Tinderbox Forum

iPad and TBX - near future?

With the release of the latest iPad Pro, there is talk of it competing with speed and power of MacBook Pros. What is the outlook for Tinderbox on iOS?

Obviously none of us here in user-land can speak for Eastgate plans.

But my own guess, having used the program over the past decade and watched it evolve through that time, is that the switch to the iOS platform would be such a significant shift, and so out of scale with the resources available to a company properly proud of its “artisanal software” existence, that it’s not something to expect any time soon.

Of course I wish that an iPad-transportable version of TB were available now. But realistically that does not seem in near- or medium-term prospect.

A major issue is the utter collapse of the software economic of iOS. It’s technically feasible (although some UI challenges are significant), but whether there’s a marketplace is open to question.

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Agenda has adopted the same year-of-updates model that Tinderbox uses, it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out for them (and how they enforce / maintain that model on iOS).

Thanks for your responses. Indeed, the economics of iOS app development is very much up in the air. Some seem to be doing it successfully (Omni Group), while for most (e.g., Ulysses, DevonThink) it’s too early to tell.

I can also understand that it is no trivial matter to undertake the development of an iOS version. Scrivener had a tortuous path before designing and releasing a fantastic iOS version. DevonThink also had a hiccup at first.

The reward for releasing a good app is: keeping up with the ruthless cycle of maintaining each version as both iOS and macOS change annually. It is enough to make even thinking about it exhausting (and, I don’t write code!).

Nevertheless, oh, how tempting it is to dream of the possibility! Perhaps Marzipan will bring a practical approach to the problem.

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I would gladly pay a higher yearly subscription for this. Many iOS apps are moving to a subscription model anyway so you wouldn’t stick out at all.


I prefer not to expect or ask that Tinderbox be ported to iOS. The diversion in time, talent, and treasure would likely erode attention to the macOS base software and we all would lose. I appreciate the long commitment Mark has made and continues to make to Tinderbox – as well as his vast interests outside Tinderbox, which I think also make Tinderbox better.


I would love tinderbox on my iPad, as I no longer use a Mac. But I get that an iOS version would be a drain on resources. That said, I keep checking these forums every few months just in case :slight_smile:

Even a way to view but not modify TBX files would be awesome (though obviously I’d prefer a fully-editable version)

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One of TBX’s advantages (in my eyes) is the open file format. I’d expect that Eastgate can’t suddenly start developing and supporting for multiple platforms, but it’s not inconceivable that another party won’t try their hand at a TBX viewer.

There are different options

  • Subscription model
  • Reducing the price. Dramatically reducing the price would attract many more cusotmers.

It’s probably good to have a barrier to entry. A lower price would mean more users, but also more users who aren’t committed to learning to use the software This could be a tech support nightmare.

A web-based viewer would make sense, as it would catch IOS, Windows, Linux, Amiga, etc.

What would a “viewer” view, is the next question? The outline is similar to lots of applications, but the map, let alone the attribute browser view, or chart, or timeline, would all have their challenges. Not the least of the challenges are containers. And links, etc.

Yep. That’s an issue.
Probably better to connect back to ones home Mac with Screens or the like.

Correcting my own post, everything I hear about Marzipan is that it will enable porting of iOS apps into macOS. That unfortunately is the wrong direction, at least in so far as Tinderbox is concerned.

I have been using the Screens approach. It is tolerable when iPad and Mac are on the same network at home. But, when I try this from work 15 miles away, it is painfully slow. I also worry about security (although I am not expert enough to know whether the concern is warranted).

thinking of the web angle, I wonder if Nate Matias’ Emberlight will get dusted off. Maybe it’s now too old to simply update to current frameworks. Still, having been an erstwhile beta tester and helper with the docs, it seemed an interesting idea.

In short is was a web interface (in PHP?) to a TBX file stored in a Git repository. IRRC it offer much (not all ) of the functionality of Map and Outline views and text notes (now, in Tinderbox v6+ now the text pane). The 'owner ’ of the TBX file could update it in Tinderbox and then (re-publish) the updated doc. Viewers had either read-only, or the opportunity to annotate notes with the annotation being passed back into the underlying TBX. Not full multiple user editing but at least with some 2-way traffic. It did, until shuttered over IP-during-postgrad-study issues, at least offer a way to show Tinderbox data to a wider audience outside the Mac Desktop (e.g. for those working in/with business)


If this could be re-tooled, I would definitely be interested.

I don’t need to edit TBX files on my iPad (or Android phone). But I would like the chance to view them.


I’m occasionally frustrated that I can’t use TB on ios, but I find my macbook air to be more practical in almost every use case.

My biggest frustration was text input, but found Apple Notes saved to a watched folder in TB works perfectly, so there’s no need for third party services. I like that.

Some observations of porting to ios, two great programs have taken a minimalist approach to what is needed:

JMP has an interesting feature that allows users to export a chart as interactive HTML. They also offer a Graph Builder for ios. All the real power is in the desktop app, and ios is primarily for display. Essentially, their ios app is 1/1000th (I love hyperbole, don’t you?) of the desktop app, but has the most requested key feature: the graph view.

I like the DevonThink To Go app, it’s a light version that doesn’t try to replicate full functionality of DevonThink. You’re carrying a couple of folders in your briefcase rather than lugging the full research library.

Not stating that these are the best ideas, but both DTG and JMP took an interesting path by only porting the essentials.

JMP interactive HTML:

JMP graph builder for ios:

DevonThink To Go: