A few weeks ago a question from a new Aperture users came up on the Apple Aperture Support forums. The question - "Is there any way to keep notes for a project as a whole" - sort of like meta data for the whole project. My instant reaction was no but another user posted an idea to use a web journal as a way to keep notes about the project. This is a great idea and I refined it a little bit and posted another response - How about using an aperture book as project notes. This is one of the things I really like about Aperture. No matter how much you use it there is always another way to use it that you may not have thought of. On that note I thought I would share a the book as project notes tip with you.
The first thing that I did was create a custom book layout. This step is not really required but I did it just for the heck of it. The reason it's not required and probably superfluous to most Aperture users is because no matter how much I love Aperture books the one most annoying factor are the things that you can't change or save as a book template. Things like page layouts, fonts, default pages, etc. You can change them - just not from Aperture - you need to edit the semi XML directly. Not a fun thing so I won't dwell on it here but if anyone is interested in how to do anything you want with a book template/layout let me know and I'll post an article sooner or later. So here is what I did.
After creating the custom layout I switched over to layout mode and designed the first cut of a page that I thought would be appropriate to use for notes on the project. I then saved this page layout as a new master page (another thing you can't save directly to your "custom book layout" - It's saved only to the actual book instance that you are currently working on). Next I proceeded to delete all of the default pages generated by Aperture so that only the page that I designed for project notes was in the book. I created this new book in a top level blue folder called "book layouts", this is where I keep all of the books with page layout modifications that I use over and over - in other words the real custom layouts. You can take a look at the example screen shot at the top of the article if you would like to see what I am talking about. Now when you want to have a place to jot down some things related to a project, to-do lists, project ideas, inspiration, shots you still need, client instructions/requests, whatever - you have a great place to do it. All you need to do is open up your book layouts blue folder, right click, duplicate the project notes book, and drag it to the project. I would suggest you may want to investigate this organization technique for page layouts that you reuse for just about any book project as well.
The great thing about this is that you can add as many pages as you need. The other thing to remember is that you can put the book at any level of the Aperture organization hierarchy as you would like. Books are not restricted to living in projects. If you have a really big "project" that is contained in a series of project boxes under a blue folder you can put it at the top level of the blue folder. You can do the same thing with client notes, etc. You get the idea.
I don't know about you but I am constantly writing things down on little pieces of paper, journals, pocket note books, and napkins regarding photography projects. I am hoping this turns out to be a great way of keeping all of those notes consolidated in one place with the actual images. I'll let you know how it goes down the road.