Sorting Notes by Date

By default Jot+ Notes does not support sorting notes by a date, but this can be worked around…

Jot+ Notes automatically sorts notes using the note title. Normally notes are sorted in dictionary order, but you can also sort by number, where Jot+ Notes will parse an integer value from the note title to sort with. Finally, notes can be unsorted for the user to manually order them.

A frequent support query relates to sorting notes by date. Unfortunately, this is not as simple as it sounds!

The Problem

Dates can be written in a bewildering array of formats, such as:

  • 10 Dec 2002
  • 2002-12-10
  • December 10, 2002
  • 12/10/2002
  • 10/12/02
  • 12/10
  • 10th December

All of the examples above are common versions of the same date. Non-English month names just add more complexity. Also note that the numeric format 10/12/02 is ambiguous: Where American users see 12 Oct 2002, European users see 10 Dec 2002, and Japanese users see 2 Dec 2010!

While Windows provides a lot of information about date formats which could reduce some of this complexity, that information would be useless if the notefile was opened on another computer with different locale settings (France vs Japan for example).

An Elegant Solution

The solution to this problem, as defined by the International Standards Organisation (ISO) in their standard ISO-8601, is to write dates in a single unambiguous format: YYYY-MM-DD. Example: 10 Dec 2003 should be written 2003-12-10, and 4 Jul 1776 should be written 1776-07-04 (Note the leading zeros in month and day)

Some of the advantages of this format: It is unambiguous regardless of locale; it is language-neutral, so French and Japanese readers will see the same date; it is compact and clear.

One additional advantage of this format, noted by ISO, is that if you sort a set of dates in this format, using a standard alphabetic/dictionary sort, the dates will automatically sort into the correct order! No special date parsing/sorting algorithms are required.

For Jot+ Notes users, date sorting is actually quite simple:

  1. Put dates at the start of the note title, using the YYYY-MM-DD format
  2. In the parent note’s properties, select Sort Order = Title (or Title Reverse)
  3. Your notes will now be sorted by date