Using the corkboard with document 'stacks'

Until now I haven’t really used the corkboard in anger, so it’s a bit of a grey area for me. Maybe what I’m trying to do is very basic, but I’m stumped!

I’m trying to create a kind of timeline as I have a novel with key events spanning ten years.

I created a folder called ‘timeline’ and within that I have one document for each year, each containing a brief summary of events in the synopsis. Each of these documents contains sub documents for relevant months and again, there is a brief synopsis for each of these.

When I view the ‘timeline’ folder in corkboard mode, I can see a card for each year and the document stacks are clearly indicated - but is there a way to expand these stacks? I know that I can select a given document in the binder to view a corkboard for the sub documents, but I was hoping I might be able to ‘expand all’ for a folder so that all sub documents are displayed, so I can see all events in the timeline.

Have I missed a trick somewhere?

Thanks :slight_smile:

In the upper lefthand corner of each stack of cards is a little folder icon - double click on that and the stack will expand to show the contents in a fresh view of the corkboard. I don’t believe that there is a way of expanding everything on the corkboard at once. The only way to do that would be to have just one level of documents in your timeline folder and a very large screen (plus fiddling with the number of cards across the screen under view).

Note that you can put documents in folders and the folders will also show up as cards on the corkboard. If you are still at the shuffling stage of fine tuning your timeline it might be best to stay in one great big stack under timeline and then shuffle things off into sub-folders in the binder as you become happy with the order of events. For rearrangement purposes it may be even faster to riffle things around in the binder and then come back to the corkboard and work on the synopsis of each card.

There is an ongoing discussion regarding timeline applications, which can be found here:

It may suit you to go down this route and experiment a bit before coming back and shuffling around the cards.

Pipibluestockin has already answered this one very adequately. :slight_smile: You cannot expand all documents in the corkboard - it will only show you top-level items within the currently selected folder. Use the outliner view if you want to expand or collapse items. Or double-click on the icon in the index cards to “drill down” to that card. All of which Pipibluestockin has already said very well. :slight_smile:

I did recently consider if there was any way of having the corkboard expand stacks, but really, there is no sensible way of doing it that I can think of. I had a discussion with AmberV about this recently. The problem isn’t so much technical as finding a good visual metaphor. If you think about it, what would happen if you expanded the subdocuments of an index card in the corkboard? They should really be displayed right alongside the parent document. But how do you show that those items are children of the index card that precedes them, as opposed to siblings? Aperture does this with stacks by drawing a rounded rectangle around the parent and its children, to show that they belong to the same “group”. That is fine, but in Aperture, you can only have top-level stacks - you can’t have stacks within stacks. In Scrivener, one stack may contain another stack (or several) which could contain another stack. In the outline view, subdocuments are displayed by being indented. But there is no really good visual metaphor like this for the corkboard. AmberV suggested having subdocuments smaller, but I don’t really like this idea because as soon as you have opened a couple of sub-levels, the cards get too small for you to read their synopses.

Ultimately, this is probably just a limitation of the corkboard metaphor - which is why the outliner view exists as an alternative way of viewing your data.

All the best,

Not that I’m trying to push you into implementing expanding stacks, but I don’t see why a top down vertical hierarchy – an upside down tree–wouldn’t work as a metaphor; as long as the window could scroll horizontally to allow for lots of cards at the bottom level. Essentially a more rigid, unidirectional version of a mindmapping view.
Of course it’s a HUGE can of worms, along the lines of 1NF = 37FR.
Personally, I think the outliner is just fine.


Thanks to everyone for such detailed replies :slight_smile:

I’ve looked at various timeline apps but am reluctant to introduce another piece of software, especially since my use for it would be very basic, and I really want to try and keep everything within Scrivener.

Yes, I can certainly see the problem with finding a visual metaphor, since everyone will have their own uses for the corkboard. I got a bit caught up in the ‘time’ aspect and was somehow thinking that you might be able to sort them in date order - d’oh!

I’m sure I can find a solution and will use the outliner if all else fails :slight_smile:

Thanks again.


Eiron - again, I’m not a big fan of that solution. I would rather keep the corkboard as is, with just a visual distinction. I looked at Three by Five recently, and it becomes a nightmare to navigate when you have loads of documents - suddenly you have to worry about scrolling vertically and horizontally, or zooming out, etc. I am open to suggestions for visual metaphors, though, very definitely. :slight_smile:

Just the sort of phrase that strikes me as a challenge. After all, visual metaphors are at the heart of my work in theatre.

I’ve been thinking about the corkboard metaphor itself and wondering how we (well, Keith) could get closer to it.

