Tinderbox Forum

Where do you put your general throughout-the-day notes?

I write a lot, just because. I write a couple pages by hand first thing in the morning, and then type it up into the computer. I usually write some more notes throughout the day, which aren’t particularly actionable. Sometimes they’re ideas I want to let percolate, sometimes they’re small chunks of reference information (like notes from a phone call, for example).

If you take these sorts of notes regularly, where do you put them?

I use Curiota to store my random, everyday notes. The Curiota file folder is indexed in Devonthink. I drag them from Devonthink to TB when I need them (based on the tags I assigned to the notes).

I also write short paragraphs, reference notes from Webpages and pdf files. I typically snap them to Curiota using Popclip addon. So, it is fast and simple system. Curota also has groups (folders). It has inbox for the random stuff. The only drawback to Curiota is it doesn’t directly support tagging. I have to call the note via Alfred to assign a tag to the note.

I have also tried a nice application called NoteAway for this task. NoteAway supports directly tagging the notes. I also has this floating feature: very useful for writign notes while reading on the side. It also transparently stores the file in a Finder folder: the folder can be indexed to Devonthink. The issue with NoteAway is–the filename came out with a lot of number junk.

These two appliations store standard RTF files.
If you are into Markdown, you have many choices. But, TB and markdown are not as such friendly to each other. I pesonally has given up with Markdown.

Why not store them all in TB?
I want to do some filtering of notes in Devonthink before I push them to TB. I don’t want every junk to go to TB. That will create a lot of clutter. I want focused, project based notes to enter TB arena. I use tags for filtering the immediately functional notes, which are part of the current projection, from the “may be one day” stuff which will remain (indexed) in Devonthink.


I’m a bit bummed that this thread hasn’t gotten more action, because it’s one of the areas that I struggle with most when it comes to applying Tinderbox. I’ll share my experience though.

I store general notes in DEVONthink. I love a few things about it… the search is fast and powerful. And “see also” helps me find things that have fallen off my radar. I really, really like doing a search for something, and then being reminded of notes that address a similar topic… all without me doing any work of filing or tagging this stuff. I’ve got a “take note” AppleScript which prompts me for a title, then makes a markdown document in my notes database with the title set, and opens it up in iA Writer for me to edit. This lets me take notes super fast.

So, where does Tinderbox fit into all this? I’m not too sure… I’ve experimented with it a bit over the years. The key shortcoming of Tinderbox, for me, is that I can’t easily take my notes with me on the go. DEVONthink can sync with its DTTG app, so that’s what I use. I have exported from Tinderbox as HTML, and indexed it in DEVONthink and that works pretty well… but that workflow has two frustrating shortcomings. The first is that if I rename an exported Tinderbox file, DEVONthink will remove the original record from the DB – breaking any links and replicants that I have. The second is that indexed HTML files can’t navigate via HTML link to files higher in the hierarchy – so home.html can link to folder/page.html, but a link from folder/page.html to home.html won’t work. That just throws off my ability to make a self-contained personal site that I index in DEVONthink.

I am hoping that DEVONtech will work closely with @eastgate to make an even better integration… I’ve toyed with the idea of writing scripts to process HTML links in Tinderbox to point to x-devonthink URLS, so that I can effectively import content from Tinderbox into DEVONthink rather than index it… but I don’t have time for that right now.

I plan to experiment with taking a more objective-focused approach to using my notes… so general notes will go in DEVONthink, as usual. Then when I want to accomplish something specific, I can find potentially useful notes, drop them in Tinderbox, and make something new. Export the result back to DEVONthink for storage, rinse and repeat.

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When Tinderbox exports HTML in your example, linked from page to home will go to …/home.html. Does DEVONthink not understand relative links?

DEVONthink is merely indexing the HTML page – and indexing knows the path to the document in the file system – so a link should be a link, absolute or relative. It would be a different matter if the document was imported into a DEVONthink database, but that’s not the case here.

It works fine on the Mac app. I don’t know if it’s following a link to the indexed record, or just to the file on disk (and I don’t know if there’s a meaningful difference).

What is true, as of today, is that the DTTG mobile app will not find .../home.html. It is able to follow “downward” relative links, but not “upward” relative links.

It’s a big time bummer. It’s the one thing keeping me from using Tinderbox to construct my personal wiki and carry it around in my pocket.

Have you filed a request with DEVONtech? If it’s a bug or an iOS issue that affects DEVONthink to Go – Eric is pretty good at pursuing a solution, especially since you’re not the only one who would be affected by the situation.

I have, he said they don’t know when / if they’ll address it. Maybe if more people write in expressing interest, it will happen.

If there’s a link to the issue in the DEVONthink forum I’ll add a nudge of my own.

Looks like a recent update broke relative links completely.

Here’s the forum topic for anyone interested. Maybe @eastgate can convince them that this is a worthy feature that will make these two beautifully crafted artisanal software packages play even more nicely together :slight_smile:

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Hi Pat,

I use org-mode for this. I keep a monthly org file, and just create new headings at the bottom of that file as needed. Org is nice because it’s relatively free-form, but allows for tagging and attributes (“properties” in org’s vocabulary), if needed. It supports relatively fast searching, and you can keep notes in git so nothing ever gets lost. It’s plaintext, so you can take notes on the go with a bit of set up (I rarely use mobile devices for any real work so I haven’t tried MobileOrg, but that’s an option as well).

If you don’t want to futz around with Emacs, simple plain-text markdown notes in nvAlt can do the trick, with a few naming conventions to make sure that notes’ creation dates are tracked (along with whatever metadata you want). This is what the Zettelkasten guys do.

I use EagleFiler as a simple and fast searchable document archive. So any notes I take are in org (or nvAlt, or both — you can easily set up nvAlt and org to use the same default directory), and any non-text stuff they need to refer to is stored in EagleFiler.

Where does Tinderbox fit in with that? I’m still working that out as well. I have trouble trusting Tinderbox as a long-term storage place, given that notes are (in my view) too easy to delete (both by design and as a result of some UI gaffs that will hopefully be fixed), and there’s no reasonable way I know of to diff .tbx files to see how they have changed. So I use Tinderbox on a for-project basis, but use something I can version control for longer-term stuff.

Of course that all change as I become more familiar with Tinderbox, but that’s my setup right now.



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Nice… I have some friends who are org-mode wizards. I used to use emacs for years, but never org-mode, so maybe it’s something I could explore. It really wouldn’t be all that different from what I have now – just instead of using ia writer, I could use emacs.

I like the zettelkasten method, and that’s a big reason why I like DEVONthink for storing notes – its x-devonthink:// links (UUIDS) are automatically-generated IDs so I don’t have to do the date-based thing.

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Day to day, moment to moment, I post notes, thoughts and ideas, web page bookmarks and their notes, images, in DT or DTTG - mainly because it’s there. It’s become a pretty good document library, which distinguishes it from TBX. TBX isn’t a notes library; it’s a visit to the Library with Borges. As you write -

Then when I want to accomplish something specific, I can find potentially useful notes, drop them in Tinderbox, and make something new.

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How is iA Writer lacking for you? I have a great time with Emacs, but it can be a huge time sink to get everything set up the way you like, as you probably know from your previous experience.

Do you have a way to convert the devon UUIDs to something else in case you decide to abandon DEVONthink? I tend to not get too worried about data lock in, but I would spend some time thinking about this for a Zettelkasten, since it’s a very long-lived document (the intention is to have it for the rest of your life). If you have thousands of cross-linked notes and no way to easily switch to another linking format you might be in for a world of pain.

I think Tinderbox would make a fabulous Zettelkasten. It definitely makes it easy to export the archive into a plain-text format (org, cross-linked markdown, or whatever) if Tinderbox is ever abandoned. My main concerns with Tinderbox are

  1. The editor is underpowered (compared to a dedicated text editor).
  2. (As mentioned earlier) notes can be easily deleted by accident.

There’s not much to be done about the first concern. But I would guess it’s less of an issue with a Zettelkasten than in other contexts, since Zettels are a bit more pre-thought-out and structured than a lot of writing, so the need to get the editing out of the way quickly before the inspiration leaves is less pressing.

And I suppose with daily backups and a text convention for links (i.e., always having [[$ZettelID]] as the link text) you could spot deleted notes and recover them without much fuss.

I disagree that notes can easily be deleted by accident. I do not recall ever deleting a note inadvertently, and I’ve made a lot of notes.

