In Scapple, is there a way to increase the connecting line and arrowhead thickness (or weight) ?
Connections of all types just have one look to them. We might consider more flexibility here in the future, but the initial design was to de-emphasise appearance as much as is feasible to keep the focus on thinking and plotting.
While I very much appreciate the goal of simplicity, forcing one line type conflates simplicity with simplistic. Words and pictures are two different symbolic realms.
Line types (solid, dashed, dotted, thickness, color) all communicate something of interpretive significance about the relationship between the concepts they connect.
In the printed word form, capital letters, punctuation, and type styles perform much the same function. Would a word processor be more focused –– better –– without upper and lower case letters or punctuation? Would you release Scrivener without the capacity to write a question because declarative sentences maintain consistency of appearance as much as is feasible?
When one moves from linear type to graphic representation of concepts, one employs a symbolic language that draws on different grammar and syntax (with some parallels to linear text). However, at the moment, you are ignoring or overruling these conventions by (mis)applying a principle that is inappropriate to the visual domain: One type only is good because it is simple / consistent / less complex or distracting than having more choices for expression.
What you actually are doing is forcing a potential lack of clarity or confusion for the reader of the Scapple output (including the author of the Scapple map looking back on her or his work over time) who is denied the distinctions that would be offered by the richer, more varied visual vocabulary.
How? Because identical lines all look the same, the important distinctions between the relationships of the map’s concepts that should be connoted by varied representations of line (by solidity, weight, color) are lost.
For an analog in traditional linear text, think: All caps in an email or memo (making it hard to read and discern import).
Insisting that Scapple use only one line form for every use when graphically representing relationships is equivalent to Scrivener being only capable of producing all caps with no punctuation.
Would this meet your goal to “de-emphasize appearance as much as is feasible to keep the focus on thinking” while composing. Well, I suspect it would!
Would you suggest that is effective or desirable?
Don Blohowiak, PhD
So, basically you are saying that one should never use a piece of scratch paper and a pen to capture a thought? That there is no place for thinking things out quickly and messily, and that the only logical approach is a formulaic, painstakingly produced symbolic languages that must be capable of interpretation by multiple parties for years to come? Maybe not to that extent, but this is the sense I’m getting from you.
It sounds like you are talking about diagramming, schematics or even flow charts, where one is building a visual model based on a syntax as rigidly defined as grammar. There is plenty of place for that, no doubt about it, and it should be pointed out there is plenty of software for that as well. We have all kinds of software for what you are talking about, on a gradient of complexity, but scarce little software that really puts a strong emphasis on speed and dexterity of thought capture. Scapple is targetted squarely at the pen and scratch paper stage of thought, and it would be a pity to go charging right back into the tropes used by diagramming and proscriptive mind-mapping software without care, without making sure that each added feature supports the original premise and never gets in the way.
Your comparison to linguistic grammar is telling I think, because I would equate Scapple much more closely with shorthand than longhand, and not even remotely in the same category as typeset language.
Now, I never said that some line settings are out of place in Scapple, you seem to be pouncing all over that, but I really meant what I wrote above, I wasn’t just being polite. We’ve already got that concept on the table for consideration. As I said above, the key thing here is care for the original concept and not to just blindly rush into copying every other visual program out there, that sometimes means coming up with new ways to think about implementing ideas. We don’t want to just rish into building a “Connectors” tab in the Inspector because that is what everyone else does, because the more of that clutter you add, the further you go from the original goal. It has to be done right, not just done, if it is to be done at all.
