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Tinderbox Users >> Tinderbox applications >> Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox

Message started by Dominique on Jul 3rd, 2013, 10:40am

Title: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by Dominique on Jul 3rd, 2013, 10:40am

Good afternoon, I've been thinking for many months now about the way it could be possible for me to use Tinderbox the way I use to proceed with Omnifocus. I mean using a keyboard shortcut such as cmd + space bar in order to record my thoughts on the fly. And the fact is that I could'nt do that this way. Indeed, Tbx hasn't any automatic shortcut of this kind. Do you think it could be possible ? If it was the case, I think it would be very helpful for note taking. Anyway, I found a way of using Tbx as a note taker or as a "noter". I've tried once again Twig yesterday. And I was enjoying its interface when I decided to create a Tbx folder with a similar appearance : a green light background, an "inbox" entry, some prototypes and an agent to gather my monthly "stuff". And it works the way I was thinking of. There would be a lot of things to say about the relation between the user and tinderbox interface from the point of his/her user "experience".

Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by Mark Anderson on Jul 3rd, 2013, 11:29am

What does Cmd+space do in OmniFocus? (I don't have the app). Is the problem with sending info to Tinderbox while in a different app?

I've written OS services (using Automator) that will put the contents of a text selection in the current app into the front open TB document, if that helps.

Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by Dominique Renauld on Jul 3rd, 2013, 11:55am

In Omnifocus, the customizable command cmd + space opens a dialog box wherein I can write on the fly some ideas or tasks to see later. I didn't know there was an Automator process. The idea consists in writing something (idea, task, and so on) while you work in an other app without entering into Omnifocus. For instance, I'm writing some text and I have a memory that can be helpful to add to a story I currently write. I use cmd + space and the box dialog arises. How do I have to do to use the Automator process you talk about ?

Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by Mark Anderson on Jul 3rd, 2013, 12:20pm

I mainly wrote it for clipping text - Safari was the original test case.  You type something in the app you're using, and then use the Services menu to send the data to Tinderbox.  It's not sophisticated, but then it's an hour fiddling with Automator instead of $$$ of bespoke application development.  ;)

See more here. It worked on Snow Leopard and now I'm on Mountain Lion it sees to work but throw an error. So you may need to test a bit further (using Automator) to tweak it for your OS.

Later: it seems Lion/Mountain Lion break Automator generated services written in Snow Leopard. I think it's related to sandboxing but there seems no info on how to resolve the issue.

Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by Martin Boycott-Brown on Jul 4th, 2013, 6:50am

There are many ways you could do this. One would be to use Alfred and create a workflow:


For workflows, see http://www.alfredforum.com/forum/3-share-your-workflows/

Another would be to use Keyboard Maestro:


There are many articles on Macdrifter about using KBM:


I used to use nvALT (http://brettterpstra.com/projects/nvalt/) which I synchronised through Simplenote (http://simplenote.com) as a way of getting things into Tinderbox, but I don't know if it still works, as I haven't used it for a long time. Simplenote has apparently been a bit "iffy" in recent times. nvALT is excellent in its own right.

Cheers, Martin.

Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by Mark Anderson on Jul 5th, 2013, 7:53am

I'm forced to eat my words - the services do work - we just had to work around an obscure AppleScript issue. See here for more detail and for links to revised (and tested) 'clip-selection to' services for Tinderbox and Twig.

Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by Dominique Renauld on Jul 7th, 2013, 5:53am

Thanks for your help. I've tested the links you've indicated to me, but it's too much complicated for the type of usage I want to do. I decided to use Omnifocus and Tinderbox in a separate way. Indeed, both of them don't do exactly the same things in the same manner. For instance, I can't write down in my Omnifocus's inbox the fragments of ideas I have in mind in order to use it later. I do need for that some application which allows me to organize my on-the-fly-ideas. Tinderbox is perfect for it. But it doesn't allow me to use it with a shortcut keyboard. Therefore, I have to integrate that piece of process in my everyday workflow. That means moving from one application to the other. I describe this way of using Tinderbox in my webblog (but it's in french) : http://www.dominiquerenauld.fr/index.php/2013/07/nota-bene/. I've created an "Inbox 2013" folder where I can take all my daily notes, written most of the time in a hardback notebook. At the end of the day, I open it and write down my collected ideas. And the fact is that I begin to understand the meaning of such a proposition : « a structure emerges ».

Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by Dr Mark on Jun 8th, 2014, 2:44pm

Doesn't seem to work with Tbx6 :-[

Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by Dellu on Jun 8th, 2014, 4:00pm

There are many ways of dropping sparks of ideas directly into a text file.
as mentioned above:
1. Alfred work
2. nvALT
if you developed a good workflow using the two apps; you can have a perfect workflow. you need to tinker a little bit.

3. TaskAgent: can directly drop notes into a text file; has a keyboard shorcut like OF
4. TaskPaper: can do the same.

using one of the above methods, you can then sync the text (TXT) file to TB via Simplenote.
The bad news is: TB and Simplenote are not in a reliable relationships; there is a murky ground between the two applications...bugs reported in many places.

Personally, simplicity is very important for my workflow. I am giving up TB for nvALT; until TB comes with a neat solution of syncing with other applications (folder system).

Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by Mark Anderson on Jun 8th, 2014, 5:39pm

The reason my clip to Tinderbox automator action fails, even when written for the new TB6 UI (as inspected with UI Browser), is that it appears v6 is not currently AppleScriptable - or so AppleScript Debugger tells me.

Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by Dominique Renauld on Oct 27th, 2014, 5:03pm

I've just posted a new short article about the way I use Tbx to take daily notes on the fly and I added some nice pictures to illustrate it. The way I take notes has changed a little since V6. Now, I have one file for my daily notes (memories, ideas, projects, and so on) and one separate file for my book notes. I think I'm about to consider that new version as an "inbox" in the sense we use to talk in these terms when applied to task management applications such as Things or Omnifocus. The article mentionned above is on my blog in french : http://www.dominiquerenauld.fr/blog-2/  

Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by Greg Korgeski on Oct 28th, 2014, 1:47pm

M. Renauld: Merci! J'aime toujours vos images belle de Tinderbox.

I've recently been experimenting with a similar solution, to replace a "dump everything in it" mega-Tinderbox that I used heavily for several years, until a few years ago when it sort of got sick and died. When TB6 came, I found I was able again to open and use it, but have realized it got a bit too unwieldy with the combination of everything from GTD project lists to journals to book notes to odds and ends to a large compendium of 'how to use TBX" notes and emails and so on. Not sure what I'm going to do with it.

But the problem of rapid entry of on the fly notes remains. What I've been trying is a bit different. I merged, cleaned up and converted my various DEVONthink databases into one master database; this works well for a sort of "everything in my life" database with main headings of personal things (including project files on everything from medical records to notes on the best riding mower to buy), a professional articles collection in psychology, a large set of misc articles I call the "Library" file (history, public affairs, climate change, books to read and notes on books), a professional practice file, and a large set of notes on various apps and software and Mac OS issues. (Incidentally, Tinderbox docs seem to live happily in DEVONthnk and are loosely searchable there; not so in Evernote.)

One key point: there is a nice DEVONthink widget that allows for instant addition of notes to the database. There are other ways to drag things into DEVONthink quickly, such as dragging a quote or link to the dock icon, etc. It allows me to catalog and tag them and add notes, etc., on the fly.

Where Tinderbox comes in is in the "son of Intellect," the original huge file being on hold for now. The new one is also arranged like a sort of Commonplace book by date but without mixing journal entries with collected notes. So I set up a smart folder in DEVONthink of anything added to it between one and a few weeks ago. My routine is to go through this folder after things have cooled, and see if there are articles, quotations, notes, journal entry passages, to put in the new Tinderbox doc. It results in a smaller Tinderbox document that still has a rapidly growing set of nicely labeled notes on basically anything that interests  me, quotes from a NYTimes article, an old comment in journal entries (I'm rereading these), quotes I especially like from books, and thoughts on any and all of these things.

I'll sort and explore them over time, but they seem likely to become a more efficient and more useful commonplace book type thing for me. For me that works because I usually have about five writing projects going at any one time (currently a few novels in revision, a self-help book and an essay) and connecting ideas this way is most useful.

It may be a lot of work to review the 11,000 notes in my older bigger "everything" Tinderbox file, but the slow process of reading through it (whether old book notes, movie ratings, essay and writing ideas and so on) seems to be exactly the kind of "pondering over notes" process that Tinderbox is designed for. As a place to dump everything and search it with AI, both Tinderbox and DEVONthink are good, but the latter makes a better warehouse as it holds everything from videos, images, audio files, and so on, while Tinderbox is the place to take that raw material from the lumber pile and explore it and shape it.

Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by Dominique Renauld on Oct 28th, 2014, 3:17pm

Reading your feedback experience is a pleasure. I used DevonThink for a while too and I enjoyed its "quick entry" window. It's the same process for Things (or Omnifocus) which I use too for my daily tasks (while doing something else) and it's very convenient. If I had a wish, it would be that Tbx allows that kind of quick entry. But DevonThink doesn't suit exactly my needs : yes, you can easily drop a lot of files into it, but one cannot have the kind of "computer relationship" you have with Tbx. To speak the language Edward Tufte employs about the datas visualization and computer interfaces, I think DevonThink (which is a very very good application) is an interface and Tbx such a "mirror" of your thoughts. In this sense, a Tbx quick entry would be the nec plus ultra, the state of the art for doing what you describe : taking notes on the fly.

Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by Greg Korgeski on Oct 28th, 2014, 3:46pm

That is a very nice point about Tufte, and you do have a good visual sense like that in your maps. I agree when it comes time to actually work with and explore the notes, Tinderbox has many more options.

You bring up a useful distinction between one's "thoughts" and brief quotes, and all the other things that for instance, I also dump into DEVONthink. I do find myself saving the various thoughts, quotes, sometimes first in the Tinderbox doc. Today I saved your blog post in DEVONthink, but some of our discussion also was copied into my Tinderbox "commonplace" book.

Partly for me, it's a matter of wanting a more carefully curated collection. Last week I saved 79 articles, notes, NY Times articles, book reviews, conference papers and notes, and various other things in DEVONthink. A single conference I attended resulted in a folder of about 15 notes, documents, conference receipts, and so on.  I'll review them next week or so and may find five about which I'll write brief excerpts (or just copy)  for my Tinderbox document. Each will have attributes such as an url or link to the DEVONthink original. It may evolve over time....it always has before.

And of course, I also have several other working Tinderbox documents, such as a "manual" on Tinderbox itself where I save relevant forum posts and and hints for later sorting, and a place where I do a lot of my original writing and planning of writing projects. I still may go back to one massive Tinderbox doc, but I will see.

Thanks again for your nice posts.  G

Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by Dominique Renauld on Feb 12th, 2015, 10:56am

Good afternoon, I tried to give Ulysses III a try. It's on my blog (in french but with fine screenshots) : http://www.dominiquerenauld.fr/tinderbox-ou-ulysses/
Ulysses is a very good app too for writing and exporting your work. And it has got a lovely name ! I'd really enjoy "navigating" with it. But in order to do that specific work which consists in taking and organizing notes in a writing perspective, in my "experience" which is also a daily user feeling, Tinderbox is great. As soon as I can, I write something about it. David Hewson wrote a rare and very interesting e-book about Ulysses.  

Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by Dominique Renauld on Jun 25th, 2015, 12:24pm

I've just completely modified my website and started to write a bilingual journal (English/French). I'll regularly post some short ideas about the way I work with Tinderbox. It's here : http://www.dominiquerenauld.net. My last post is about a recent oral presentation I had to make in a french university. My communication was called : Can a computer application sustain a clinical writing work ? and I made the hypothesis that Tbx enables to take notes on the fly while doing something else and seeing progressively an emerging structure one perhaps never thinks of.

Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by Mark Bernstein on Jun 25th, 2015, 1:09pm


Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by Greg Korgeski on Jun 26th, 2015, 9:43am

I saw that yesterday -- it appeared on Facebook. Looks like a nice presentation! Merci!  

Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by David Topps on Apr 3rd, 2016, 11:51am

Some interesting thoughts here. Thanks everyone.

I too have been exploring many different ways to do this kinda thing over the past few years. Currently, I am using a very odd amalgam of DevonThink, PersonalBrain, OneNote and Scrivener. Seems to work but I don't have the slick workflows and AppleScript integrations that many of the smart folks who work in this area have done.

Depending on what I am doing, I oscillate between these tools. Each has its strengths. Sometimes it creates a problem because I can't remember which tool I was working in so having things searchable by Spotlight really helps.

One thing that I generally looked for over the years is the ability to link between applications to specific items, or even better paragraphs, so that I can cross-reference easily. This works well for some things and marginally for others. OneNote does this particularly well. Until a few months ago, however, the Mac version was sufficiently hobbled that I rarely used it. Now it is a viable option. But being able to hyperlink from a DevonThink note to a OneNote paragraph to a Personal Brain thought etc has been very useful.

Scrivener works well in this environment for assembling your thoughts and notes into a manuscript.

Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by David Topps on Apr 3rd, 2016, 11:56am

There is one significant limitation now to many of these tools. Increasingly, I am finding that we are working in a team-based collaborative writing environment.

This introduces a whole new bunch of challenges and constraints.

OneNote, Google Docs both work really well for this, allowing simultaneous editing and excellent version control.

