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Tinderbox Users >> Tinderbox applications >> Tinderbox + DTP collab for marketing & product

Message started by Pat Maddox on Nov 1st, 2015, 3:18am

Title: Tinderbox + DTP collab for marketing & product
Post by Pat Maddox on Nov 1st, 2015, 3:18am

While I'm waiting for my tinderbox six license, I want to get some feedback on a potential workflow...

I should note that this is not about DEVONthink & Tinderbox integration – I can drag a document from DT straight in to TB and it creates a new TB note with the text from the DT document, and sets the TB note's URL to the devonthink:// link.

Hopefully I can get off on the right foot w/ Mark A by specifying exactly what I want to accomplish using TB :) Here's an example of the kind of project that I'd like to use TB for:

I create educational products for programmers. My workflow starts by surfing the web and looking for posts on discussion forums where programmers talk about problems they have. For example, I might find a lengthy post from someone having trouble setting up a development environment.

I'll go through that post and identify the key pain points: they've spent hours trying to set it up but it doesn't work, they've read a dozen articles that all cause different problems, and they keep getting error messages that they don't understand and can't do anything about.

I'll take notes – specifically, direct quotes about their main pain points – which become the starting point for my marketing and product development process.

I'll take those pain points that I've identified and I'll brainstorm various ways of fixing them. Then I'll take the pain points, and my fixes, and draft a sales page. The sales page, along with the underlying research, helps me outline a marketing sequence and product. I'll write a set of articles that I post on my website and send to my mailing list, to build interest in the product as I'm creating it.

In the mean time, I will continue to research potential customers' pains by reading discussion forums, and their responses to my list emails. I'll also look through my database of web articles I've collected over the years, to catalog the different techniques for setting up a development environment. I'll also reference the notes I've taken as I've set up development environments for myself, and many software companies.

The end result of the research and development would be, roughly:

  • the sales page
  • 6-12 articles of 500-2500 words each
  • an hour-long screencast
  • a 30-60 page ebook detailing tools & techniques for setting up a development environment

The whole process will take me about 2 to 3 months, and along the way I'll continually be collecting materials – I'll field questions from people on my mailing list, take notes, and feed it back into my process, always creating new marketing and product materials. That's where I want to use DT and TB together.

DT holds all my stuff – it holds articles that I've collected over the last 10 years, and has my notes that I've taken. Some of my notes are directly related to the articles, and some are just free-form notes.

I've not found an easy way to make my stuff more important than the reference material. Lately, I've tried keeping my notes in an external folder and indexing them into DT, so I can have two databases. One database only indexes my notes, so I can explore my notes in relation to each other, without any third party material. The second database indexes my notes, and contains all of the documents I've collected, so I can explore my notes in the context of those documents.

My main goal is to constantly produce new sources of information, whether they're articles, ebooks, or screencasts. I've seen people share workflows where they keep their notes in DT, and drag them into TB to start a new project.

I'm inclined to keep all my notes in TB, for several reasons:

    1. I really like the TB 6 interface. I last used TB v4, and I didn't use it much because the interface really put me off. The TB 6 interface really inspires me to use it as an information tool.

    2. While I really appreciate DT’s power in being able to structure and find information, it's definitely lacking in metadata. I can do lots of stuff with tags, comments, and the smart search. When it comes to creating rich relationships between documents, DT has nowhere near the power or potential of TB.

    3. I'm very okay with the approach of just doing basic stuff, throwing things in TB and organizing them and developing a strategy over time. I'm not interested in finding the "right way" to do it upfront. I see a lot of potential power in TB with its metadata, and visualizing potential relationships with maps before formalizing them with links or outlines.

    4. As a programmer myself, I see a lot of potential down the road in using TB’s built-in language to process my notes based on the metadata and even to execute external programs that operate on the notes and metadata. I find that prospect really exciting, but I don't see myself doing that for a while. For now, I just want to get things moving with Tinderbox.

Mark B posted a few years back that he had a document with 11,000 notes and 150 agents which he uses to build his website. I feel I can just create a single "notes" document & start adding my stuff to it. The TB document will specifically only be stuff that I create, and it can link back to DT very easily. I can also export the notes to a folder and index that in DT to use its nifty search and AI tools (I know TB has nifty search and AI too :))

Given my goals and high-level workflow, do you have any comments on my proposed workflow, or suggestions for how to divvy up the work between Tinderbox and DEVONthink?

Title: Re: Tinderbox + DTP collab for marketing & product
Post by Mark Bernstein on Nov 1st, 2015, 10:37am

I think this all makes sense.

I imagine you have an proverbial crate filled with possible topic leads.  Some may be too specialized. Some may be insoluble. Some may be duplicates of others -- itself a good sign for the marketing department!  Some might need to be considered, or wait for a better explanation, or simply need to wait until you have time to develop them.

That sounds like a classic Tinderbox scenario to me :)

Title: Re: Tinderbox + DTP collab for marketing & product
Post by Mark Anderson on Nov 1st, 2015, 2:24pm

I think the initial research phase very much suits TB's maps (spatial hypertexts) while you sort out ideas. If your output is to digital formats like web pages or HTML then you can write and export content directly from Tinderbox, though the latter format benefits from moving to a more outline-type structure. Still, one of Tinderbox's strengths is incremental formalisation. Start with a map while in early stage discovery, migrate to more structure as you need it. It's easy to link to DT notes so inly import what you need. Use one TBX or several as the data and your projects dictate; again there's no one 'right' way.

Title: Re: Tinderbox + DTP collab for marketing & product
Post by Pat Maddox on Nov 8th, 2015, 4:12pm

Thanks for the responses, guys.

After about a week of working with them, I am using TB less for note-taking, and more for organization of stuff I pull from DEVONthink...

(turns out I like note-taking in DTP just fine when I change the default RFT font  ;) )

This approach has come about after a week of journaling, and realizing that I don't particularly care about finding connections between these notes. I'm not doing anything with them, except maybe reviewing them.

Buuuut if I get the urge to write about something that becomes a theme in my journaling, then I can do a quick search in DT for some "candidate" notes, drag them into TB, and start analyzing.

I've already used TB like this to write lots of emails and forum posts this week. I've got the source material in DT, then I pull out my main quotes, drag them into a (new) TB document, arrange, comment, and export to finish writing.

It's basically the exact opposite of how I thought I'd use TB – lots of transient TB files bridging research and output.

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