copy via, say, the Pending Tray.

You may wonder what happens if you delete one of those cloned occurrences - will it cause the other one to be deleted? The answer is No. When Topicscape deletes occurrences, it does not delete files. If the cloned occurrences are linked to a file that is in that Topicscape's folder and both are deleted, that file will become a 'stray file' which can be deleted by the Data Repair Wizard or the Delete stray files function (both in the Tools menu | Data checks). If only one occurrence is deleted in the example given, the file will not be flagged as 'stray' because another is still associated with it.

To see if other topics have occurrences linking to the same file, right click the occurrence and select "Properties".

Doesn't work for you?

See if you have a clipboard utility loaded. We use the very useful "Click.to" ourselves, and it captures clipboard actions before Topicscape gets to see them. To clone an occurrence as above, you have to close Click.to.

Occurrence to file link

If the new topic results from dragging a file, files or a folder into Topicscape, you will need to decide how the files that form part of an occurrence are to be treated. They can be copied or moved, or the occurrence can refer to them in their present position -- called a 'link' occurrence.

We recommend using the 'move' option whenever possible. If you use the 'copy' option, there is a significant risk that the two versions of the file will become out of step if you make changes. If you use the 'link' option, that won't be a problem, but when using Windows® Explorer to move or re-organize files, it's easy to forget that a file is referred to by Topicscape.

You cannot drag in a network file if you are using the Personal Editions (Pro, Lite or SE).

Location of files moved or copied into Topicscape

Files under Topicscape's direct control: Say you have a Topicscape called 'Family records' and you add a file called 'Family Tree.doc'. If you took the default option for the location of your Topicscape data during installation, Topicscape will place the file here:

..\<username>\My Topicscapes\Family records\Family Tree.doc

Where the My Topicscapes folder is will depend on your installation. If you installed Topicscape with the option that all users can see your data, the location will be:

..\All Users\Documents\My Topicscapes\Family records\Family Tree.doc

You can move a Topicscape's folder to, for example, your notebook computer, and none of the links to files in that folder will be broken. However, links will be broken unless you have the same file in the same place in your notebook computer.

This is described in more detail in Appendix C: Data storage in Topicscape.



Next: Promoted occurrences

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