Scrivener Mind Map facility (not importing)

Searching this forum, I see that I, and many others, have asked Keith for a MindMap importing feature - and Keith’s no answer explained that importing was problematic because of irregularities in the standard files.

Then what if we omit importing - but rather, in addition to the VIEW mode, CORKBOARD mode, OUTLINER mode – to also have a MINDMAP mode.

I think, as a non-programmer, that this should be do-able, because each item in the binder seems to be a separate file. So all a MINDMAP mode would do is take the text of each file, and graphically present it using a MindMap visualizer. The hierarchy of the MINDMAP mode would mirror the hierarchy in the Binder.

Perhaps, rather than re-inventing the wheel, Keith could cooperate with an existing MindMap developer – such as the creator of MindNode for Mac, to create an interface that gives a MindMap representation of the Binder’s hierarchy.

In my view, Scrivener cannot yet be called “the ultimate writer’s software” until it offers a mindmap mode, alongside View, Corkboard and Outliner.

In the past, Keith has said no to my suggestions (text wrap in either the binder or outliner), and then years later, goes ahead and provides them. So perhaps a “no” from Keith - even an emphatic no - might be a tentative maybe?

All I’m asking is - rather than saying no - perhaps just a quick email to a MindMap developer - such as the guy who does MindNode for Mac - and just ask, is it feasible to incorporate your MindMap graphics engine into a MindMap viewing mode in Scrivener. Sure, it might need work to incorporate it, or might even need to be re-written from scratch - but the developer who’s been doing MindMap software for years would know how to fast-track it for Scrivener, rather than Keith having to reinvent the wheel.

I’m sure, with Scrivener’s booming sales, that the MindMap developer would be happy to cut a profit sharing deal with Keith, in exchange for input in creating a MindMap viewing mode.

So, my request is not FOR a MindMap viewing mode - but, Keith, could you just approach a MindMap developer and see if it is feasible? I’m not asking for it to happen - just asking for the first step (write an email) to find out if it were technically feasible.

If you like, I’ll even write the email for you :slight_smile:

p/s I remember how Keith said he could see no reason for providing text-wrap in the outliner or binder, but I am so glad that this feature is now in version 2.0/2.1. So here’s hoping for the MindMap feature in the not too distant future.

No, no, no, no, no! Take a look at this thread!


Let’s not have any more complexity!

Cheers, Martin.

On one hand I agree with you. For instance in the current Microsoft Word, I merely use a set of features no different to the functions I was using in Word 95. i.e. everything just adds to the size of the program, at least from my range of needs.

But, in the case of adding a MindMapping view, I think it is worth it, because it adds to my writing experience.

There must be some criteria you have in deciding whether to add new features - whether it is a nice-to-have but does not help the writing experience at all, or whether it really does help us write better.

I think a MindMap would add to my writing experience.

While some writers do find mind-maps useful, there are other criteria in deciding what goes into Scriv:

a) Whether it would fit into Scrivener in such a way as it can be integrated into the whole (otherwise, if having it as part of Scrivener doesn’t integrate with the rest of the features, you may as well just use a separate application.

b) Whether it’s easy to add if it’s something I wouldn’t use much myself but can see the use for, or, whether it’s something I really want myself if it would take a significant amount of work.

A mind-map component doesn’t meet either criteria, I’m afraid, but in particular it doesn’t meet (a), as I have explained a number of times elsewhere (see, for instance, my pre-2.0 blog post).

As for asking another developer to use their engine, I’d rather not share our profits, thanks. :slight_smile:

As you acknowledge, this really is a very subjective opinion. Scrivener is the ultimate writer’s software for me, at least, and for some others. But someone else would say that it can’t be called the ultimate writers software because it doesn’t have a timeline, or support styles, or text-around-image-wrapping, or the ability to record audio, or widows and orphans, or WYSIWYG footnotes and formatting, or a built-in cheese-maker, and so on; others might think it already has too many tools.

At any rate, a mind-map could not integrate with the corkboard and outliner for many valid technical and philosophical reasons (this has nothing to do with programming but fundamentally with how mind maps work), as I’ve explained elsewhere.