Is there room to expand Scapple beyond its start here? Absolutely! But to say that Scapple is incomplete, or that it does not do what it sets out to do, because it lacks fifteen different variations of connectors seems to me more a position of trying to use something for what its not. I doubt you carry around twenty different pens, a ruler, compass and drafting board, on the off-chance that you need to capture a thought during a lunch break. I’ve never myself found it “simplistic” to just use one single pen to write and maybe circle a few words and connect them. You may retort that you can use your pen to produce defined symbols by drawing different types of lines, perhaps dashed or double lines, etc. My response to that is you are still focussing too much on the end product rather than the tool. Return your thoughts to the tool. It’s just a stick that is easy to hold in your hand that you can use to record throughts. It’s the simplicity of the pen that we are trying to angle for here with Scapple. Not that you can use a pen to make a precise engineering schematic, but the fact that the pen doesn’t demand of you to learn a bunch of features and systems in order to use it.
Scapple is more meant to make digitally easy the sorts of things you would throw away once you’ve fully codified it (which isn’t to say that’s the only purpose of it, but how many programs do you know make an active attempt to step into the discardability space? We need more of that in my opinion). Nobody keeps the piece of scratch paper with the hastily drawn idea on it. As for myself, I’d say that 90% of the Scapple boards I make don’t even get saved. I type out some thoughts, maybe draw a line here or there if it is really necessary to accentuate a connection between two things, and then move on to really making the thing I’m thinking about, clearing the board when I’m done. I do that maybe half a dozen times a day. How many straight up, hard-core diagrams with detailed visual syntax to I make per day? I don’t want to use Scapple to make those, and I sure don’t want to use the software I use to make those diagrams, to think out loud, either.
Thank you for the thorough and passionate reply.
You contend: “Scapple is more meant to make digitally easy the sorts of things you would throw away once you’ve fully codified it.”
I find that description in stark contradiction to the very richly detailed maps shown at the Mac App Store as examples of Scapple output.
In this regard, I believe that Scapple is in fact being presented and marketed as software to enable “diagramming, schematics or even flow charts, where one is building a visual model.”
Those elaborate diagrams in your marketing set an expectation for the product’s intended use far beyond producing little more than disposable one-offs.
Yet, given your characterization of the app, your mental model of it is quite different, even polar to how it is presented to would be consumers at the App Store.
This discrepancy between the product’s depiction in its advertising, and your private and public construction of it, provides the space for my confusion about what would constitute proper features for Scapple.
I do believe that we would agree that form follows function. Yet, given these contrasting public depictions of Scapple, the intended function of the program seems a bit muddled to me now.
With best wishes,
I’m not sure what you are referring to. We must have different definitions of what an elaborate diagram is. Of the five screenshots we have on the Mac App Store, four of them look like just the kind of thing I’d scribble down on a napkin. Thoughts all over the place being cultivated into coherancy. There is one out of the five that could fit what I would describe as an elaborate flowchart. But it doesn’t depict the software doing anything it can’t do in its current state.
Maybe my napkins are unusually richly detailed though, I don’t know.
While I think Scapple is exceptional on what it already does, I second adding more line styles (solid, dashed, dotted, thickness, color, text labels, arrow/no arrow for all lines). That would add a brainstorm diagram a new level of detail that may trigger even more ideas.
+1 for this. I currently cheat and do a google image search for ‘Arrows’, then drag those across and on to the page. It makes the scapple file larger, but does work after a fashion.
Not needed. Cosmetic ornamentation, trying to turn an efficient note-taking and -organizing tool into… well, into something it is not.
Wish I was multilingual … tch!
éasca duit a rá
That’s as maybe … but! there’s a fine line (or is it solid, dashed, dotted, thicker, coloured, arrowed or arrow-less?), twixt Jameson, The Holy Amber Distillation, and Guinness, The Ebony Ambrosia
For an afternoon’s delight, it’s frothy Ebony who makes me smile. But come evening, with matters of heart and mind, I turn for serious reflection to the sweet mystic richness of Amber. The line between them I put at 1820, though it may vary with the company and the seasons.
Pretty much draws a line under it then. An underline kindda thing.
Underlined or underhanded, it’s all part of continuing the sacred OT tradition.
Good reply amberV. I was going to make similar points about solid lines and so on. Like you say there are dedicated diagram programs for that. Plenty of them too. So your post changed my mind. Thanks. It is about mindmapping. I get it.