Time line based on ideas not just time

Hi, Is it posible to have a time line aspect to Scrivener?

Index cards are the Ideas or fragments of ideas or story

What would be good is the ability to use the cards and move them around vertically and horizontally and even in a spider type form

So that An Idea can realy be structured

the Pin board does not have this flexability or if it does I don’t know how to use it

then maybe the ability to date the cards as an option so a time line can be developed and the dates retain there relative positions when cards are moved



Please search the forum for “timeline” to find why Scrivener is unlikely to have one. It comes up a lot but such a feature just makes no sense in Scrivener. Scrivener’s features are all integrated; it isn’t intended to have every tool possible thrown in. If you have any concrete suggestions as to how such a feature would integrate with the rest of Scrivener, I’d be happy to hear them and be proved wrong, though. To copy a reply I gave another user recently:

If a timeline feature can’t be integrated and has to be tacked on, then it is better left to another application, the developer of which can dedicate his or her time to timeline-specific features (such as Aeon Timeline, being developed by a Scriv user).

Hope that makes sense.

All the best,

Ok well if you take out "time line " as a word

its more the structure flow I am intrested in - the cork board is limited as far as I can see to a linear structure cards across / down ideas dont just flow that way

On a normal Corkboard I would put ten cards around say x theme two being very closely related and them being almost on top of each other

But the cards just follow one after the other ( is it some thing I am doing)

So is it user error?

Can this be done ?


The same thing applies. The cards on the corkboard represent the contents of a folder (yes, a linear structure - the list of subdocuments within the selected folder). How would what you are suggesting represent or integrate with this?


Ok lets turn this in to what I want and how much of this could be possible

Why I have turned the question is because I don’t have you knowledge of the programs inner workings

Its the way an idea develops you get bits, snippets they need to be structured to get to an full story

scrivener is good but could it be better ?

Its about how the structure is formed

So what Do I want - I want to be able to spider diagram my ideas and snipets of the story ( but not in another application ) I don’t want to have to think in two places

I have some big ideas - projects that need room to be explored - the current structure I think is limiting whats possible

this could be an extension of the corkboard and the cards

I want to be able in a free form way place my cards where I want them - some may end up in groups

may be if the corkboard has a grid underneath it that cards can snap to (this not being true free form but its more creative than just linear ) osx has grids and spacings as part of its structure

when you get more that one card together they become a group -the order that they are places dictates its linear form ( with an option to reorder as needed)

its almost as if each group becomes a separate cork board virtual so the program can cope with its linear structures the only preferences would be size of grid and how close together constitutes a group

So whats on the screen will replicate in the folder structure as an option if applied.

a rollover zoom would also be a help as it may get difficult to see the ideas

now as far as I can guess this will fit in with the programs linear forms but can allow for greater idea construction

Is this as clear as mud could this be possible - Does it make sense from a creative point of view

Call this corkboard+ which under the surface is linear but allows much greater creative structuring

what do you think


Hi Paul,

I wasn’t talking about the inner workings of Scrivener - I was taking about how Scrivener works in terms of what the user sees. As in, the binder represents the structure, each document can become a container (not just folders), and the corkboard and outliner represent the contents of the container last selected in the binder.

The sort of thing you are talking about wouldn’t represent any of those things. Or, suppose it represented the top level. Then you selected a folder on a lower level and rearranged things. Then you went back to the top level - how would it keep track of the new arrangements? And when things are placed in groups on your theoretical corkboard, how do these groups represent hierarchical order, not just linear order?

The trouble is that any mindmapping or timeline implementation just doesn’t fit in with the other features, as cool as such a feature may be, and would thus be tacked on. And having one developer trying to make a cool mindmap or timeline on top of updating the core features of Scrivener is asking for trouble.

Scrivener 2.0 will, in fact, have a much more flexible and useful corkboard, but it still won’t act as a proper mindmap, as that is not its intended purpose.

