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Outline (by Gorillized) and Notebooks (by Alfons Schmid)

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Posted by Jeffery Smith
Mar 7, 2017 at 11:43 PM


My first choice for random notes pre-computer was medium-sized note cards. Learned how to use those in 6th grade, and that paradigm has stuck in my head. By 1984, Tornado Notes (later, the first version of Info Select for MS DOS). I didn’t like later versions of InfoSelect, and switched to the MS DOS version of askSam. I liked that until it went to Windows.

If there is a recurring theme here, it is that I like initial versions of things and grow to dislike later “improvements” of them. Loved Nota Bene and XyWrite for MS DOS, but like the Windows of Nota Bene (still evolving).

I think that Tinderbox seems more notecard-like, while Evernote is great for grabbing articles from the web. My initial impressions of Tinderbox is that it is best to keep notes short. Then make agents to gather them. The invertebrate zoology issue is that it is an enormous field of study that has a fossil history that is yet another giant field. Evolution is also a large part of it. I do seem emergent patterns coming out of it, but maybe not with all of the joined topic maps with strings holding them together. Ability to switch from Tinderbox to another note base seems to be NOT an issue…I can export the notes to something else.

The one program that I thought might work for me that hasn’t is VooDoo Pad. And, after Flying Meat sold it to Plausible Labs, it appears to be no longer in active development.


Posted by Stephen Zeoli
Mar 7, 2017 at 11:55 PM


Thank you, Hugh, for the plug about my video tutorials about Tinderbox. They just skim the surface of what you can do with your notes in Tinderbox, but I hope they are useful.

I’m with Hugh on the fact that Tinderbox is not my choice for note management. Putting all your information in one database isn’t practical and Tindberbox does not have a cross-database search function. But Tinderbox is an excellent way to capture notes quickly, particularly in a meeting or workshop, because you can write your notes in Map view as the title of the Tbx note (i.e. not in the actual notes section), and when you hit enter you’re instantly in the mode of taking a new note. Note titles can be pretty long. If you’ve done some preliminary set up of the Map view—such as creating adornments for agenda items and agents for attendees—you can easily organize your notes as you go along. You can mark notes that need follow-up or whatever. You can then either manage follow up in Tinderbox or export all the meeting notes into Scrivener or some other format for generating a report.

Tinderbox is also great for planning or plotting a piece of writing. And, as Hugh wrote, it is a great aid for coaxing meaning from your information.

However, I notice that you, Jeffrey, seem to like apps with a notebook metaphor. If that is the case, I’d also suggest check out Curio, especially since you don’t need an iOS counterpart. It’s in continuous development and keeps getting better.

Anyway, that’s all just my two cents worth.



Posted by Jeffery Smith
Mar 8, 2017 at 12:20 AM


Hi Stephen,

I’m also a fan of your videos on Vimeo. In fact, they are what prompted me to renew my commitment to tackling Tinderbox. The overviews posted by dominiquerenauld are also inspiring, but move too quickly to follow as tutorials. I am hoping that you will continue your lessons on Vimeo. They have proven to be more useful to me than poring over the documentation or getting started guide.



Posted by MadaboutDana
Mar 8, 2017 at 12:34 PM


Ah, as many of us have lamented before, would that good old Blackwell Idealist were still available… now that really was the ultimate information manager…

We actually ran our business on it for several years. Idealist was so powerful and the scripting language was so flexible that with a bit of ingenuity, you could emulate a relational database. Data was, of course, duplicated, but it didn’t matter because (a) Idealist was optimised for large quantities of textual data in any case and (b) it was very, very easy to zero in on exactly the records you needed. In fact, its enormously flexible format meant you could change master records (e.g. clients’ company names, addresses, contacts etc.) in a way that can be problematic in a relational database.

But Idealist really excelled as an information tracking/structuring system. Ah well.


Posted by MadaboutDana
Mar 8, 2017 at 12:36 PM


Those nostalgic for Idealist might want to check out Qercus, which is still under development:



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