Tinderbox Forum

Roundtrip import/export questions

Hi folks,

I am coming back to using Tinderbox after a number of years away and am really excited about the improvements that have happened in recent years, particularly the Ziplinks. Since I do a bit of work on mobile, I have other software that supports a similar wiki syntax.

What I would like to do is have a way to “round-trip” data in and out of Tinderbox so I can still use my mobile workflow. There are a few points in particular that are key:

  • Preserve all the Markdown formatting
  • Parse the [[wikilink|ziplink]] syntax on import
  • Emit the [[wikilink|ziplink]] syntax on export

I’ve seen some threads where folks have mapped some attributes <-> with Markdown headers, but I figure I could implement that myself.

Is this something that is possible? I think that would really unlock a lot of nice workflows with Tinderbox and allow simple integration with other tools like Obsidian, mobile editors, or other wiki software, particularly since the Tbx editor is not well suited to some of the text I regularly use (e.g. GitHub-flavored markdown, code snippets, etc)


If you are looking to have Tinderbox behave as an editor for a corpus of notes that are also available to external editors – say, a folder of notes in iCloud that are available to Tinderbox, other macOS apps, and mobile apps: that is not possible. Tinderbox can “watch” but not synchronize changes to Text made inside Tinderbox with the external watched folders.

To do two way sync would be a feature request – and the normal recommendation for feature requests is to write Eastgate, describe the use case(s), and the request. Surely discuss here, as you are, but send the request to the author too.

There are workarounds. Not pretty put possible. One would be to watch a folder of notes. Change one or more of the notes’ $ReadOnly attribute to false. Edit. Then export the notes (as plain text) back to the watched folder, and let Finder replace the existing notes. This is workable, annoyingly kludgey, and I’ve found after a while Tinderbox stops updating the watched text for some reason.

No doubt someone can suggested fancier approaches, perhaps using AppleScript or whatever. I tend to think things like that are fragile and in the “because I can” category, but maybe a scripted approach would appeal to some.

I think make the case with the developer is still the best approach.

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Thanks, that is pretty much what I expected. I’ll reach out with this as well though.

Hi Matt,

Another possibility that I do in these instances is work side-by-side with Tinderbox and a markdown editing app/pkm. I primarily use dendron/obsidian or even DEVON …any text/markdown editor would work.

In short,I use Tinderbox for my thinking, organizing while I am watching the folder. Basically everything I do in Tinderbox is self contained in Tinderbox and of course, you can export at any time. If I want to do any editing I use the other app, in my case it is dendron/obsidian to edit or add syntax.

Paul suggestion works very well, I am just offering an alternative workflow.


Hi Tom,

Thanks, that is kinda what I do now but I find it klunky. In my ideal world, I’d have Tbx auto-update when I make changes on mobile. Or if I am in Tbx and make an edit (or better – an agent does something for me), it would get auto-exported to markdown in a shared folder so I could work with it in another tool as well.

While Tbx has a lot of strengths, particularly for plain writing, the editor is not that great for text editing. At least not compared to tools that were designed to process text effectively.

But thanks for the suggestion :slight_smile:


Well, what you’re saying is “The Macintosh is not that great for text editing, at least not compared to tools that were designed to process text effectively.”

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Yes, exactly. Hence my desire for a fairly seamless way to round-trip the text parts in and out somehow.

Please do not take this as a knock against Tbx, by any means. As I said, there is a ton that is fantastic with Tinderbox that I would love to complement with VSCode’s markdown support, for example.

VSCode on macOS? Since you can run that side-by-side with Tinderbox, why not save your documents in a folder you watch in Tinderbox. That’s a very common practice.

That doesn’t work recursively, right? It just pulled in the the top-level directories and makes them notes in Tinderbox when I tried that. Unless I missed something?

Sorry, I’m not understanding how recursion comes into the picture.

Well, say I have the following folder structure:

├── Books
│   ├── Fiction
│   │   └── Bridge-of-Birds.md
│   └── Non-Fiction
├── Project1
│   └── note.md
└── Project2

If I watch /Notes, I see the following in Tinderbox:

├── Books
├── Project1
└── Project2

Tbx doesn’t recurse into subfolders, apparently.

Err … in standard English recursion means doing something repeatedly.

Yes, that’s right. It’s a limitation.

So, back to the beginning. You want a solution that can round-trip documents between Tinderbox and some unspecified external editor(s), via a nested set of folders and the folder contents? And you want to preserve an use Markdown (unspecified flavor), the [[ ]] syntax for “links”, and export.

As discussed, that is not possible today, including the nested hierarchy.

I’ll recommend again that you write Eastgate with detailed explanation of the use case. Here, in this user-user forum, is not where feature decisions are made.

Thanks, that was mostly what I wanted to find out. I’ve sent an email as well.

Hmm, I’ve always used it in this sense as well: “to perform an action again on the result of the previous operation”.

The ls command on your Mac has a -R option that means Recursively list subdirectories encountered. — that was the sense I meant with my comment.


It’s probably just me with my non-computer approach to language. I can see how you would “list” something recursively, but watching something recursively doesn’t seem right. It seems passive and continuous, so I don’t know why you would repeat it, while listing seems like a one-time operation producing a single result that is good for one moment in time. And in the case of the “ls” command, it seems like the word “subdirectories” is crucial. If it were not for that it would mean listing the same directory repeatedly.

I used to be an English teacher, and I’m now a psychologist with an interest in discourse, so language (and its use) fascinates me. To the bewilderment of others, no doubt. :slightly_smiling_face:

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:slight_smile: I suppose that a great deal of technical jargon is probably a vast abuse of language, so this is probably an evergreen hobby!

In this case the tools that do this particular sort of work generally use the recursive word, probably because they are implemented using a recursive algorithm — or at least the initial listing is. In practice, they might build a list of files once and the register with the operating system to receive notifications when something changes.

Every OS does this a bit differently, but the term remains in use…

There are whole branches of psychology concerned with language and how it is used to bind groups together, or create shared meaning: like Social Representations Theory and Social Constructionism, so it is a bit more than a hobby! But it is definitely evergreen. :grinning: