Scapple for Mac (née "TheBoard"/"Vellum") - feedback wanted

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KB
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Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:57 pm Post

:shock:

philm - glad you like it!
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Mon Dec 19, 2011 5:54 pm Post

mbbntu wrote:Or Bristols -- plenty of nourishment there. M.


Personally, I'm fond of HobNobs...but there is a HobNob software company. :cry:

ph
philm
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Tue Jan 10, 2012 10:23 pm Post

Happy new year Keith and everyone. As I wrote earlier, I'm enjoying Vellum a lot. Finding it very useful for jostling my ideas around. I had written myself into a corner. Instead of starting new documents or folders in Scrivener, a big blank board outside of the Binder is just what I needed. This alpha app has worked beautifully for me, like a pencil and a huge sheet of paper without the messy bits of eraser.

Couple of suggestions on the interface.
1. It is great to be able to re-size the Vellum board with the slider bar. A finger-pinch gesture might be just the thing to zoom in-and-out on the fly.
2. I'm using a MacBook Air2 with my trackpad set up for fast movements. When I edit an existing Vellum balloon, my pointer is pretty finicky about finding the first letter of the text. I often end up selecting the balloon instead. So for my situation it would be useful to have an extra pixel of distance between the text and the edge of a balloon.

Now one suggestion related to the zeitgeist of the app:
3. I like the volatility of the balloons and the connector lines. So far I have had no need to export the board into some other format. I can of course understand that if the balloons and connectors can be exported into a folder hierarchy, Vellum could turn out to be a great brainstorming tool, especially at the beginning of a project -- a useful alternative to Scrivener's notecards . But that's not me right now. I'm the guy with an ossified pile of writing who is trying to doodle his way out without editing existing documents or creating new ones. I'm enjoying the feel of an app that carries none of the forced hierarchies of a mind-mapping or outlining program. I really do just need a large sheet of electronic paper that sits next to my Scrivener project and let's me sketch my thoughts and unhesitatingly crumble them up. I don't even need a trash can to hold the balloons I've wadded up and thrown away (Undo ctl-z is plenty good!). I hope that Vellum, as you develop it further, will continue to have more of the feel of a drawing program (like a text-only Inkscape) than a planner program (like Curio, which I own and highly recommend for other reasons).

Thanks for sharing this app!

ma
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Sun Jan 22, 2012 5:31 pm Post

Just discovered this thing. Wonderful. Wonderfully simple. Keep it that way. I just started using it, and I see plenty of good suggestions/thoughts already in this thread. I don't have any specific feedback, just a general enthusiastic endorsement.

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sirmichaelot
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Sat Feb 04, 2012 1:48 pm Post

As a user of various mind-mapping software products here are my two bits.

I have downloaded it and it serves well as an app and can be very useful. Mindmapping is powerful.

1) - Other are correct, Keep it simple -
If you try to go and seriously compete with other mindmapping apps it will take time away from Scrivener, the latter being what I personally care about more. Sure you could spend days making it beautiful and stylish as there are some beautiful apps out there if you want to pay some serious dough. Some over $300, but for me I currently use MindNode Pro. It is $19.95 right now. For Scrivener I have already imported various image files from it into Scrivener, that have been very valuable.

1a) - What would convert me to buying/using it-
What would sell your program for me is if you allowed the Notes to be imported to Scrivener, assigned like scratchpad or simply brought in to where I could move them around, then I would jump to your program rather easily. The amount of things to import, such as images, etc being assigned to Inspector ... How much work this is, you know better than me and if its worth your time.

