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How do I get started with this app? (Read 19392 times)
Pierre von Kaenel
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Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #15 - May 29th, 2011, 8:30pm
 
Mark A.

"... 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."

I realize your statement is intended for another poster, but ...

My "area" has been object oriented programming languages and software design.  When I am learning a tool or language, I don't usually have a problem in mind (unlike my current project). I can't ask for help by providing details of what I'm trying to do.  I just want to understand the features and later apply them as I need them.  That's why providing case studies would be helpful.  Otherwise, I have to comb through many posts, wikis, and cookbooks to piece together an understanding of this product.  
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« Last Edit: May 29th, 2011, 8:34pm by Pierre von Kaenel »  


- "Simplify, simplify, simplify" - Thoreau
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conejo23
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Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #16 - May 29th, 2011, 8:57pm
 
My "area" has been object oriented programming languages and software design.  When I am learning a tool or language, I don't usually have a problem in mind (unlike my current project). I can't ask for help by providing details of what I'm trying to do.  I just want to understand the features and later apply them as I need them.  That's why providing case studies would be helpful.  Otherwise, I have to comb through many posts, wikis, and cookbooks to piece together an understanding of this product.  

Precisely.

Many of the folks here want to provide help in the context of a specific goal-oriented outcome, a specific reason for using this software.  well if you have one, terrific.

but if you're just trying to get a feel for what the software is and does, you're asking an unanswerable question, and the asking is simply going to frustrate the user.

Pierre, I'd also like to know a bit more about how you import data from DTPO to TB. Mark was kind enough to reply to some initial emails where I asked this question, and the answer appears to be that you simply, manually, copy the desired data from a DTPO item to a TB note, one note at a time.

If I have 138 notes on spinal disorders, manually copying the relevant info from each one sounds like a very laborious undertaking. Given that TB has no internal HTML engine of its own, and that a good chunk of my DTPO items are in the format of a web archive, I understand that I simply can't import them, much less batch import them. Manually importing them one by one, though, has all the appeal of a root canal.
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Martin Boycott-Brown
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Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #17 - May 30th, 2011, 5:29am
 
Quote:
what's missing from your posts here is a sense of what you're trying to do


Mark, I hope you don't mind if I say that I have to disagree! I'd say his posts indicate that he's trying to learn how to use the program! I'm not trying to be cute -- I do research in psychology, and it looks to me from the outside as if the two "sides" in this exchange are not really "meeting in the middle". I'm sure it's unintentional, but responses along the lines of "tell me what you want to do" or "give me a specific problem" can be interpreted by the other as meaning "you must come to me on my terms, and I will only help you if you do that". The learner may not be _able_ to come to the educator, for various reasons, and if that is so, the educator needs to go to the learner. I suspect that some of the learners (both on this forum and in the Scrivener forums) have the feeling that the educators are not willing to go to them. I'm sure that "tell me what you want to do" is an attempt to go to them, but I think it's coming across as intransigence. I don't want to come across as critical of anyone -- I just offer up an observation in the hope that it might help. Knowing my attempts to help, it will probably make things worse Sad. And of course, I may be talking rubbish -- I often do!

Just an additional thought -- one of the good things about Steve Zeoli's article was that it had pictures in it, and it's noticeable that some of the posts on the Scrivener forum have had pictures. It may seem childish, but they are darned useful!

Best wishes,
Martin.

PS -- I've just noticed that one of the words I used has been magically changed to "darned" -- how quaint! Automatic translation from English into American! It's tempting to experiment with a few other words, and see what the equivalents are.

I had no idea the forum software we're using did this. I apologize on its behalf.  MB

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« Last Edit: May 30th, 2011, 9:16am by Mark Bernstein »  
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Pierre von Kaenel
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Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #18 - May 30th, 2011, 7:05am
 
Conejo - no I don't make connections between DTPO and TB.
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- "Simplify, simplify, simplify" - Thoreau
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Derek Van Ittersum
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Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #19 - May 30th, 2011, 8:49am
 
Have you seen this screencast about planning a book?

http://www.eastgate.com/Tinderbox/video/Planning.mov

When I started with TBX, this was the thing that taught me how to get started.

Even though I am not writing novels, it quickly got me oriented to the concepts (notes, agents).  There are some differences now between the most recent version and the version in the screencast, but they are not differences to the main concepts of the program.

Also, I think there may be some fundamental differences between the way people evaluate and begin using applications that are at play here. Tinderbox did not make sense to me really until I just up and tried to use it to help me brainstorm a paper I was writing. I know many people prefer to use a different approach than "just dive in."  However, one of the things about TBX that is both powerful and frustrating is its flexibility.  Depending on what one wants to do, one would use the program in fundamentally different ways. When I am brainstorming a paper, I drag in notes from DevonThink and arrange them on a map without any prep work at all.  When I'm doing qualitative analysis, I start by defining a ton of key attributes and prototypes to bound my analysis in particular ways. It would be a disservice, I think, to use screencasts of these activities to advertise the product because it would be too easy to then say TBX is for brainstorming and qual analysis, because it is much more than that.  Furthermore, if someone wanted to learn from me how to do either of these activities in TBX, I would start my explanation in very different ways and even define the concepts differently.  In that respect, I don't think it's unreasonable for Mark to ask you what tasks you might want to accomplish with TBX.  For Scrivener, it's easy to guess what users might want to do:  they want to write!  For TBX, it's much harder.  Are you planning a book?  Doing quantitative analysis? Making pseudo-databases? Data-mining? Importing spreadsheets for analysis? Writing hypertext fiction or nonfiction? The concepts and features we'll start sharing with you are fairly different based on what broad kinds of activity you're interested in using TBX with.