Is the Tinderbox editor underpowered? Again, I’m very doubtful.

Is it likely that Tinderbox will be abandoned? Speculation like this is a good way to cause damage; it used to be a favored tactic of companies wishing to spread fear among users of competitors’ software. Tinderbox is, at present, one of the oldest and most mature products in the entire Macintosh ecosystem.


It’s not, really. I like it as a markdown editor. I want more structure in & between my notes, and that’s perhaps where org-mode could be helpful. iA writer doesn’t have any sort of outlining behavior from what I can tell.

It’s a solid markdown editor and preview tool. It doesn’t do much beyond that.

Well that’s part of the beauty of UUIDs :slight_smile: They don’t need to be converted into something else. I don’t know if DT has an export mechanism that includes UUIDs but it would be easy enough to AppleScript. In fact an AppleScript to prefix records with their UUID is trivial, and then I can export. UUIDs are visually unappealing, but unique.

I’ve been experimenting with it for exactly this purpose for a couple days. It’s too early to tell at this point, but so far it’s promising. I am starting to get an even greater sense of Tinderbox’s power when I think of my notes in this way.

Sure, but it’s not a dedicated text editor. It has a pretty capable rich text editor for note content.

Are you going to fault dedicated text editors for not having the features that Tinderbox does? :slight_smile:

Links in Tinderbox have always frustrated me, mostly because I am a BIG fan of text links… but Tinderbox loses the links if I copy / cut and paste some note content that contains links (I know, I’m a broken record).

It makes me think that I have yet to grasp some critical concept of Tinderbox’s design.

The closest workaround I’ve come up with is:

^linkTo(find($ID == 1501815802), "my link text")

This lets me say “THIS text links to THAT note, regardless of whether its $Name or $Path changes.” But that’s unwieldy and ugly.

I have this idea that the Tinderbox representation will almost exactly match an HTML representation… but with text links being fragile, I have to prioritize one representation.

Anyway, the past couple days have given me a glimpse of how Tinderbox might actually serve as my primary note repository… and if it doesn’t work, I can always export everything and dump it in DEVONthink.

Yeah, if you want a capable plaintext outliner, org-mode can’t be beat. And if you take notes on technical subjects, org’s ability to execute code snippets in other languages directly from within org documents is just stupendous.

Please post your findings — I’d be very interested to hear how it works for you!

Fair enough. I prefer a more keyboard-driven experience than Tinderbox can provide, but it’s not a dealbreaker.

I just might!

Yeah, I have not played with this enough to get a good idea of the best approach. I’ll be interested in what you come up with.

There’s no need to deride anyone here, is there? We’re just discussing software.


Point taken. I’ll work on reining it in.

OK, I admit it. I’ve used Evernote over the years, 'cause all the kids were doing it.

I’ve always had trouble organizing the notes in Evernote, but never had the discipline to move elsewhere (I’m hoping to make a fresh start with Tinderbox).

I’m very grateful that Tinderbox now has a connection to Evernote. Connected to a notebook that contains information back to my Palm Pilot (okay some Newton) days. I know this functionality is very new, and I’m getting the spinning Frisbee a lot.

Still fantastic to see and query my information all in one place. I forgot I thought of some of this stuff!

I don’t know if I’m getting the spinning frisbee because:

  1. The Evernote file contains so many notes on which to check updates? (about 2100). I’ve tried changing the watched folder, but it keeps going back to the original, even if I save the TBX file.
  2. The notes have large attachments which are not coming over? (some pdf’s >20 Meg). Don’t really expect them to. May try to put the attachents in Devonthink eventually, but I’m sipping from a fire hose right now with Tinderbox, and I’m just trying to do one thing at a time.
  3. I had to connect a small apple notes file too?
  4. Or maybe it was the other mac folder I had to watch to see if that worked?
  5. Some other reason I’m completely missing.

For points 3 and 4- is there a way of turning off the folder being watched and would that help? Also, I’m storing the TBX files on dropbox. Would that be an issue?

I’ve confessed my ignorance and I feel better. But I’m wondering about the Frisbee and why I’m getting it. I’d like to note that the only program that is actually crashing after a while is Evernote, not Tinderbox.

Thanks for any input!