Scrivener for the eyes: Flying Logic

did you try this one?:

After one hour testing it, I’m more than enthusiast: the first evident Scrivener-partner I’ve seen. :smiley:

Looks rather interesting. Thanks for the link.

Very interesting indeed. May you talk a bit about how you use it for story development?


Thanks too for the link. I haven’t downloaded the demo (yet) as I’ve no time at the moment to play with the software and must avoid such distractions… But I would love to hear from the OP or anyone esle who has.

Just a quick response, since I did try it. It is an interesting program that fits in between mind-mapping programs (e.g. NovaMind or FreeMind), concept-mapping software (e.g. Inspiration), graphics-oriented applications (such as OmniGraffle, e.g.), and argument-mapping applications (Argunet) – it comes out more on the side of argument-mappers. It was actually developed for businesses who want to optimize their processes; to use it for story mapping, you would have to come up with your own process – it seems quite expensive for that (149 for the pro version; personal 79).

One thing is certain: it is nothing like Scrivener. It is cross-platform and programmed in Java (I think) and you can tell. Nothing like the elegance of Scrivener’s UI. If you are into things like Course of Action Analysis, or Constraint Management, it may be easy to learn (and the documentation is excellent), but if you are not, expect a steep learning curve with uncertain payoff.

I tried the evidence-based analysis module to work on a problem in textual analysis I had, and it did add clarity to this problem. Import and Export options are limited as far as I can tell though. (This is its major shortcoming; you can export the resulting graph as a pdf file and the notes as a text file, but I couldn’t find a way to export something like an outline.)

So, on a whole, not a revelation, certainly not for story-mapping, but it might be nice for certain applications.

Hope this helps,

Hello, everyone. I am Flying Logic’s designer, and I thought this discussion was quite interesting. First of all, it’s clear to me that there is no competition between Scrivener and Flying Logic— as jean-louis suggested, they can complement each other.

On the other hand, as jottce pointed out, the emphasis of Flying Logic is on business and personal improvement, and there hasn’t been any effort to make it a tool that writers will flock to— yet. Nonetheless, I have always envisioned that Flying Logic could be useful to writers, and I would like to understand how I can move it in that direction. Jottce mentioned an export-as-outline function, and that is certainly doable.

I have created a special section of the Flying Logic Forum for discussion of the uses of Flying Logic in writing, plot development, content analysis, and public speaking. I would like to invite anyone interested in those topics to contribute their suggestions and experiences so I can make Flying Logic all that it can be.

Thank you!

Wow, I am quite impressed; such responsiveness makes the whole thing look quite different to me. I do think that Flying Logic has the potential to be helpful to creative writers, and, I might add, academic writers as well if it turned its attention to those groups. There is, as far as I can tell, a lack of software that would allow such effortless visualization of a narrative or an argument (both more or less linear structures where traditional mind-mapping or concept-mapping software is not what you need). The argument-mappers that I have tried are useful for analyzing an existing argument, but I haven’t found a way to make them work for constructing an argument. You can, of course, create such graphs in OmniGraffle, but even the auto-layout function of OmniGraffle requires much more attention to layout than Flying Logic would. That is one thing that I neglected to mention in my previous post: you really can focus on your ideas rather than the layout with Flying Logic, and the exported pdf document looks quite presentable. I would be able to live with the java bit, if it were possible to export the efforts to use them in Scrivener (or any other writing program).

I will definitely check out the new forum that Robert mentioned.


Thanks for the link! I had a look and found this a kind of software I was looking for since ever without knowing it… (After the first half an hour I said to myself: “I will have to buy a licence after the 30 days test period.” And then I aquired a licence the next day…)

First, it helps me in fact thinking. It helps to clarify vague thoughts and nebulous ideas in a way paper could not - this impresses me because I always thought of paper as the unbeatable tool for any thinking outside my head, as the best tool available. In the first 2 days, I got a grip on a number of problems that were plaguing me for long - now, they are turned into to-do-list! I developed the concept for a writing workshop I am going to give next week, and I was ready to go after two or three hours - in the past, this was something that costed me half a week! So, chapeau, Mr McNally!

Next thing will be the development of a novel plot. I strongly recommend the Professional Version for this because it allows to create one’s own domains and classes: One can, for example, create a domain “Plot” and classes for each POV or each plot thread. My first experiments suggest using a direction from left to right: One should be able to easily create lines of events and interweave them later - just to drag an arrow from one entry to another would mean “this happens after that” -, until one arrives at one long chain of events. That could be grouped into chapters and acts to have an overall structure. We’ll see.

The possibility to export an outline (that is, any list that contains the title of an entity and its notes together) would indeed be a great help.

Last caveat: The introduction price for the pro version is $149. I jumped on that for two reasons: First, the strong standing of the euro towards the dollar in the moment, second that I found a hint that the final price for the professional licence will be $499…! :open_mouth:

Gosh :open_mouth:


Although I can see the usefulness of the programme, $499 seems a huge amount to pay for 8Mb of software. Of course we don’t buy software by the byte, but the size of the programme should give some idea of the complexity for the creator and the utility for the consumer. But $499 is far beyond iWork, Office, or even Devonthink Pro, Curio or Tinderbox, all of which are way more complex. Even $149 seems high by those standards. The corporates who are the target market must have money to burn!