Thanks and all the best,


A “real-life” corkboard can serve two purposes we writers are interested to:

  1. Shuffle ideas around in free-form, looking for links and affinities, until some sort of logic comes out, and
  2. Shape the already-formed idea to its final form.

During the first phase you deal with pieces of apparently unrelated ideas, while during the second phase you deal with a formed idea, that needs development and refinement.

Scrivener’s Corkboard is great for the second phase. It is not meant for the first phase. I myself love to use a mind-mapping app to work in the first phase, so my workflow is this:

  1. Open a mind-mapping program, like MyMind, and start from the single igniting idea. Add related ideas, like characters, sub-plot ideas, places, pieces of related news. Move single pieces around to see if some relations appear. Drag lines to relate places and characters, and characters between each of them. After a while, you have what appears the ghost of a story.

  2. Move your distilled “storyline” to Scrivener. You only have the useful and relevant pieces. You have a story in its gross form. Use the Corkboard to move pieces of the story (not ideas, no longer them!) around. Keep the wasted ideas somewhere in the Research folder. Keep the mind-mapping app open, and see if you still need to deal with single ideas.

Do no ask Scrivener what other great apps already do. Let it do its best with ease and no too many added features. Apps that try to do everything usually fail in most respects. Let Scrivener be quick and fast.



Your description of what you are dreaming of sounds like a perfect description of mind-mapping software. Like Paolo, I use mind-mapping software for this sort of free-form idea brainstorming.
I highly recommend you explore mind-mapping software as a great writing tool. I was never a mind-mapper before but now I am an advocate. I use MindManager myself, which is a bit pricey, but suits me well and I found it more natural to use than others I have tried. There are tons of mapping apps out there, some free.


P.S. I think the two central facts about the Corkboard that are relevant to thinking about what is really programmatically possible within Scrivener are these: 1) The Binder and the Corkboard (and Outline) are functionally linked – they are all ways of representing the same data structure, namely the tree structure of documents and containers in a project – and rearrangement in any of these representations is a way of altering that underlying tree structure. 2) The Corkboard can represent for rearrangement any arbitrary subset of items in a project and so any given index card can appear in indefinitely many corkboard contexts. These two very happy features of the Corkboard together make a free-form corkboard or even a corkboard with an independent free-form mode pretty unworkable.

Incidentally, these days I’m working with Scrivener and MyMind used as two tools of the same integrated app. I’m collecting the hundred notes I took during a course lessons in the Research folder, trying to categorize them as much as I can.

Then, since the dissertation is nearly free, I’m trying to find a focus with MyMind. With my notes open in Scrivener, I’m setting all character of my “story” in a mind map. Starting from the center idea (not yet exactly shaped), I add the main personalities; the main ideas; the main works of the age; and the emerging technical/stylistic similarities or oppositions.

When the mind map process will be ended, I’ll keep MyMind in the background, and start rearranging all my “distilled” notes in Scrivener, to set them to form a logic thinking. (I’m not sure I will suceed, but this will not be due to the excellent software…)


Hi, all

Thanks for the input

I still recon as we have an application that is to help you write then it quite fundamental that it does parts a and b as stated above not just the part b well

I am not asking for it to become a jack of all trades just very good at the one Ideas and the structuring and construction of story

Now I don’t think that we will get mapping as an integrated tool - but may be the question should be should it be there ?

its about repetition I will get notes and ideas in a mapping program - then have to re type then in scrivener - better the integration that reduces the need to replete and potentially lose ideas

may be it should be good at parts A + B without becoming the master of none thats feared

open discussion welcome


Just to clarify, there are no plans to add any mindmapping tools to Scrivener and as its developer I really don’t think such tools would fit. You are welcome to have an open discussion about this, but I would urge that you discuss how it would integrate with other features if you do, as I have explained that Scrivener isn’t intended to do everything.
Happy Christmas,

