I found Scapple Beta on Lifehacker 6 days ago and have absolutely loved it! It’s the only program I’ve found that starts to get a handle on how I want to record thoughts digitally. I’ve told a handful of people that they need to get it! Thanks for the work you’ve done on it!
Below are some things I found that I instinctively wanted Scapple to let me do:
to be able to drag/ bend the connecting lines so they didn’t have to be straight. This would make it so that a line doesn’t have to go through another note, but could go around another note. It would help me line up notes in a more clean way.
to attach the connecting line to a particular part of the bubble. It would help in positioning notes in relation to each other and would be helpful especially for long or large notes.
to be able to click and drag the canvas, instead of having to scroll around after zooming out/in.
in a more complex web, to be able to click on one of the notes and see everything orientate around it. So, I could click on one note with many connections and all of it’s connecting lines and notes would stay dark, while the notes and connectors not attached would fade out until I clicked somewhere else on the canvas. It would be a highlighter of sorts.
to have a navigator of some sort that I could drag around. Perhaps it would be a type of magnifying glass on the canvas?
to be able to highlight or increase the font size of one part of a note instead of the whole note being the same font size.
Maybe in the future Scapple could work in 3D? There were multiple times I wanted that capability!
Thanks, setha, glad to hear the program works well with how you record thoughts. Some of these ideas aren’t bad, but they would require a lot of programming—more than would be reasonable to expect from a $15 tool. But even beyond that, I think it really boils down to the goal of Scapple. We have plenty of programs out there with hundreds of features and a ton of flexibility for visualising concepts. The problem is, you can’t really use any of them at the speed of thought, and a major component of that failure is in just how much control you have over every detail. Scapple is meant to be an answer to that problem, so adding these things back in sacrifices its intent.
Bezier controlled curves for example are not something that can be easily programmed—and when the point of the software is to just slam down a bunch of raw ideas quickly and without ado, something like fiddling with the precise curvature algorithm with an assortment of handles is a bit outside of its scope. There are other ways to resolve confusing line overlaps on an infinite canvas. There are other theoretical problems with precision line adjustment, like the loss of agility in a program that is all about agility. Scapple lets you rapidly expand and contract ideas and move things around. If your lines are all carefully manicured around other notes and other lines, you will become mentally burdened by the arrangement. Keeping connections raw and simple means you do not become attached to the arrangement and feel liberated to radically remodel as you go. This is, we believe, a psychologically important component to thought capture. Our brains do not produce linear perfection. We start, halt, revise, recurse, blunder and then finally say A-ha! We need software that doesn’t shackle us to each of those phases.
Likewise, precision placement of where the line intersects with the note—not a bad idea, but is it worth spending all of that time on (and I speak for both the programming involved and all of the users dragging little nodes around pixel by pixel), when all we really need to be saying here is “Note A <-> Note B”? Scapple is about keeping things concise and to the point. But incidentally you can toggle between drawing to the centre of the note, or to the nearest edge, in the “Document” tab of the inspector. That is more of a global preference though, at least for that document.
This can already be done. Hold down the Spacebar and then click and drag.
You might try approaching your boards in a different fashion if there are that many overlapping lines, and remember that lines are the emphasis, not the bread and butter. Just placing eight notes near to one another “says” something about them. They do not need a complex of lines between them to underscore what is already being said spatially. That is one of the differences between Scapple and stricter mind-mapping or purist concept-mapping software, where visual links between nodes are of utmost importance to the structure of the idea.
That aside, this has been requested before and denied by Keith, so it is not likely to appear. I myself do not think that highlighting the link lines of selected notes would harm the philosophy of the software—but I do question the necessity of such a feature given the above. I have used programs that feature this, like Tinderbox, but they are for much more complicated modelling than Scapple is, so it’s not easy to say that because it has been done there, it should be done here too.
This already basically exists. Instead of having some external widget you click around in, the entire board is already a navigator. Depress and hold the Z key to see your entire board, point with the mouse where you want to move your view, and let go of the key. Better than a navigator widget, you can actually do mouse-based editing while the Z key is down; great for moving a cluster all the way across a large board.
That could potentially come in time, but it wasn’t a priority since rich text editing inside of notes is a bit out of scope. We do have a system in place for inline formatting like bold and italics, though we don’t want the format to be burdened with complicated formatting syntax. Right now the .scap XML format is pristine, increasing its utility and transparency.
I’ve used 3-D mapping / outlining / mind-mapping software before, and in my opinion it’s one of those things that looks better on film, with Hugh Jackman clapping and drinking wine in front of six monitors as he “hacks”, than in reality. Controlling a simulation of three-dimensional space on a 2-dimensional surface with a single-point modifier alternated control is far from intuitive and easy to master. Even with a multi-point control it’s just awkward and gimmicky in my opinion. I tried out a 3-d outliner on the iPad once—it was fun but it took ten times as long to anything I wanted to do.
But controls aside, that really oversteps the cheap-and-simple-tool philosophy for a program that stays out of your way and lets you jot down a quick idea without having to think about technology while doing so.
A lot of such things can be done in a program like Curio. Which I possess. And which I don’t really use exactly because its possibilities are distracting me from actual thinking every time. I always end up fiddling with lines
etc. etc. etc.
instead of thinking.
Scapple is for thinking, not for drawing nice pictures. If a line interferes with a note, just move the note elsewhere. That’s my motto.
I have the same relationship with Curio. I really like it, I just never use it. It takes too much to do stuff in it. But I haven’t really tried since the radical redesign, maybe they have improved some of that.
Small note: the ability to choose where lines connect to a note was removed (I think before the final beta), so it’s not in the release version. Lines always connect to the note where they intersect on the path to the note’s centre.
You should really try the new version of Curio. George has put a simply colossal amount of work into it. To be honest, Curio, now, does every single thing that people have been requesting for Scapple for the last year and more. I use it every day for, well, just about everything. That said, Scapple is very precisely designed to get ideas on “paper” & cluster them—for writers that is wonderful and encourages the flow of ideas by its simplicity. But I think visually as much as I do verbally and so find Curio most useful.
That sounds good, I poked around a bit when I bought the upgrade a while back and felt the new design was oodles better, but haven’t really had a chance to play with it, which is a shame because I have had several projects since then that would have benefited from being at ease with it. I’ll give it a go now that Scapple is out the door.
Of course I have to credit Curio with the idea of being able to zoom out and back in with a key. That isn’t novel to it, but that is the program that gave me the idea for it.
This is a terrific program. I would ask for two modest (superficially) additions: 1) to be able to drag over select text inside a note border and change the color of that text without changing the existing color of the non-selected text. This can be done with bold letters, strike through and italics; and 2) allow text within notes to be formatted for URLs. Keep up the good work. You are to be congratulated on Scapple.
Ah, okay Bob. I see what you mean: automatic link creation by drag’n’drop.
I’m not on the technical team, but I imagine that implementing that type of feature would require a quite a leap in app complexity. The programme would have to decide, for example, on dragging an image on to the canvas, whether to just copy the image, or to create a link to the image file. Again, not all file types support Quick Look, so creating an embedded alias wouldn’t necessarily provide the QL support you’re looking for. Having said that…drag’n’drop linking — neat idea, isn’t it?
How are you dragging the URL into Scapple, out of curiosity? This works fine for me. If I create a new note and drag the page icon from Safari’s URL entry field into that note, I get a clickable link with the visible text set to the page title.
This doesn’t work with files, though; that just prints the path. There may be a way to handle that more elegantly. If you are dragging a file into a note, there is no ambiguity over whether it should be linked or embedded (assuming it is a graphic that is), since notes cannot contain embedded graphics anyway.
I think the only thing I would LOVE to have is TABS for different sections/content with the ability to link a note or group of notes to one of these TABS. That way my idea can be more organized especially if its a really big project with different use case scenarios. What do you guys think? =]
Scapple is an excellent little tool, good work! One thing I miss (and is lacking from most other mindmap tools as well) is adding text to relations. Typically I have a “thing” (e.g. a person) and want a line to another person. I would like to give that line some meaning by writing “married to” or some other text on the line.
Also, documentation on the file format would be awesome.