Corkboard Strings

The freeform corkboard is one of the best features of Scrivener. I learned so much more about it in “Scrivener For Dummies” which I recommend.

I would love to be able to connect the pushpins together with strings, like you can on a real corkboard. They can be just digital lines, or with a little creativity, they can look like actual string or colored yarn that would move when the pushpins are moved, connecting threads of the storyline, like a mind map. Maybe even showing a knot where they tie to the pins. It would look like the cliche murder suspect corkboard in the cheesy detective shows.

With different colored strings connecting plot points in the story, this would be very helpful to visualize the storyline.

I don’t know anything about programming, but I would hope this isn’t that hard to do. This would apply to the forthcoming ipad version even better.

Just a thought for the wish list. Keep up the excellent work.

Thanks! This is something that hasn’t been entirely ruled out. The main implementation problem is one of data. What does this string represent? In Scrivener, there aren’t many things that only work for one view. We try to make it so the different views are all accessing the same data but displaying it in different ways. So what is a “string” elsewhere; what is it depicting graphically? The most obvious answer is a reference line in the Inspector. This establishes a general link between two documents and so is an appropriate data analogy to a string on a corkboard. But what about the other references? See, one problem you don’t want to run into is using a visualisation technique that indirectly hampers the usefulness of a feature for its intended purpose. We don’t want to cause people to restrict their usage of references because it makes a huge mess of strings, or tell them to just not use strings if they use lots of references, see? So then the problem becomes more complicated. How do we set apart this reference from the others as being “special” and shown on the corkboard? We just need to come up with an elegant way to handle this.

This is a really cool idea and would be a great way to visualize things on the corkboard. The implementation difficulties are understandable though. Would it be possible to treat the strings as a special class of references that are 1) purely visual and 2) only internal? They can be listed separately in a subsection of Document References.

I think a better solution would be to somehow make that special link prominent, rather than tuck it away as an internal value. If you choose to visually link two cards together, that should be expressed somehow in the references list, right amongst the other links that were not deemed so prominent. Perhaps a bold font for that line, or a star beside it. Additionally, that would allow the two cards to continue to express that relationship even if they are moved to different corkboards. Whenever they are brought back together again, via a search result viewed as a freeform corkboard or whatever, they would show a string again.

Totally agree: bold, icon, different colour–they would all work, as long as they can be easily distinguished from the “regular” references.

Heh, I haven’t even thought of what happens if a “threaded” card is moved to another corkboard. I think your implementation scenario is sound, especially that point about the two cards continuing to express their relationship even when they cannot be visualized together.

What would be the reverse of this? That is, since threads on the corkboard are just one way of viewing the information, it should be possible to set the relationship directly in the inspector reference list as well, with the strings then appearing on the corkboard as a reflection of that rather than only the other way around. I can visualise one of the ubiquitous Mac “mostly invisible until you mouse over it and then click it” star icons or such as a fancy checkmark beside a reference, so you could easily bump any listed reference up in prominence. So that would be the icon indicator; selecting it might also embolden the text or so forth. I suppose they could also re-sort in the reference list so that these moved to be listed at the top, although I’m not sure I’m in favour of that as I like the ability to shift them around manually, and you’d potentially still want the ability to reorganise them within the set of threaded references. Hmm.

This makes sense. It can be a subtype of internal reference, added via the “+” button in the Document References panel. Better yet, perhaps there could be “make string visible on corkboard” option for any internal reference.

I favour just indicating “string” references with formatting or icons, so that the user is free to manually order references as they desire.

Maybe we are over-thinking this. Can the strings just be a visual reference without being traced in the metadata? Just a picture, a photo. Just a line that connects card A to card B. If you look at the corkboards in shows like Homeland and Dexter, they are purely visual references. They don’t tie into the computer database. In this case a visual cue may be more important that data links.

Just a thought.