Hi @mwv, you’re of course right. The reason it is that the Technote platform as it exists now was created as a minimum viable product. Could I make an entire technical documentation platform without spending a significant number of story points? The answer is that we could, but it requires some amount of shared effort from users in the beginning to help the system overcome its UX issues and lack of automation. The alternative is that new platforms be over-engineered, delaying their introduction to the rest of DM, but creating a smoother initial experience. Arguably we’ve also, even simultaneously, been accused of this.
And specifically, the reason the date is embedded in metadata YAML is so that value is preserved even when the document is extracted from its Git context (i.e., when archived to Zenodo). But that’s not to say this shouldn’t be automated.
The good news is that I’m highly aware of all these rough UX issues. I think that in Fall 2016 I can justify an epic to work on this. The provisional Fall 2016 epic is DM-5644. You can create tickets in that Epic, but I’d recommend you wait a week or so for me to write a Technote Roadmap post here on Community where I outline what’s in the pipeline for the platform.