Tinderbox Chronicles, part 2

In the first installment of this series of posts about Tinderbox, I gave a quick introduction to the application and showed how the Map View could be used to advantage by even novice users (like me). In this post I want to write briefly about three other views — Outline, Chart, and Explorer. (BTW, I originally called the Chart View “Diagram View” in my previous post, but have now corrected that mistake.)

When you create a new document (or database), you are presented with a blank window pane. This is an empty Outline View. Just start typing to create your first headline/note. When done, hit the RETURN key. Hit it again to create a new note. This series of posts is not intended as a tutorial, so I won’t describe how to build an outline in Tinderbox, other than to say it is pretty intuitive for anyone who has used other outliners (i.e. drag and drop, tabbing to indent, etc…).

I’m using Tinderbox to plan a meeting, so I put together an outline of the topics to be discussed:

Tinderbox Outline View

Outline View

Note that the outline has the typical-for-Mac triangular disclosure icons that indicate those notes that have sub-notes, and allow you to  show or hide those subordinate items. Keep in mind that what you are seeing here is a hierarchical list of the titles for notes, not the full notes themselves. I covered notes in the previous post, but here’s a picture of an open note with the outline in back.

Open Tinderbox note with outline

Open Tinderbox note with outline

Back to the outline, you’ll also see a little rectangular box to the left of each note. This box is an iconic version of the note window. Some of these boxes are elongated and have lines in them. This indicates that the note has text in addition to the title. There are other visual indicators in the Outline View, but I’m not yet familiar enough with them to describe them here now.

And for those who like or prefer a two-pane outliner, the Explorer View provides a familiar interface.

Tinderbox note in Explorer View

Tinderbox note in Explorer View

When the meeting rolls around next week, I’ll switch to Chart View to manage the meeting and take notes. (BTW, all views can be opened via the VIEW menu.)

Tinderbox outline and chart views

Tinderbox Outline and Chart views

The above image shows a Chart View hoisted to the Board Business heading, and not the entire outline. For those not familiar with the concept of a hoist, it means that the information on the screen is limited to one headline/topic and its subheads. This is considered a crucial function in any serious outliner or mind mapper. Hoist or its equivalent is available in all Tinderbox views.

Okay, so in these first two posts I’ve introduced four views Tinderbox provides for looking at your notes:

  1. Outline: standard hierarchy
  2. Map: free form cork board
  3. Chart: flow-chart style diagram
  4. Explorer: standard two-pane

There are other views, but I have not explored them much myself yet. These four are simple to use for brainstorming, planning and organizing. There are power functions that will help you get even more from your data, and I’ll start to examine these in the next installment.



  1. Hello Vermonter 17032,

    thanks a lot for the Introduction to Tinderbox! For someone like me who has been toying with Tinderbox for years your series could become the missing link to the manual, the wiki, the forum and the book…

  2. Keep it up, V. Bernstein has been promising a PC version for some years now and I’m intrigued, so solid information about the program is welcome.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s