Scapple now has competitors: CmapTools & (in 'Concept Map' mode)


I just thought L&L should be made aware that Scapple now has some competitors stalking what it does.

One is IHMC CmapTools
And the other is’s “Concept Maps”

I’d be interested to hear what anyone here makes of each of them.


Moderator comment: Moved to “Software by Other Folk”

I’ve investigated CMAP in the past, and I just had a look at Mindomo (and its subscriptions prices) - and I don’t think either are a real competitor' to Scapple - in fact I think that to see them as competitors makes a (pretty common) mistake about what Scapple is: Keith has always insisted that it is a deliberately simple, computer-based, Whiteboard’ - no hierarchy of levels, nothing fancy.

I use it daily (alongside Tinderbox and sometimes iThoughts) just for generally fairly disposable first thoughts on a great variety of projects and find that deliberate simplicity essential to its function.

Yes, but it seems to me to be a waste that Scapple remains so clunky.

I am by no means an expert in these tools, but my central point is that some of these other tools can do everything Scapple does… and then some.

Meanwhile a friend has suggested which connects its “bubbles” either with a line (like Scapple does) OR you can have the concept of parent-child relationship. The latter are linked visually differently and the child moves around the colour wheel with respect to the parent (which I am still trying to decide whether that is such a good thing!)

Either way allows teams to work on the same diagram and comment/vote on stuff which is an interesting twist.

People are different. I prefer to have dedicated apps that are really good at one thing, so I use both Scapple and iThoughts and actually prefer that they are different and do different things (although I do wish there was a iOS version of Scapple). Having one app that try to do what several other apps do is a bit like having a universal multi-tool when working as a carpenter instead of having separate tools for different parts of the work.

In what way is Scapple “clunky”?

I could list about 5+ but given that development has stopped there is no point.

You don’t use Scapple then?

A tool doesn’t have to change or be “developed” to be useful. My 20 year old hammer is as good as the new one I recently bought.

Your old hammer with it’s wooden shaft has an uncomfortable grip. And if I use something which is essentially low in cost every day, then I want the best. Partly it’s a lifestyle more than an economic choice I guess.

Moreover it doesn’t have one of those new-fangled hook-claw things at the back for pulling out nails which is very useful occasionally

Scapple has always had competitors able to do a lot more than Scapple does. You only have to search the net for ‘freeform mindmap’ and you will find several competitors. Interestingly enough, some of the more advanced “competitors” have actually disappeared during the last few years, or the support for them has disappeared.

You will never succeed in producing good products if you anxiously observe what possible competitors do and try to mimic that. Successful ideas are usually based on some fundamental principle which makes it different than other apparently similar ideas. Sometimes someone will see a really good idea and come up with an idea to make it even better, and there is no way to prevent that, even with patents.

I am quite sure that once the new Mac version of Scrivener is ready, there will be some kind of overhaul of Scapple, because Keith himself probably has found a few things he would like the to be able to do for him. Until then I will keep using the current version, because it’s really good at what it’s doing. :slight_smile:

(my old hammer from the mid 1980s has a stainless steel shaft with a comfortable rubber grip, and the claw-like backend for pulling out nails is found not only on that one but also on the hammer I inherited from my grandfather, which he bought in the 1920s)

If you fail to evolve eventually you will die, it’s as simple as that.

There is absolutely no harm in observing your competitors - in fact it is a totally sound thing to be doing occasionally at the very least - however you certainly do need to know precisely what you are doing and why. And you need to make sure that you still have a clear niche and competitive advantage.

By your own logic I have to ask: why did you buy a new hammer in the 1980s when you had a perfectly good one that your grandfather gave you?(!)

Right I must go


PS Before I go, any chance of someone solving my stacking problem. Maybe I’m just being thick but I can’t get stacking to work correctly… Getting new Notes to Stack properly

Actually, no - only if your environment changes and no longer affords you an equable habitat.

As you can tell from the responses you (and other threads with the same idea) are getting: Scapple is flourishing because it fits its niche pretty well.

I hadn’t inherited it yet, in the mid 1980s. :wink:

‘Inherit’ usually means that the former owner is no longer in a state to give anyone anything. My grandfather didn’t give me the hammer.

Part of your ‘habitat’ is that someone else evolves who eventually steals your lunch, because they do what you do but do it better.

Wait - now I get it. Scapple is a religion!
And there’s no successful convincing someone that their religion in incorrect or needs a little fine tuning… let alone an entire upgrade.

