Scapple > Scrivener redux

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Sat Feb 02, 2013 6:38 pm Post

I suspect that I'm in a rear-guard action here... but let me see if I can explain my viewpoint.

It has often been said here that Scapple documents have a "freeform" structure. I understand the point and the validity of this claim. But a truly free-form organization would surely simply be notes scattered across a page, with no links among them. Once one starts to make connections among the notes the form becomes a structured one. It is true that the structure is not forced into a hierarchy, but nonetheless there is structure.

This being the case there is, in my humble opinion, a problem when one imports from Scapple into Scrivener (or exports into OPML, which produces a flat list) - namely that this structure is thrown away. I understand the argument that this is necessarily so, because the two programs treat material differently. Scrivener's binder, certainly, has a hierarchical structure, and its compiled output has a flat structure. However, I want to use Scapple to prepare ideas for input to Scrivemer, where I will further develop them. This preparation includes creating links - connections among the ideas. At present, once I inport into Scrivener, into the freeform corkboard, these connections are thrown away and I have to rebuild the structure all over again.

Obviously Scrivener cannot maintain all aspects of the non-hierarchical organization among notes in Scapple, as has been discussed in this forum. Where there are 'circular' connections, for example, an equivalent hierarchy doesn't exist. But Scrivener could make a best-guess conversion of the non-hierachical organization generated in Scapple, turning this into a hierarchy that the Binder could use. For example, when two notes are linked, the one above and/or to the left can generally be viewed as superordinate to the other. When a note has two subordinates, the one highest and/or leftmost could be placed first in the hierarchy. When there are circular links (A>B>C>A), the last of these could simply be eliminated.

In my view, such an import strategy would not conflict with the design goals of Scapple - in fact it wouldn't involve changing Scapple at all. It would simply preserve more of the structure that Scapple helps the writer create, in the transition into Scrivener.


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Sat Feb 02, 2013 6:42 pm Post

The next update of Scapple will have background shapes, in which you can enclose notes. They will go across to Scrivener as groups. Links will continue to be ignored, though, as there is no logical way of taking them to Scrivener (and they would clash with the new background shapes-as-groups-in-Scriv anyway).
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Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2007 2:56 am

Sat Feb 02, 2013 6:54 pm Post

Thanks for the quick reply, Keith.

I assume that 'groups' will stay together in the Binder. I grant that links that crossed from one group to another would clash with that kind of organization. But couldn't links within a group be treated in the way I've described? And if I choose not to define any groups there would be nothing for the links to clash with! :)

Let me say again that what motivates my questions here is that I am increasingly appreciating the power of Scapple. I've started to Scapple the overall organization of each class that I teach, then copy and paste the groups that have emerged into Keynote slides as the basis for the presentation. (There too I would like to preserve more of the structure, but I don't see that as your concern!) The links are an important aspect of this organization - deciding on the links is just as important as generating the ideas, it seems to me. And for working in Scrivener this is just the kind of organization that one wants to preserve.