Scapple + Scrivener: A suggestion

No, I don’t want an “embedding” of Scapple maps into Scrivener’s freeform boards. I wouldn’t even know what to do with such a functionality.

I would like something else, something simpler: That, when I have a scapple file in the research folder, somehow a graphic of it would be displayed in the editor field (right now it’s only a small sort of file icon with some tiny drawings inside). So that I can have a split screen, the scapple map on one side and a document on the other, and I can write, for example, an exposé while looking on my scapple drawings, dragging them around if needed, and so “turning the picture into words”.

I guess that some graphic is already stored with the scapple file, because otherwise the OS X preview would not work. Maybe it is possible just to display this graphic?

There is a workaround to achieve something similar, and that is, to export the scapple map to a PDF-file, move this PDF-file into the research folder and display the PDF instead of the scappling. The unsmooth thing about this is that you have to go this route every time you make adjustments in the scapple map (via “Open in External Editor”): export, drag in, delete the old PDF, delete the exported PDF on, let’s say, the desktop. And then again. And, oh, another item that has to go to another place: one more time. Actually, I’d just like to have this workflow smoother.

I load SCR and SCA into the same window, jiggle their size/shape, and have — I think — essentially the same view. Will this not work for you, or is there a limiting factor I’m not recognizing?


If you export the Scapple file as a PDF, it will display in the Research folder readily.
At least it has for me, used in presentations for classes.

Is this a question of OS X version? I’m using Snow Leopard (and have to stay there). Is the behaviour different among Lions?

I have to export somewhere to – and I don’t dare to export into the Scrivener file package!! :open_mouth:

Maybe I’m misunderstanding your request, but if you have the Scapple document in your Scrivener Research folder, can you not just open it in Scapple (ie Open in External Editor) so that you now have both Scrivener and Scapple running, and arrange your windows in such a way that you can see the Scapple document, and what you’re writing in Scrivener? (KInd of a poor man’s split screen, if you see what I mean.)

That way, you have full Scapple functionality - you can use space bar + mouse to move around in it, so any part you’re interested in is visible, and should you want to note something which you’re not ready to write about in Scrivener, you can do that, and when you close the Scapple doc, the latest version will be waiting for you in the Research folder next time you want to see it.

Sure, this way, you need Scapple installed as well as Scrivener, but I’m assuming that’s not an issue.

Yes, this is a question of OS X version. On 10.7 and greater, Apple has provided the ability for third-party applications to use a document’s Quick Look data in a window. So in fact this is what we do for all unsupported file types in the Binder (so long as they themselves are supported by Quick Look). If you click on a .pages file for instance, you see something very similar to what you would get if you hit the spacebar on a .pages file in Finder. So in fact people using newer versions of the OS already do see a pictorial representation of the Scapple board in the editor window.

As for how Quick Look data is generated for simple file formats like Scapple’s, I don’t believe there is a graphic file stored anywhere. This information is built dynamically by a Quick Look add-on when requested by the user. For example I have a Quick Look add-on that generates an HTML preview of MultiMarkdown files, so that I can see a nice preview of an .md file. This is of course not stored in the .md file. It is likely be cached somewhere in a system temp folder, but that would not be a reliable source for us to tap in to assuming we even could. I can say that no picture is stored in the .scap file itself. That’s just a plain XML file which you can examine by opening the document in a text editor like TextWrangler.

Yes, that’s also possible, BUT on a 17"-screen, Scrivener is not easy to handle when it comes to part the screen with other windows. (“There can be only one!”, so to say :wink: ) You have to close the binder, the inspector anyway … I hoped to get it easier than with all this fiddling.

But [size=150]WAIT![/size]
While I am writing this, an even better idea has popped up in my head (Software developers know this effect: tell somebody your problem and come up with the solution yourself while doing so):

I can open Scapple behind Scrivener and adjust the full screen mode so that the text I am writing is only taking up the right half of the screen, for example. This way I’ll be able to look at the scappling and to write along, which is what I wanted – and any modifications are only a Cmd-Tab away!

Better. Nearly perfect. Thanks to all for listening! :smiley:

Genius :smiley: