Tinderbox Forum

What are your writing tools?

While Tinderbox is great for connecting ideas and literature notes. I find it is not so pleasant for writing.

I write in Markdown and I am looking to invest in iAwriter. I’m used to use Scrivener, but it doesn’t have Markdown so have stopped using it for blogposts writeups.

Before purchasing iAwriter I thought if this forum has writers who blog or even long-form writers on their tools for writing. Let me know pls.

You know, of course, that a huge number of very accomplished writers adore Scrivener. (Not my place to say that for Tinderbox, but of course this is their house.)

I myself think Tinderbox is fine for Markdown, though I much prefer styled text.

One old rule we have here might bear repeating: the beer rule. Tinderbox, at least for now, runs on Macintoshes. The design of Macintosh computers, and their approach to common editing tasks, may not be ideal, but it’s not something I can change for you. So, if we want to complain that Macs are garbage, unpleasant, idiotic, or wrong, go ahead: but bring me a beer!

Personally, I’ve planned two books, a fat book chapter, a novel and a bunch of research papers in Tinderbox.

I’ve had IAWriter for years on iOS. It’s a nice, classic minimalist design. You might also want to look at Marked2, I imagine.

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iA writer is a fantastic writing environment. It is clean, and pleasant. It is a great tool for short form pieces. With transclusion, you can come close to Scrivener’s “scrivenings”. This application seems to grow on me with more time.

Scrivener is more complex and is suited to handle more long form writing. Scrivener’'s ability to organize information is exceptional. Do not discount Scrivener’s ability to handle markdown(but you need Marked2).

If you like working with markdown, Marked2 is a valuable application.

Marked2 can read .scriv files.

  • select the files you want to compile with compile in scrivener (you do not actually have to compile anything, just select the files)
  • open the .scriv file with Marked2, and the markdown will be rendered

On a side note, Marked2 can do transclusions as well if the link to the file is present, so even a plain text editor will work here.

For complex organization I like Scrivener.
For a beautiful environment with some organization, I like iAwriter.
For keyboard shortcuts, I like Vim.
With plain text, I don’t necessarily have to choose.

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Annoying, you don’t say b_why_. It is easy to criticise without context. I’m not suggesting you don’t have reasons. I’m just suggesting it would be kinder to your fellow users to articulate them as someone might have the same problem, or—perhaps—knowledge to show that your problems are a lack of knowledge of the app rather than hard limits.

If you want to write in Markdown, then look for a Markdown-centric app. The problem is not with Tinderbox as such but your writing style being different to Tinderbox’s style with is (thankfully!) not Markdown-centric.

Having written a thesis recently in LaTeX, the experienced sucked. But it had typography features/affordances I needed—way beyond what Tinderbox with our without Markdown could offer. I’d loved to have written it in Tinderbox but frankly all the extra I wanted (in the main complex bibliography /citation features) would be a pointless tax on Tinderbox users as a whole is implemented just for me.

I’d concur with @eastgate that Scrivener is good, especially for writing, and since I wrote my thesis Scrivener has (I believe made a Latex-based output possible for the non-computer scientist. But I bailed on Scrivener for long form writing as the affordances of writing (input) were nerfed by inelegances of export.

What I take from the experience of (comparatively little) serious writing is take time to understand the writing and export processes of a tool. It it is great for our personal style of writing but sucks at export in the needed (or—as often—mandated) export format, look further. At the extreme end of this game, those with the skills write their own tool do so: most of us mortals have to pick from what is available.

Another important point when blithely discussing ‘writing’ is what sort_ of writing that means. Writing a novel is not the same as a scholarly monograph. Writing is journal article is not the same as a grant application or commercial report, etc.

So ‘writing’ is this context is an incompletely exact term.

We all have differing tastes. Indeed, vive la difference, diversity of view and taste are a good thing.

Tinderbox has more than I’ll ever need to actually WRITE.

Other apps I like - Drafts, Notes, scraps of paper, my mobile phone/camera… I have written on napkins, backs of receipts (before they started covering them with ads), notebooks (not necessarily my own), and on rare occasion, tree bark and school desk.

In terms of formatting/exporting/examining/editing and otherwise turning the word into something presentable to the outside world - there is now an ocean of apps available on all platforms, and several that are platform-agnostic. Each of these offer some benefit/s.

