Struggling with Tinderbox and a suggestion

(Richard Broom) #123

I understand how you feel. I am fairly new to Tinderbox and have decided on a one step at a time and slower learning process when it comes to Tinderbox. It sounds that, like me, you haven’t got much time to sit down and work through the documentation. Experimentation can be enlightening but also deeply frustrating - especially with a live project.

What would be ideal would be a series of ‘how to’ training videos on something like and I am hoping to make some videos in the future as I discover new ways of using Tinderbox. The problem is, of course, time. I am so busy doing other things, I can never find the time I need to create videos or do many other things that are on my general ‘to do’ list. In a perfect world, I would stop everything I was doing (or trying to do) and concentrate on just learning Tinderbox. That isn’t going to happen!

I see Tinderbox as a valuable tool and it becomes ever more useful to me but it is taking me a long time (and much longer than I thought) to get to grips with it. I’ll probably never master it fully.

My advice would be, stick with it and if you’re stuck, work with others to find a solution. I’m finding it is the best bit of software I have for collecting my thoughts and data.


(Mark Anderson) #124

Don’t give up too easily! As you point out it took you 6-9 months to get proficient with CT.

It would help others here to help you if you gave more of an idea of what you are expecting except ‘better’. I’ve a hunch part of the issue is trying to map your deep expertise with CT onto a another deep problem. From the little I could find online, CT appears be wiki-based (or similar to a wiki). Tinderbox, IME, rather different to wiki in terms of how you write it (I spend a lot of time in Wikipedia & wikis as part of my current PhD). Given the multi-facetted nature of Tinderbox, it isn’t practical to document every outcome. ‘Popularity’ doesn’t help much as after >10yrs helping new users I see little commonality in the outcome of people’s work; it is the methods involved where common activities occur. Learning the latter is the fast way to bootstrapping Tinderbox knowledge.


I found and downloaded the CHM Help file from CT’s website to a PC and I can’t say I’m much the wiser as to where to start with it. This reinforces the notion that he likely underlying problem is as much familiarity with CT and using it as an (unwitting) reference model as it is the organisation of Tinderbox help data. Using [some other app] as a reference model is a regular stumbling block for starters as they try and make Tinderbox work like the app with which they are more familiar rather than work with Tinderbox own design intents.

Anyway, don’t give up. We’re here to help. :grinning:

(Les Sebba) #125

Thank you. You are probably partly correct in that I may be trying to duplicate my CT experience onto TB. However, I am no spring chicken, and over the years have tackled some fairly complicated programs, and become proficient enough to meet my needs. I think TB may be the most complex, but to sound like a broken record, I feel that is not solely due to my old brain slowing down. Thanks for the encouragement. I’ll try to stick with it.

Take a look at this link: I see the CT and TB in a very similar fashion as outlined here:

(Pat Maddox) #126

I’m curious, how do you see it as rather different?

Personally, I absolutely see Tinderbox as a wiki (or at least, one of the ways I see it is as a wiki). It doesn’t have the versioning, but in terms of linking between notes it works the same.

The one thing I see that’s a bit different is how in wiki you might create placeholder links while writing… but even that’s possible in Tinderbox using the “Add footnote as sibling” command – just select some text that you want to link to a new note, run “Add footnote as sibling” and keep editing the current note.

(Mark Anderson) #127

Aha. Reading the article I can see how the comparison is made. I can also see how it can be, quite unintentionally, misleading depending on your frame of reference. Indeed, the author notes re both apps: “No they do not look alike or even behave alike.” The similarity is that you can use metadata (attributes - both built-in and user-added. The difference is how you make links and interact with metadata.

CT uses wiki mark-up in an edit space where both text and metadata are set. TB uses a rich text [sic] text space for a note’s text and links/metadata are handled by other parts of the UI. So, actually quite a different means to a convergent end. Thus CT knowledge doesn’t necessarily help get you traction in TB except you will be used to defining and using attribute values. I also think the network (map) view in CT is different to TB map views which show a single container s a network (though see also the Roadmap and the new view).

TB does have a wiki-like method for adding in-text links to other notes (Quick Links). The method will likely seem familiar to you, but note it is a recent addition to TB so using it won’t necessarily help bootstrap you to understanding other features. TB has two forms of internal link: basic (note-to-note) and text (text-to-note, or text-to-text). Text can also have external (Web) links.

If you haven’t already (I think you have?), do work through the two tutorial PDFs accessed via the health menu. Don’t worry about whether the end result is relevant to your work, but rather concentrate on the individual tasks as these are the building blocks of TB use. Also, do lots of small test files to try new (to you) techniques before you apply them in a larger file to help avoid having too many possible things to figure out when outcomes aren’t as expected. Once you understand the technique you can ditch the files.

(FWIW, I too have been learning new apps for some while - since the late 80s for me. Frankly lots of them were hard - until I got initial traction on how their individual design worked)

(Mark Anderson) #128

@pat, we may be arguing angels on pinheads here. I guess it depends on experience & POV. Wikis date from 1994. Tinderbox draws from Storyspace (still around) which was first shown at HT’87 (but dates back to c.1982). I see some extra hypertextual features in Tinderbox vs a wiki but I don’t think it’s a point to stand on.

Actually, I drew the distinction above because CT is much more similar in method & markup to a ‘normal’ wiki. So both apps may general sets of linked notes but how they do that is subtly different and Tinderbox is not necessary to someone well versed in CT, MediaWiki, and the like. The aim at present is to help @lsebba get some traction in Tinderbox and get comfortable with its slightly different approach.

(Les Sebba) #129

Thanks to everyone for their advice and thoughts. I’ll keep at it.

(Pat Maddox) #130

fair enough, it might be a topic for another thread. I know you’ve done a lot of research on wiki(pedia) so I’m curious to know what you see as the subtle distinctions between TB and wiki