Scrivener + Scapple ... writing and mapping on the same application

Hi everyone. Maybe this is just a wild thought; a complicated endeavor; still, here it is. I’d love to be able to push my analytical thinking inside Scrivener, without having to resource to another dedicated mind-mapping app.

My feature request (developers behold) would be to have, in each binder item, a “Map” section (like you have “notes” section) accessible via an icon on the right sidebar. It would be like Scapple opening inside that pane with all its functionality (pan, zoom, relationships via drag and drop…).

I know this may “kill” Scapple as a standalone app, but maybe there are ways to circumvent this (like allowing this Map section to be opened only if Scapple was installed as well).

I am a Scapple user too, but I find I don’t use it that much. When I do a mind-map, I do it in more “powerful” map software. But as a complementary pane inside Scrivener, I would certainly use it a lot more, given its simplicity and bare-bone nature.

An image is worth a thousand words (they say), please see the attachment.

Developers, you can slap me now.

What is the relationship between items in the Scapple map and items in the Scrivener Binder? (FWIW, the difficulty of answering this question is one reason why Scapple isn’t part of Scrivener already.)

If the answer is “none,” how is this different from putting a Scapple map in the Research folder, or linking to one as a Bookmark?


– So, I had the exact same thought / wish / idea … a slight variation, it would be great to have the “Cards” be the nodes in the mindmap as an option to viewing the corkboard.

I so wish the interoperability of Scapple export and Scrivener Import worked exactly the way MindNode worked. I just invested several hours into a great mind map in Scapple and then realized the import to Scrivener is a FLAT structure - I will have to group the cards manually to rebuild the higherarchy that already exists in Scapple. :frowning:

But then it would be just Yet Another Mind Map Clone. I think the world has enough of those already! :slight_smile: We made Scapple precisely because something different than Yet Another Mind Map wasn’t really properly represented out there. You have plenty of Yet Another Mind Map programs, and you have plenty of illustration/diagram style programs—but not too many tools biased toward thought capture that deliberately eschew hierarchy as a mode of doing so.

Well that’s the problem right there: there no hierarchy in Scapple. You might have contrived a visual sense of hierarchy by drawing things a certain way on a flat board, but that isn’t the kind of thing software can easily figure out (using background shapes is a way for you to hint at this structure, but even those aren’t, strictly speaking, hierarchical tools since you can overlap them and straddle notes between them). Meanwhile you might have better results dragging your Scapple board into a freeform corkboard in Scrivener. That will at least preserve your visual interpretation of hierarchy.

To expand a little on what Ioa said, if you want MindNode-like behavior, use a true mind-mapping program. Such programs create a clearly-defined hierarchical structure, which can usually be exported to OPML, and from there imported to Scrivener.

But that’s not Scapple’s goal.


While I agree that there are benefits in Scapple being its own lite and tight mind mapper, one would think that the output would at least be fully interoperable with multiple levels of outliner into Scrivener - if nothing else, because both tools are by the same company.

It just seems to me to be an oversight that is relatively easy to fix in Scapple’s export function - the multi-level export doesn’t even need to be perfect … e.g. if there are complex nodes linked together, the export can skip the exceptions - go for 80/20 rule here! The MindNode tool does a perfect job of preserving the levels on an export … I just like the Scapple look-n-feel much better than MindNode.


I’m okay with 80/20 Rule - get the easy level 1,2,3 and any double connected can be dropped.

Okay, so this was a brilliant idea! - Yes, selecting and dragging one or MORE nodes from Scapple App into the Scrivener App Outliner (or Cork-board) works well - it’s not automatic, but it is a good work-around for now. I was able to select all the sub-nodes in Scapple and drag them over to Scrivener on a second monitor and drop directly into the Outline where I wanted them to go!

L-n-L, please consider updating the Scapple Export - it would be super-mega-ultra-awesome to have a mind map input to a script!

What do you recommend (for the MacOS) - I don’t really like MindNode.

BTW - For me Scapple is great except the interoperability of the export levels to Scrivener. Personally, I would have made the corkboard in Scrivener do what Scapple does - a natural extension of the “free-form” corkboard feature that was just added. I am assuming Scapple was more of an experimental App that might one day be included in Scrivener (total speculation on my part).

I use Scapple precisely because it doesn’t have a strict hierarchy. But I don’t generally need to turn a map into Scrivener documents, either: the planning I do in Scapple is generally more granular – down to the paragraph or even sentence level – than my Scrivener outline.

Yes, the idea of Scapple one day being included in Scrivener is total speculation. The idea has come up before and been rejected as out of scope for both programs.


Hi again. Nice discussion here :slight_smile:
Well, I also dont advise into making Scapple hierarquical like the others. Thats not its point and I ike its free form way of working. For hierarquical mapping, I use another app.
I just wanted a more direct - aka lazy - way of working in Scapple inside scrivever. As for linking, each binder item would have its scapple map.
The cardboard view suggestion also seems very nice.

The problem is that the Binder is hierarchical. So it’s easy to say that each Scapple note should map to a Binder item, but where do those items go relative to each other? Even if they just come across as a flat list, the order matters more in the Binder than it does in Scapple.


I think bmsc… was just saying that each doc would have its own map space – in the same way each doc has its own document notes. That is, in the OP’s wish there was no suggestion that the nodes in the maps relate in any way to the Binder structure. That was, I take it, the whole point of his/her last post.

Even if every note had a “Scapple board” tab in the inspector in the same sense that it had a “Notes” tab, that still would not solve the main problems with smashing two different programs together into the same window (see point one).

I think the best answer is still to use Bookmarks—which does just about everything you could want from this kind of integration, that is feasible. You get a preview in the sidebar if that is what you really want, but if you want to modify or edit this thing (which evidently has no connection to any data in Scrivener and is a complete disconnected data model that has no inherent benefit in being in Scrivener) then you double-click the bookmark instead of single clicking it. :slight_smile: Easy—and it works just as well for Excel spreadsheets too, or whatever else you need.

Yes, that was it. Thanks gr for putting things more clear, I guess. No intention to make things complicated. Each binder item would have its embedded xml Scapple map, as it has, for example, a notes pane.
But, I agree, it may be overwhelming just to save a few clicks – with bookmarks one can get from one place to another, but sometimes, a tighter integration makes all the difference.

Just my 5c :slight_smile:

This is brilliant! I did not know really what Bookmarks were for until you mentioned them - Just tried it with a Scapple file and presto - what a great way to access mind maps! Thanks. :smiley:

Thanks. I didn’t realized it was possible to preview the file as is. Was I distracted or Scrivener 2 didn’t have this? Anyway, thanks, I don’t mind double clicking to edit the map – I was more worried by having to open it in an external program just to see its contents.

Thanks everyone!

It’s a new feature in Scrivener 3. In the previous version there was something functionally similar to the top half of this pane, called “References”, but it was just a simple list at the bottom of the inspector. In this version there is now a whole pane for them, which provides enough space to show a preview of files—or if the Bookmark points to another text item inside the project, a fully-featured editor.

Still haven’t got the time to check Scrivener 3 as it deserves :slight_smile:

This work fantastic! Combining Bookmarked Scapple maps with the Drag-n-Drop from Scapple-to-Scrivener Binder is all I needed. Thanks ! :smiley: