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Tinderbox Users >> Tinderbox applications >> Tinderbox as a writing tool
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Message started by greg ibendahl on Jul 1st, 2008, 2:57pm

Title: Tinderbox as a writing tool
Post by greg ibendahl on Jul 1st, 2008, 2:57pm

Much of my job involves synthesizing information for a non-technical audience. As I write, I'm often referring back to a PDF or a website. I've used Scrivener in the past and generally like the program. However, I often find myself not using it and reverting back to writing in a word processing program. I think I finally figured out why.

Scrivener is one of these "new look" programs that builds everything into one window. Even Apple's own programs are doing this. "Traditional" programs like Tinderbox, Stata, old Microsoft programs have separate individual windows. I generally like these "traditional" programs better as it is easier to work with two different programs at once (Excel 2004 was an exception to this as all the floating menus was distracting).The "new look" programs are almost Windows like and demand a lot of screen real estate that makes working with multiple programs more challenging.

Since Tinderbox is a traditional (or neo-victorian) program, it is easy to use it to take notes while also looking at a website or a pdf file. My only difficulty was how to control what was exported or printed. I would like to have some notes to print and other to just be reference notes. I've never been crazy about Tinderbox's export and printing options (probably because I don't like to work with html). However, with the ability to now put export templates into a file, printing and exporting is much easier.

Here is how I've created a writing template tool that works much like Scrivener to control printing. First, create a note called  "exporttemplates" (note: names are just for illustration). Under this note create 2 sub-notes. "textonlyexporttrue" has this in the note body

^if(Export) ^text
^endif

The 2 lines are necessary so that exported notes have the proper paragraph breaks.

The second sub-note, "childrenselectednote" has this note body

^children(/exporttemplates/textonlyexporttrue)

BTW, both of these sub-notes need to check the box to indicate that they are export templates.

Next, create a user attribute called "export" of type boolean. The default value should be false.

Finally, go to document preferences and set the text export default template to /exporttemplate/childrenselectednote

Although not strictly needed, I also create a prototype that displays my new user attribute.

I have a top level note called "NotesToPrint" with an on-add action to set sub-notes to my new prototype and to also turn on my new user attribute (i.e. set "export" to true).

Now, when I want to print or export my text, I just select the "NotesToPrint" note and then bring up a new Nakakoji view and check on the selected notes radio button. Any sub-notes under "NotesToPrint" with the export user button turned on will be included in the view. If I don't want a note to print then I just uncheck my "export" attribute.

Title: Re: Tinderbox as a writing tool
Post by greg ibendahl on Aug 12th, 2008, 5:49pm

As many of you have seen, a version of this idea is now available on the Tinderbox file exchange. Here are some basic directions of how to use this file. Note also that the program now does a little more than what I described above in the first post. I've added a part to print or export the supporting notes as well (these would still go under the "Main text" note). I normally like to print what I've written to edit. Sometimes, I would like to see the supporting material (i.e., notes, references, etc) in my printout.  To do this, I've added a new export template called "All Notes".

Basic operation.
Most notes would go under the "Main Text" note as subnotes. By default, the notes placed here will have "Export" turned on. However, any comments, references, etc, that normally should not print can be included here as long as the "Export" box is unchecked. The Tag field can be used to describe what this non-export note actually is. I'm basically putting all my notes under the "Main text" note. That way I have the option to print or export only the actual text or both the actual text and supporting material.

To print or export, simply highlight the "Main Text" note and go to the Nakokaji view, select "selected notes" and then choose the appropriate export template, normally "ChildrenSelectedNotes". This will only print the notes marked as Export. To print everything under "Main Text", change the export template to "All Notes". Now the supporting notes are printed with a line above and below with the tag included in the above line.

Correction to program.
Note, all notes under "main text" should have a prototype of either "typical note" or "support note". The note "Main text" has an on add statement to assign a prototype. However, when adding a noted that is nested, a prototype is not assigned. To fix this, just copy the line in "Main text" under the on add action and paste it into the on add actions of the two prototypes (i.e., "typical note" and "support note")



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