Is there a way to create several links simultaneously?


  1. Is there a way to create several links simultaneously, like from several notes to one or vice versa?
  2. Is there a way to edit several existing links simultaneously, e.g. color and boldness of them?

#1. Yes, use action code. See this list of linking operators and more specifically linkTo() and linkFrom(). If aliases are in context, you’ll want to use their ‘Original’ variants—see linked articles.

#2. An ad hoc selection? No. By a common source or destination? No. By link type (i.e. all links in the whole document using that link type? Yes - see the Links Inspector. Otherwise links are editable singly (via the source note), because their properties are per link (inherited via their link type).

The latter question suggests a ‘visual’ approach, as in a drawing app such as OmniGraffle or Visio. The lines in Tinderbox inhere to a background in hypertext rather than drawing. Thus the properties broadly follow the link type. A line is a link. Dragging a line between two map objects adds a link to the document even if the line is only added for drawing/decorative purpose.

Much of the above describes what you can’t do, though that’s not to be unhelpful. To be more constructive, what is driving the need for these alterations. don’t overlook that link type don’t have to have a visible label, so if visual style is of more use than the link type semantics (i.e. what the link implies) then you can style a series of link type set not to show their label and apply one of those to your links as you make them.

†. Actual (as opposed to calculated or inferred, e.g. outline hierarchy) links in Tinderbox are unidirectional in terms of their creation and use. Hyperbolic view, which is still evolving, does begin to transcend that, albeit using only notes with links. Links between notes are not required in Tinderbox. People with a starting experience with mind maps often over venerate links (or even lines) between notes, not realising that the requirements for lines is a design limit of that technique (though some mind maps have since learned that everything being explicitly linked once does not suit all analyses and allow more choice.

‡. Even if not your expectation, this was for a reason. Eastgate was been involved in hypertext and linking since the 1980s and written some of the most referenced papers in that area.

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You may find this video helpful: Tinderbox Training Video 51- Linking With Tinderbox.

There are about 74+ more here: Mastering Tinderbox: Training Videos (Complete List) - #21 by sre.


Thank you very much for detailed reply! Link type will do for me. I watched many videos of Michael but forgot some details, including this one.
Often I need to create visual representation of different links between concepts with many subdivisions and I didn’t still found more clear way than to represent them with different colors of links. Like on the screenshot. Can you recommend some good books on working with ideas in the context of spatial hypertext? I already read The Tinderbox way.

I saw most of your videos but forgot some details. Should review some. Especially this one! Thank you!

I’m not sure there are books about Spatial Hypertext (SH) as a subject though there are some papers, not least as it is one of the areas of hypertext research that got shaded out by the Web. In truth, in spatial hypertext relations are mainly derived by position or data—link lines are often incidental or resultant upon SH-derived relationships. Also Tinderbox maps aren’t mind maps (which are far less expressive/flexible), in terms of design. Tinderbox’s maps draw from the experience of Storyspace, as well as early SH-like views in Notecards and early SH apps like AQUANET and VIKI.

Your use case seems more a drawing task than one of spatial hypertext, though that isn’t to devalue your task. But, it does show up the fact that Tinderbox maps are not like a drawing tool, i.e it isn’t designed/optimised for drawing pretty layouts, nor for scenarios where multiple links follow the same path.

If you want to visually draw a two way relationship, make a link type has no arrowheads and use that. If you link the same two items with more than one link type, you will need to manually tweak each link’s bezier curve (and possibly link label placement) one by one. move a note and you may have to start over with the links. That’s not a bug, just a reflection of mismatched assumptions about what Map view shows.

Don’t forget, that if you want a drawing of a map, you can Export (Edit menu) a copy of the map. Whilst on the clipboard is it in vector format.So if pasted to a vector editor like Adobe Illustrator or Affinity Designer, you have vector objects that you can tweak to give a pleasing drawing.

I hope that helps and I trust @eastgate will correct me if wrong.

†. Most discussion of spatial hypertext was around description of academic research projects. One such is @easgate’s paper at Hypertext 2011 ‘Can We Talk About Spatial Hypertext?’—if paywalled, see here. Claus Atzenbeck’s group at Hof in Germany are the main team actively studying spatial hypertext at the moment.

‡. The majority of those apps were research projects. Notecards, AQUANET and VIKI are now only known to us via a few academic papers; the software is lost or can no longer be run. Spatial Hypertext research continues, despite a lack of funding. AI took a different path away from reasoning over position/linkage (moving into machine learning, etc.) and the thinner hypertext version of the web squeezed out the richer pre-existing forms. Such changes were less a deliberate rejection of earlier work but more a case of chasing the shinier new things (and research funding helping make that shift).

