Brainstorm/storyboard/outline-apps for iOS compatible with Scrivener ... until Scapple has a mobile version


I use Scrivener only on my iPad, which works great, but I really miss a good “infinite whiteboard” tool in there, that lets me visualise my ideas. An app that lets me write little chunks of tekst, character descriptions, events, locations, and lets me connect these with arrows going back and forth the way I see fit. In other words, an app like Scapple. But there is no Scapple for iOS. Yet.

Does anyone have a good suggestion for apps that meet my needs? I’ve been browsing, and I mostly find Mindmapping apps like MagicPad, Popple and Ruminate. But the power of Scapple is that you don’t have to work with this concept of Mindmapping, with the central idea that branches in all directions. Scapple lets you make nodes wherever you want, make connections wherever you want.

What app on iOS does that? I’d be happy to know!

Best thing I found was Popplet. Please, any suggestions would help!

My own preference is iThoughts. A bit more expensive an app, but it has several advantages:

  • While it is a mindmapping app, it both allows you to have independent “bubbles” and permits arbitrary connections.
  • It works with Dropbox—like Scrivener, it takes a bit of prep work, but my brainstorm files are everywhere.
  • It saves files in as many formats as you like to Dropbox—simultaneously. So if I update my “Spenser&Fraser” map, it’s saved to Dropbox as iThoughts, OPML, Xmind, Word, Markdown… and that’s less than half the list of possible conversions.
  • It has a Mac OS version that’s a bit more expensive. If you don’t want to pay, or you have Windows, Xmind does very well with my maps on the desktop via Dropbox if I have iOS iThoughts save an Xmind version. When I go back to iOS, the iThoughts version is automatically updated from the Xmind changes.

Your mileage may vary, of course. :slight_smile:

If you’re staying primarily in iOS, I’d recommend MindNode. I’ve tried Popplet and MagicPad, which both have nice interfaces, but I find MindNode to be best and the most intuitive.

It is feature-rich. Shortcut keys are available on the iPhone (!) and the iPad, and that’s very handy. Independent nodes are possible. You can export as an OPML (and you can import an OPML)., and node notes are supported.

It’s a $10 purchase on the iOS store, and unfortunately there is no “lite” version on that platform (though there is a free Mac version available). So it’s a gamble, but I personally found it to be worth every penny. If you do try it tell us how you like it. I hope this helps.

Thanks, Silverdragon and Whalevomit! Those are the hints I was looking for. I kind of liked Popplet’s simplicity, but I really didn’t care much for the storage system (either locally, or very limited online, but with a monthly subscription model to expand that online content). So I didn’t go there. As for MagicPad, I’ve read more than a few comments that it didn’t work with iOS 10.

I was already checking out Mindnode, Whalevomit. But I wasn’t really sure if it has the same “independent bubble placement” that makes Scapple so versatile, or just the rigid structure of a mindmap with a central idea that branches in several directions. That I do not want. But I read from your message that is does have independent bubbles. And apparently so does iThoughts, as Silverdragon tells me.

I’m not sure about the syncing/sharing functionalities. In the app description of iThoughts I read it works with Dropbox, iCloud and even Webdav, which sounds great. But I’m not really sure if you can save it as a modifiable format, that you can open on other iDevices and continue working on, or just “export” it like a finished product. (Kind of like a Word-document vs a PDF file). In your post you speak of “saving as iThoughts”, so that would mean the original modifiable format, right, Silverdragon? Also interesting that you can open it in Windows as well with Xmind, and if I understand you correctly, you don’t have to convert back and forth but Xmind and iThoughts can work on the same filetype. With Mindnode this is less clear to me. Whalevomit, can you tell me whether Mindnode lets you save a modifiable format that you can open on other devices? And if it works with Dropbox?

Very interesting choices, both of them. Although I’d already read about Mindnode, I’m leaning a bit more towards iThoughts.

P.S. After checking on the Xmind website, I found out there is an iPad version of that one coming! Might this be worth waiting for?

I use iThoughts on both Mac and iPad, and export as opml and import to Scrivener.

I don’t use Scapple and iThoughts for the same purposes. I use Scapple when creating a specific structure is not my initial primary goal, and use iThoughts when I need the structure from the beginning. iThoughts is good for outlining, but then I also use Cloud Outliner for primitive outlining (especially before there was an iOS version of Scrivener).

My platforms are Windows and iOS, so I am looking for a brainstorming tool that works on these, and allows independent nodes/bubbles and arbitrary connections.

Apparently this is asking a lot, because I’ve only found one so far - SimpleMind.

I have been playing around with the free iOS version of SimpleMind and find it to be a contender. Very simple, elegant interface. It allows independent nodes/bubbles. It also has Mac and Win versions. You host your SimpleMind files on DropBox, and access them via any of the platforms – similar model as Scrivener. (Although only the paid iOS version supports DropBox and arbitrary connections.)

While xMind seems to have an iOS version coming, it doesn’t seem to support independent bubbles - at least the Windows version does not. Or did I miss something? Can someone please clarify whether it does or not.


Hi there,

Thanks for all the replies, people. I’ve spent a lot of times contemplating the pros and cons of every alternative that was recommended. I finally decided to go with iThoughts. Basic consensus on the internet is that MindNode is nicer and easier, but iThoughts wins in the options department, especially when exporting is concerned.

… and it turns out to be all I hoped it to be! I am very, very pleased:

  • Free bubble placement works like a charm. There has to be a central node for now, it’ll be fixed in the next update. Right now I just keep it dangling at the top, like a name sign, so that’s no big deal
  • You can make all sorts of connections, lines, arrows going one way or both, straight lines or curved (you can actually bend them to you hearts desire), descriptions can be added to the connections (appearing like bubbles in the middle of the line).
  • You can shape your ideas just like you want them, moving individual bubbles around, or selecting entire sections and moving them, you can modify your bubbles in a lot of aspects ( I use different bubbles for characters, events , locations etc.) You can easily make your own legend on the side
  • You can save locally, in Dropbox, in iCloud, on your NAS etc etc etc. It saves automatically, but you can make extra save points along the way. And you can backup an archive zip file periodically. I use my iCloud file as my “working file”, I make extra save points locally on my iDevice along the way, and I backup zip-files to my NAS, but you can choose a different workflow as you please. You can also export in a lot of formats to a lot of programs. Just, wow.
  • Although I work on my iPad, it’s nice to know that a Windows version is on its way.
  • And last but not least: the developer, Craig Scott, is awesome: he’s very easy to reach, responds quickly and helps you out while you learn about all the options

I’ve got all I need brainstorming-wise in this wonderful app. No need for Scapple on iOS for me now, iThoughts does all the things I want Scapple to do. And if I ever start using Scapple for Windows, hey, I can easily export my iThoughts-maps to Scapple in Scapple-format.

Hi Repelstale

Glad to hear that you found a tool that works for you.

Thanks for sharing that a Windows version of iThoughts is on the way, I wasn’t aware of that!


You’re welcome, Jim. I gave the free version of SimpleMind (the app you mentioned) a go as well, but I have to say it pales in comparison to iThoughts. Of course I don’t know how much better the paid version is, but you might want to check out iThoughts if you haven’t invested in SimpleMind yet.

P.S. Oh yeah, I’ve also e-mailed with the developers of X-mind, since an iOS-version is coming, describing what I expect from an app like this, and they admit Xmind might not be the app for this

Hi Repelstale, I sent you a PM, for your thoughts on iThoughts. :slight_smile: