New App Feature Suggestion (or Scrivener)

I am a big fan of Scrivener so please do not see this as any sort of back handed compliment. I got a license for Scapple soon after it was released and I remain extremely underwhelmed. What I was hoping for I would like to suggest here, Scapple’s features integrated into Scrivener, possibly something activated if a registration fee has been met for Scapple as an add on. The idea I have is similar to one of my very first Mac app, “Fair Witness” by Chena software. FW was an all on one outlining tool in the early days (early 80s) when outlining programs could also layout a presentation timeline if desired. That is, seeing material by time sections for a one hour presentation, a three day workshop, etc. What I miss and the feature I am suggesting is, what if I could write out text, sub text, etc., and then click a view icon, and then the same information would now be drawn as a mind map, a timeline, or back to the original text structure. This would be an extra layout button as I am imagining it. Imagine if you could highlight binder items, switch to Scapple view, see those highlighted Binder items as Scapple visual items, and then move them about, changing parent child relationships, and have that actually affect the order of the selected items in the Binder? Scapple is great for what it does, but it is way to simple and disconnected from my Scrivener writing processes to do me much good. Just a thought.


Yes! + 1
Would be awesome!

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Scapple is simple on purpose. It is not intended to be a true “mind map” tool. (Note that Scrivener can import OPML files generated by such tools.)

The problem with the closer link that you propose is that Scrivener’s Binder is hierarchical, and Scapple has no concept of “structure.” No hierarchy, no parent-child relationships, nothing but boxes on a page. So there is no mechanism to communicate the structure you build in Scapple to Scrivener.

As I said, Scrivener can import from more conventional mind map tools. There’s also a Freeform Corkboard within Scrivener that might be closer to what you want. You can drag notes from Scapple to the Freeform Corkboard, and they will maintain the same relative positions. (See Section 9.5 in the Scapple manual for more details about how this works.)


See also:

As noted whenever people request features in Scapple that would require outliner logic, such as what you’re describing with how moving things around would somehow change the order of things in the binder: the main problem is that Scapple is more like paper and far less like what you’re thinking of. It has almost no logic that would describe any of that, and will freely allow you to create clusters that have no linearly valid result, like a circle of notes that all connect to each other so that it looks a wheel with many spokes.

I will respectfully disagree with that. This is not all or nothing as in, either reject the idea based on assuming a complete outliner alternative or, consider the idea in the way it could enhance a paper like writing structure. I would respectfully remind the folks at L&L that some writers are very organized and enjoy outlines. Others are said to go more by the seat of their pants “pantsers” I believe is the correct term for that. I am not suggesting a complicated outlining program as, frankly, Scapple is extremely simple and rudimentary. Even if it is a no-go to argue that moving a map in Scapple could or should move items in the Binder (personally I wish it could do that), it would be useful to have a built in function to access Scapple from within a Scrivener document.

Having easier access to Scapple as an intuitive and seemingly internal part of the Scrivener writing environment could be helpful when sorting through and putting many ideas into order in a story, as I am doing right now. I am going through a winnowing process right now using the split vertical screen to get all of my ideas into a readable and logical order. I have written my story using my writer’s hat. Then I went over it heavily using an editor’s hat. Now I am looking at it with a directors hat as in, is this story going to catch and then keep the reader’s interest? What parts should I wait and talk about later? Am I repeating things for effect on occasion, or am I being repetitious? Now that I know the ending and how strong I want that to be, have I clearly built up and developed that ending in the different sections earlier in the book?

I’m unclear on what there is to respectfully disagree with, on this point, but there may be a lack of specificity in the interpretation of what I mean by logic. I am not talking about what you or I might do when looking at a diagram sketched onto a whiteboard with markers, but whether there is, in the source code that makes Scapple exist, a programmed “understanding” of hierarchy, child and parent relationships between items, an order of things if you will, and other ingredients that would be required to have an integrated and meaningful two-way relationship with an outliner, such as the binder.

Even if it is a no-go to argue that moving a map in Scapple could or should move items in the Binder (personally I wish it could do that), it would be useful to have a built in function to access Scapple from within a Scrivener document.

For the complex form of that desire, the FAQ entry I linked to above addresses that.

On the other hand you simply mean loading a .scap file out of your binder, then you can already do that, and thousands of other kinds of files, via the button in the footer bar, or the shortcut assigned to Navigate ▸ Open ▸ in External Editor.

That should make things easier, and if you are on a Mac (as it kind of sounds like, with the split screen?) then any changes saved into the copy in the binder will be displayed in the preview copy on refresh, for reference outside of Scapple.

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I’d also add, in regards to your use case, that Freeform Corkboard mode might suit what you’re doing quite well. I’ve used it for what I believe to be similar processes, of kind of treating it like a casual kanban, stacking things along one column for review, moving them over as I think about them, and maybe shuffling rejects off to the other side—that sort of thing.

And the Freeform mode does have a button for resetting binder order based on how you arrange the cards. It is necessarily a bit simplistic in that, and you do have to work in a more rigid fashion to get use from it, but it’s the best way to communicate freeform changes back into a linear order of some sort. For anything more complex there is drag and drop.