Tinderbox agents have queries. They also have actions. The first culls notes from a project, gathering up those that you want. The second makes changes both small and large to those same gathered notes. This combo makes agents a powerful tool.
I just did something stupid though.
I’ve built up a large TBX file that has entries for each of the books in my library as well as my book logs, various reading notes, subject bibliographies and it’s all cross-linked with teaching files that I keep in DevonThink. There’s a lot going on there.
Well, just back from vacation and apparently still suffering from a serious case of lazy-brain, I opened up the file and started fiddling with an agent that pulls together a extensive cross-section of notes and does a couple basic maintenance actions on them. While doing this, I wanted to look at a set of notes with a shared prototype for a minute and decided just to update the query on this agent rather than making a new one. Because I was there and lazy and, well, it made sense at the time.
The problem is I didn’t didn’t pay attention and updated the agent’s action not the query. That simple mistake turned a benign housekeeping agent into a radical revisionist. By pressing the tab-key to register what I thought was a new query, I set this agent loose to quickly and quietly gather up its huge, cross-section of notes and to change every single one of their prototypes. Worse, I watched it happen and thought: why are all my note’s badges changing like this? When what I’d done finally registered, my heart sank. Having an agent take lots of different things and make them all the same is easy. Having an agent distinguish between notes that are suddenly all the same and to make them different again is–if it is even possible–far beyond my capacities.
Fortunately, I only messed up prototypes. I have a lot of them in this project but not dozens and they aren’t complex. So after fifteen or twenty minutes of donkey work, all my notes’ prototypes are, I think, back to normal. Mostly. (Maybe.) In other words, things could have been much much worse.
Still this deserves a note to self: pay attention when fiddling with existing agents because they are powerful and things can go very very wrong.