Tinderbox Forum

Is there a need for a paid course or a guide on "How to use Tinderbox?"


As far as I know, there is not a single paid course or guide on “How to use Tinderbox” while there are several out there on " How to use scrivener". Some guys here are advanced users like @mwra and @satikusala who have created guides and video tutorials. I feel it is either too complex (jargon) or takes too much time to watch (as videos are not searchable). This thread inspired this topic Definitive Guide to Exporting OPML, MD etc - Q & A - getting started with Tinderbox - Tinderbox Forum

Here is a three-step PDF I created on how to export an OPML file. -

I feel there is a need for like short 90 mins guide on “How to guide on Tinderbox” which equips the user with at least 70% of the key features and it has to be a paid guide with solid cohort-based support and a forum to monitor the user’s journey.

I feel this need as I purchased TB in 2017 and hardly use it to full capacity and still struggle when I come back after months on basic things like export features.

and the course should be a paid one so there is an incentive for the course maker to keep improving his course based on the feedback.

Coming to the point - Could you answer the following?

  1. Is there such a paid guide available?
  2. Do you think there is a need for such a guide?
  3. Do you think new users are onboarding themselves via the native help guide that @eastgate provides in the app itself?

With apps that change continuously, like Tinderbox, this is actually a significant problem. Deep changes, can often occur not a major point releases. this is because change often occurs to solve an issue for a particular user/configuration and only afterwards to further significant benefits to more general use.

Oops, hit Enter by mistake, to be continued …

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So maintaining demos/tutorials is actually extremely costly, even if only in time. The other factor individuals fail to allow for is we don’t all use the app the same way, or even the same sub-set of tools the same way. It might intuitively seem that we should, but actual experience proves quite he opposite when you dig into the detail (usually starting from “I tried you method but it doesn’t work…”)

This problem—material rapidly becoming out-dated—was in part the what has moulded the form of aTbref. It is quite deliberately not a “how to do my first …” resource but rather explains what all the knobs and levers do. Parts are deeper than others reflecting new way different users find to use features in previously unexpected ways. It is a hypertext and the expectation readers will follow links as human indexing HTML is a massive job and auto-indexing is generally sub-par as computers still can’t understand the meaning of text, only spot more common word co-existence.

Tinderbox is a deep tool, in terms of features and possibilities. The number of people with suitable expertise to make the sort of materials asked for is low. Sometimes it’s easier to give away expertise and info for free, without liability, rather than struggle to charge a fee that scales income correctly for the provider. Meanwhile, this forum (and previous incarnations) in the last 20 years, have provided a responsive and friendly location to help new users find their way into things.

None of this means the offering suggested up thread can’t arise. I’m just explaining why it’s quite likely they may not. IOW, it’s not ill will or a lack of expertise, but simply the practicalities. :slight_smile:

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It’s curious that even with the mass of current and historical writing, books, example, forums, etc. etc., on the subject “using Tinderbox”, that there’s a suggestion that yet another entrant in the market would bring clarity not yet provided.

I understand where that comes from, but the problem, just my opinion, is that equipping the user with knowledge of 70% (or 60% or 90%) or the “key features” will never answer the most basic questions for users of software such as Tinderbox: “what are you trying to accomplish with Tinderbox”? “What problem are your trying to solve with Tinderbox?”

It’s no different than equipping the user with knowledge of the inner workings of Excel, or Numbers, or any other complex software. All one ends up with is facts, but no context, and certain no traction on solving the problem(s) that one intended to solve with the software in the first instance.

There are many very adept Tinderbox users here, not naming names but you know the most spectacular examples of recent years, whose early postings in the forum were on the order of “what the $%! does this thing do -– I’m hopelessly lost”, but then over time as others helped them unpack the problem they were looking to do with Tinderbox, and pointers were given to this or that feature or function, that the the skills and knowledge gradually built up to the point where they became experts in their own areas of Tinderboxology. You can see that happening for many folks if you read the history of their postings here.

The point? Explain the problem one wants to solve. Experiment. Start small then build up. Ask more questions. Push back on confusing responses. Keep at it. Success will come.


Yes, I think there’s a need for several!


I will be launching a paid course in July or August. Just have to get through a couple of other projects first.


Now this would be epic


May I offer a perspective, I joined TB community in Dec 20, and like you I was(and still) clueless about how to use TinderBox.

I’ve been used MANY MANY tools before but I am completely (to this day) blown by the community here. I have made more than 50+ posts so far, every single one of them has been replied to in details. The mindset required change from my side to “define” my problem , “align” my expectation regarding what TinderBox can do and not XYZ tool .

