Tinderbox 7 is now available

Composites -- collections of related notes in a map -- is one of the big new additions to Tinderbox 7.

Composites — collections of related notes in a map — is one of the big new additions to Tinderbox 7.

Tinderbox 7 has been released by Eastgate Systems. It is jam-packed with new features (find a list here), but the biggest addition is the “composite,” a collection of notes that are all associated. Think of a note as an atom and the composite as a molecule. Tbx 7 comes with four composite prototypes, two of which I’ve displayed in the screenshot above. You can easily build your own composites just by sliding notes up against each other. When you do so, they become joined and a gray-lined box is created around them.

I haven’t tried to put this feature to practical use yet. When I do, I’ll try to create a screencast.

The other most significant addition is that you can create a kind of wiki link in the text of a note to link one note to another. As usual, the upgrade is free if your annual subscription to Tinderbox is active. Otherwise, it’s $98 for an upgrade, $249 for a new purchase.

A new distraction-free writing app: Tabula

Tabula is a new writing app that recognizes some basic elements of text on the page and automatically adds formatting.

Tabula is a new writing app that recognizes some basic elements of text on the page and automatically adds formatting.

This is a review of Tabula, a new writing app that interprets your page as you write, recognizing headings and other elements. It’s like using #markdown, but without all the added characters.

Automatic Headings

Tabula recognizes short phrases on a single line as headings. For the app to recognize your text as a heading, you do need to capitalize at least two words — unless it is a single word heading. If you don’t capitalize, the phrase is interpreted as body text.

Like this.

Create Lists

Tabula recognizes unordered and ordered lists.

  • Use a hyphen at the start of the line to create an unordered list
  • Or an asterisk
    • Create a nested item by tabbing
  1. Or create an ordered list with a number
  2. This is pretty much like markdown

Emphasize Text

You can emphasize text by adding a backtick (“”) to the front of the word in question, as I did with question. This isn’t any different than markdown really, and you’re limited (as far as I’ve been able to see) to italics. The app reserves the right to apply bolding to headings and simple tables.

Create Simple Tables

Tabula For Mac $4.99
Tabula For iOS $2.99

Very Nice Exporting

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Tabula environment is its simple but very nice export function. Just click the little export icon in the upper right corner and you switch to a preview of how the document will look. You can select from several preset export styles.

To go back to editing mode, just click the little arrow icon that replaced the export icon in the upper right. Below are two of the half dozen styles for exporting:

In preview mode you can see how your work will look and select from several styles. This is the "Reel" style.

In preview mode you can see how your work will look and select from several styles. This is the “Reel” style.

 

tabula-screen-3

This is the “Report” style. Note that along the bottom row you have controls to select the style, add spacing between lines and indenting paragraphs.

As you can tell, from the screenshots, I wrote this review in Tabula. I exported it as HTML code which I pasted into WordPress, and all the formatting followed nicely. I did change the headings from the Heading 5 format (a little too small) to Heading 4. But that’s it.

Like TaskPaper, but Not

Tabula reminds me a bit of TaskPaper, but it is definitely intended for writing and not for task management. TaskPaper is a far more sophisticated app.

iOS Version

The Tabula version for iPad and iPhone is very nice, offering the same features as the Mac version, but with a handy extended keyboard row to make editing more convenient, including a little tap button for selecting text.

If you store your Tabula files on iCloud, you can open them on either type of device.

The iOS version is handy too, and can read the files created by the Mac version. Note the extended keyboard row with handy buttons for editing.

The iOS version is handy too, and can read the files created by the Mac version. Note the extended keyboard row with handy buttons for editing.

The Bottom Line

Tabula probably won’t replace Scrivener or Ulysses if you are a writer, but is a viable option if you’re looking for an elegant, simple editor for drafting and publishing reports, essays, short articles or the like. This is not a note-taking app. What you put into Tabula, you will be publishing in some form, most likely PDF.

This is just a version 1.0 release. The developer has plans to add custom export styles, typewriter mode, embedded images and other improvements in coming releases.

Tinderbox screencast tutorial four

It took almost a month to get this to the point that it was even somewhat publishable. In this episode we expand on our Day Planner, which we started in episode 3. We see how to set up an agent to hunt for completed tasks and place a check mark badge on the note. We look briefly at “display expressions” so we can see due dates in our notes on the map, and how to format the dates so we don’t see times. And we create a dashboard agent with a summary table to get an overview of our appointments.

Tinderbox 6 Tutorial 4 from Stephen Zeoli on Vimeo.

A lovely and inspiring video featuring Tinderbox

Dominique Renauld creates wonderful Tinderbox videos. They aren’t tutorials so much as they are inspirations. They show you what Tinderbox can help you do, not the nuts and bolts of how to handle Tinderbox. But they are well worth seeing, both for the spark they may provide in tackling Tinderbox and for their shear beauty.

In the most recent video, he shows some of the great features of the outline view. Watch it here:

Tinderbox screencast number 2 — stamps and agents

I’ve uploaded the second of my Tinderbox 6 tutorial videos. This one might be a little — just a little — bit more polished than the first. In this episode I provide a quick introduction to Stamps and Agents. Stamps allow you to set an action to be applied to a number of selected notes simultaneously. Agents are notes that look for other notes that match a specific criteria and then apply some action to them automatically. Agents work continually, search for any new notes or changes to work upon, while Stamps are used manually by the user. Hopefully you will see what I mean if you watch the video. Here it is:

Introduction to Tinderbox 6 – Part 2 from Stephen Zeoli on Vimeo.

Star Trek Beyond leaves the Enterprise in smoldering ruins

The Enterprise is left a smoldering ruin in the first 20 minutes of Star Trek Beyond... and so is the Star Trek franchise.

The Enterprise is left a smoldering ruin in the first 20 minutes of Star Trek Beyond… and so is the Star Trek franchise.

Amy and I watched the latest Star Trek film tonight on disk from Netflix. I can say that this is easily the worst Star Trek film ever. It may be one of the worst big budget films ever. That the Enterprise is completely destroyed in the first 20 minutes serves as the perfect metaphor for what J.J. Abrams is doing to this franchise: turning it into smoking ruins. Abrams directed and wrote (I think) the first two of the reboot films, and executive produced this one. The first film was good. The actors really pulled off the difficult task of stepping into the roles of such iconic characters. Abrams appeared to understand that Star Trek is first and foremost about those characters and their relationships. The second film continued to honor the characters, but it lost its footing with an implausible story and a really, really bad grasp of physics. But it is Citizen Kane compared with this new film, which fails in every area: Ridiculous plot. Absurd “science.” Plot written to serve the special effects. Special effects that aren’t very special (how can they be when the film is wall to wall effects?). And, worst of all, the actors begin to look like frauds pretending to be Spock, Kirk, Bones, Scotty, because the writers just don’t care about them as characters any more.

Here are some random gripes about this travesty:

  • The filmmakers rush from one outlandish and impossible stunt to another, conjuring up whatever pseudo-science they need to explain why they can do this, usually with a quick one-sentence explanation from Scotty. “He’s using the gravity slip stream…”
  • How the villain and his crew end up doing what they are doing makes no sense whatsoever. How they get the amazing technology to destroy star ships when they are stranded on a planet is gasp inducing, and not in a good way. That they even know about a super weapon that comes into possession of the Enterprise is unlikely at best. Why the villain keeps the crew of the Enterprise alive, when he’s intended to destroy millions of people is inexplicable, except to the extent that the writers needed them alive so Kirk, et. al. can rescue them.
  • How is it that the Enterprise is on a five-year mission to explore unknown space, but there is a giant Federation space station with millions of people on it at what they describe as the edge of the frontier?
  • It takes the crew longer to fly from one edge of this space station to the center than it did to fly from a distant planet within a nebula.
  • Seeing that nostalgic music worked for Guardians of the Galaxy, the filmmakers boldly incorporate that idea into this story. But the music sucks.
  • The writers dutifully make Scotty and Bones say things that Scotty and Bones are known for saying… i.e. “I’m a doctor not a…” and “Captain, I’m giving her all she’s got…” (or something close). But that’s no substitute for actually making these living, breathing characters.
  • Why there is a vintage motorcycle onboard a deep space, early star ship that has crash landed on the planet on which Kirk and crew are stranded is a head scratcher, but you know immediately that Kirk is going to ride it at some point. And when he did, I just felt another round of “lets create the stunts first, then we can shove a plot in there to fill in the cracks.”

I love Star Trek and these characters, but someone has got to rescue them from J. J. Abrams. Steven Spielberg, where are you when we need you?

My first Tinderbox video tutorial

Huzzah! After thinking about this a long time, I’ve finally made my first Tinderbox Tutorial. As you’ll see, it is a little rough around the edges as I get used to the features of Screenflow. And I’m no James Earle Jones with the voice over. But I hope this video can help novice Tinderbox users and those thinking about becoming novice Tinderbox users get a sense of the very basics of the program. I hope to be adding more videos in the future, ones more polished and which expose more of Tinderbox’s great features.

UPDATE: The first version of this video had some editing errors in it. I’ve fixed those.

Introduction to Tinderbox 6 from Stephen Zeoli on Vimeo.

Tinderbox Labor Day Sale – save $50

This just in (from an email from Eastgate Systems):

This weekend only, Tinderbox is on sale. Save $50, and get started on that big push. Whether you’re writing a thesis or a novel, planning a new product, running a campaign, or planning your big trip, Tinderbox will help you get the most from your research.
Tinderbox is the tool for notes if you’re working on a Mac.