I’ve been following this and the related discussions on the forum. In fact, I’ve been following the forum for several weeks now, more or less reading every thread. I’m new to Tinderbox, so I thought my view might be relevant.
I should say that I do not find Tinderbox hard to understand, but I have a programming background and I’ve used a lot of software. Tinderbox most reminds me of HyperCard and I think that is one reason I find it straightforward to grasp.
I agree with those who think there is no proper documentation. If I compare the documentation that existed for HyperCard, particularly of the HyperTalk scripting language, there does not seem to be anything comparable besides atbRef. The fact that the company does not provide that reference seems to me odd. The built-in help seems to me superficial and certainly would not suffice to learn Tinderbox 7–the version with which I started. I have not read the Tinderbox Way, because (a) I’d rather buy the new edition; (b) I’m troubled by the thought that some essential documentation must be purchased. I doubt that it is essential.
Now, that being said, I used (i.e. did all the steps) the built-in Getting Started with Tinderbox tutorial and that was very good. I felt that I had learned all the basics having done that. I also read the tutorial on Actions and Dashboards, which I found helpful too. (I couldn’t bring myself actually to do it, because I have filed too many expense claims in my life already!) Having done those diligently, I felt able to proceed.
In my experience–and this counts against many tutorials–one needs a “real” project to work on to learn some software. Only when you’re trying to solve your own problems, do you have the motivation that produces learning that sticks. So I would agree with those who are reluctant to make the considerable investment required for more tutorials. In my case, I used a limited dataset, and a limited scope project, and worked through it. I did not go for my big project, i.e. the reason I invested in Tinderbox, yet. I am working on two more intermediate projects before I attempt what I think will be a multi-year project.
In doing my first project, I ran into difficulties straightaway, even after consulting atbRef. Here the community on this forum was great, with quick, detailed answers. I would have been reluctant to send my questions to a support team at the company–I guess because they didn’t seem like bugs, but more “how do you do x”–but knowing this community is here is invaluable for Tinderbox.
A few months in, I am now a convert to Tinderbox. It really is a remarkable piece of software, quite unlike anything else of which I’m aware. It is clearly very flexible and powerful. My sense is that the learning curve is steep, then shallow, then steep again. You need to do quite a bit up front to get what Tinderbox is and what the basic constituents of a document are; then you can do quite a bit without significant knowledge of the scripting language; then you’ve really got to get your arms around the (somewhat unusual) scripting language.
As an aside, I have wondered about using Tinderbox for years. Two things put me off. First, for a long time the user interface seemed to me very ugly as if it were port of a Mac System 7 application to OS X. Second, despite scouring the Eastgate website, I really could not divine what it did. The UI is quite a bit better now and I stalled on a big project and decided to take a leap of faith with Tinderbox as the solution.
- I think reference documentation (esp. on scripting) should be provided by you; or perhaps assured by you through atbRef or a successor.
- I think your two built-in examples are good and sufficient for everything bar export (though the expenses topic of the second is somewhat depressing and unrealistic since expenses inevitably go through a Finance-mandated submission process).
- I think your built-in help on export is inadequate. I think you need a built-in example, comparable in detail and scope to the other two (in #2). The closest thing I’ve seen is Brian Crane’s (?) examples on his website. Apart from frustration, this is evidently a great strength of Tinderbox that is hard to understand or harness at present.
For the community:
I have got much from the ambient absorption of information by following threads and the direct help rendered by those who swiftly answer with excellent solutions. Thank you. The two areas where I hope for more are examples of how people use Tinderbox to complete activities; and inter-application workflows to/from Tinderbox especially with mobile devices. Examples of the first are answers to the recent threads “Where do you put your x notes?” and examples of the second are answers like “I use DevonThink To Go synchronised and exported to Tinderbox.”
Thanks again to the community and its recurrent contributors. Without doubt, you made and are making Tinderbox work for me.