The Cork Board Issue: A Proposal To End The Nonsense

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Sean Coffee
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Thu Apr 02, 2009 4:13 pm Post


Keith will never add a ThreeByFive-style cork board* to Scrivener, because that is not what the cork board in Scrivener is for.

*Holy crap! $99!?!

An Open Request To Keith Or Any Other Developer

There is clearly (okay, anecdotally) a market for an app that works like ThreeByFive. Someone should make it for OS X! It should be small and free-form and relatively cheap. It shouldn't have massive, restrictive, grid-like formatting, because that's what the SuperNotecard apps do. It should be the computer equivalent of a cork board and some index cards... period. Maybe this app even lives in the cloud? Maybe it allows you to push single cards to your phone? Maybe the SuperNotecard folks could make a "lite" version that works this way? Maybe the Final Draft folks could do it (didn't they used to be BC Software, who made ThreeByFive in the first place?)

To anyone who says "Why don't you just go out and buy a cork board and some index cards?" I reply: "For the same reason you didn't send me that message on paper, in an envelope, with stamps."

As an incentive: If you make it, I will buy five licenses and gift them to friends. And send you a basket of mini muffins. =-)

Anyway, whatever. Curio is working for me nicely, but it's a terribly expensive solution for folks who just want a cork board.

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Thu Apr 02, 2009 4:32 pm Post

Have you thought of trying something like freemind?

I might be able to whip something up in the summer, but I can't guarantee anything... :oops: But let me ask, Stand-alone App, or online service?
Should this post be moved to "Other Software"?

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Sean Coffee
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Thu Apr 02, 2009 5:24 pm Post

Wow, that was quick!

Freemind and the like are all very cool -- I use Curio for this exact purpose.

I think, though, that people are looking for the notecard/cork board metaphor. There was just something about ThreeByFive that was so simple, so utterly... it was the first app I used that made me think "Okay, now I get why I use a Mac." I think a lot of people crave that kind of basic simplicity. Even if I didn't use the new app every day, I'd be happy to support it just because the whole concept is so elegant and appealing. This new app should be to mindmapping and SuperNoteCard what WriteRoom is to Scrivener, I think. I'd be interested to hear what others think.

As for stand-alone vs. the cloud, I tend to think that apps made for writers should live on the hard drive. The need to be online to do one's work makes writing outside of the home -- in coffee shops, at the dentist's office, wherever -- expensive and cumbersome. Of course, a stand-alone app that synchs to an online version would be an interesting, modern twist. (And thus, the slippery slope of feature creep begins!)

Thanks for your interest in this, by the way!

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Thu Apr 02, 2009 6:11 pm Post

What is wrong with Tinderbox, again? If all you use it for is pushing "cards" around on a "wall" and filling up those cards with content, it's a pretty basic learning curve.
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Sean Coffee
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Thu Apr 02, 2009 8:37 pm Post


There's actually nothing wrong with Tinderbox -- a truly great app, from what I understand. Except for the part where it's $229. That, in my judgment, is not too much money to pay for an app which (like Curio, like Scrivener, for that matter) Changes The Way You Do Things. It's way too much, though, for an app that pushes cards around on a wall and fills those cards up with content.

To me, the quest for a redux of ThreeByFive -- a lifelong dream I've had since noon -- is all about the beauty of the object. You know better than I do the joy of a perfect, focused piece of code. ThreeByFive was that app. So — for all its robustness — is Scrivener. Keith may have put off his novel to develop 8 hours a day, but in Scrivener he's found art.

Anyway, I want ThreeByFive back. And I think a lot of writers would appreciate its return.

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Thu Apr 02, 2009 11:15 pm Post

If I do make, it would be free because I'm still learning and whatnot (and also, I can't guarantee anything useful).

So here's what I was thinking.
My Muse wrote:So for most of my corkboarding experiences, I have notes and pictures. I also have color codes thumb-tacks (push-pins). I also have a folder if the note cards referrence a larger document or huge picture that won't fit on the corkboard. I also sometimes use string to link cards together (although I haven't done that for a while because of the mess... Now I have sharpie marks/corner doodles). My real corkboard has a weight limit, but I don't think a digital one needs to worry about that (unless there was a "light" version and "heavy duty" version... I have a dry sense of humour).

In Windowed mode, it'd have a corkboard on the left and a pane on the left with different types of cards to drag onto the corkboard (Note Card and Picture, and possibly more later?). There'd be a slider on the bottom to change the zoom. The icon menu bar thing (at the top of most apps now) would have the standard "New," "Save," "Open," and I guess, "Add" and some other corkboardian like stuff.

Then you could fullscreen it, zoom in and out, and a bunch of other stuff (like Scribbles, but with notes instead). Most of the features would be limited to the menu bar (or HUD panels?).

