Tinderbox Forum

Definitive Guide to Exporting OPML, MD etc

So the learning curve was too much for me. I was spending more time learning Tinderbox and in spite of so many guides and videos, I just couldn’t remember or I keep forgetting how exporting works.

I work in numerous apps and want complete interoperability so I can work on my iPad/phone.

So this is a desperate attempt once more! If you can make exporting notes from Tinderbox a child’s play?

Complexity makes one think, but not having spent 10 years with Tinderbox, places me at a significant disadvantage on using this wonderful tool.

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What does that actually mean? Normally, on being un-picked, it implies quite user-specific choices. This is because different users work more heavily with different parts of the app. In addition, they work with different external apps which may themselves have limitations.

So, I’m guessing you want to export data files to a cloud service but it’s not yet clear which of Tinderbox’s near-400 attributes you need in [other apps] nor what such apps are. It’s also not clear if you are trying to move simple short sentences or complex, styled text.

Be aware that neither OPML nor Markdown are a single, stable standard. OPML-using apps almost always use some additional non-standard extensions. The Markdown environment is similar with a number of different ‘flavours’ build off the core. In either case, you need to check the import/export documentation of the other apps you wish to chose or ‘just’ exporting OPML/Markdown will likely not work as envisaged.

To help us help you, are you happy with the basics of Tinderbox export? In other words, how template files relate to exporting notes. If not, the OPML/MD work above will be harder, and a few moments to absorb the basics will help you with export work.

Also note that Tinderbox doesn’t, by design, ‘sync’ with any particular app(s). By ‘sync’ I mean an intention to have a single, similar, copy available to all users. Saving a TBX to a cloud location lets it be edited from different locations but only by one user at a time (if if that is you, but in different locations).

Tinderbox has powerful export. The challenge is normally figuring out the undocumented non-standard limitations of import into other apps. Importing also offers a number of other methods, but it is not a ‘sync’ and there is no merge method, lest that be assumed.

See more on:

  1. Select (say) File ▸ Export ▸ As Text

  2. Tell Tinderbox whether you want to export everything, or just one section, or one note

  3. Tell Tinderbox what text format you prefer: plain text or RTF or Word or Scrivener II

  4. You’re done.

This seems pretty easy to me?

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Gee! This looks great!

Let me try this and come back :slight_smile:

Thanks, I will read your note carefully soon :slight_smile:

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Why are the export options greyed out! Please see image below.

Screenshot 2022-05-20 at 8.59.51 PM

I need an OPML export. So I can work on my ios devices outlining or mind-mapping apps when I am away from my desktop. Can you tell me how to do an OPML export?

Everything looks greek and Latin to me! This documentation is not created thinking about the reader but created to facilitate the learning of the creator. :slight_smile:

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The picture shows insufficient contextual information to replicate what is shown. My hunch is that you don’t have focus in the view pane and have an exportable item selected.

I feel that is untrue, and unnecessarily insulting. All the information is in the linked documents. aTbRef is deliberately not a ‘how-to’, if you don’t understand what OPML is and how it work read up on it online before trying to use it; otherwise read the linked articles.

If you just came here to be rude to fellow users trying to help, I’ll not waste my free time explaining further.


In any case, the fellow who wrote the documentation of which you are complaining is not the creator of Tinderbox (that’s me!) but a volunteer who is trying to help you.

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Feedback is critical for the scientific mind. Just giving honest feedback.

Not going to dare to insult anyone here and abuse the privilege bestowed in being part of the forum.

I am grateful to @mwra for the documentation but thought I should give honest feedback.

This was so darn simple, I got confused by some video tutorial I saw on exporting OPML.

Here is how I would explain to someone - in 3 screenshots.

Although already documented, I’ve further cross-linking the notes on OML Export so be more explicit about the ‘zero-configuration’ method for using OPML and Scrivener OPML export. See here.

For general OPML export, I would urge caution as whilst many apps state they support OPML, they actually use non-standard extensions to OPML (also usually undocumented by that app) on which successful import of OPML nonetheless relies.

This odd situation arises because the OPML spec is fairly sparse as it was designed for fairly minimal plain-text transfer. unlike the data used by many apps employing OPML. As one app reverse engineers another apps data, the customisations creep in unnoticed.

Happily, Tinderbox’s export is very flexible and if default (template) export doesn’t work at the point of next ingest, then Tinderbox’s flexible export code should in most cases be able to address the non-standard customisations. Yes, it is more work for the user but it can help work around inadequacies at the other end of the pipeline in order to get reliable data transfer.

So, the first time you use OPML export with a new app, don’t be surprised if there are glitches at first attempt. My experience is poor attention to detail by many app devs copying other devs’ work rather than working form the spec means ‘OPML’ support is often an aspiration rather than something that ‘just works’ and that some tweaking is required for pain-free transfer of data.

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