Welcome, Guest. Please Login
Tinderbox
  News:
IMPORTANT MESSAGE! This forum has now been replaced by a new forum at http://forum.eastgate.com and no further posting or member registration is allowed. The forum is still accessible via read-only access for reference purposes. If you wish to discuss content here, please use the new forum. N.B. - posting in the new forum requires a fresh registration in the new forum (sorry - member data can't be ported).
  HomeHelpSearchLogin  
 
Pages: 1 2 3 
Send Topic Print
How do I get started with this app? (Read 19654 times)
conejo23
Full Member
*
Offline



Posts: 11

How do I get started with this app?
May 28th, 2011, 11:12am
 
First, I apologize for posting what is surely a commonly posted topic here, and one of which I'm sure the experienced folks here grow tired of seeing.

Secondly, I didn't see the request to use real names for accounts here until I'd already created this one. My name is Rick Mathes, I live in Austin Texas.

I'm checking this app out and the yin and yang of it is that on one hand I feel that there is meat on this bone for me, there's value here and I can't quite bring myself yet to walk away from the app. On the other hand, I'm not sure I've never demoed another application that is more maddening to try to get traction with. And that makes me want to walk away from it.

The tutorial is pretty limited, and I watched some of the screen casts and those didn't really help much, either.

So I tried creating a document and putting some notes into it and then playing around with it and, man, I'm going nowhere fast.

So the basic question is, is there some tutorial that walks the new user step by step through the basic features and functions of this application? I've been searching the forums and doing what I can on my own and I realize that one common answer to this question is "well, what are you trying to accomplish?" but I can't even answer that until I have a fuller understanding of the attributes of this app and how they work.

one of my frustrations is the screencasts, for example, kind of blithely throw out concepts like adornments, attributes, prototypes and containers and quickly shows someone using them, but I've yet to find something that methodically walks me through what the heck these things are and why someone may wish to use them in the first place.

then I'm finding disconnects between some of that documentation and the actual functioning of the app. I just spent 10 minutes trying to figure out how to do what what of the screencasts showed, putting an image into the body of a note. Nothing worked. Tried dragging an image, dragging the file, copying an image off the web, etc....  Nothing. Went to the user doc and found the addendum that this functionality is disabled. I feel like I've spent half an hour trying to put together a very simple document with a dozen notes and gotten absolutely nowhere.

This app looks incredibly versatile and powerful, but if I'm going to have to devote hours to be able to even start using it at a base level, then I guess I'd like to know that now so I can just put it down and move in another direction. I simply don't have time to make learning this app a part time job.

Is there some basic tutorial out there that introduces the plain vanilla nuts and bolts of this app in a methodical way, actually teaching the new user how to work with these different features?  or is it basically a "sorry, you just gotta read the manual" kind of thing?

I very much appreciate any input, thank you.
Back to top
 
 
  IP Logged
Mark Bernstein
YaBB Administrator
*
Offline

designer of
Tinderbox

Posts: 2871
Eastgate Systems, Inc.
Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #1 - May 28th, 2011, 1:44pm
 
Perhaps you might enjoy Steve Zeoli's recent tutorial article?

     Taking The Information Plunge With Tinderbox
     http://mac.appstorm.net/reviews/productivity-review/taking-the-information-plung...

What sort of work would you like to do with Tinderbox?  We might have more pertinent suggestions if we knew, for example, whether you were plotting a new novel (on which there's a great thread here, incidentally), or keeping track of patient records, or planning a political campaign....
Back to top
 
« Last Edit: May 28th, 2011, 1:46pm by Mark Bernstein »  
WWW   IP Logged
Sebastian Stephenson
Full Member
*
Offline



Posts: 100

Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #2 - May 28th, 2011, 1:53pm
 
A recent article about Tinderbox that came out recently might be able to help you. (http://mac.appstorm.net/reviews/productivity-review/taking-the-information-plung...) Have you had a look?