This keeps me even from testing the product. If I like it only I little bit, I might feel the urge to buy quickly. And that’s never good with software that’s more expensive than, say, $99 … And right now I don’t have the time to test anyhting thoroughly …

This price is not unusual in the Windows software market. Think of M$ office… In fact, any business software that does not cost an arm and a leg runs the risk of not being taken seriously by “managers”. :wink:

BTW: in fact no software is essential for writing good stuff. Shakespeare did it without…

$149 seems excessive for the Mac market, I’d say (based primarily on my own impulse-buying software habits, which is admittedly a statistically unreliable sample size!). But I have done some business analysis work in my time, and it is true that the corporate (Windows) market will throw money at business analysts (or, at least, at their consultancy companies), so it’s probably not an unrealistic price in the scheme of the likely market. $499, on the other hand… :open_mouth: I have worked with people who wouldn’t blink at spending that amount on software of such tightly-defined functionality, but only because they were passing the cost onto corporate clients, one way or another.

I’m probably biased because, after playing with Flying Logic for an hour or so, I don’t think it’s for me. I can’t remember ever deciding that Java was for me. Despite my reservations, if the Pro version of this software cost, say, £50, I would buy it. At its current price, I won’t. (And I have bought quite a lot of software on the strength of discussions on this forum, whether I needed it or not.)

The biggest thing putting me off is the current “introductory price” differential of $40 between the Student ($39) and Personal ($79) versions, which seems rather exorbitant, just to remove watermarks and have more than three levels of group. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t expect to find watermarks on any paid-for software. I am a legitimate student, but if I wanted this product, it would be in the Pro version, with its increased range of operators.

Oh, I’m sure he had his preferred hand-made paper and goose quill pen, without which he refused to write…

I agree, for an educational market, the functionality of the pro version would be a necessity, without the price-tag of the pro version. If the software truly aims for a creative/education/academic market, the pricing policy needs to change in addition to some of the functionality of the product.


That’s the first time I’ve ever seen the value of software measured by the amount of space it occupies on a hard disk. If this becomes a common practice, MS will have to raise the price of Office …


As I’m the “author” of this thread, I’ve received a mail from Flying Logic father (Robert McNally). Like you I found the price… irrational.
He wrote:
[…] As you know, the Pro edition allows the creation of custom domains. These domains can be saved and then imported into and used by any other edition. If a set of domains that addressed a large percentage of writers’ needs were developed and made freely available for all Flying Logic users, and in addition certain features were added (such as the export-as-outline feature)— would this then become a compelling offer, even if the personal edition still did not allow the creation of custom domains?[…] 8)

You are very welcome!

We were considering a higher price in some pre-release market testing (not $499, but up there, yes.) Some people (primarily consultants) are willing to pay a higher price for specialized tools. Software is not priced solely on how much work went into it— if this were the case, then pretty much every piece of software out there would have to be priced in pennies when compared with Microsoft Office! Factors such as market size must also be taken into account, and the number of business consultants out there is much smaller than the number of writers.

In the end, we decided that we wanted to see whether Flying Logic could gain a much broader market with a lower price. Still, we cannot charge as little as some software because Flying Logic will inevitably have a smaller market than, say, OmniGraffle simply due to its more specialized nature.

Most of the academics I have spoken with have indicated to me that their students will be using this product in the context of basic Critical Thinking and Business Process Improvement classes. For these uses, the built in domains (along with any custom domains the teacher wishes to distribute) and the basic operators (AND, OR, NOT) are sufficient. And like a textbook they will often be required to purchase Flying Logic, so it was essential I give them access to these basic features while keeping the price low.

The advanced operators are primarily useful if you want to do, say, Bayesian Analysis— not something that most people need.

The ability to author additional domains is also not necessary if you want to use the software for the techniques for which it was originally designed: Current Reality Trees, Conflict Resolution Diagrams, Future Reality Trees, Prerequisite Trees, and Transition Trees.

In addition, as mentioned before, any edition of Flying Logic can import and use domains authored in the Pro version. Therefore, the range of domains available to users of the Personal and Student editions is actually much larger. The software itself is distributed with example domains for such things as Concept Mapping, which is not built into Flying Logic.

MindManager for the Mac is $129
DevonThink Pro Office is $149.95
Curio Pro is $149
Tinderbox is $229

(The price for Tinderbox apparently jumped for the recent 4.0 release. I paid less for it, and $229 seems rather steep.)

Flying Logic seems to be aimed at the same general space as those applications. Potential users are likely to be familiar with at least one of them, and therefore likely have some idea of how feature-rich an application in that price range should be.

On the other hand, all of those applications suffer from a similar challenge (as does Flying Logic): they are paradigm-shifters whose usefulness is not immediately obvious. At least for me, $150 is right at the edge of what I’m willing to invest “on spec,” and then only after a generous trial period.