63 Quickfields

63.1 Summary

Quickfields are a special kind of flag for factors and links. They are a refinement of flags for when you have a set of categories which is mutually exclusive.

You can add information about one or more dimensions using a format like this:

Crops improved / time:before

Crops improved / time:after

A field (in this case, a field called time) will then be created in the factors table which you can then use for example to filter the maps, to search, filter and organise the factors, links and mentions tables, and to format the maps.

Example uses:

  • capturing time before/after
  • capturing factors which are explicitly or implicitly attributed to a particular project
  • capturing the valence of a factor e.g. when a subject explicitly says the liked or did not like the fact that they had more work
  • capturing things which apply only, say, to girls or only to boys
  • organising ideas within a hierarchy

You can search for and display this information across all your tables and maps, not separately as they would be if you used ordinary flags like #before and #after, but together.

This feature is automatic and does not need to be switched on with any filter.

Quickfields can be hidden in labels using the hide_quickfields filter. This can provide a kind of zoom.

63.2 Uses

  • to search, filter, and organise the factors, links and mentions tables image-20220124101850661
    • e.g. to summarise all the factors marked as before image-20220124102017772
  • to filter the map to show only factors marked as before . image-20220124102148729
  • to filter the map to exclude factors marked as after.
  • to colour factor backgrounds, borders and/or text, or to scale the factors, according to the value of the quick field time.

If you set numerical values e.g. time:0, time:1, time:2 then the quick field time will be treated as numerical and so in particular continuous formatting for colours will be used e.g. a fade from red to blue.

63.3 Alternative formulations

These are equivalent, you can

Crops improved time:after

Crops improved /time:after (optionally use a / just to separate the fields visually)

or you can use a hanging flag:

Crops improved; time:after (a so-called “hanging flag” which is perhaps a bit more readable and moves the quick field to a lower level of the hierarchy).

63.4 Quickfields are also ordinary flags

Quick field flags are still flags, so you can still also do all the things you would do with flags, for example search for “time:after” as a complete flag just as you would if it did not contain an : sign.

find factors label contains time:after

is equivalent to

find factors time=after

63.5 Syntax

Quickfields must be composed only of letters and numbers, no punctuation or spaces. There must be no gap on either side of the colon (:).

63.6 More than one quick field

You can combine more than one quick field at once:

Crops improved / time:after / valence:2 (the / symbols here are not strictly necessary but improve readability.)

63.7 Permanence

Quickfields become part of the factors table, you can even export them, but the values of the fields are always immediately overwritten if you change the labels. Values of fields derived from labels always take precedence, so there is no point roundtripping a quick field as it will be overwritten according to the labels. (You can always roundtrip other fields in the factors table which are not mentioned in the labels. So you can have a field called, say, valence, which is not mentioned in the factor labels in the form, say, / valence:high).

63.8 Hiding quickfields

Quickfields can be hidden in labels using the hide quickfields filter,

image-20220210163307815

to go from this:

image-20220124103710109

to this:

image-20220124103637546

Slashes and spaces and any leading semicolon will be removed.

63.9 Position in hierarchy

Usually quickfields are put at the end the labels. This makes it easy to find and manipulate the factor labels in the Factor Editor. But quicklinks can appear anywhere in a label and in particular anywhere within a hierarchy:

Anti-discrimination policy / theme:gender; disciplinary rules

Anti-discrimination policy / theme:race; awareness training

This makes particular sense when the lower levels of the hierarchy might differ according to theme. Hierarchy and quickfields are a powerful combination.

63.10 Current limitation

When you use filters which merge factors together (zooming and bundling factors) the values of quickfields for any factors which are lost because they are nested into the higher levels are not available.