A major limitation of Scapple, in real life scenario

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Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:07 am Post

I make this feature-suggestion for Scapple, based on my real-life writing habits.

Most of the pieces I write can take several years. For instance, one major article took 7 years. Within the span of years, the shape and structure of the article can vary considerably from draft to final.

Now, let's say, at the beginning, I use Scapple to shape the structure, then I drag it into Scrivener, and spend a few years adding in the writing. Several months/years down the track, I get this nagging feeling that the structure needs major surgery. Of course I could re-shape it in Binder, but being a visual person, I much rather conceptualise in a visual environment (Scapple).

With Scapple's limitations, I'm stuck.

There is no backward sync to Scapple where I can take my 2-3 years of writing, and go back to Scapple to re-shape it. (That's my understanding. Correct me if I'm wrong).

I'm about to embark on a 5 year Ph.D. project, and anticipate needing to sometimes go back to the (Scapple) drawing board to re-shape the entire project.

Over the past years, and more recently, I have pled with Keith to provide back-and-forth sync of the mindmap software with Binder. But consistently the people on this forum have knocked it back. Hence, for this post, I started off with a real-world scenario that I face. I ask those who reject my idea to comment -- not for them to just comment on my Scapple feature suggestion -- but to comment on how they would deal with the above scenario, in the light of Scrivener and Scapple's lack of back and forth integration.

I'd like to hear from them -- those that knock the idea -- do they never go back to re-craft their outline using the mindmap tool?

I assume that those people, who nix the idea of back and forth integration, are those that can create an outline, start writing, and never need to re-evaluate the outline using their mindmap software. Sorry, I'm not like that. In my writing projects that last several years, I constantly need to re-shape the structure, and I would prefer to re-shape using a visual-tool.

Keith's Scapple is only good for once-and-never-again conceptualisation ... because, with Scapple as it stands, once you start writing, you're stuck. You can't go back to Scapple and re-shape.

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Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:05 am Post

This is the way I understand it, with all the usual reservations that I may have misunderstood something (or everything):

• Scapple is meant to be the computer equivalent of jotting down ideas, words, concepts, whatever, on a piece of paper. Or on a WhyteBoard. It is not a mindmapping/outliner program! It is merely a (flat) place for brainstorming and happily, unlike a paper, you don't have to retype your notes into Scrivener.

• Once you have exported your Scapple sketch to the Binder, the Binder takes over. For any subsequent rearranging, enhancement or restructuring, the Scrivener Corkboard would, for me, be the natural place for further outline work.

Kind regards,


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Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:29 am Post

Joachim, you're telling me how it is. But I am urging how it could be.

Imagine if the Binder and Scapple were integrated. Click a button, you're in the Binder, click a button you're in Scapple.

Keith, in other posts, has argued that Scapple, in its present complexity, would not easily map onto the Binder. Totally agreed.

Therefore, what I am arguing for is a much simpler, or less-featured mind-mapper that can map onto the Binder. i.e. less is more.

>> The "less" is in terms of graphics.
>> The "more" is the inter-linking with the Binder.

I realise that Scapple is Keith's baby, so I am not saying to scrap it. I am suggesting that, in addition to Scapple in all its complexity, Keith could add a very simple mapping feature into Scrivener that simply mimics the Binder. The graphics capabilities would be far less, buts its POWER would like in the ability to switch back and forth with the Binder.

Here is how Keith argued to dismiss the idea of mindmap-Scrivener interoperability:

Keith said: "The corkboard and outliner aren't "additional features", though - they are intrinsic parts of the program that allow you to drill down into your binder outline, zooming in on sections of it, manipulating the contents of folders and structuring the work by working with only the titles and synopses of documents. The corkboard and outliner map onto the binder very directly - they *are* the binder, just displayed in a different way. A Scapple-like view wouldn't be able to do any of that. A Scapple board is a place to brainstorm anything form a whole project to a a single idea; it wouldn't very often equate to an individual section of the binder in the way the corkboard and outliner do, and its freeform connections wouldn't be able to map onto the binder structure anyway. So, if we made it part of Scrivener, it would just be entirely separate to everything else anyway - basically, a different app within the app. It would feel like something tacked on. There would be nothing at all to gain over having it as a separate app, which is much cleaner, and which may also appeal to people who don't use Scrivener as well as those who do."

In the above, Keith is arguing that the complexity of Scapple cannot be replicated in the Binder.

That is true, and Keith more than anyone else knows that.

So we are not asking for Complex-Scapple to be integrated into the Binder.

Instead, we're asking for the bare minimum in the Binder that can be represented as a ultra-simple MindMap. You might think this is useless, but the power (less is more) lies in the ability to switch back and forth with the Binder, even YEARS after as to ideas evolve over a long period of time.

No matter how Keith is arguing his case for a more complex Scapple -- rather than a simpler MindMap that can integrate with Binder -- you cannot get around the major limitation, that once you import Scapple's idea structure into Scrivener, you're stuck. You're back in the Binder, as you were before. You can't go bacl

I am arguing that, in the real world, authors need the ability to change the structure, continually, even many years into the project. Hence the need for a simpler MindMap, yet one which can interchange with the Binder.

Nothing that Keith argued above, addresses the problem of needing to re-do the structure years after conception. Basically, with Keith's Scapple, if you are writing a major project, and you've already imported into Scrivener, then Scapple, at that point, is totally useless to you.

Have a look at a simple MindMap software such as MindNode.com -- it is far simpler than Scapple, but that level of simplicity could suffice, in exchange for interchangeability.

For all the naysayers, the fact is, if you keep the mindmap very simple, such as those produced by Mindnode.com, that level of simple mindmap can be made to interoperate with the Binder.

The only reason why Keith's Scapple cannot operate with the Binder is because he's made Scapple to be a state-of-the art mindmap that so overachieves and excels over what other mindmap software can do that it no longer can integrate with Binder.

That's great. Let Keith create the superman of mindmap software.

But we can still benefit from a bare-bones basic mindmap that CAN inter-operate with Binder.

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Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:04 am Post

I can see that we should probably call it quits and just agree to disagree.

Again, Scapple is not mind map software. It is a flat, free form notepad.

MindNode, that you refer to, is mind map software – it is hierarchical.

Apples and oranges. Different concepts.

If you go on nagging Keith to transform the ethos of Scapple from… er, scappling to mind mapping, I think that you're just butting your head against a brick wall instead of looking for the entrance.


Kind regards,


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Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:26 am Post

4miler: Scapple is not going to be integrated into Scrivener. Scrivener is not going to have a mindmap feature, either. Ioa has given you good reasons about the former in your previous post in which you said pretty much the same thing:


I have explained why a mindmap won't fit into Scrivener on the forums numerous times, so please use the Search feature for that. I also covered it briefly here:


But in short: a mind-map or freeform tool such as you want just would not integrate with the hierarchical nature of Scrivener (to which the corkboard and outliner adhere and provide windows upon). It's also not something I am interested in having as part of Scrivener, I'm afraid, even if it could work conceptually (which it couldn't - trust me, I don't dismiss things out of hands but think through the implications).

This forum is for beta-testers of Scapple to report bugs or make suggestions about enhancements, so I ask you to please keep on-topic, and not to start any more threads on this topic. Users have not "knocked you back", but rather explained why a mindmap does not belong in Scrivener. If Scrivener or Scapple do not meet your needs because of this, then you should work with software that does meet your requirements.

I'm now closing this topic since it is essentially a duplicate of the other one you started.

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