connection point for connectors

Posts: 50
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:02 am
Platform: Mac

Tue Jan 31, 2017 4:53 pm Post

Aha. I think I've been unclear here: sorry! It's very hard to talk about these things w/out pictures! Thank you for putting your graphic in — I should have put one into my own post, but alas have forgotten how to upload images into phpBB...

Let me try to clarify: I'm not trying to draw connectors between items in the SAME stack. As you observe, it's redundant: they're already 'connected' by virtue of being lined up into a sort of list. And it is indeed hard to see how you could draw lines between stacked items which are visually illuminating — even with the full freedom of pen and paper!

What I want to do (and seems to me Scapple could usefully support) is something else: to draw connections between two different stacked lists. That is, to visually mark the correlation between (say) item 1 in column A and item 6 in column B.

(column A)
                (column B)
Item 1 text text text text text
              Item 1 more text more more more
Item 2 text text text text text
              Item 2 more text more more more
Item 3 text text text text text
              Item 3 more text more more more
Item 4 text text text text text
              Item 4 more text more more more
Item 5 text text text text text
              Item 5 more text more more more
Item 6 text text text text text
              Item 6 more text more more more

The problem here is one of angles: if you are connecting two items that are more or less level with one another, the connector will emerge from the sides of the appropriate items. That is, the line will actually LOOK like it is connecting them! But if the connection runs at a sharp angle, from the top of one stack to the bottom of the other, the geometry will make the line appear to connect two other items, located closer to the middle of the stacks.

My thought was that the simplest way of getting round this was just to give users the option of forcing the lines to be drawn from side/bottom/top where desired, rather than the middle of the text box. To keep things simple, the precise anchor point could still be mandated by the program (presumably the centre point of the side). But this modification would make it possible to construct much denser sketches than is currently possible, and to take real advantage of the stacking feature.

To put it another way, at the moment Scapple is chiefly aimed at the very first, wild, totally freeform brainstorming of ideas across a wide canvas, where there's plenty of room for connectors to stretch out. But with a few modifications, seems like it could also cater to the next stage of mental organization, where you try to marshal your first doodled thoughts into some kind of logical order — in which the sorting of things into stacks and lists, while maintaining the connections between them becomes important. Think of it as a sort of intermediate phase between the napkin doodle and an actual outline (when one moves to Scrivener!). Not sure if this is an aspect you're interested in pursuing, but I hope so — it would vastly expand Scapple's usefulness as a brainstorming tool!

In case you are...I hope you don't mind my taking the liberty of suggesting a few key improvements to that end:

a) allowing users to specify which edge connections are anchored to.

b) allowing users to specify whether connection lines are drawn OVER or UNDER any intervening boxes. (Sometimes the connector is more important to see than every last letter of the text it crosses!).

c) providing a simple Group/Ungroup function, so users can manually group together text boxes they want to move around together. I know you can do this via magnetic background shapes or connectors, but honestly sometimes that feels like a very long way round just to be able to manipulate boxes in a simple intuitive way like any drawing program would do....

Just some ideas to file away for when Scapple floats to the top of the pile again! And thank you again for your patience with all my queries. Scrivener does have a way of producing enthusiasts, doesn't it? :)