I don't know if you have looked at ordering the Tinderbox Way(http://www.eastgate.com/Tinderbox/TinderboxWay.html) but that was a major help, along with the screencast with Mark Bernstein showing how he used to it to create a fictional-novel(note: that was created with version 4, we are on 5, pushing 6, so a lot has changed) but you have looked at that.

Frankly, yea it is a "you gotta read the manual" but Tinderbox really is more than software, it's a way of thinking about how you can use and think about computing with data.

Reading the Tinderbox way, for me was very helpful, because if you like, Bernstein is an auteur of software, and knowing the ideas behind the product can help you think in Tinderbox. If you have bought Tinderbox already then buying the book will be chump change(but financially, everyone's different).

This software is demanding but I have found that once you get the concepts and get a intellectual model of Tinderbox. It does not let go. I was stuck on 4.6 for months and was able recently to get up to date, I was able to pick it up relatively easy.

Unfortunately yes you have to take time learning tinderbox but please stick with it, it will come. This quote from your post really rang home for me.

Quote:
there's value here and I can't quite bring myself yet to walk away from the app. On the other hand, I'm not sure I've never demoed another application that is more maddening to try to get traction with.


When I first read the Tinderbox webpage and thought, this was perfect but then I downloaded the demo and thought it was a scam. But I just had a feeling that I needed to try it one more time and work at it, I then watch Bernstein's screencast about the novel and that helped a lot seeing Tinderbox in action.

There is stuff I still don't understand(like all those html attributes, I don't know how they are used in exporting html) but I still have been using it for 2/3 years now and never looked back.

Final note have you had a look at the Tinderbox weekend cds?(http://www.eastgate.com/Tinderbox/TbxWeekend.html) these may help as well.
Back to top
 
 
Sebastian Stephenson sebey9   IP Logged
conejo23
Full Member
*
Offline



Posts: 11

Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #3 - May 28th, 2011, 2:11pm
 
Thanks Stephanie.

I did read that article. It was in large part what prompted me to decide to demo Tinderbox. But I didn't find it helpful as a 'how to get started' type of tool.

re buying the book, I have not yet bought the software. Still in demo mode. To be honest, if I need to spend that kind of money on a book to effectively use a piece of software, then I'm not interested in that software. Same with buying CDs.

honestly, what I'm looking for is something pretty simple and I guess I figured "there is no way they don't have a simple tutorial introducing new users to each of these basic attributes of the software", but apparently, that's the case.

regarding Mark's question above about how I wish to use it, and the common theme I see here of "you want to know how to get started? Well tell us how you want to use it and then we can point you in the right direction"? I understand where that comes from but I'm coming at this from a more fundamental place. I can't answer that question until I have a better feel for what this software can do.

it's like someone seeing a car for the very first time, having no idea what a car is or does and asking "what is that thing and what does it do?" THe answer is, well, it helps you get places faster.

"Ok, well, how do I learn how to use it?" and answering "well it depends where you want to go."

Regarding the basics? No, it doesn't. I'm not asking questions about the nuance of using this application. I'm trying to figure out the most basic aspects of its usage and the relationships of its data attributes. And it's mind blowing to me that there isn't something in place to walk the new user through that basic functionality.

I'll use Scrivener as an example. Now I was interested in Tinderbox before the promotion through Scrivener, but the recent email re-piqued my interest. Scrivener has a really nice screencast showing the different elements of the app, how they are used, WHY they are used, and how they work together. Tinderbox would benefit mightily from such a tool. Well, let me be more accurate, new and prospective users would benefit mightily.

honestly, while I'm pretty sure that if I spent the next month spending an hour a day working on this app that I'd find some cool ways to use it and explore my data, I have absolutely no desire to do that.  I suspect that this app, at least at this point in my life, is not for me. The task of learning how to use it "even in the shallow end of the pool" appears to require far more commitment than I'm willing to invest.

And that's a pity because I still believe this is an incredibly, rich, powerful, flexible and well-crafted piece of software. Just wish a tool existed to give folks like me a proper 'how-to' introduction.
Back to top
 
« Last Edit: May 28th, 2011, 2:14pm by conejo23 »  
  IP Logged
conejo23
Full Member
*
Offline



Posts: 11

Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #4 - May 28th, 2011, 2:23pm
 
re the article that was posted as a resource, let me give a concrete example where I don't find it helpful.

regarding agents, it says this:

Note that you can either type in the code for the query or use the control provided by Tinderbox to build the code — the latter method is what I tend to use.

I created a document, I added some notes, then wanted to play around with it a bit. I created a new agent and saw the action field and I can see absolutely no way to "use the control provided by Tinderbox to build the code". There is no drop down action item, no menu items to insert there, no 'click here to get a library of pre-programmed actions'. It's just a blank field with no support.  The article above says you CAN use some method to populate this field, but it doesn't tell you HOW to do it.

I'm guessing that if I dug into the user manual I'd find the answer. But that's the thing. If I have to dig into the user manual for virtually everything I'm trying to learn to do when I'm just getting acquainted with the basics, it will take me FOREVER to get up to speed with this software.

but a short video tutorial that was interactive and led the new user through building a few notes, creating prototypes and containers, defining attributes and agents and then tying it all together and examining that data from different views would be SO helpful. Watching screencasts of others quickly do it when I don't even really understand the data element they're working with, why one would use it, and it doesn't let ME do it and show me how to do it? I just don't learn anything from that. To carry my analogy above a bit further, it's like trying to teach someone how to drive a car by showing them a video of someone driving a car. Maybe that is an effective way to teach others how to use this app, but it's not how I learn.

Give me something that quickly points out the different aspects of the software, tell me what they are and why they're used, guide me through utilizing each of them on some ultra simple example, and now I'll have what I need to explore the app further on my own and develop usage scenarios.

but right now, I have probably spent 2 hours either working directly with the app or reading about it or watching screencasts and I have 0 traction with it. That's a problem.
Back to top
 
« Last Edit: May 28th, 2011, 2:24pm by conejo23 »  
  IP Logged
Mark Bernstein
YaBB Administrator
*
Offline

designer of
Tinderbox

Posts: 2871
Eastgate Systems, Inc.
Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #5 - May 28th, 2011, 3:24pm
 
Steve Zeoli was, I think referring to the tools for building queries, rather than actions, when he wrote " you can either type in the code for the query or use the control provided by Tinderbox to build the code."



The red arrow points to drop-down menus for building queries -- that is, for specifying what you want the agent to find.

The blue arrow points to a place in which you can specify an additional action you want the agent to perform on notes that meet its criteria. For example:

    $Color="red"

would set the color of the notes to red. This can be very powerful, but it's perhaps not the very first thing you need to do. For more on this, see the help for agents and actions, and the appendix on Tinderbox actions.
Back to top
 
 
WWW   IP Logged
Pierre von Kaenel
Full Member
*
Offline



Posts: 39
Upstate NY
Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #6 - May 29th, 2011, 12:31pm
 
conejo23:
I first got TB several years ago as a way of dealing with notes. Like you, I was totally lost but kept experimenting. I found no tutorials that gave me the overview and how-to details that I wanted. I remember reading a number of posts suggested that the TB team didn't want to provide specific examples or "use case" scenarios because they didn't want to steer us in certain directions, thus limiting our application of TB to specific problem domains. Unfortunately, being a computer scientist, I prefer reading technical manuals and looking at case studies to understand the capabilities of a given piece of software.

I eventually got frustrated as you seem to be and put TB on the back burner. A year or so later I came back and did more exploring about the web site.  I had a specific problem I needed software to solve, and this time I think I "got it.". It turned out the TB would not provide the features I needed.  

Now I'm starting a sabbatical and am exploring the topic of applying relationships between tag metadata.  Once again I have come back to TB, but this time I've explored deeper. I have been delving into the aTbRef document more than in the past. Because I now have more time to explore (sabbaticals are really nice) I've been reading through old posts in the forum, learning more than I ever did.  I also spent more time reading through the wiki and the cookbook.  There is a definite need for a "textbook" type of reference for TB (I should look into that), but until that happens, if your mind works more like mine, I would suggest

1.  Look at the tutorials on the site to get a general idea of the basics (this, you've done).

If you need to go further than writing notes having a few attributes, perhaps generated from prototypes, and using simple agents to perform "smart" searches, then ...

2.  Read the aTbRef, which is a very technical handbook on TB.
3.  Spend time when you can,reading posts in the forum. Here you often find snippets of code and how-to advice that fills in some details you don't find elsewhere.  
4.  Spend time reading through the wiki and the Tinderbox Cookbook (links at bottom of main web page).

I'm glad to report that I'm now much further along the road of learning Tinderbox than I was last time around. And I think that TB may well have features that will help me, whereas I didn't think so in the past. This is due to programming capabilities hidden under the hood. Before, I learned some of the basics of the functions available in the language - now I'm understanding more of the power available due to further readings in the Ref, wiki, and cookbook.

Back to top
 
 


- "Simplify, simplify, simplify" - Thoreau
  IP Logged
conejo23
Full Member
*
Offline



Posts: 11

Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #7 - May 29th, 2011, 1:18pm
 
Pierre, thank you for this thoughtful reply.  The idea of a sabbatical sounds heavenly. Given that I own my own small business along with my wife, that's not happening. Right now even taking a week off is a luxury.

I think the bottom line is that there's absolutely no way to get traction with this app than, to use a phrase you used repeatedly, "spend time" with the various resources trying to cobble together some kind of coherent, cogent view of how this is all architected.

Frankly, that's something I believe should already be in place in some fashion as an elemental resource for beginners. The developer seems stubbornly wed to the idea of not providing such a resource since when I search the forums I see varying types of the same plea reiterated over and over again. What's ironic is I've probably never seen an app that more desperately cries out for such a resource, and it is administered by folks dead set against providing it. Another of life's ironies.

I want to be clear, I'm NOT saying they're wrong in not providing it. I obviously don't possess sufficient perspective to draw such a conclusion. They know their app and if they believe providing even such basic 'how to get started' resources would potentially influence (and not for the better) how a new user would utilize this application, then there you have it.  What I can say is that such an approach is ensuring that FAR fewer users will stick with this, purchase it and use it than otherwise would if they had even a bit of basic help getting traction with it.

For me, it is likely that I'll be walking away from this app for now. This is actually the second time I've tried to engage it, with results no different this time than the last. Perhaps at some point in the future I'll, like you, find a pressing need that compels me to revisit Tinderbox. Again, the challenge will be that unless that circumstance is married to some kind of time availability to study and explore this app, then it's unlikely this will ever become part of my solution set.

I wish I could say "this is what I'm trying to figure out how to do, can Tinderbox help me?" I understand that would make this process easier. But instead, what I have is a tremendous amount of information archived in my information repository of choice, DevonThink Pro Office. I think that's a beautiful, powerful app that fits that aspect of my workflow beautifully. Where it is limited is helping me really analyze and assess that information, to draw connections and distinctions within it. My instincts tell me that getting some of that data out of DTPO and into TB would allow me to explore that data in new ways, and the resulting understanding would then yield specific further ideas about how to more deeply utilize this app.

But right now, I simply lack sufficient perspective and schema to have even a basic idea of what it can really do for me. Actually, that's probably not accurate. From the screencasts, I have some sense of that. What I lack is even the most basic notion of HOW to utilize the app, how to mechanically use it to create even the most basic frameworks.

I'm already working 60+ hours a week. I simply don't need another part time job learning a piece of software that may or may not be of value for me.

I'll say it again, my specific recommendation is that this app would GREATLY benefit from a Scrivener-like tutorial to simply introduce new users to the basic features and functions and schema of this app. And I would bet that if such a resource were available, sales would significantly increase.

I really wish I had the time to play with this app. Doing that kind of thing is something I genuinely enjoy doing. I could spend hours doing it and have a great time. I just can't afford to spend that kind of time on this when I have so many other pressing demands. Just the way it is.
Back to top
 
 
  IP Logged
Mark Bernstein
YaBB Administrator
*
Offline

designer of
Tinderbox

Posts: 2871
Eastgate Systems, Inc.
Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #8 - May 29th, 2011, 2:55pm
 
If any of the readers of this note are writers and understand what you have in mind here, we'd likely be a good market for a piece.  We're always interested in facilitating tutorials, examples, demos, and case studies.