2) - Must Be Done For Ease of Use -
Others have mentioned improving the flow. Free flow creation, instead of Esc and then double clicking anywhere, is much better and should be done. You could allow this by using a hot-key like shift+enter. (Several Mind Mapping apps do it that way and it allows you to create a ton ideas without removing a hand from the keyboard then you structure later)

3) - One Bug / Problem -
When you create notes I noticed that by clicking around and typing I could accidentally create a note that was big enough and important enough that it could cover other smaller notes around it and there was no visual way for me to understand that I have covered them up.
So in the frantic rush to spill out our brains we create a few Notes that are like selfish, aristocratic bastards oppressing the poor little notes and keeping them huddled in the dark crying masses, leaving them neglected and hungry for further growth. Eventually the little notes wonder where their parents are or where their should be loving masters are. They cry for justice, become bitter by the fact that they are neither heard nor seen and they realize all other notes should have bowed down to them, but they were just never given a chance. Invoking a rewrite of one's novel. A program that makes one's mind revolt by hiding small but brilliant ideas may not last.

3a) - The fix is simple -
It is happening due to the notes having their own background. To avoid this, Notes should have a transparency that reveals the common background after you have finished typing them. That way when two or more menage e trois -ing Notes are on top of each other, they don't go screwing with your free flow of expression without you knowing about it. The garbled and intertwined text is a dead give away. (Not sure why all the French reference is coming out right now...uh I need more sleep.)

4) - Lastly a name -
Since Vellum is taken here are two off the top of my head:

MindDraft - denotes the simple nature of the program.

StorySurge - Oooooh I think that sounds good. Used when people need to gain traction in their story, or surge ahead in creating one or in overcome writer's block? This would especially be true if the Notes imported into Scrivener. Thinking about it, it would be easier to create an icon for it too. Keep the S for the Scrivener, like others have suggested for an app name having an S, but take out the commas and put in S's. It could even play on the Surge definition by symbolically looking like a lighting S or a wave with the natural curves of the S being the crest and trough...or not. Your call Keith, but I just wanted to give me two bits. Hope it was helpful.

Regards,
Michael

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Fri Mar 30, 2012 2:44 pm Post

I would be happy to give feedback - was happy about the update - but the program will no longer run on my PPC. TheBoard did. Is there any chance you might make TheBoard available to people running Leopard for a small fee? I've been looking for some brainstorming software as simple and elegant as iBluesky for iPhone, and yours is the closest I've come.

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Dain
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Sun Apr 01, 2012 2:57 pm Post

This looks like it has a lot more promise that several of the other mind-mappers I've toyed with...

As for translating the fog of vellum into a linear path... Try this... Hooks... Once your ready to start linearizing, switch to a different mode (to lock the text blurbs to prevent mishaps), grab an item and drag it to a 'Hook' (stylized fishing hooks should appear on the edge(s)) . This becomes 'a folder' with all of the dependent links as sub-documents, and gets a colored glow around it. Once populated, the hook remains linked to the original folder allowing you to drag other items to it at what level you want to link the next selection, to be populated as dependents to the original item at the selected level.

The hooks themselves would be hierarchically labeled, with labels/ranks that could be edited, even drag one hook to another to make it a dependent and free the first hook, etc al.

Once you have the hooks populated, clink a version of "compile" and have it generate a Scrivener project for you. As an aside, I'd recommend (at the least a setting for) duplicating the text of your blurbs into the yellow scratchpad for each item created, if not sending there to start with after using a subset of the text for the name of the layer/folder/document/sub-document.

As others have said, keep it simple... I'd prefer it to be useable with the multi-gestures, and made for iOS as well, but I'll take what I can get *grin*.

Might I suggest 'Defogger', 'TidalMind', 'IdeaFLIR', or 'Mistaway' as names for this project?
Anyone can start a story. Most everyone can finish a story. It takes a writer to complete the middle.

mi
michaelbywater
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Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:43 pm Post

Just noticed Vellum yesterday. ("Vellum" sounds a bit formal, calligraphic, maybe antique and illuminated, to me. My immediate thoughts are "Scribblit" which echoes Scrivener and Lit&Latte & the "scribble" points more to its informality. "StorySurge" seems faintly pornographic and promises something it might not deliver -- I mean, hell, what if my Story doesn't Surge? It also puts the onus on me rather than it. I'd feel angsty firing up an app which in effect said "Give it to me, Big Boy, if you think you're man enough". Just like those damned "On My Mac" and "My Documents" things. Well, machine, it's not YOUR Mac. It's MY Mac, so you just call it "Your Documents", okay? Right.)