If you are looking for something simple and Markdown - well heck there are 10,000 apps that do that, it seems. TextWrangler/BBEdit, Taskpaper… oh and google says: Byword, Ulysses, MacDown, Caret, Ghostwriter, Typora, Remarkable, Haroopad.

The most common format I’ve encountered for manuscripts and the like is Word. Go figure.


Mark - I know your thesis is behind you - but: do you know LyX (www.lyx.org)? It sits on top of LaTeX, i.e. it gives you the typographical quality of LaTeX without having to write LaTeX source code. It‘s open source, supported by a lively developer community - and far too little known among people slaving to complete complex documents like a PhD thesis. Check it out!
(Full disclosure: I used it to write my habilitation thesis 20 years ago, including production of the camera ready manuscript for the German book).

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@abusch. Yes, but I think the nature of a thesis is it is never a comfortable experience. Perhaps that’s the point of it :scream:

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Of course. Struggling through it is a large part of the achievement. But because this is difficult and stressful, I found that at least the tools should be comfortable and (above all in a multi-year endeavour) stable. LyX was a great help for me in that.

Not having written a thesis — barring my undergraduate dissertation, which I typed on my mother’s portable typewriter — I’m not certain of the value of these comments, but for long form project documentation I plonk for Tinderbox (for thinking, notes and some drafting without any thought of style), R-Markdown (because it handles diagrams and cross referencing better) and Typora (just because it’s elegant and nice to write in).


I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words in Tinderbox. My blog, nice-marmot.net, currently has 284,776 words in the Tinderbox file.

The desire for a “distraction free” writing environment has never really resonated with me, apart from “notifications.” (Thanks for Focus, Apple!)

My old blog, Groundhog Day has 974,700 words in it, all carefully hand crafted in Tinderbox. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I just wrote a little 7500 word booklet on how to become a candidate in Florida in Tinderbox.

I shudder to think how many words I’ve written in Twitter on my phone, and that’s perhaps the worst writing environment I’ve ever encountered.

I really don’t get the clamor for Markdown, but to each their own. I don’t need to get it to do what I want to do. Tinderbox is a fine writing environment, and perhaps the best outliner I’ve ever used.

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I do 90% of my writing in Markdown now and Tinderbox is perfect. I can’t imagine writing in anything else but Tinderbox now. Short-form content to reports and books, I’m doing it all in Tinderbox. Inserting multi-media (i.e., pulling it in) sourcing links and citations and so much more. I can then either export it out of TBX as HTML and then import it into something else, or with Pandoc publish to nearly any file format. If you’d like to hop on a zoom, ping me. Will be happy to show you.


Excellent Suggestions - Found this new one, which works on cross devices - https://minimal.app


My writing workflow is connect the notes, make sense of it. Memorise the data if any. And then write a 1000 word blog post without referring to your notes. So I don’t want to get into Tinderbox for writing.

Also, I want to spend as little time as possible doing desktop, I prefer my iPad to think and write also. This makes me use Tinderbox to only use the data(inputs) to connect and get insights.

And thanks for your offer for the zoom call, might take it up someday :slight_smile:

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HaHa! I complete understand your annoyance on the lack of context! It also gets to me when people from my community asks me stuff without context. I think I was in a rush so skipped the details. But I feel it actually helped me get more answers as the question was a 'Catch-All".

Here is some context

“I just write ghost blogpost for a client on Political Economy. I am habituated with MD and I don’t want to refer my notes when I am writing. So I need a distraction free interface and I want to write on Ipad also. So my writeup should always have the correct version synced on all devices”. My GOAL is to spend as little time on the desk and be more mobile, as I feel desk jobs are oppressive and kills your back!"

Yes, downloaded it, have used it in the past. It is fantastic.


I see the logic. However, this does not negate the fact that you can write your “data(inputs)” in Tinderbox with markdown as well as break up the elements (quotes, images, stats, and yes your notes) into atomic units that will help with future search and assembly. You could also export out all these individual units to a share drive that are accessible across all your devices. I could see the value in maintain them in categorized sub-folders organized by topic and type, of off which could be automated by your Tinderbox exports. You can the pull these assembled inputs into any writing utility you want on your iPad to pull it all together.

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If you like to write on an iPad, and Scrivener doesn’t work for you, you might try Ulysses.

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Found something which perfectly suits my requirement as of now. https://minimal.app

Ulysses a bit too heavy on features for my kind of Blogging.