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BTW, check out @beck’s videos, they’re awesome:

This was probably first videos which I saw about Tinderbox about 1,5 year ago. In my ignorant perception, they are a bit too simple. But I will try to view again. Maybe I missed something…


No, I don’t want that in this case, because it is actually one way relationship. It shows what generates what. So one set of them connected to one thing, another set connected to another thing. Therefore, I need colors to differentiate which set connected to what. And quite often I need to represent that kind of relationship or what follows what in terms of concepts. So I can’t understand how I can do it in true hypertext way i.e. without drawing lines, just by proximity of concepts…

I quite understand - I was just trying to cover different possibilities :slight_smile:

Reading your description, the links have a semantic aspect—i.e. have a meaning. Thus a process constraint is everything has to visual. That’s not criticism, but simply exposing assumptions. IOW, if you can’t see something it has no (apparent) meaning. So, colours stand as a proxy, a substitute, for meaning. A blue note differers from a red note, a circle from a square, a green link from a blue link, etc.

In this scenario, “how should I?” is the wrong question to ask. Better is to ask “within the constraints I have chosen to set, what range of choice exists?”. Within a visual-only constraint, shape colour and badges/flags are the main choices. Note the hidden assumption that there will be enough clearly discernible different colours to match all your needs. A limitation with colour-centric work I’ve encountered is that if colours are too close they don’t work to visually differentiate map item. Don’t overlook the fact that there is often no need to colour everything (i.e. not use default $Color) as such an approach allows important things to stand out more via colour alone.

To confirm, links in Tinderbox are always one-way regardless of their customisation as seen on a map (colour, arrowheads, width, label, etc.). To access a links data you must first select the link’s source note.

Note too that a Map view is just only one of Tinderbox’s views. Sometime’s we can confuse ourselves that a map is the only way to understand out data. Maps are good for early stage discovery. As the size complexity of the document grows, this may work less well—in terms of clarity of presentation/understanding—but this us very dependent on the subject matter and what within it that needs to be ‘seen’. There is no hard and fast rule about these things, which is why looking for the ‘correct’ way to do things can often add confusion. thus I sense your issue in the map you show is not misconfiguration of the document but your methodology perhaps doesn’t allow you the flexibility/breadth of expression that your analysis seeks. This is often a hint that you might want to consider a different approach (again, there is no single ‘right’ answer to the latter). If a drawing/diagram is your goal, it may be you need to explore in Tinderbox but to draw that actual diagram in a drawing tool like Illustrator where you have pixel perfect line placement, etc.

Having lines (links), or not simply isn’t a defining factor of Spatial Hypertext. It’s more a way of differentiating SH from a mind map programs. In terms of relationships, see @eastgate’s ‘Can We Talk About Spatial Hypertext?'. Note that SH is more a conceptual model than a precise fill-in-the-boxes-the-right-way process or technique.

But don’t get hung up on process. Your real challenge is whether there are enough discrete colours to support your current work. If not, you are going to have to modify your process: you can’t make more (useable) colours as you are limited by your brain/eyesight rather than how you define the colours.

As stated further above, the easy way to have different link colours in the map is to set a colour per link link type in the Links Inspector. Or, if you want to set colour per individual link you will need to select the link’s source
note and use the Browse Links palette (or the link’s map ‘i’ button) and set the colour or other settings for that link.

If you need multiple (visible) meanings for a connection between two notes, you will need to use two or more links and you will need to align them manually per link so the discrete link lines/titles are clear.

With regard to notes, you have a lot more than just colour to work with:

  • Borders
  • Patterns / Fills
  • Shadow
  • Flags
  • Captions

See more on these note icon customisations.

Does that help?

†. Some modern mind-mapping apps borrow from other approaches and allow line-less maps, thus blurring conceptual differences.

Quick question. What is your end game? Is it simple visual affordances, or in the end do you want to, search on the relationships, conduct qualitative and quantitative data analysis, write about the relationships? If any of the latter, then you can use action code to pass attribute values back and forth between the linked notes, values that can later ve used for all of the above.

Also, give Mark’s point above, if you a set of conditions that direct your visuals, you could create an attribute whose value automatically does think linking, sets the linkType, the color, badge, etc. This might streamline your process.

If you jump on tomorrow’s meetup, we can discuss this as a group.

Thank you very much for such detailed answers, I really value it!
As I understand, what I do is more alike “concept maps” (I just started to get to know all this underline work on which Tinderbox based), mostly with top-down hierarchy and a lot of horizontal links between clusters of concepts (clusters organized with Adornments). I actually almost do not use colors, although tried to experiment with them in the beginning after reading “Tinderbox way”. For example, I still use top level concept color and form, but quite loosely, or mark some notes with yellow or magenta. Also tried to experiment with different borders, which was almost abandoned… And I like this visual salience which I get with map view. I can’t still understand how I can use other views. Occasionally I use just Outline. Once hyperbolic view was quite useful… I also tried to create several custom attributes which I did and embedded in many notes but actually almost do not use it, even tags… So I am still in the process of exploration of how I can broaden my approach. Just started reading “Advanced Information and Knowledge Processing” which looks promising.

About color of links: yes, I actually created link types for 3 colors for now as you explained, which is enough for most situations.

For now, it is mostly aid in better understanding of complex concepts and in quicker search and recall of some peaces when needed.

Yes I have reviewed your video about linking and passing attributes and I keep it in mind, but for now don’t know for what I can use it because as my experience showed I almost don’t use attributes, actually.

Thank you for the invitation! But I am not sure that I will be able tomorrow, will keep in mind.

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Forgot to ask…
@satikusala and @mwra: Do you use Tinderbox for brainstorming or understanding some difficult concepts? If yes, can you please share some piece of one of your documents? I only saw what is in Beck Tench videos, and there she does mostly for what I use Tinderbox also. But it is so surprisingly verbose… Each not long sentence takes several notes. I understand that it is almost classical concept map. But if I did some maps like that, it would be huge, and I doubt that it would be readable at all. I want to know about different approaches which people really use for such task, i.e. as visualization of thinking.

Here’s one of mine:

This is actually a presentation map, but it’s quite close to the sort of maps I use for brainstorming. The main difference is that I seldom use images when brainstorming, but now that Tinderbox makes image adornments more useful, I might relax that.


Thank you very much for example! If Beck Tench map is too detailed in my perception, then this one is too concise :slight_smile: But very elegant.

Even with this level of concision, there’s some interesting fodder for brainstorming.

For example, over coffee after this talk, a gentleman asked why Claude Shannon is absent here. That’s perfectly sensible. Shannon would lead to Richard Hamming, and also has an amusing anecdotal link to Lévi-Strauss.

Then there’s the happy chance of El Lissitsky appearing with all these mathematicians: that might be an accident, but Russian Constructivism bears an interesting relationship to the kinds of formalism behind Church and Turing. In any case, it’s good to remember the arts and literature in which everyone was then immersed.

For that matter, why is it that artists like El Lissitsky, Charles Sheeler, and Moholy-Nagy are (fairly) accessible and well liked, where you probably wouldn’t say the same thing about Arnold Schönberg’s music? The spatial hypertext invites the question: I have no answer.

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Lately, I’ve been writing reports in TBX; my last one, once explored, was 450 pages. a lot of my concept thinking does not come from visual map association by linking and the associated abstract that comes with it. I have done process flow and architecture diagrams in Map view, but these get challenging (see the flattened map view discussions). I’ve also developed an analysis of over 30 technology adoption models in TBX, this worked out quite well. I’m hoping that the upcoming update will help me get more from the visual thinking aspects of TBX.

There is a balance. The key is to not just focus on the “visual notes” but to leverage attributes and all the affordance that they will give you.

In the end, I find it must useful to start with my end result (contribution), e.g., a paper, report, presentation, knowledge asset development, exploratory discovery, and then use the tools to help me move this along. For example, when I am in map view, I’ll primary use it for QDA analysis.

Didn’t reply before as I’ve been busy prepping for a lecture … which this map informed:

I’ve deliberately not tidied it at all. Reflections:

  • Originally, I thought I’d write the presentation in Tinderbox but circumstances meant a Powerpoint was needed. Was the time tinkering with a map wasted? Absolutely not.
  • Talking about hypertext is inherently slippery. Topic: “Did the Web arrive fully formed or was there anything before?”. (Bearing mind that anyone under 30 was born after the Web).
  • Initial map was c. 15 mins work, then added to over several days.
  • Messy? Yes. But this is to inform my panning/recall not for display (normally such maps are for private consumption).
  • Is this ‘the’ way? NO! But it is a real world example of tractable use of maps.
  • In different circumstances I could have enriched/de-cluttered this and gone on. But, I’ve moved beyond the fixation some have of only using one tool.
    • For instance, I was going to drag references from Bookends into the map but as it wasn’t the final use doc it made more sense to export from Bookends in a manner better suited to the PPT presentation. But, I could have put reference info here had things stayed in Tinderbox.
  • The notes have no $Text! Yes, that’s how I tend to roll with maps - they are a thinking space, a form of spatial hypertext. What should be here? Why are these things not closer/more connected with those things? Why is there a gap here? Have I missed something?
  • This is me ‘thinking’ onto the screen. Is is absolutely not an intentional ‘process’, yet these few notes dropped as though-proxies onto a map moved my thinking forward a lot.
  • How you map should reflect both how you think: abstracted, fine-grained, exhaustively pre-referenced, whatever. Don’t be unduly seduced by others’ thinking. Their brain is not our brain. Though it sells ‘how-to’ books copying another’s process is rarely a path to success—because we think differently. Our processes reflect that. If someone else’s process works for you, likely it is your style of thought that is similar even if you share nothing else.

