"Magnetic Background" terminology

Hey folks,

Just a quick little thing that would have saved me a bunch of time. The feature that you call “Magnetic” for the background shapes is usually referred to (in other software) as “Group” (with shortcut “Command-G”). I spent a good 20 minutes trying to find a way to group nodes, and not for a moment did I think to click on “Magnetic” (especially since I just wanted to group nodes without adding a background shape).

I think if you just changed the terminology to the more standard “Group” (and maybe made nodes available to group without a background shape), you’d save people a ton of time trying to figure out how in the world software intended to let people move stuff around on a canvas could not include a "Group"ing feature.

With that being said, awesome job on Scapple. It’s exactly what my mind was looking for!

Hi Kyle,

You could have saved some time by going through the two-page QuickStart guide, too, which covers this. :smiley: I’m not quite sure what you mean about having it available to nodes without a background shape, as that doesn’t make sense to me, but I think the current terminology does tell you what these shapes do: when you move them behind other notes, they “pick them up”, just like magnets. “Group” doesn’t really describe the feature, I don’t think.

Glad you’re liking Scapple otherwise!

All the best,

Geez, you spend time developing a quickstart guide and you just expect us to read it? The nerve! :stuck_out_tongue:

Grouping nodes without a background shape would work exactly like grouping nodes with a background, except the default thickness of the border is “no border.” While a user can obviously set that kind of appearance up by themselves, it’s usually the default in software like this.

For what I’m talking about, just look at Pages. You can grab two text boxes, group them with a keyboard shortcut, then arrange them on the page however you want without changing the appearance of what was already there (i.e., no new shape to deal with).

In Scapple (by default), I have to select the items I want to group with my mouse, the move the mouse to the menu to select “Notes -> New Background Shape Around Selection,” then either move the mouse to either the menu item or the inspector to select “Magnetic” [or move my fingers back to the keyboard to do the shortcut for Magnetic], then back to the mouse to set the border of the shape to “no border.” Even if I use my system preferences to create a keyboard shortcut for “New Background Shape…”, I’d still have to jump to the mouse to hit “No border.”

I feel like I “should” be able to do all that with a single, quick keyboard shortcut (Command-G to Group; Shift-Command-G to Ungroup), rather than a combo of mouse and keyboard.

And when I say “should,” I only mean, based on what seems to be the de facto standard in software that allows you to rearrange items on a canvas.

Thanks for listening, Keith. All the best.

“Group” might be a little misleading though in terms of output and outliner programs. That aside, though, you can simplify what you want to do a great deal:

  1. Go to Scapple > Preferences and click on New Shapes, then set the border to none and check the “Magnetic” box. This makes the defaults for new shapes borderless and magnetic.
  2. Go to System Preferences and assign a keyboard shortcut to New Background Shape Around Selection

Now you can work this just as in your Page example: Select your notes, use the shortcut to make the background shape and then drag them.

Keep in mind that you are dealing with background shapes, which means that you do have a shape there, even though you’ve made it invisible, so any notes that overlap that shape are going to be along for the ride. You don’t just have isolated notes that are grouped together the way you might be thinking about this, where you could insert a third note in the space between them yet have it not part of the group. So if you start dragging notes and notice something else coming with them, that’s what’s going on there.

You could of course just select the notes and drag them all together without any of the extra background shapes “grouping”. There are a bunch of commands in Edit > Select to support this, and of course there’s just dragging with the mouse to create a marquee selection, and Cmd-click to include or exclude items.

I also think that “Group” doesn’t quite match the situation because you aren’t changing anything about the notes, just the background shape’s state as a toggle. In every single program that uses “Group” in its menu, it is a function that performs an action on a multiple selection of objects (and indeed is greyed out until have more than one valid target selected), and changes the state of all those objects. It is a verb that results in a collective noun—a group of items functioning together. This is true for outliners, diagramming and illustration software, even more so in the latter two, where grouping items causes them to become equally considered as a single entity until they are ungrouped. If you group three shapes together they operate as one entity from that point forward. What is going on in Scapple is not the same because it is only the state of the shape that is changing, and only the shape should be selected, there is no collective entity that could be described with a noun that results from the action. What does “group” mean when a single object is selected—an object that may in fact not even have any other objects overlapping it when the command is called?

Of course, “Magnetic” is jargon, but as with many cases where jargon erupts, it is because there isn’t a good precedent for describing it. Scapple’s magnetic background shape is fairly unique. I only know of one other example where a passive element in the background can have its state toggled so that items overlapping that element travel with it. That program, Tinderbox, refers to it as “Sticky”, a noun that you’ll note is similar to “Magnetic”.

Thanks Jennifer, for the help (and in fact, assuming that even if Keith decided to implement the command to “Group” in the way I described, it would definitely take a while, so I’d already gone ahead and created the keyboard shortcut — though I didn’t know about setting the default appearance for the background shape, thanks for that!).

Ioa, I get that “Group” doesn’t quite match the implementation I described (transparent background shape with no border), but I was trying to describe it in light of what Keith had already done. I’d prefer it to be a more traditional “Group” command like the one you described, where there’s no “shape” involved, but for expediency’s sake, I couched my recommendation in terms of what’s already there. But hey, Keith, if you got nothing better to do, a nice traditional implementation of “Group” would be awesome :slight_smile: