Organizing scapples

I use Scapple a lot to brainstorm plot ideas, sketch characters, gather images for a particular setting. I love it.

Problem is: I have a bunch of docs on similar aspects of a topic, and I’m wondering how people organize their Scapple docs. (I’m working on a novel.)

I’ve got several Scapple docs in which I’ve brainstormed various angles of … well, how to get to the [blasted] end. Would you combine these into one large document?

I also use Scapple to gather images and data on settings, on characters–gives me a wonderful album to ponder for ideas and details. These are easier to organize in folders and with tags.

But I’m a bit flummoxed figuring out how to organize freeform Scapples where I brainstorm thoughts and questions. I’m a strongly visual thinker, so I like seeing doc contents.

I do use Tinderbox, and have wondered about using that; and also use ironic software’s Fresh and Leap. … In fact, I may look to using Leap to figure out a system.

Ideas? How do you manage your Scapple docs?

Import to Scrivener?

That’s what I’d do. Put Scapple documents in the Research folder, and you get all the metadata Scrivener offers to keep track of them, plus they’re automatically connected to the appropriate Scrivener project.


Thank you, Katherine. I hadn’t thought of that as a possibility. :bulb:

And if I want to have a quick overview of several at once, I can use Leap.

The concept of having a really huge board isn’t outside of the scope of Scapple’s design. We even built a feature for making this a practical possibility. Holding down the Z key zooms all the way out, giving you your high level preview of multiple areas of the board (you can even manipulate things with the mouse while holding down the key; good for spacing things out or drawing really long connections). You point with your mouse at the area you want to focus on and let go of Z. In this way you can fit far more than would be practical to use the software for with traditional scrolling and panning.

Another thing you can use to organise Scapple files is… Scapple. It’s probably better as a general tip here since it doesn’t quite do what you’re looking for (providing a preview of contents), but in case someone finds it useful:

  1. Create a Scapple board that is mean to serve as a visual index of other boards.
  2. Drag a .scap file from Finder into the board (or if it is open, drag from its icon in the window header bar).
  3. You’ll get a full path printed to the board as a hyperlink. The link itself is what matters, so feel free to change the text itself to something friendlier.

Scrivener is probably in most cases the better tool for the job though, if one has it. It has more organisational systems than file system tools tend to, and with its freeform corkboard and multi-pane system you can visually organise research and get a preview of it with one click (see something like the “Three Pane (Corkboard)” built in layout, in Window ▸ Layouts ▸ ).

I apologize for taking so long to reply! Thank you, AmberV, for your thoughtful reply.

I’ve experimented with a few of these options, and have realized that when I’m scanning/searching multiple Scapple documents, Leap (Ironic Software) works best for my way of thinking. One can view multiple documents as thumbnails, and can assign tags to documents and can save a search as a bookmark. For me, it’s more intuitive, straightforward, and has more options than Finder.

FWIW, I worked with a large Scapple document, and this got a bit unwieldy for me. I also lost track of files when importing Scapple files into Scrivener, and preferred not to add to the size of the Scrivener file.

Scrivener’s Bookmarks feature is really helpful when I’m working with specific Scapple files. I hadn’t realized version 3 gives a snapshot of the file. Brilliant! So, when working with a Scrivener document that references a specific Scapple file (or three), I add them as bookmarks to the Scrivener document.

When I need to scan and search for multiple Scapple documents, I use Leap.

Thanks again, Katherine and AmberV.