In some ways it is like HTML--making a rough web page with <body> and <p> elements doesn't really give one a sense of what is possible with the markup language, it takes much more practice and learning to get there (collectively and individually).  Same for TBX.
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« Last Edit: May 30th, 2011, 8:52am by Derek Van Ittersum »  
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Martin Boycott-Brown
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Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #20 - May 30th, 2011, 3:56pm
 
Quote:
I had no idea the forum software we're using did this. I apologize on its behalf.


No need to apologise. I was quite amused. But it would have sounded a bit more like me if it had changed it to "dashed"  Wink. I'm still wondering if I should try out a few other words! And it's quite a compliment to the gentility of your usual forum members that this has never come up before.

Derek -- very useful link -- thank you very much for the tip.

Best, Martin.
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Mark Anderson
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Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #21 - May 30th, 2011, 4:04pm
 
Martin, now I look, the forum software comes with a short predefined list of words mapped to either a bowdlerised word or asterisks. The list looks as though it was written for US English usage which is why I think you were caught out by something you (and I!) would consider inoffensive. Global village, eh?  Smiley
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Martin Boycott-Brown
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Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #22 - May 30th, 2011, 4:58pm
 
Mark, thanks for the information -- I was genuinely amused to be turned into what seemed like a cowboy by a piece of software! I challenge you to post the list so we can all see what the bowdlerised versions are! Or even better, just post the bowdlerised versions, and let's see if we can work out what the originals are. Should make for a bit of fun Wink.

Best, Martin.

PS: actually, since you have the list, you could have a whole lot more fun by making your own bowdlerisms  Grin. Or even adding a few items to it. I can just imagine the chaos. Reminds me of when I taught English in Italy ...
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« Last Edit: May 30th, 2011, 5:05pm by Martin Boycott-Brown »  
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conejo23
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Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #23 - May 30th, 2011, 10:03pm
 
Derek.....as I said, yes, I watched that video.  Didn't help me.

I've already spent way too much time on this. I appreciate the thoughts and suggestions, but what I (and apparently many others) need to get traction with this app doesn't exist.
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Mark Bernstein
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Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #24 - May 31st, 2011, 10:26am
 
conejo:

    Despair not. It's been a busy weekend -- and, in the US, a holiday weekend; some forum regulars have been away and others have been busy.  You might yet find your answer from someone who understands what you're seeking.
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Mark Anderson
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Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #25 - May 31st, 2011, 11:04am
 
@conejo23, I'd sure love to help, but I (personally) struggle with open ended questions. There must be something finite about the app that you know you don't understand? Give me just one piece of the jigsaw and we can work in from there. The different views?  How attribute inheritance works? Aliases vs Notes? Just something not as open ended as "I just don't get any of it"....

Like you, I'm busy and big tutorials take a lot of (my limited free) time to make and. I don't want to waste time on answering the wrong questions.  Smiley

[Later: I don't have Scrivener or DEVONThink and I'm not a writer. My day job is managing pictures, picture databases ('DAM').]
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« Last Edit: May 31st, 2011, 11:06am by Mark Anderson »  

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conejo23
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Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #26 - May 31st, 2011, 11:15am
 
To both Marks, thank you.

And I want to be very clear about something, I'm NOT saying "gee, this resource doesn't exist so could someone please put one together for me?" That would be really, really arrogant and inconsiderate. I was just hoping something comparable already existed that I could utilize.

Let me give it some thought. Honestly, when I tried to create notes I was finally able to actually create notes, add text, discover images didn't work, and add a url and a file to the note. I love that richness of what can be tied to the note, that's cool.

But once I had them, I had no idea what to do with them. I'm not sure what attributes are or why I'd use them, what containers are, what adornments are, what prototypes are (I think that's just a template for notes that will be repeatedly used), when one would use one versus the other and how to actually create them.

as I said, I tried to take some stuff out of that magazine about things to try in Austin and just didn't get very far at all.

and a question: will pictures be able to be added to the body of a note in the near future or is that a more permanent limitation at this point?
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Mark Anderson
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Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #27 - May 31st, 2011, 12:54pm
 
Quote:
But once I had them, I had no idea what to do with them. I'm not sure what attributes are or why I'd use them, what containers are, what adornments are, what prototypes are (I think that's just a template for notes that will be repeatedly used), when one would use one versus the other and how to actually create them.

