One way I often judge a piece of software’s depth is how comprehensive its Preferences or Options menu is, or whatever it’s called in the app you’re using. For instance, DEVONthink and Scrivener have very extensive settings menus to control what those apps do.
When I first tackled Tinderbox, I was surprised at how comparatively sparse the Preferences (doesn’t do much at all and has text directing you to the next item) and Document Settings (does more, but still isn’t all that complex) were. That’s because my litmus test wasn’t suitable for Tinderbox. One concept that took a while to grasp was the fact that you can set the defaults for (many of) the huge number of attributes via the various tabs of the Document Inspector. This for me is Tb’s true “preferences” dialog. I can completely see why it isn’t where it might be in other apps, because the sheer amount of attributes available and the ability to bake your own would make accessing them in a traditional way very cumbersome. It’s so extensive that it needs its own system.
So, the message is – don’t think that Tb doesn’t give you a lot of latitude in making it bend to your will based on what you find in the Preferences and Document Settings dialogs. It’s easily one of the most flexible apps you’ll come across, and coming to grips with setting attributes to your liking is a key component in making it do things your way.
EDIT: One thing I should say is that setting defaults for attributes is a TBX by TBX thing. I shove the vast majority of stuff into one TBX, but if you want to carry over defaults from file to file, it’s simply a matter of making a file you want others based on and copying that, or perhaps setting it up as stationary file as described here.