And we're not the only market, as (for example) Steve Zeoli recently demonstrated.
Back to top
 
 
WWW   IP Logged
conejo23
Full Member
*
Offline



Posts: 11

Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #9 - May 29th, 2011, 3:44pm
 
Mark,

the main point I'd recommend is such a tutorial lead the user through an active, participatory experience. Don't just tell them about the app, don't just show them someone else using them, take them through an example of how to add some notes, actually interact with the different attributes of notes, create containers, agents, etc..., have them DO, not just passively observe. The goal is by the end of that experience the user now understands HOW to use the application even at a most basic level. With that in hand, now they can set about the task at hand of understanding how to deploy this tool to fit their unique needs.

Given what I think this tool can provide, if such a tutorial was available I'd probably be buying a license this weekend. As it is, I'll check back in a few months or years if I find a specific usage scenario compelling enough to induce me to labor through this app's learning curve.
Back to top
 
 
  IP Logged
Mark Anderson
YaBB Administrator
*
Offline

User - not staff!

Posts: 5689
Southsea, UK
Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #10 - May 29th, 2011, 4:06pm
 
Viewed from the perspective of someone who's written a lot of demos and personally tailored example TBXs, what's missing from your posts here is a sense of what you're trying to do. It's so much easier to pace the demo when one has some idea of why/what the user's interest is.
Back to top
 
 

--
Mark Anderson
TB user and Wiki Gardener
aTbRef v6
(TB consulting - email me)
WWW shoantel   IP Logged
Pierre von Kaenel
Full Member
*
Offline



Posts: 39
Upstate NY
Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #11 - May 29th, 2011, 7:47pm
 
conejo23:

Your statement,

"what I have is a tremendous amount of information archived in my information repository of choice, DevonThink Pro Office. I think that's a beautiful, powerful app that fits that aspect of my workflow beautifully. Where it is limited is helping me really analyze and assess that information, to draw connections and distinctions within it. My instincts tell me that getting some of that data out of DTPO and into TB would allow me to explore that data in new ways, and the resulting understanding would then yield specific further ideas about how to more deeply utilize this app",

parallels my experience - I also use DTPO for my data repository.  I've been researching relationships between data and have tested Personal Brain for its visual representation of such relationships as well as Tinderbox for it's analysis features. These explorations are part of my research project for extending tags using links and mathematical relations.  At any rate, TB's built-in language may provide some support for these concepts, so I'm eager to learn this app at deeper levels.



Back to top
 
 


- "Simplify, simplify, simplify" - Thoreau
  IP Logged
conejo23
Full Member
*
Offline



Posts: 11

Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #12 - May 29th, 2011, 8:00pm
 
Mark, I'll reply to that in two ways.

First, as I've been stressing, in my opinion you guys desperately need a fundamental, basic 'how to get started' tutorial that anyone can watch and work through to learn the basics of how to use Tinderbox mechanically. You guys are very, very focused on the conceptual side of this and adapting this powerful tool to meet the specific needs of the user, and I understand that. But it doesn't sound like you're hearing what I'm saying: I have NO IDEA how I would implement this tool, what I want to accomplish, because despite having spent several hours trying I have yet to generate ANY traction with this application whatsoever. What do I want to do with it? No clue, because I really don't understand at even the most rudimentary level how to use it.

There is no prior paradigm I can bring to this app. If I know how to use a word processor, I can get started with a new one and learn to differentiate what it does versus what the old one does, I can leverage old knowledge into perspectives on how to use the new app. Near as I can tell, there is NOTHING like Tinderbox, at least nothing I've used before. So I'm in completely new ground, I've no idea what it can do for me, how I can use it to more effectively interrelate with my data and I'm looking for SOMETHING that can give me enough traction to answer your question. But you guys keep coming back to a question I cannot answer because I don't know enough about your app.

