Tinderbox Forum

Ziplinks -- what are you doing with them?

I am interested in what you are doing with Ziplinks in Tinderbox 8.6+. I think our discussion of Ziplinks use cases will help all of us expanding our use of Tinderbox.

So far, my uses are probably very pedestrian: quickly linking to existing notes, or creating linked notes in existing containers. I’ve expanded my use of the Outline view to do some creation of associations between notes that I would formerly do on a Map view.

Anyway, that’s my starting point.

What’s yours?


For my translation work I typically have three windows open: two solo text pane windows with the source and destination texts; and a third “full” Tinderbox window with an outline view. Mostly, I need to make links from the destination text to sibling notes that explain translation choices, make philological remarks, or add interpretive observations. Each of these comment-notes is of a different type.

Before ziplinks, when I wanted to create one of these notes, I had to switch to the outline window, select the destination text note, hit return for a sibling, give the sibling a name and a text. Then select the destination text note, select the text from which I would link, hit cmd-shift-L to park a text link, choose the destination note from the pop-up dialog, hit return, choose the link type from the pop-up dialog, then return to the solo text pane where I first decided to make the linked note.

With ziplinks, I can create the sibling note and link directly from within the solo text pane window. So this is good for keeping my hands on the keyboard and my eyes on my work.

However, ziplinks fulfill solely part of my use case. Ideally, I could also set the destination note $Text using the ziplink and the link type. For the latter, there is yet no option, though I have made a feature request to Eastgate. For the former, there seems to be a limit on how long the $Text can be that you send to the ziplinked destination note. Again I’ve made a feature request to Eastgate to clarify and extend this limit.

(For various reasons, I do not use Note:Footnote:Add footnote as sibling…)

In other areas, like you, I find that keeping my hands on the keyboard to do linking is very useful, especially in outline view (and the other views) where I found linking fiddly.

[ I’m not a huge linker, but I think this feature may increase my use of links and link-related functionality like hyperbolic view. The link pane, I’m already finding, is a nice way to navigate among notes. If the suggested notes pane were more informative about why it is suggested, I think this could be very powerful the way DevonThink is in this regard.]

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That’s why I deleted my original note – I should have checked yours before posting, instead of after!

8 posts were split to a new topic: Ziplink use and target anchors?

I’m working on a paper for [[Hypertext 2020]] about the personality of hypertextual software systems. Today, all sorts of complex software can be viewed as a hypertext! Our interactions with these systems are a kind of dialogue. You can have a conversation with a person. You can have a conversation with a [[character]], too. You can’t have a conversation with a hammer or a nail.

Once you start to think about it, we’ve had a long conversation about what sort of character a computer program might have, or should have. The famous [[Golem]] of Prague protected his people from pogroms, but it made people uneasy. Would it keep the Sabbath? [[Frankenstein’s monster]] was really quite a nice guy, but he also made people uncomfortable. A century later, we had the cult of [[user friendly]] software, and then we had [[Clippy]] and [[StarFire]], [[Knowledge Navigator]] and [[Knoesphere]].

Today, most think that the perfect program is the perfect [[Gosford Park|servant]] — anticipating your needs before you have them, with no inner life of its own.

I’m not so sure. Knowledge assistants seem to me to be [[sidekicks]], not [[slaves of steel]], and the ideal sidekick often has a character that contrasts starkly with the protagonist’s.


Great post.

Or, rather, [[Good Illustration|Helpful::thank you]].


I’m playing with something similar as an alternative to exploding notes jotted as plain text on my phone as I read. The advantage of ziplinks over simply exploding the plain text in TBX is that when I [[separate my notes into chunks]] with ziplinks::and text, I also create a list of links to the new notes in the original note and get to name the new notes with a name I choose as I revisit the notes. Is this a smart use of time? I don’t know. But it’s fun.

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That’s interesting. I’m not sure I follow on the mechanics, though. Can you illustrate/explain a bit more?

There’s two steps to this, only because my example is based on reading text imported from a website. So that import process has nothing to do with the Ziplinks, really. Let’s just stipulate that somehow you created a note that has text and you want to make reading notes based on that text.

So, for example, here is some text from Stanford Plato:

The Paradox of Suspense
The ultimate success of Hollywood blockbusters is dependent upon repeat viewings. Fans return to theaters to see films multiple times and buy DVDs so they can watch movies yet again. Although it is something of a received dogma in philosophy and psychology that suspense requires uncertainty, many of the biggest box office successes are action movies that fans claim to find suspenseful on repeated viewings.

In reading that I want to make a note that this does not take into account streaming (since that article was written in 2009), and want to spend more time later thinking about the paradox in a streaming context. So I “markup” the $Text in that note as follows:

The Paradox of Suspense
The ultimate success of Hollywood blockbusters is dependent upon repeat viewings. Fans return to [[Consider Impact of Streaming|theaters::does the paradox apply in a streaming context?]] to see films multiple times and buy DVDs so they can watch movies yet again. Although it is something of a received dogma in philosophy and psychology that suspense requires uncertainty, many of the biggest box office successes are action movies that fans claim to find suspenseful on repeated viewings.

