SN 2011fe was the nearest and best-observed type Ia supernova in a generation, and brought previous incomplete datasets into sharp contrast with the detailed new data. In retrospect, documenting spectroscopic behaviors of type Ia supernovae has been more often limited by sparse and incomplete temporal sampling than by consequences of signal-to-noise ratios, telluric features, or small sample sizes. As a result, type Ia supernovae have been primarily studied insofar as parameters discretized by relative epochs and incomplete temporal snapshots near maximum light. Here we discuss a necessary next step toward consistently modeling and directly measuring spectroscopic observables of type Ia supernova spectra. In addition, we analyze current spectroscopic data in the parameter space defined by empirical metrics, which will be relevant even after progenitors are observed and detailed models are refined.