Aspect and scale

How might I define a page area or aspect ration frame within Scapple?

Scapple is spectacular and simple. I have tried many other diagramming and mind-mapping and illustration software. I wouldn’t change a thing except to quibble that this is some of the best “non-presentation” presentation software out there, enabling some very elegant layout of visual language. I know it’s about exploring my rough ideas, but once I have explored them I DO want to find a way to present them in some form–especially since I have invested significantly in shaping them in Scapple.

Scapple already enables great visuals and PDF works fine as an export tool–I can import the PDF into InDesign for example to lay out portions of my large diagram on a page. (I cannot apparently import the PDFs into Illustrator to edit, but this isn’t a deterrent for me). I would imagine I can bring these pdfs into PowerPoint and Keynote as well.

The only really big hitch is that I can’t get an accurate sense of scale or aspect ratio within Scapple. I kind of like the idea that my diagrams will always likely extend off whatever page size I end up presenting on. And I recognize that initially I don’t want to feel limited by page dimensions when I am thinking out-of-the-page. BUT I do ultimately need to group some of my diagram elements so they can be shown to others intelligently. I tried bringing in a PDF frame (created in InDesign) that represents my page aspect ratio into Scapple, but found that even when this frame is “sent to back” my connecting lines between notes disappear.

My question: is there any practical way of identifying at least the aspect ratio of a page, or a simple grid that could allow me to tweak my design to fit some kind of final format–for printing or slides or other?


This has come up several times, and I’ve been saying that, because I have no control over how pages get laid out when printing (because Scapple just passes off the large rectangle to Cocoa’s printing system, which automatically chops it into the necessary pages), I can’t really create an accurate grid. However, having thought some more, it occurred to me that in theory, it should be possible after all, if I just lay out a grid of rectangles each the size of the printable page area.

So, I hope to implement this for the next update.

Thanks and all the best,

Thanks for the reply Keith. This would be great (grid). Even, more minimalist though, the ability to create a background shape with a user-defined aspect ratio. If necessary for users this option could come with some pre-set options too (letter-sized shape, tabloid, portrait, landscape, 1024x768 etc.). I don’t know anything about coding or Cocoa’s printing system–(except that it never meshes well with the various drivers for the color printers I use!). Perhaps as I believe you are saying, the dimensions or aspect ratios must come from the printer/page setup…

Relatedly, circular background shapes (that allow for the creation of Venn diagrams for example) would be a natural extension of the existing Scapple capabilities (I think). They seem natural to the radial layouts that Scapple yields, without heading too far toward making this into a complex “drawing program” with the unnecessary complexity of bezier curves etc. The hitch would be that Venn diagrams would ideally require some kind of transparency to show overlap of different coloured circles. Venn diagrams aside though, circles are good. But maybe this is all far from the coding realities of Scapple.

Congratulations on a very well-conceived piece of software. I do love it just the way it is.


Hi Alex,

I think what you’re asking for in terms of background shapes really falls outside Scapple’s scope, but you could use the grid to create your own background shapes to specific page sizes and then save them as presets for future use.

All shapes in Scapple are kept rectangular for now. I don’t rule out adding other shapes for the future, but it adds complexity in that normal notes can’t be circular and they use the same inspector. It would also make resizing more difficult with the borders not conforming to straight lines.

All the best,