The bold-face text is just for the purpose of this reply.

Why I have done here is tell Tinderbox to

  1. Create a new note with the $Name “Consider Impact of Streaming”
  2. In the note I am reading right now (“The Paradox of Suspense”) there will be a new link with the anchor text “theaters” — the same text that was in the note before I created the Ziplink
  3. In that new note (“Consider the Impact of Streaming”) the $Text will be “does the paradox apply in a streaming context”)

So I can continue my reading, and then eventually click the theaters link, which takes me to the “Consider Impact of Streaming” note, and I can continue my note based on the prompt I added when I created the link.


Screenshot of Tinderbox (3-13-20, 8-58-15 AM)

This is exciting – I know of no other application on macOS that has this capability to create a note, send it to a different place, and not need to change contexts or views to do so. It is like caching notes while reading.


That’s sounds really useful – it’s a really interesting new feature.

Just as a matter of interest, Scrivener can also do this, but in a slightly different way:

Using your original text:

  1. highlight the words ‘theatres’ and then cmd-L (or just type [[theatres]].
  2. overwrite the suggested title with “Consider impact of Streaming” and press enter.
  3. The new linked note will be created in your current folder and will appear as a quick reference panel [^1] to type in “Does the paradox apply in a streaming context”. A backlink to the original is created automatically. The new note will inherit the enclosing folder’s default ‘template’, so that you can automatically include boilerplate text, keywords, statuses etc (a prototype variant, I suppose).
  4. cmd-w or cmd-` to move back to the host note with the cursor where you left it.

[^1]: This can be configured to be the quick reference popup, the other editor, the current editor or nothing at all.

Take away the common text and I make that four ‘admin’ keystrokes against Tinderbox’s seven. :grinning:

Joking apart, zip links are a really useful new feature: between Tinderbox, Scrivener and Devonthink it’s getting really hard to choose as they each have so many useful features.


Oh, indeed, but then you have to decide how to get them all to talk together in just the right way…

Except that all three of them are getting close (but not quite) ready to be the one app to rule them all, in their own different ways, for certain applications. There are always compromises…

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2 posts were split to a new topic: How do I invoke the extra ziplinks configuration syntax?

I approve…


As a Tinderbox ingénu, I’ve only started using Ziplinks, but I’m finding them very useful. I’m preparing a tutorial on Flask, a Python framework. Working in Map view, I have a variety of note types, including some which announce and explain a specific concept — for example, there’s a note dedicated to Flask’s syntax for handling variables in templates. When I go on to write code examples which use this concept, I use a Ziplink in this note’s text to refer back to the explanatory note.

How is this useful? Well, it helps me quickly ensure that the explanatory information I’m preparing explicitly supports the code examples I’m writing, and vice versa. It’s seamless, quick, and pleasing to use.

(As an aside, can I just say… I bought Tb some while ago (just after v7 was released, I think), and dabbled but didn’t really ‘get it’. I very recently found a more pressing need for a Tb-like tool, having become rather swamped with disparate projects, so upgraded to the current version. It’s been a revelation — a really remarkable piece of software which I wish I’d spent more time with before. The learning curve is steep, but the rewards are tangible, so I’m happy to put the effort in. Sorry, entirely off topic!)


This is a really good use of this feature. Never thought of using it this way.

Does anyone know if there’s a way to hide the additional connection lines after the first is made? I have a document that has 8 ziplinks to “caffeine” and I would prefer just one line from that document to it’s child, but can’t figure out a way to limit to just one.

What view are you using. I can’t replicate this in a map. Here, there are 8 text links from note ‘x’ to its child note ‘y’:

Untitled 2020-08-08 20-20-24

If I drill down to note ‘y’ I just see an inbound stub, with an ‘8’ label.

If the notes are siblings on the same map, I do see multiple lines:

but if there was only one line how would you tell which link is of which type. I note this as I assume you are using untyped links allowing the simplistic assumption that all is needed is a single line/arc between any two notes.

I can see a perfectly feature request (I don’t recall this being asked for to do) for a option to draw a single line between notes regardless of the number of actual concurrent links. Such a request would need to consider how different link types were handled (if at all).

Ahhh… great point on the link types. My example is that in some notes for a book, I have multiple references to caffeine, so I used a ziplink for each one. So now I have 8 links from Book to caffeine, all untyped. Even though there are 8 references to caffeine, I really only need one visual indicator of that relationship.

Absolutely. Which is why I made the suggestion of a feature request (FWIW, though the admin here, note I’m still just a fellow user). As it is, the map view is optimised for showing relationships rather than ‘neat’ looking diagrams. Those aren’t a binary choice, which is why the best way to encompass your need is a way to tell TB to only ever draw on link line per pair of linked note s regardless of the number of concurrent notes. In that case, ISTM a further suggestion would be to add a number-label, such as used for off-map link stubs. IOW, you map would show 1 link line to ‘Caffeine’ with an ‘8’ label on it, as discrete from any link labels which likely would need to be suppressed, though they could perhaps be a pop-up list when clicking on the number label.

HTH. :slight_smile: