Corkboard Cluster

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christianf
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Sat Aug 16, 2014 7:05 pm Post

Hi,

having done some work on (and with) Scrivener recently (I wrote a book on the German Mac and Windows versions of Scrivener in the last months, which will be in the book stores in October) I would like to suggest a feature for Scrivener, which I would call a structured corkboard mode or corkboard cluster (not to be confused with the infamous sweet called cockroach cluster ;)).

When going to start a new project or to plan a section of a book, I use(d) to jot down ideas on chapters and scenes, characters, settings and backgrounds on (virtual) »cards« using a quite exotic tool called Inspiration 9 IE. I shuffel the items on the screen, connect them by lines to indicate subitems, disconnect and reconnect them, until I get them right. Then I used to export the whole thing as an outline for Microsoft Word (the only way to export the structure of an Inspiration-outline in a meaningful way).

It’s a bit tricky to transfer the outline from a Word-outline to Scrivener (see viewtopic.php?f=18&t=27820&p=179891#p179891) and the way back is blocked anyway, so idea-map and derived Scrivener project tend to get out of sync quite soon.

How much cooler would it be to do this planning directly with the index cards on Scriveners corkboard? Hierarchical relations between index cards could be presented by lines or twine between pins. Branches (stacks and folders) should be expandable and collapsible and nodes could be represented either by index cards or just as title bars. This extension would fit perfectly in the Scrivener philosophy and would allow to plan entire projects and not just individual chapters and sections on the corkboard.

Here is a fake screen shot how this may look:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/wrekwaz3tu1oy ... uster.tiff

Christian
Last edited by christianf on Sat Aug 16, 2014 9:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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lunk
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Sat Aug 16, 2014 9:04 pm Post

Your fake screenshot looks very much like something done with Scapple.
I am a user, writing non-fiction and science, using:
* Mac Scrivener 3 on a Macbook 12”, MacBook Pro 13”, and iMac 27”, running different OS.
* iOS Scrivener 1 on an iPhone 11 Pro, iPad Air 9.7”, and iPad Pro 12.9”, all running the latest iOS

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christianf
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Sat Aug 16, 2014 9:27 pm Post

But Scapple is completely unstructured. You can not jot down a complex project in scapple and than make an Scrivener-outline out of it. I imagine to have something like Scriveners index cards for planning, but to connect, expand and collapse them like in Scapple.

The great thing with index cards is, that they have titel and synopsis and some more infos. Add a clustering mode and you have a really cool tool.

EDIT: Note, that the fake screenshots binder matches the items on the corkboard.

EDIT2: The bubbles are not part of the "screenshot", but my comments :)

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robertdguthrie
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Mon Aug 18, 2014 2:59 pm Post

So, what you seem to be suggesting is a kind of free-form cork board that shows the binder hierarchy via connected arrows, but allows you to arrange the cards however you like. Is that what you're after? I can see that being a nice alternative to the current cork board modes--a kind of supplement to the outline view.
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christianf
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Mon Aug 18, 2014 3:23 pm Post

robertdguthrie wrote: a kind of free-form cork board that shows the binder hierarchy via connected arrows, but allows you to arrange the cards however you like.

Yes, yes yes :)

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Sean Coffee
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Mon Aug 18, 2014 4:09 pm Post

I would like to add my "Oooooh. I like that!" to this idea.

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MimeticMouton
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Mon Aug 18, 2014 7:38 pm Post

How would you rearrange the hierarchy from this view? I am assuming that as part of the ability to move items around wherever you want (freeform), the arrows connecting the items must move with them, so that A always connects to B whether the two are right next to each other or I drag B to the other end of the board to give some more room. How do I change the ordering to put card C between them, shuffling the binder to become A, C, B rather than A, B, C? What if I wanted to move C to become a subdocument of A?

How are the different levels of the hierarchy shown by the lines? Identical arrows going top-down linearly from 1 to 1a to 1b to 2 wouldn't say much; there should be a distinction in the levels between 1 and 1a and 1b to 2. Probably 1 and 2 should be connected also, since they sit at the same level, and the 1a and 2b cards are sub-points--I'd want to be able to track the flow without those (especially since they might just be notes or that sort of subdocument that isn't part of the final draft at all). Since this is freeform, at least as I'm imagining you're describing it, the placement of the cards on the board doesn't mean anything in terms of the structure. How would Scrivener indicate this information?
Jennifer Hughes
(MM for short)

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christianf
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Mon Aug 18, 2014 9:05 pm Post

MimeticMouton wrote:How would you rearrange the hierarchy from this view? I am assuming that as part of the ability to move items around wherever you want (freeform), the arrows connecting the items must move with them, so that A always connects to B whether the two are right next to each other or I drag B to the other end of the board to give some more room.

Yes.
And if things are messed up completely a button or menu command for automatic reordering would be great.
BTW. I like the way Scapple does connecting nodes by drag and drop.

MimeticMouton wrote:How do I change the ordering to put card C between them, shuffling the binder to become A, C, B rather than A, B, C? What if I wanted to move C to become a subdocument of A?

In "Inspiration" the last added item is the last in the list. To change the order, you have to reconnect the items. In Scrivener one may use the binder, to change the order.

MimeticMouton wrote:How are the different levels of the hierarchy shown by the lines?

Not at all :)
I do not think of the feature as a mindmap, but as a intuitive way to jot down chapters and scenes. I would like to keep it simple.

MimeticMouton wrote:Since this is freeform, at least as I’m imagining you’re describing it, the placement of the cards on the board doesn’t mean anything in terms of the structure. How would Scrivener indicate this information?

With a reordering command Scrivener could order siblings from left to right or top-down.
In »Inspiration" for example you may select cluster or several types of trees.

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MimeticMouton
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Mon Aug 18, 2014 11:30 pm Post

I think I'm just not understanding at all how this works or what purpose it serves. A button to automatically re-order, for instance, suggests there must be some way it *could* be ordered and, on the flip side, that it could get *out* of order. I don't understand how that works with Scrivener's binder hierarchy and the integration of the different views. Either the cluster corkboard is another way of viewing the binder, in which case its order is always going to match the binder, or it is entirely disassociated, in which case it doesn't seem to fit the whole point of this wish, that the mapping be done directly in Scrivener so that your hierarchy doesn't have to be reassembled.

christianf wrote:In Scrivener one may use the binder, to change the order.

Again, I just don't grasp how this works. If you can't rearrange the order in the corkboard itself, what's the point? And if you can use the binder to do it, then the corkboard isn't truly freeform, since its arrangement is determined by the binder, and changes you make there will undo whatever careful layout you've done on the corkboard.

In Scrivener's current setup, the freeform corkboard is mostly abstracted from the binder so that most changes on the board do not affect the binder and vice versa. Creating or deleting items is the exception, and somewhat like you describe for Inspiration, new items added in the binder are placed on the board near the preceding item but without affecting the placement of the rest of the cards. Thus you could end up with a lot of overlapping items that you'd need to manually place on the board, possibly rearranging other items to fit them where you want them. In reverse, new items added anywhere on the board are always added to the bottom of the list in the binder (specifically, the corkboard is only showing a single container, so the item is added to the bottom of that container's items). Freeform always works with only one level of the hierarchy, or a flat list in the case of a collection.

If you reorder items in the binder, it doesn't change where they are on the corkboard. Moving cards on the board doesn't change their placement in the binder. Only when you choose to commit the arrangement does it affect the binder, and then it's still possible that what you get isn't exactly what you wanted, since this is just done in a left to right, top to bottom order. For the cluster corkboard I'm assuming it would be more like a linear version of Scapple, so that somehow the computer would follow the arrows to create the proper structure in the binder. That demands the hierarchy be shown on the board with a way to arrange cards at any level, as in the binder. If you can't do that, I don't see the difference between this and Scrivener's existing freeform corkboard.
Jennifer Hughes
(MM for short)

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christianf
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Tue Aug 19, 2014 12:03 pm Post

Why would anyone want such a thing? For me it is much more intuitive to collect ideas first (on virtual index cards) and then connect them to obtain a structure. This is not possible with Scrivener, because essentially only one level of index cards can be displayed on the corkboard at a given moment.
To get the idea, you may want to have a look to the demo version of »inspiration« (http://www.inspiration.com). The UI is strange, but »inspiration« is similar to Scrivener to some extent in the point, that there is an structured outline view and a diagramm view with connected (or unconnectet) items (unconnected items are just top level items - in Scrivener the topmost level would be the container). The arrangement of the bubbles or boxes is virtually free form, while the connections represent the structure. The user can rearrange the objects randomly - when you use the command »arrange«, the objects are rearranged based on the order in the outlines.