If my map looks ‘light’ in content/structure that is not bad. In this case it got the job done. Another task tomorrow might need more, or less, work. It needs what it needs. Process is the death insight IMO, though I respect that others may take a very different view. I suspect that is a reflection on how we individually think. But, Tinderbox is a broad church and has something for all—I hope!

Also the above is neither a rich complex data report not a set of book notes. Tasks vary.

Not sure if that helps, but it’s a deliberate in-the-moment reply to your question before I reply with a more measured response designed to make me look clever. Make of it what you will. :slight_smile:

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What kind of update?

As I understand now, attributes is more about more practically applied analysis, like examples from “The Tinderbox Way”. I can’t imagine how attributes can be used for analysis of say philosophical concepts of some western philosopher. Or let’s imagine you are trying to get better understanding of cryptocurrency, then how will you use attributes, and for what?

What are those numbers?
My maps usually looks like even messier )) In my perception your map and map of @eastgate more like hints on already known material or stimulus for further thinking which not formed yet and do not have representation on map. And I search for method for more or less deep thinking through some concepts which have detailed enough visual representation but not overly detailed like classical concept map because it will be too difficult to orient in it.

Yes, thank you! I feel like this is right to the point now. I just wanted to see more examples of real work maps dealing with difficult concepts because it is always good to try to learn from much more experienced people…

Ah—it was an erstwhile experiment using a $Rule $Caption=$SiblingOrder as a way to see the relative (outline) order of the items on the map. Essentially the they are the order in which the notes were added to the map 9document!). It affects export more than use in-app. Sorry, I should have made that plain.

As you’ve picked up, in exploratory use of maps, my notes are often proxies for a thought or observation. I was reminded of that be this tweet I found be accident today that (via an included image) stated:

I accord with that. I’m a visual-spatial thinker. A close collaborator (not in Tinderbox) is an object visualiser and it causes no end of miscommunication. It’s taken too long for me to realise that for the latter group, outside the mind (i.e. in the page/screen) if they can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. IOW, abstraction is personal and doesn’t work the same for each of us. Taking that back to a Tinderbox concept, it’s now clear some use a map because, essentially, they need to: if they can’t see it isn’t there (same, to a degree with Displayed Attributes). That is not a bad thing, and a reminder to use all that one of the reason there is no single ‘right’ way is we think/internalise differently even doing the same task. I’d agree that were I doing close reading of a source text, my map above might have looked quite different.

A challenge for those with Tinderbox experience trying to help others, is the above is problematic in terms of giving useful advice. It’s remarkably hard (impossible?) to imagine accurately a type of abstraction others use that we ourselves don’t have. Still, of late it’s been something I’ve tried to apply to demos I make for others.

There’s an invisible fine line between (unintentionally) forcing process on someone (that they struggle to internalise) vs. giving tractable ideas they can adapt/re-use. I’m sure I—and others—will continue to fail in that, but one can but try; it helps to be aware of this abstractional difference. For me, an unexpectedly useful part of the latter is it has helped me get a better understanding of my own knowledge discovery/learning//management.

Yes, so right. It’s also why I deliberately posted the above ‘raw’ so to speak to try and show my internal working rather than try and make it sound organised or clever. I think a lot of discovery work is inchoate. Humans do associative thinking really well, making connections on the barest of alignment. By comparison, (many) PKM are much more hard-edged: putting things into boxes, and correctly, else little useful purpose other than storage results. That’s not the fault of the apps’ function per se, more a failure of imagination in the conception of the app. This is where I find Tinderbox’s flexibility so useful. I don’t have to get the right ‘method’ to make progress. I can get my initial choices totally wrong and do-over for comparatively little effort. At simplest (as above) I can just think onto screen, in the same way I keep the backs of envelopes, sent to me in the post, on which I also ‘think’ (I find either a fountain pen or a pencil far better than a biro or roller ball).

†. Personal Knowledge Management. For want of a better term, I think this is (one of?) the niche(s) into which Tinderbox fits.