DevonThink, Personal Brain and Scrivener can all be shared on a central server but you have to be careful with version control and they don't really like concurrent access at all. I expect that TinderBox will fall into this category as well - I am too new to it to tell but looking at its structure and what it was designed to do, it will be too much to expect it to handle concurrent access as well.

Sorry, I may be getting too off topic now, but I do find conversations around how best to integrate these tools to be very interesting.

Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by Mark Bernstein on Apr 3rd, 2016, 5:09pm

Tinderbox works very well with version control.

Concurrent collaboration requires tools built from the outset for concurrent collaboration, and necessarily subordinate nearly everything to the needs of collaboration and, often, surveillance.

Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by Greg Korgeski on Apr 3rd, 2016, 6:23pm

@David Topps I've got a similar configuration with DEVONthink, TheBrain, Tinderbox with my "One large document" and various other specialized documents (one for my writing, one for my professional "day job" work, others for specific projects and ad hoc docs), and often Evernote. I think also that there are some nice things I get from each of them that I can't quite get in one tool -- I like linking in odd non-hierarchical ways, especially my library of reading notes and so on, in TheBrain as it does seem to somehow help me to build a network of links with greater ease and awareness than other tools; DEVONthink for me is the ultimate in a massive document library organized in a hierarchical fashion, but with the advantage that it accommodates huge documents, books, videos, anything you want to throw into it so well. It also can absorb all my Evernote notes and so on. I still l find that my first stop is usually my big Tinderbox doc, though, and of course I make a lot of links between notes there as well.

One workaround I've evolved over time to address the lack of a "perfect" tool has been just designing a workflow for using these tools together. For instance, having some key attributes, such as tags, which I use if the note should be duplicated in one of the other tools somewhere. So I might start putting some reading notes in Tinderbox, but then if tagged, I might copy the note or at least make a parallel note in my TheBrain under, say, list of books read this year, lists of authors, which is a hierarchical list organized along something like the Bloom "Western Canon" outline, linking then to another thought such as the topic the book is about (e.g., hypnosis). That same note might also fit in my professional Tinderbox if, like at the moment, the book is on a psychology topic.

I don't consider this an ideal solution, but it has some advantages including forcing a level of engagement with some notes that helps me make better mental links over time. It at least gives me (if no one else :) the illusion of becoming both more "organized" and "smarter." Seems to help me think things through, make more connections of different sorts, and meanwhile builds a huge network of information and ideas over the years.

I guess this is just a long way of saying that sometimes, for me, it's not the tool but the workflow process as it has evolved, that seems to be the helpful  thing.

Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by Dominique Renauld on Aug 22nd, 2016, 11:12am

I've just posted a new video about a short trick to use Tinderbox with Alfred. I was searching for a way to use a Tinderbox shortcut as I do when I take a note with Omnifocus or DEVONthink Pro quick entry and I customized a very little workflow (two actions) with Alfred powerpack. I have just to press cmd + enter and then naturally press enter command to type the title of my note in map view. Maybe is there a way to do this using the system preferences, but I didn't find it. So, I have a new workflow wherein DEVONthink Pro quick entry allows me easily to archive web pages and Tinderbox is my inbox. Happy! The video is here:http://www.dominiquerenauld.net/journal/22/8/2016/taking-notes-with-alfred-and-tinderbox

Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by WAKAMATSU on Aug 22nd, 2016, 9:34pm

Dear Mr. Renauld,

Will you do me a favor?

Please change your indicated URL.

If I click it in this UserForum,
[ http://www.dominiquerenauld.fr/tinderbox-ou-ulysses/]
following message is shown.

[Authorization Required

This server could not verify that you are authorized to access the document requested. Either you supplied the wrong credentials (e.g., bad password), or your browser doesn't understand how to supply the credentials required.]


Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by Dominique Renauld on Aug 23rd, 2016, 4:00am

That link leads to my ancient site, whose blog articles were written in French and this site is no more open. But if you want to read in French that long article about Ulysses and Tinderbox, tell me and and I'll send it to you.

Title: Re: Taking notes on the fly with Tinderbox
Post by WAKAMATSU on Aug 23rd, 2016, 7:07am

À  Mr.Renauld,

Merci pour une réponse.
Est-il pas cette adresse de site ?

[ http://www.dominiquerenauld.net/journal/29/7/2016/304tal10sql5bmbsx70zmu95y7uogu ]

Je visite quelquefois votre site.
Mon application préférée est DEVONthinkPro et Ulysses, aussi.

Je prie pour votre activité de plus.

Bien à vous, WAKAMATSU  :)

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