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Why a Tinderbox page?

Tinderbox is a product close to my heart as I love outliners, having used MindWrite and BrainForest (on Palm and Mac) but wanted more flexibility.

Tinderbox comes so close to my ideal that I won't be writing my own product (despite having a design on the shelf).

However, I thought it deserved a bit more support and feedback. My buying decision was complicated by outdated reviews but not all the things fixed since the reviews are documented.


How to's - important stuff that's not in the manual

Importing other outlines

Given an outline in a text file, indented with spaces or tabs, just drag it into a Tinderbox View.

Warning: this only works if the file is saved with Macintosh line endings (CR only). This sample works (also download an archive if you are worried about the text file losing tabs etc.).

A Chart,Outline or TreeMap view will show the entire imported outline. If you have a Map outline you will only see a textbox for the top level topic, which may lead you to think it has not imported correctly.


MindMapping and Showing items on Map Views

The Map view in TinderBox is the closest thing to the traditional MindMap.However, if you have a straight outline, only items at the top level appear in the Map. What isn't obvious from the manual is that you can put Aliases of items from any level in the outline, into a Map.

Thus, your Outline can reflect one manner of organisation but you can construct Maps of Aliases that show other relationships.

This is a very powerful way to cope with information which stubbornly refuses to fall into a neat hierarchy. In particular, try isolating just a few key relationships in one Map, rather than drowning your thoughts in a sea of links.


Cool things

Navigating around a TreeMap with arrow keys.

Chart views will make users of object-oriented environments feel at home as they are like class diagrams.

(lots more to come as I explore features like Agents).


UI Changes I'd like to see

Note: TinderBox version 2.1 is out - I've briefly been through the following to see what is fixed. If I've missed something please let me know.

Summary dialog when importing would be good - there's not much visible reaction to let you know it's just imported N levels, especially if you are in a Map view. Even a little finished importing alert would be good. I thought it wasn't working.

Move user-added attributes above the System attributes (in the Get Info dialog) to make them more accessible.

Be able to set a default for Link types and Prototypes.

Finder-like ability to add Aliases by dragging with command-option.

Proper Control-clicking feedback - contextual menus currently work on a delay basis like many browsers but should also react immediately to holding down the Control key. Fixed in 2.1.

A better control than the standard popup for selecting Attributes and Prototypes. At the very least, something navigable by keyboard.

Setting Prototype via links is weird, if you remove the link (in Map view) the prototype relationship is still active.



Reviews that helped with my buying decision

Wallks through constructing a To Do system showing the power of Agents to automatically colour as well as retrieve items.

Very enthusiastic about it and from user who's tried many others, April 2002

Impressed with the power. Good comparison vs Inspiration 7 and Mind Map Pro. Keeps saying that Tinderbox Isn't MindMapping Software. (see my hint above for how to get subordinate items on the same map.)

Confused by interface but impressed enough to say they will return..

Review of old 1.1.3 version.