You are assuming knowledge and intention that does not yet exist. And I would venture to say that is the case for some reasonably-sized percentage of the people who stumble upon your application. And by not providing that basic info and instead continuing to ask the "well what do you want to do with it" question, you basically just frustrate us and lose customers.

that is my experience with Tinderbox and your web site. And the few people whom I've asked "hey, what do you know about Tinderbox"? That is EXACTLY their response, too. It's a mirror image of mine. They tried to get traction, no good tools existed to really do it and they didn't feel like investing inordinate time to learn an app that may or may not assist their workflow.

Now here's part 2 of my answer: because I didn't have any clue how I'd actually want to use it (and if I did, your demo structure is far too limited to actually test such an implementation in any meaningful way), I contrived a simplistic scenario that I figured if I could implement would teach me the basic tools I could then use to bootstrap myself into deeper understanding of the app and how it could potentially benefit me.

I have the latest copy of the magazine "Austin". It has the newcomers guide with lists and stories of things to do and how to get acquainted with the city. So I figured I would make notes on those things I'd like to go experience. Some are restaurants, some are things like hikes, some are museums, some are landmarks, some are fun recreational experiences. I started entering some of the items and quickly realized I had no clue what I was doing. As I said before, for example, I spent 20 minutes just trying to put a picture into a note before finally digging through the manual and finding the addendum that says I can't do that. And if that's going to be a permanent limitation, then this discussion need go no further, this app would be too limited for me to be interested in using.

So I probably spent a good hour trying to figure out how to add these notes and refine their attributes to give me a meaningful, um, something. Couldn't do it.

So there you have it.  Very interesting app but for those of us who can't answer the question "tell me how you want to use it", you need to provide 'getting started/introduction' resources if you would like us to purchase and use it. I guarantee the lack of such resources is causing a number of people to look at this app, get interested in it, then get frustrated with it, then walk away from it.
Back to top
 
 
  IP Logged
Mariusz Pisarski
Full Member
*
Offline



Posts: 26

Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #13 - May 29th, 2011, 8:06pm
 
Hello Rick,

If I were you, I'd just start taking notes. If you manage to write some, then the natural need to structure them should somehow appear. If you want to connect one particular note to another, use links. If you want to group notes, you can colour them or (and) put them in a single container, or place them on a single adornment.  Agents and queries, in my opinion, come later and only if you need them. By then you will probably know what you want to accomplish. I spent years (from version 1.3 on a borrowed Performa Mac) using Tinderbox just for brainstorming and first drafts, without the deep sea diving. But the more you just snorkel, the more TB invites you to go deeper.  

Within this  simple usage, just one layer of the multi-layered software - a map to visualize your data - there is enough to enjoy. Hope you will and thank you for your posts.

Back to top
 
 
  IP Logged
conejo23
Full Member
*
Offline



Posts: 11

Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #14 - May 29th, 2011, 8:18pm
 
mariusz.......that's exactly what I tried to do and after over an hour of trying, I had no clue how to do it. I struggled just trying to figure out how to add notes themselves or go back and edit them.

you throw out the suggestion "just put them in a single container or place them on a single adornment". Well, this is what I keep saying: for me to do that I need to know first HOW to do that and second, I need to know what a container or adornment is and why I would want to put a note in or on one.

I appreciate your suggestion, it just makes the mistake that the basic web site makes: it assumes I know things I don't know.

Part of it, I'm sure, is learning styles. Some people with certain learning styles can probably come here, watch Mark's 'outline a book' video and the 'manage diabetes' video and be off and running. I watched those and had absolutely zero clue what I was seeing. They had absolutely no value to helping me get traction with this app.

There is a major disconnect between how this site is trying to teach me about this app and how I learn, apparently. I'm a pretty tech savvy person, I've got a pretty sophisticated work flow, I've designed software in previous lives and in my business I'm responsible for adminstering our network, etc....

But this app is making me feel like an absolute idiot.
Back to top
 
 
  IP Logged
Pages: 1 2 3 
Send Topic Print