Right now the main metadata attached to individual notebooks is: URL, author, title, thumbnail, license, publication date, modification date.
This facilitates a view of a collection of notebooks as a bunch of tiles:
But a list view is not really a very useful alternative, showing the same information per notebook with more blank space:
In the preview links matching the Open Graph Protocol / Twitter Cards / etc., Observable notebooks include most of the metadata listed above, plus a “description” field consisting of the first few words in the notebook with all styling stripped away. For example, since this forum uses the same API to construct link previews:
(Aside: The author name is not included in such previews. That seems like a mistake/problem. The Open Graph protocol supports “article:author” as a field, but I don’t know if that field actually gets used e.g. by this forum, facebook, or twitter when constructing previews. If not, the author should perhaps be included in the title field.)
This is usually better than no text description (often notebooks lead with some useful textual context), but also often suboptimal. E.g. in the above a heading and content are smushed together, and the introductory text is intended to be read in context of at least a full paragraph and is a bit incoherent when chopped this way. Other times the first few sentences in a notebook consist of links or disclaimers, or some description of parameters to twiddle with textual description deferred to a bit lower down the page.
I have three requests/ideas here:
(1) Allow the description to be set more explicitly, e.g. taking it from a cell entitled “Abstract” or “Description” which might be located at the bottom of the page.
There is a current workaround which should work but which nobody currently ever does, which is to put the text of the description explicitly into the notebook below the title, but hide it from rendering. I don’t expect this method will get any significant adoption in the community though.
(2) Include the description (either auto-generated or explicitly set) in RSS feeds. Ideally include a longer description in RSS entries (or maybe a separate text content field with the first few paragraphs?) than is used for Open Graph descriptions.
(3) Include a couple sentences of text description in notebook list views on observablehq.com