The Note cards on the screen would have a fixed size. You can title them, and add text to the card. Double clicking on a card would bring up another window where you can type a whole document or essay for the card to contain. You can specify links to files or web pages (in the document and on the card?). Note cards could be dragged anywhere on the corkboard.

Picture cards would be resized to a reasonable size, but I guess the user should be able to increase the size if desired. They can be titled and will also have a document type thing associated with them when double clicked.

I'm thinking there should also be thumb-tacks to act as labels or something. Hover over a thumb-tack and a tooltip shows the label (when a notecard or picture is selected, the inspector would say what it's labeled). The user would pick colors for the thumb-tacks. Multiple Thumb-tacks can be put on a card/picture.

There'd probably be a trash can in the lower right-hand corner for you to "toss" cards and empty or restore cards if needed.

Possibly have strings to link cards? I'm not sure about this one, but when thinking about what I do with corkboards, strings come up...

I'm guessing save data would be stored in an SQLite db file or something... And exportable to XML or CSV (then other people can write interpreters if desired, or a web version could be added, then a back-up to web feature later? much much later...).

I'm guessing that the prototype will be written in Java (with attempts to make it feel as close to native as java can, so OS X only things, it might be 10.5 only...) since my Objective-C know-how is limited (learning this summer though! So this might start off as a learner app for me). Then after I learn Objective-C, the app would be ported to be able to use all of Mac's goodness. Don't fret over hearing java though... There's this and 10.5 added some other cool java/osx features...

The name "Corkography" (Cork-aw-graw-phi?) comes to mind when I think of possible names... :oops: Probably due to my habit of titling things with certain suffixes. Anyways, I should be able to have something out by June (classes end first week of May, and then I have time to code and whatnot).

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Wed Apr 08, 2009 2:24 pm Post

emoKid, sounds very exciting to me, please let us know if you do do something like this. I understand you not feeling comfortable with charging money for an app you might not want to continuously maintain or whatnot - but you could build in a PayPal link, make it donation-ware and let happy customers show their support for your efforts that way? And from what I've read on these forums, you'll not be short of beta testers :)

Incidentally, which dry-cleaner do you use for your cape? :wink:

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Wed Apr 08, 2009 7:00 pm Post

If we're voting, I say aye! This would be a great application to have. Someone on the Curio forum (perhaps it was you, Sean), asked the developers to add index cards as an option. I don't think the developers responded to the request... but that would be a nice addition!

I wonder if you can mimic what you are looking for with Inspiration right now. Have you tried?

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Sean Coffee
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Wed Apr 08, 2009 7:40 pm Post


Yeah, that was me. In my weaker moments, I waste valuable work time pleading with developers to help me be more productive. Such are the cruel ironies of the Fractal Productivity Spiral.* That said, if Curio gives me ThreeByFive on a workspace, I'd be very happy.


Sarah's donationware idea sounds pretty smart. You really should get something for your trouble. As for an inability to support the app, I think that's a feature, not a bug. I think what people (me) seem to want is ThreeByFive circa the late 90s.

And "Corkography" sounds ok, but the editor in me wants you to write it again, half as long: Cork?

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Thu Apr 09, 2009 8:55 pm Post

Sean Coffee wrote:And "Corkography" sounds ok, but the editor in me wants you to write it again, half as long: Cork?

But I was thinking something like "A corkboard never looked so good," or "The first digital corkboard to turn you on"... :lol:

Anyways, I'm not too sure on the name. The project is currently called "Corkboard App."

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Fri Apr 10, 2009 1:00 pm Post

Title: 'Corked'

Slogan: "Three-by-fives on a bender"

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Wed Sep 09, 2009 2:27 pm Post

Jumping in late. Could you do the simple, free version of this using Stickies?

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Wed Sep 09, 2009 5:14 pm Post

One of the things I'm using Circus Ponies' NoteBook for, is as a virtual corkboard with free moving note cards. The problem is that text inside the "shapes" cannot be exported (the developers are evaluating to add this option).
NBIndexCards.jpg (14.65 KiB) Viewed 1752 times

In the past I've used OmniGraffle for the same thing, and text was exported in an OPML file.


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Wed Sep 09, 2009 9:48 pm Post

the "note cards" in scrivener are really just a gimmick since they cannot be arranged in x-y. I actually like that supernotecard has a grid, so I do not have to waste time with arranging overlapping cards on the workspace. If scrivener could implement a possibility to order cards in rows and columns, the program would suddenly be a lot more useful. right now I find the cards just distracting (if there are more than ca. 10 cards in a folder).

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Wed Sep 09, 2009 11:20 pm Post

But how, pray, would the positioning of cards in an x/y grid relate to the Binder hierarchy in this alternate-universe Scrivener? I'm not being facetious, I'd really like to know. It's a tough one.