Specially thoughts put in by @mwra @satikusala (I apologise for many more whom I’m not remembering)

I agree with others , TB is really deep , and there are many ways to solve a problem , easiest way to upgrade your skillset

  1. Post in form with your current task
  2. Attend the weekly zoom meetups
  3. See the excellent amazing videos by @satikusala. They are legit Godsend.

I definitely do agree things can be easier , I’m still using less than 5% of the App features

Time for my rambling to stop.


Firstly some $Gratitude…

  • Mark Bernstein for creating this program which I have deeply enjoyed learning over many years

  • Mark Anderson for lots of course( but especially for tweaking a file in 2020 which I used to capture fast changing information, outputing same to html for a dispersed group of clinicians dealing with Covid )

  • Michael Becker for recent infectious enthusiasm and code related to creating new notes around terms, acronyms and links which I have incorporated into my daily GTD TBX and which has been very helpful

  • The Meet-up gang - I look forward to watching the Vimeo vids each week and hope to be able to join in someday - it feels like watching familiar friends!

  • This forum … so responsive and respectful to all levels of ability

So thank you…

Secondly an offer and an idea

Despite my first name I remain very much to the left on the spectrum of TBX expertise established by the Mark-Meisters. However, I am not at the beginning either and use TBX daily for my work ( building teams/communicating with teams and trying to keep track of threads of ideas/conversations from myriad meetings and collate same when needed to make arguments for change)

I would be happy to have short zoom meets with anyone starting out in TBX as a way of contributing to this community ( I am on GMT time )

Lastly, I wondered whether the concept of a weekly challenge would be helpful?
ie Build a small file that does the following x,y,z - particularly good solutions could be dissected on the meet-up as a short standing item perhaps and common errors highlighted? And on the forum of course

Best Wishes



I like the “weekly challenge” idea, but maybe a little less frequently, to give folks time to fit the challenge into their schedule. It would be interesting to see how the same problem can be addressed differently -– other than obvious syntactic errors, there’s almost never a right way or wrong way to do anything in Tinderbox.

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Yes! What about a monthly or quarterly challenge - if they are interesting and demanding (which would make them interesting both for those trying to meet them and those studying the offered solutions), many would need a bit of time. But I think it’s a great idea!


I really like the challenge idea, as it also allows for further learning form submissions: there is rarely one right way. Plus it gives us exploratory models for further exploration, i.g. improving efficiency.

If this idea goes ahead, it will also help if people are willing to contribute sets of raw notes upon which to base challenges. My experience of demo making is the best ones start with real data. Making up test data is hard; it’s generally too uniform or too noisy. Using notes (with $Name, $Text and optionally some outline structure) it is also easy to build in some edge cases notes to help explore the challenge.

But, all goo challenges of this type generally start with a dataset of sorts. so, another way people can contribute is to make such sets of starting data. It might even be external files (TXT, RSS, etc.) if the challenge were to related to import and mapping.

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Archive.zip (51.2 KB)
I’ve used Scrivener’s auto name generator to create two columns of names ( double-barrelled surnamed managers and single surname employees) and generated random salaries, age and date columns for the employee and a random company name.

There are 500 entries

The zip has a csv and xls files

Should be useful for practising Importing, adding columns to auto-create prototypes, sorting, query practice selecting subgroups (company x with salaries > x etc… )


Thank you @Markoconnor -– did you have a challenge in mind for using the data?

Ok I’ll have a go

  • Create a tbx file from the data that creates all managers and employees as a built in Person Prototype

  • Add $Attributes that capture age, company, salary inside the Person Prototype

  • Managers and Employees are to have different badges

  • Background outline colour to be different if Age >50

  • Create an Agent that picks out the company with the most employees

  • Create a ‘dashboard’ note that displays the average salary of all employees


I’d definitely be interested in participating in a paid course. However, it would need to be structured thoughtfully that would allow sufficient time for “students” to absorb the information and put the lessons into practice.

I think “homework” would be a a good addition too. However, that would depend on our capacity to find the time to complete the tasks, and yours to mark it and provide feedback!

That’s my tuppence-worth

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Here you go. Challenge accepted.

TBX L - May 2022 Challenge Becker.tbx (1.5 MB)

I can’t wait to see the other approaches that people come up with to address this challenge.

I agree. I am creating a six-week cohort course. Hope to launch something in August. It will include homework, tests, etc.

[admin] I just closed out this thread(Tinderbox Monthly/Quarterly Challenge) at @satikusala’s request so as to avoid unintended thread spilt/drift. As the ideas raised there may be pertinent, I’ve locked the thread rather than removed it.

So, no foul here, we’re all aligned. Just avoiding thread split. :slight_smile:

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@mwra, I think it would be a good idea to create a separate thread dedicated to @Markoconnor May/June challenge; since we are nearing June, maybe we call it the June Challenge. Start with the challenge and the data set provided. Once the new thread is up we can post my response to the challenge.