I agree as said scrivener as a jack of all traded - don’t want

But I opened the discussion to should scrivener be better at the part A

when its good at part b

As the developer you can take what direction you want. However the question still exists

should scrivener be a better tool from the idea up I notice another thread and you state that this comes up a lot - surly then as the developer this keys you in to the wants of its users

now to be honest keep asking how this intergrates with whats there is futile only you can answer them question correcly

now if we take whats pre existing the corkboard can you not work this to meet what people apear to want ( ideas free form construction )

Make it a two part process

manipulation _ thinking on the board

application _ apply the then changes on the binder

the cards already exist in the binder its just how they then get ordered or reordered

I am no programer but I am sure I could write you a specification for this in English - that you as the programer / developer could try to meet

I think the idea of using the corkboard is best to be stuck with one simple format but with flexability beyond a straight line - because that all you can do with it at the moment change the order of cards linear order

the only addition to that would be the ability to add a card while playing on the corkbard and a rollover zoom

I am not try to make you do this just becuase I want it But because I think its an ommision in the creative process- “It comes up oftern”!


ps Happy Christmas to Keith and all who use and enjoy his program

Most mind mapping programs will export in any of several common formats.


Ditto what Katherine said. Scrivener can import OPML files which is a common export format for mindmapping software.

If you tried this, I think you would be surprised at how hard it is to specify something that would both work and do what was desirable – and duly keeping in mind facts (1) and (2) that I mentioned earlier. (And (2) looms large here.)

The idea of a free-form corkboard has not just come up a lot in these forums, it has been thought about a lot here, by Keith among others. And there are a lot of smart folks here, a number of whom are also clever programmers.

I say this not to discourage thought on the matter, but because I think to get very far thinking about this requires first an appreciation of why a free-form corkboard could not be added to Scrivener. There is a real honest-to-goodness barrier here, though it is not obvious to those who first come to this subject. At a minimum, some ways the corkboard works now would have to be eliminated.


Y’see I can’t really see what’s the problem with doing this in a separate application. If he includes mind-mapping then how about a sketching for illustrations, and a database and email function for submitting it to agents, and then something to file the rejection letters?

Funny how little of these I have. Not that I’ve not been rejected - I’ve been on a regular basis. Only, in Italy there is nothing like a reject letter: publishers just don’t answer, and you know that you have been either ignored or refused.


Ok I want to have a bit of philosophy well Roman philosophy

to paraphrase Marcus Aurelia badly “every thing has its first principal”

Scrivener has a cork board but it does not - ( Unless I understand it badly)

all I want is a cork board that is as good as the one I intend to buy in the sales tommorow

it should be a corkboard I should be able to use it in a way a cork board can be used.

Pin my thoughts on cards to it and arange them as I need

now if this cant happen - don’t call it a corkboard because its not

I am not after any sopshiticated mind mapping programs just the ability to organise my thoughts

via a cork board - Now I am going out to get a real cork board as scrivener cant do what I want scrivener to do what it offers a cork board should act like a cork board - first principal

please think on this all as I think its important

The cork board as an idea is simple its powerful and could work if worked on, that’s whats needed

Scrivener has its limitations it will get you so far the text you may have to reformat etc I accepted that

but the ideas bits I have always felt was not 100 pc right

I think I would prefer to share with Keith via pm how in English it could work

I am not being a pain not trying to rubbish his work just trying to get a good product better in a way that I feel it should be

I want to be able to think in Scrivener in ways it wont let me do yet. But they are natural ways of thinking - that it could do


If you need the full flexibility of a physical corkboard, buy one. To the best of my knowledge, there is no piece of software on any platform that can deliver what you’re looking for.

Several packages have tried. Scrivener comes close. Tinderbox comes close. Mind mapping software comes close. But the fact that none of these has truly succeeded suggests that it’s a really hard problem. I’m sure the world’s collective programming minds will keep trying, but meanwhile you’ll get more done if you just stick with paper.


Download and try this ayluro.com/corkboard/
It’s cheap ($13) and has an iPhone version. Who knows??? Might even work…