Tinderbox Forum

Collaboration on a project using TBX


I would like to use a tinderbox file/project to collaborate with a co-worker. We would both be editing notes. Can I do that using dropbox or would this corrupt the file?
Otherwise, is there a way we both work in our own copy and that we merge/compare the files afterwards?


JP Bogers

You can share a Tinderbox file on Dropbox without problems as long as only one person has the file open at the same time. You’ll need to agree on a protocol that A opens / B closes, then A closes / B opens. We’ve shared files and found corruption when A and B opens at the same time – even if no editing is occurring, just having the file open can cause problems. Make sure when A or B closes the file they wait a while for the Dropbox sync process to complete on both machines. Finally, close the file when you have an internet connection – not essential but helps ensure the Dropbox sync finishes.

Concur. during recent studies, I ‘shared’ with myself across 3 Macs with the files in Dropbox. But, Tinderbox was never intended for multiple access. so as @PaulWalters says you do need to be careful to close a TBX doc when not in use to avoid unintended multiple access. Also, I don’t believe deliberate multi-user access is anywhere on the roadmap (at present!) in case that matters.

Thank you Mark and Paul.
Is there a way that I can compare tbx files and merge somehow?
Is it me or do you also experience an increase in software crashes in Tinderbox. I used the program previously without problems, now it has crashed on me more than 5 times in the last 48h…


You could try BeyondCompare or similar to merge files but only do it on copies so you don’t damage originals. It is not likely to be 100% successful or even some small fraction of that. Merging bits of disparate XML does not necessarily preserve structure.

As Mark wrote, Tinderbox’s design is not intended for dual user collaboration.

Wouldn’t it be simpler to trade the file back and forth?

I rarely have a crash. Cannot recall one in a year or more. Have you reinstalled and rebooted? The forum cannot diagnose crashes. Send the crash logs to Eastgate support. In a particular document seems to be the culprit, send it to.

I strongly commend the last reply above. Whilst you may choose to try and merge the XML on a routine basis as a form of sharing I think it’s asking for trouble. With care, serially sharing a TBX stored in a cloud location is possible though note this doesn’t require file merges, just discipline over ensuring only one user works on the file at a time.

If that seems onerous, bear in mind that you’re choosing a style of work for which the app was never designed, so some extra effort is to be expected.

To endorse the responses from @mwra and @PaulWalters: there is no problem having different people work on a TBX file in sequence, as long as it genuinely is “in sequence.” One person opens it, works on it, saves it, and closes it. Then the next person does the same. (Allowing for inevitable minor delay in Dropbox updates etc.)

But there are serious problems if the same file is open in two places at once, even if one of the instances does not involve any changes and is in “view only” mode. There’s enough background auto-save, update, and maintenance work going on in TBX that you just can’t have the same file open in two places at the same time.

If you stick to old-fashioned “one user at a time” discipline, and wait for the online stored version of the file to sync and update, all will be well.

If I were to do this, I would make a folder for each person, and move the file to the folder of whichever person is accessing it.


Two observations:

1: For collaborations where, on the whole, it’s not terribly likely that you’ll step on each others’ toes, one simple rule suffices: Copy the document to your desktop, edit it, them copy it back to Dropbox. If both of you do change the document, whoever changed it last will win.

2: For collaborations where it’s likely that two or more people will want to edit at the same time, use a version control tool like Git or Subversion. Tinderbox works nicely with version control, and you’ll often be able seamlessly to reconcile situations where several people are working on different parts of the document at the same time.



I really like the idea of the version control. Where can I find info on this?

I have to confess that some of the solutions (copying back and forth etc…) really made me feel young again… With the way people work in 2018 I really think Eastgate should think about multi-user access (and an ios app…). I love your product but this is not really future-proof.