That's useful, I can pick at some of these. I think we're all on the same page at last. Give me a a few days to figure out how to do this (text?, video?, etc.) and where to put it. Pictures help a lot but in the meantime...

Everything you see in the main views (Outline, Map, Chart, Treeview, Timeline) is a note. A note is the basic building block of a Tinderbox document. There are different sorts of things made from notes:
  • Container. notes can be nested, one inside another, as seen in in the classic form of an outline. In TB vernacular, a 'container' is simply a term used to describe any note that contains one or more other notes. Container's have a special trick, their 'OnAdd' attribute which affects any other note as/when it is placed within that container. (more on this later).
  • Alias. An alias is a pointer to a note like (though not exactly) an Finder alias. An alias' title always appears in italics to reflect that it is not the actual note. Without getting ahead of ourselves, an alias shares almost all the attributes of the original note on which it is based. If the original moves in the TB file, the alias still points to it. An original can have more than one alias. Use of aliases can get quite complicated so, for beginners, I'd not dive straight in to planning heavy use of aliases until other concepts are understood - especially agents
  • An agent is a special sort of note. It can act as a normal note, in terms of a tilte, text, attributes, etc., but it cannot be a normal container. However, it does act as a container but in a different way. Agents are intended to search the TB document for any notes matching the agent's query. The query is written by the user. The agent Create/Rename dialog has configuration tools for creating the simplest of queries; more complicated ones need the user to write them by hand. When an agent query matches as note, the agent creates a (temporary) alias to that note. Thus the children of an agent are only ever aliases of notes matching the query. No matches - or no query - and there are no children.  A normal note cannot be placed inside an agent.
  • Separator. This is a note which is displayed in a spacial way in outlines, as a form of horizontal rule (with or without a title - you choose). Separator status is as simple as toggling a tick-box on the note's Rename dialog. A separator my have children, i.e. be a container. Importantly, separators are visible only in outline view. It (and any contents) are hidden in Chart/Map/Treemap views.
  • Adornment. This is a special sort of note, seen only in Map view. Adornments appear as shapes (default rectangular) drawn on the background of the map; they always draw behind all notes/containers. At simplest, adornments act as map legends or delimit areas relating to a single task/subject. Adornments have an OnAdd - as with a container, except that it is triggered by placing a note on top of (in front of!) the adornment. An adornment can't nest; it never has children.
  • Smart adornment. This is an ordinary adornment for which a query has been defined (same way as for an agent). Just as a normal adornment acts like a flattened container, a smart adornment is like a flattened agent.  A difference from an agent is that the scope of the query is the current map and matching items are moved onto the smart adornment rather than aliases being created.
  • Picture (or image) adornments. Again, a special adornment. Here it's role is to act as a (by default) invisible container for an image, such that an image can be 'stuck' onto the background of the map.
  • Prototypes. A special sort of note. By making a note a prototype, it becomes selectable for use by other notes a a form of template. The latter inherit the characteristics (attributes) of the prototype. Alter the prototypes and all notes based on that prototype change to.  You could change the colour manually on 50 notes or change the colour in a prototype and 50 notes using that prototype would all change colour too. A very powerful tool. Agents, adornments and separators can also be prototypes.
That's a quick run round while I think on a more illustrated answer
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Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #28 - May 31st, 2011, 1:05pm
 
Quote:
and a question: will pictures be able to be added to the body of a note in the near future or is that a more permanent limitation at this point?

Adding pictures into notes had to be suspended temporarily when moving to v5.0.0 due to significant issues with the image data not playing nicely with the new Unicode-capabple text engine added for v5. As Unicode support was more pressing for the widest group of users than images, image embedding disappeared until v5.9.0 (see here).

I believe, the feature is slated for re-write in the future, so i'd expect this feature to improve.

Images can be very useful for capturing some aspects of a task but I'd recommend now treating TB as your 'everything bucket'. Apps like DEVONThink, Yojimbo or curio are probably better candidates for that task. In the same way, TB isn't a word processor, so don't expect WP-like text edit features. Tinderbox's core skill is in analysing textual data and visualising text with (limited) imagery. Its map view offers a visual way to organise data without the implied hierarchy of a mindmap where everything has to be connected. Thus maps aren't designed to be a cork board to which to attach movies, PDFs, etc. TB notes can link to such assets but not embed them. Images in maps (and notes) are for limited embellishment or reference rather than as primary storage (IMO, anyway!).

Does that help?
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« Last Edit: May 31st, 2011, 3:32pm by Mark Anderson »  

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Re: How do I get started with this app?
Reply #29 - May 31st, 2011, 1:47pm
 
Actually, pictures are already back in Tinderbox 5.9.

The catch is that, for arcane technical reasons, image files must be dragged into Tinderbox to create new notes; the text of these notes will contain the imported image.  That image can be copied and pasted elsewhere.

Caveat: A lot of what Tinderbox does best involved searching, sorting, and indexing -- things that don't apply well to images. Images also increase the size (and loading time) of your file. Keep in mind that you can link notes to external images, videos, and other files (e.g. DT archive items), and this might be just as good or even better for your needs.
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