Corkboards don’t really show hierarchy. But sometimes hierarchy just gets in the way (as an old outlining addict I can’t believe I just typed that!); sometimes all I really want is to be able to find and see (all) the notes that (potentially) belong together, no matter where they are kept in the binder. That’s why tag&search is often more useful for me than outlining.

But most programs don’t let you see or do much with found sets. Scriv does better than average by displaying label and status in the search results; and thanks to the genius of “Edit Scrivenings” I can even see the combined text of different found and selected documents. What I can’t see is the Card - the synopsis - at least until I click on each individual document. I can look at each tree individually but never the whole (corner of the) forest.

So I don’t need a hierarchical corkboard. I just need one that let’s me see all the notes I want to see at once --just like the real thing. I want to be able to pull some of them off the board, shuffle them around and look at them differently, I want to stare at them and THINK for myself. I want to jog my mind with them with the reassuring certainty that I’m looking at ALL the notes that pertain to the topic I’m thinking about or the scene I’m writing. And when I’m done, I want to put them away and have them magically go back to where they belong in the hierarchy.

So this is what I’m suggesting: integrate the corkboard to the search. Make it possible to perform a search - on tags, say - and see all the resulting cards on one big corkboard (admittedly having a big monitor helps here) in however many columns I want. Then set them free: let me move them around willy nilly to my heart’s content in a way that has no effect on the actual structure or position of the notes in the binder outline. Much like moving cards on the corkboard now but without moving them in the binder. Then, if it’s possible, let me save that new search/view/order in a saved search. Like having aliases or replicants, only better.

More possible tweaks: let me sort them vertically or horizontally by label and status; just like regular search. When I click on a card, have it grow so I have more room to write (Recent Web 2.0 calendars like Scrybe do this brilliantly). Let me color code by rating, or fade out less important notes. The possibilities - and the work for you - are endless.

Something to add to the list for v2.0, when you can afford to hire a coder while you write.


Keith remarked “…it becomes a nightmare to navigate when you have loads of documents - suddenly you have to worry about scrolling vertically and horizontally, or zooming out, etc. I am open to suggestions for visual metaphors, though, very definitely.”

Point taken. And how such a complex pattern would convert into a linear text would probably demand a set of rules of its own no doubt.

But - to shift visual metaphors - maybe we could think of these as Post-Its rather than File Cards: they have the ability to be tacked on a board but other Post-Its can be stuck to them too to form clusters that can be moved en masse. This ability can itself becomes a useful creative stage in the creative process. Straker discusses it in his book “Rapid Problem Solving Techniques Using Post-It Notes”. (I thought it was a joke when I first saw the book but now it’s a key component in our creative techniques course.)


I guess what I’m saying is that no such conversion is necessary at some points in the process: sometimes you just want a global overview of all the notes that apply to a particular scene, character, theme etc. Order, linearity and hierarchy can actually get in the way at this point and stop you from creating links in your mind rather than order on the screen. That’s why I think the chance to see a lot of notes temporarily gathered in a fresh way by a search can be VERY useful.

Sorry to burble on, but the more I think about this the more it makes sense to me. Just in case the basic idea gets lost in the pondering tone of my previous posts I’m going to state it more clearly and forcefully:

It would be very useful to be able to see search results as a collection of cards on the corkboard.

Alternately, search could return the usual left hand list column, and selecting one or more titles would bring up the card(s) on the corkboard.

That’s it - no real need for the bells and whistles.


The idea of viewing search results (and the contents of an Edit Scrivening session, too) in a Corkboard or Outliner view was something I brought up a long time ago in beta 1. If I remember right, he wasn’t too keen on the idea then, because suddenly these views became something potentially ephemeral, rather than just based upon a literal point of view from within the outline. What sort of feedback should Scrivener provide to inform the user that the view they are looking at does not represent anything in the book necessarily?

Personally, I still like the idea. I suppose I became rather attached to the “Table,” in Scrivener Gold, so it didn’t seem that confusing to me. Anyway, the one clear point I did have was that there is no way to edit meta-data on a search result, and the compromise became the ability to see a couple fields in the Binder when searching.

Is that necessarily a bad thing? Maybe for a programmer, but Keith is first and foremost a writer and Scrivener’s design proves that he wants to keep actual writing front and center. I know it sounds artsy fartsy, but ephemerality and ambiguity shouldn’t be so scary. The software shouldn’t always be expected to be so literal and linear. Now and then you want to loosen things up while writing and let your brain, not the software, do the work. After all I’m just talking about seeing a variable subset of your notes gathered together in card form.
As for feedback: if only the selected documents’ cards are displayed, the feedback is already there: each card appears as it’s title is chosen in the found list. If you want to keep it simple they can appear and remain in the order chosen.

Well, like I said, I still think it is a good idea. :slight_smile: I think there is enough feedback already. Assuming it is viewing the contents of a search – the fact that the Binder is in search mode is a big clue that the current Corkboard has nothing to do with the Draft. Drag and drop out of it would be disabled. Pretty obvious, I think. If you also went with assembling Corkboards or Outliners for an Edit Scrivenings session, this does have less feedback, but with drag and drop still disabled it could still work I think. It would require a little attention to detail on the part of the user. Where it would be most confusing is if you stop for the day and come back a few days later. With the state being preserved like it is – one might forget it is an Edit Scrivenings corkboard.

Another problem is that then, selecting documents in the search results would suddenly act very differently from selecting them in the binder.

Dunno, though, maybe there is something to this - if there is a multiple selection, I can see an argument for it… Hmm. Something to mull over, although I doubt it would make 1.0 as it really does take some thought.


Thank you for considering. Just to ram the point home: I think this would go beyond having the visual metaphor of a corkboard and provide some of the core functionality of a corkboard, i.e. the ability to see, grasp, digest (etc) a subset of notes all at once.

That said, I have no idea what’s involved technically and wouldn’t presume to look for it anytime soon.



OK. I don’t mean to keep beating this horse, but since it doesn’t seem quite dead yet I thought I’d comment on this point:

Does it need to? I know this would be backtracking, but why not have the same fuctionality in the corkboard views of the binder itself? After all “corkboard” is just a slightly different view onto the data - as you’ve said yourself. Who cares if you just see one card on the corkboard if only one is selected in the binder? And as you start making multiple command-selections in the binder more cards appear. So you get consistency PLUS real corkboard functionality. Not entirely unlike giving “Edit Scrivenings” functionality to the corkboard/synopses. And this would arguably be less confusing for newbies than an empty corkboard or one that disappears every time you click on a lone document. :wink:


Just to clarify: if you enter corkboard mode with just one document selected that has no subdocuments, you will get a blank corkboard even if I do implement your suggestion. There is no way I will change that aspect. I actually played with that idea some time ago, and things get pretty ugly pretty fast (search the archives for longer responses to why this is the case).

No, if I implement this (and I have put it on my list of possible 1.0 things - in fact, I will play with the concept this weekend, if for no better reason than to give me a break in writing the Help file), it will work like this:

  1. Selecting any one document in the binder or search results would work as it does now.
  2. Selecting more than one document in the binder or search results would display those documents as index cards in the corkboard or as lines in the outliner view, depending on an option I would add to the navigation preferences. Drag and drop would be disabled.
  3. Obviously, clicking on Edit Scrivenings at this point would enter an E.S. session. The inverse of this would also mean that corkboard and outliner modes would be available for E.S. sessions.

The conceptually difficult bit: if the user has selected all continuous documents in the binder so that they show up in the corkboard, drag and drop would still not work in this case. Drag and drop would only work if, as now, a group is selected and all its children are visible.

Hmm, not a big issue, though - just something users would have to get used to.

I will play around with this at the weekend, like I say, as I do actually like this idea - and it means that there would be no need for the Corkboard to be “expandable” in anyway.

The one limitation I can foresee is that it may be very difficult to have index cards in an arbitrary order. That is, no matter what order you select items in the binder, it may have to be that the items displayed in the corkboard maintain their binder order. Hope that makes sense. The trouble here is that no matter what order items are selected, when you enter an E.S. session, it is in binder-order, and in order to flick between corkboard and E.S. with arbitrary documents it would be necessary to have a consistent order… Now that probably doesn’t make much sense. :slight_smile:


Brilliant. fracking brilliant.

I liked the idea of being able to move cards around in a temporary way on the corkboard without permanently affecting their true order in the corkboard, though I totally undertand how this would cause difficulty for ambiguity-challenged newbies. God forbid they RTFM.

Actually it does make sense and personally I would be willing to forego ES functionality in favour of drag and drop in this instance. But that’s just me and as long as I can just SEE all those cards in one place I don’t deeply care about the order and you won’t hear any complaints from me.

And just the possibilty of getting this in 1.0 is making the Monster’s display flicker in anticipation.

Anything I can do to lighten the load with documentation etc. just ask.

Hee hee!


Thanks. I’m looking forward to playing around with this idea at the weekend - it will be a little difficult to implement, so no promises, but I will certainly revisit the code to see what is managable. I definitely like the idea. It’s a good refinement of previous suggestions.


P.S. “Fracking”? You haven’t been watching Battlestar Galactica, have you? :slight_smile:

Gods know, now that Deadwood is over what else is there to watch?