</parenthetical></rant>

The big thing is the wham-bang aspect. I agree with those who dislike the cumbersome "stop typing, hit <esc>, then mouse over to somewhere else and double-click" way of making a new bubble. Bah.

The One True Way was, I think, that old "brainstorming" app, Inspiration. Something like <tab> to create a new item in a random screen-spot, <cmd + arrow> to create one neighbouring the current one in the direction of the arrow, <shift + cmd + arrow> to create a LINKED item in the direction of the arrow, and a "QuickFire" method where every time you hit <enter> it made a note that this would be a new item, then when you paused for breath it would separate them into individual bubbles and cluster them round the original bubble you were QuickFiring in.

I may have the commands wrong, but that was the functionality and very fine it was. Haven't used it for years; they repositioned themselves as a schoolkids' app and gussied it up with a lot of chrome 'n' cruft so I fell by the wayside. But I think they're still in business (just checked; yes, they are) and the navigation is well worth a look if you can stomach the cutesy kidz stuff and the faint hellish whiff of Tony Buzan occasionally gusting down some hidden passageway which we don't want to go into.

So. Speed above all. Outline derived from the link order, perhaps. Unlinked bubbles are top level singletons. But K.I.S.K. gets my vote. It's a-- oops, must dash, dog's chewing my arm.

Es
Esmeralda
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Wed Jun 13, 2012 6:37 pm Post

Dear friends,

Scrivener is my favorite program. This forum has been essential reading as I learn the many ways to use the program. Scrivener has made me a better writer, and your discussions have linked me to worlds I never imagined existed. Thank you. I think...

What's happened with Vellum? I just tried to open the program to continue with a project I've been fiddling with but had set aside. Now that I'm ready to work on it again, a message informs me that the beta has expired and I should consult the L&L site for an updated version. But I don't know where to find it.

Please help.

Gracias,
Esmeralda

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KB
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Thu Jun 14, 2012 12:25 pm Post

There's an updated version in the first post of this thread. It now uses a different file format, though, so you won't be able to open older files. For that you will need to set the date back on your system temporarily. (These alphas are only intended for testing so far.)

I haven't had time to put much work into this app, unfortunately, because of all the work that has been going into Scrivener 2.3. I am hoping to be able to turn to this again in the next few months, though...

Thanks and all the best,
Keith
"You can't waltz in here, use my toaster, and start spouting universal truths without qualification."

Es
Esmeralda
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Thu Jun 14, 2012 2:22 pm Post

Thank you, Keith.

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Thu Jun 14, 2012 3:01 pm Post

Keith --

I'm getting an alpha-expired notice on the latest download (Vellum01a.zip).

Did I miss the updated link?

Phil
You can't conquer stupid — or cure it — with more stupid.

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KB
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Thu Jun 14, 2012 4:32 pm Post

Oops, my apologies, you're right! Time got away from me - has it really been so long since I last updated this? I've just uploaded a new build that won't expire until the end of December - follow the updated link in the first post to download.
Thanks!
All the best,
Keith
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pigfender
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Fri Jun 15, 2012 3:39 pm Post

michaelbywater wrote:("Vellum" sounds a bit formal, calligraphic, maybe antique and illuminated, to me. My immediate thoughts are "Scribblit" which echoes Scrivener and Lit&Latte & the "scribble" points more to its informality. "StorySurge" seems faintly pornographic and promises something it might not deliver -- I mean, hell, what if my Story doesn't Surge? It also puts the onus on me rather than it. I'd feel angsty firing up an app which in effect said "Give it to me, Big Boy, if you think you're man enough". Just like those damned "On My Mac" and "My Documents" things. Well, machine, it's not YOUR Mac. It's MY Mac, so you just call it "Your Documents", okay? Right.)

</parenthetical></rant>


Hmm... Don't name it after the thing you write on. That's the least important part. Name after what you write with. I'd just call it "Ink".
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pigfender
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Fri Jun 15, 2012 3:44 pm Post

Or, maintain the brand... "Scrivener Ink"
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