Scapple akbar! Scapple akbar! Scapple is perfect! Death to non-believing infidels!

Good luck

If it was a religion, surely we would be urging the developers to upgrade and update to beat the competitors? And we are doing that, right? Only those that urge the developers to evolve the app to the “one app to rule them all” could be called a cult. And no one is saying that, right?

Oh… just read your initial post. :slight_smile:

Now that is truly offensive!

** My emboldening.

Come off - it stop taking me so seriously !

Perhaps if you stop being offensive…?

And yet you’re trying to argue from (your) authority. Which is why no one is listening to you, perhaps?

Just to clear one point up - and ignore the insults - Scapple has not stopped development. It has, however, been on something of a hiatus while Scrivener 3.0 and Scrivener for iOS have been in development, given that I’m the sole developer.

Also, the idea for Scapple was always that it would be very simple, do one thing, and not have lots of new features added. Much as TextEdit have lots of features added but remains useful for simple notes and documents, the idea was that Scapple would have a simple and stable feature-set and not need to have lots of bloat added later.

I use Scapple plenty myself, and it already does everything I want. There are a few things that need updating, and that will happen once the Scrivener juggernaut is back under control, but it’s not going to change fundamentally. It’s never going to become hierarchical, for instance - that would defy the whole point of creating it in the first place. Scapple isn’t a mind-map - it’s a virtual piece of paper on which you can write anywhere and make connections, nothing more.

As for the old “evolve or you die” chestnut, we always get told that by users who want something not on the roadmap, and yet somehow have managed to go from strength to strength. :wink:

Firstly I really have to congratulate you on writing an amazingly useful piece of software. I salute you - well done indeed.

Secondly it is of course your choice as to whether you continue to evolve it in any way whatsoever - just as it is our choice as to whether we user it. And yes, IMHO, you are extremely wise to keep clear what the purpose of Scapple is, and to resist the temptation to clutter it up & over-complicate the thing with other features.

Nonetheless I do think that nothing in this world, not even Scapple is perfect. And you may find that if you listen carefully to some of your users that they are very likely to come up with some fine tuning if nothing else that would allow Scapple to do it’s primary purpose slightly better.

I don’t know if you would call it a “bug” but I have documents some very surprising ways that your (IMHO) extremely useful feature of “stacking” works in Scapple Windows, at least, here:
[url]Getting new Notes to Stack properly]
So when time/energy allows, I suggest that for the benefit of new users (and anyone using center justification) that “stacking” does need some fixing.

For my money another area that needs attention is the whole subject of “layout”.

A) In Movement Mode (or whatever Alt/M’s mode is called) the speed of movement Up/Down/Left/Right arrow key is annoyingly slow.
To get clear, just using the arrow keys ‘un-modified’ moves the text boxes by one pixel per key stroke, and this is fine.
But Shift+arrow-key only moves shapes by 5 pixels and holding down the Control key has no effect, which is a lost opportunity.
You’d need to trial with other users by I would suggest

  • Unmodified arrow key==> 1pixel [unchanged]
  • Shift + arrow key ==> 10px [double what it is now, and matching what Photoshop does]
  • Control + arrow key ==> 20px? or 5px ? [or twice or half whatever shift/arrowkey does]
  • Control+Shift+ arrowkey ==> Faster still ?

B) More powerful layouts
I think it would be really helpful to allow the user to change the layouts (of just selected items).
I don’t even have a strong opinion on what these should be (ask other users) but for example you might consider:

  • Circular (or Radial)
  • Some form of grid
  • Some form of “make all arrows go left to right” (or top to bottom)
    I think that adding such more powerful layouts say on the Right-click menu would not significantly ‘clutter’ the interface, but would make cleaner / more attractive diagrams much more easy to produce.

C) Snap to objects mode (as a default)
When moving shapes around getting them to snap the last couple of pixels to align to each other (probably either by left edges or by centers) shouldn’t get in the way of the interface, but would allow cleaner diagrams to be created more easily.

D) Background grid
A fairly fine, but probably visually hidden, background grid that shapes could snap to when moving by mouse would be helpful.
You could possibly do something really clever whereby if the mouse is moving SLOWLY the snapping no longer works [??]

I don’t think any of the above would get in the way of the core purpose of Scapple, but would all help, in some cases dramatically.

Anyhow that is my tuppence worth. I hope helpful.