I'm now locking this topic, as Scapple - as it shall henceforth be called - now has its own Beta-Testing area and subforums. Please test out the new version and submit feedback and bugs on the new beta-testing forum:
See this post for further details and to download the beta:
Thanks everyone for all the great feedback! A lot of your ideas went into Scapple, and I hope you like it.
All the best,
Earlier this year, I started this thread to get feedback on a proof-of-concept for a simple "brainstorming" app I had been working on in my spare time. I really appreciate all the ideas that have been posted here. I haven't had an awful lot of time to do much more work on this, but what I have done is brush up the code and start over in a new Xcode project, so that I now have the basis for developing this properly. I'm therefore posting an updated build that will not expire until June 2012. Please note that I have not had chance to implement many of the suggestions in this thread yet - many of these, such as better keyboard navigation and suchlike, are on the list. All I'm posting in this update is a slightly more polished version of the original app. The updated download, and the list of alterations, can be found at the bottom of this post.
-- Original Message --
Last year, during a break from the coding hell that was Scrivener 2.0, I put together a small brainstorming app, mainly for my own purposes, but I'm pondering on polishing it up and releasing it as a very cheap commercial program at some point (most likely for a fiver or less, depending on how it ends up). I'm therefore posting a scrappy test version of the app here for people to try out (note that this is Mac-only!), so that I can get some feedback on whether this is the sort of thing that anybody else other than me would use, and to get some ideas on what users might want if it were to become a paid - but very cheap - app.
The idea is simple: when I'm "brainstorming" ideas (I hate the word "brainstorming", by the way, so please feel free to suggest a better alternative), especially for writing but to a lesser extent for programming too, I tend to take a piece of A3 paper and just write down ideas all over it, in no particular order, making notes off of one idea and drawing lines between them where necessary. So the concept was to take that process and put it in a really simple application; something that wouldn't be any more difficult to use than paper, but which would save me having to try to decipher my own godawful scrawl and retype everything into another planning format. Obviously, there are a lot of great mind-mapping and concept-mapping tools out there, but that's not what I was really after. I wanted it to be as simple as possible, but to be able to move things around and shrink or grow the text to make it fit.
It's temporarily called "TheBoard" - if this goes any further then that won't be it's final title (UPDATE: it is now called "Vellum") - and this is what it currently looks like:
So far it really only does half of what I wanted it to do: it does all the brainstorming stuff, but I wanted an easy way to then take all those notes and dump them into a text file in some sort of order, and I have yet to implement that, so I'd be grateful for any feedback on how that might best be achieved. (It's therefore currently of limited use for real-world work.)
In particular, I'd really like to hear:
- Would you use something like this?
- If so, what else would you like to see in it (without turning it into a fully-fledged mind-mapping app or something complicated)?
- What refinements do you think need making? (Bear in mind that it has no preferences as yet - you would be able to change the font and background colour in the final version were there ever to be one, of course.)
Some of my own ideas for where this might go:
- It would be cool to be able to drag image files on there so that you could have images amongst the text.
- It needs some way of exporting to a text format in a linear manner, but I'm not sure as yet how to take the unformed mess of ideas that is the raison d'etre of this app and turn it into anything with a structure; that needs some thought. I am thinking that it could have a list of the notes that could be visible in a split view, and you could just drag them into order and tick a checkbox to determine whether or not they should be included in the exported file.
Two things to note before you make suggestions though:
• This will not be integrated into Scrivener. I know the idea of a mind-mapping view comes up regarding Scrivener from time-to-time, but I stand by all my previous explanations on that - there will be no mind-mapping view in Scrivener as it just doesn't fit. Therefore please let's keep Scrivener out of discussions on Vellum.
• Scrivener will still be my main focus. If this gets released it will be cheap and will remain very much secondary to Scrivener. I therefore have no intention of turning this into something big that will require lots of support and bug-fixing. I want to keep it simple, within reason.
The following changes have been made since the original concept of "TheBoard":
- The app is now entitled "Vellum". This is not the definitive final name as yet, but - as much as I liked "BoardStorm", I like "Vellum" because it suggests quality paper and fits in nicely with "Scrivener" (thanks to David for suggesting this name!).
- Vellum has been rebuilt from scratch, and many of its bugs have been fixed.
- A new XML file format (.vllm) is now used. Please note that you will not be able to open any of your files from TheBoard in Vellum because of this change..
- Undo now works throughout.
- You can now drag in images from the Finder.
- On Lion, autosave, Versions and full screen is supported.
- And that's about it, for now...
I am hoping to start work on this properly soon, now that Scrivener 2.x is more mature and requires less constant upkeep.
Download (Updated 23/11/11)
So, with that all out of the way, here's a link to the download:
You can find the instructions under the Help menu ("Vellum Help"), but here they are, as they are pretty basic and straightforward:
Instructions for Use
- Use regular File menu options to save and load documents: File > New to create a new document, File > Save or Save As to save (as a .vllm file), and File > Open to open existing documents.
- Double-click anywhere on a document's virtual paper area to create a new note.
- Type away and hit Escape to end editing a note.
- When the mouse is over a note, a dotted line border will appear around it. Click and drag the left or right of the border to make the note narrower or wider.
- Drag notes anywhere.
- Drag one note on top of another to create a connecting line between them; repeat to remove the line.
- Use Opt-Cmd-up-arrow and Opt-Cmd-down-arrow to zoom in and out (or use the slider and "Reset" button in the footer bar).
- Click on a note to select it, or click and drag outside of a note to create a marquee rectangle that allows you select several notes. Shift-click or cmd-click also allows you to select multiple notes one at a time.
- Hit Cmd-plus and Cmd-minus to make the text of selected notes bigger or smaller.
- Hit Shift-Cmd-C to bring up the colour palette and change the colour of a note.
- Ctrl-click on selected notes for more options: add a border colour or remove it, change the fill colour or remove it, or fade out selected notes.
- Use File > Print to print, although this is very basic at the moment and won't give a great result.
All the best,