So, that’s still a “no”, and it’s unlikely to change, sorry. I am working on a standalone brainstorming app that will be released at some unspecified point in the future, though, and should eventually support import and export with Scrivener at least:

This will not become a component of Scrivener, though, for all the same reasons - it just could not be integrated in any meaningful way.

All the best,

I looked at your “Board” concept, and would actually prefer that to a conventional mind-map facility. Your Board concept would fill my needs to the T. I just need something graphic because, in spite of having to write, I think visually.

Glad you like it!

Also, have you tried out Scrivener’s freeform corkboard mode? Although you can’t draw lines between the cards, it does allow you to move things around anywhere.

All the best,

May I suggest that the reason people are asking for Mindmapping is in large measure because it needs to be easier to navigate the Corkboard. Most mindmapping programs are really very structured and convert tidily into outlines. How about building an icon ribbon to navigate the corkboard? That would be a start. A next level would be to offer relational, line-linked views of the cards. (That’s not a whole lot different from using the binder and inspector in combination.)
That, combined with the ability to add folders and documents in corkboard view and to “stack” them (but do it a bit more intuitively) would offer a powerful alternative to mindmapping that would use an existing user interface metaphor in Scrivener.

The fact is that it would be very helpful to be able to brainstorm visually and then do an object oriented reorganization without needing to exit the corkboard view. This could especially be helpful when working collaboratively with a team – if not to author the document, at least, to decide on what its organization and subject matter will be. Throw a corkboard up on a large screen or video project it, and if it was really easily to navigate the corkboard, you’d have a very valuable tool. It’s important to be able to move up and down and into the layers of a stack or back up. (drill up and down)

People will be really enthusiastic to be able to do this with their finger in an iPad version of Scrivener, too.

I doubt I’d care much about mindmapping if the corkboard interface was more robust and useful. I’ve now spent several hours trying to understand the existing options, which are both too few and too hard to use or remember. The corkboard UI needs to mature.

Thanks to Keith, though, for an absolutely outstanding application, however.

A year ago I didnt know about Scrivener. After developing different excel spreadsheet iterations of my own to accomplish writing… I stumbled upon Scrivener. It had everything I was trying to get. So when I found it… it WAS the ultimate writers tool. And It still is. A ton of thought has gone into this product.

Agree with KB that the note cards are plenty for moving thoughts around.
For me? mindmapping… adds about 1% functionality to what Scrivener already does.

With writing, I need to get my ideas down fast. Move them fast.
Mindmaps…honestly… take too long to physically manage.

I also am one of those users clamoring for a mindmap mode, and can’t seem to understand what the problem really is. As Keith has suggested, I took a look at previous threads on the subject, and found something he said on December 27, 2009:

The most interesting parts of this post are that Keith says the corkboard is not intended to be freeform, and that moving documents around freely makes no sense in the context of container contents. However, that’s exactly what exists now in the Mac version of Scrivener. So, Keith, if your mind can be changed about this, why not about mindmaps? It’s easy to say, “well you already have a freeform corkboard, so stop asking” but windows users don’t have this. I’d hazard a guess and say that most of the people asking for mindmaps are windows users.

Have you used Liquid Story Binder’s mindmap feature? It actually works very well, in that you can create a new item on the mindmap and then link it to another file in your binder. Thus, you can create a tree of scenes sprouting from one character and when you click the scene box, the editing window for that scene pops right up. It’s very cool.

Now, I also read other posts by Keith saying that he doesn’t think that mindmapping (or timelining) don’t fit in with the other features, is “outside the scope” of the program, and that freeform idea-making “certainly wouldn’t fit in with Scrivener’s structural setup.” What I honestly don’t understand is why not? Brainstorming and “freeform idea-making” are natural parts of the writing process for all writers. I don’t say most writers, because EVERY SINGLE WRITER at some time has to come up with an idea for a story or paper. These ideas don’t arrive fully articulated, written down, revised and giftwrapped. The writer must go through a process to tease out bits of fluff to make up the thread of the story or paper.

So, Scrivener, as a tool that is supposed to be a one-stop shop when it comes to writing, should also contain components that allow for such brainstorming process to happen. Otherwise, you’re saying, “Go use something else until you’ve got your idea, then come back to us to write it.” What makes you think that the people who do go to use something else will come back? Wouldn’t you want them to do everything with your program? I’d think that this would be a goal for you, just from an economic standpoint, so that your competitors don’t make money just because you refuse to implement something that people want.

I’d really love to hear actual reasoning for denying this feature, since it obviously is possible (again, see LSB for details), rather than the same excuse, that it isn’t wanted by the developer, and so no one gets it. We’re not asking for “the kitchen sink,” we’re asking for a realistically achievable feature addition. Thank you for your time.

Everyone who has an idea for improving an application believes — honestly, no doubt — that his/her idea is splendid, valuable, much-sought-after, and easily incorporated if only the developer would consider it seriously.

Take a moment to count the number of people with such ideas; you may conclude that there are more splendid, etc., ideas than there is time to program. More, in fact, than there is significant demand for or general taste for or — forgive the idea — more than there is any real need for.

Why not incorporate a plot generator, a literary analyzer, an agent-contact side-bar, a global positioning system, a portrait builder? Why not?

Many answers come to mind. The first which comes to my mind is that, somewhere along the line, the writer has to do some of the work. The program cannot do it all.

As for mind-mapping, one solution is to use whatever MM program you are comfortable with, develop a graphic, convert it to pdf or a screen shot, and import it into the research folder.


Or export the mindmap as an OPML file and import that into Scriv.

That is exactly where you are wrong – it isn’t, and never has been, intended to be “a one-stop shop when it comes to writing”. At least, not to judge from all the discussions I’ve seen over the several years I’ve been using the program. It is intended to do a limited number of things very well (a far better approach than trying to do too many things and not getting them right).

Non-fiction writers (I am one) habitually use additional programs like Bookends, Sente, or Endnote, and Devonthink as well. As for myself, I regularly use OmniOutliner because I prefer the way it works for outlines, and it puts me into a simpler, cut-down environment. So why not use a separate Mind Mapper?

Of course, one could take a very radical approach to Mind Mapping, and one that Tony Buzan would no doubt applaud – use a piece of paper. It really is much better than doing it on screen. And I say that as one who has been using Mind Maps since Tony Buzan introduced the idea on BBC TV in about 1973. The speed and flexibility of paper leave the computer for dead.

Cheers, Martin.

PS: the fact that the developer doesn’t want it is not an “excuse”. The application is his intellectual property just as much as any book, or play, or television script. He has just as much right to include or excluded whatever he wants as the writer of a book has to include or exclude plot elements, facts, incidents, or anything else. Would you really write to Martin Amis or Steven Spielberg and insist that they change the ending of one of their stories because you didn’t think it was very good? Not a perfect analogy, I know, but I hope you see my point.

The others have replied very well, and I’m nearly ready for my Christmas break and don’t want to be drawn into a big debate about why this or that feature doesn’t fit into Scrivener, so, in brief:

Well, that’s up to them, but I assume they would come back to do the things that Scrivener does well, and for which it is designed; the same as I’d expect they would come back after using Photoshop or Mail for something, seeing as Scrivener doesn’t allow photo editing or email sending.

Definitely not - that way insanity lies. No program should try to be all things to all people. As others have pointed out, Scrivener integrates certain features very well. A mind-map would not integrate with these features, and is therefore not something likely to be added. There is a separate brainstorming app that I may develop if I ever get the time or inclination, though - please see this thread:

I think it would be a very poor - and insecure - software developer indeed who tried to add every single feature to his software that every user suggested in the fear that someone might use a competitor. If a competitor adds a mind-map and that is the deciding factor for a certain user, then that is fair enough, but I won’t add features just to try to out-compete others. I add features that fit with the over-all design.

It’s not an excuse, and it’s not something that’s begin “denied” you, any more than Adobe are “denying” you by not providing a full word processing system in Photoshop and your PC manufacturer are “denying” you by not having a toaster built into the front of your computer. I designed Scrivener. It is designed to work in certain ways. Customers are free to choose to use Scrivener or another piece of software that suits them better; it really is as simple as that. You should evaluate software based on the features it has rather than on the features you wish it has. I listen to all suggestions and those that fit the over-all design inevitably get added; others are put on the long-list because of technical difficulties or a lack of resources; others just don’t fit in with what Scrivener is trying to do or be.

and so no one gets it. We’re not asking for “the kitchen sink,” we’re asking for a realistically achievable feature addition. Thank you for your time.