Zettelkasten Forum

Tinderbox and File Format


  • Just to add to the above, in case of interest, a post just popped up on the Tinderbox forum about using web forms with Tinderbox: forum.eastgate.com/t/integrating-tinderbox-with-forms-webapp/4047/6

  • edited January 2021

    @MartinBB said:

    If I were intending to make a Zettelkasten (or part of a Zettelkasten) more widely available, I would use Tinderbox....

    Thanks for posting this information. I had a quick look at Tinderbox last year but got sidetracked because of a) the price (initial plus upgrades; while not excessive, still a bit high for my budget), and b) it seemed a bit convoluted and I didn't have the time to try it out. I also suspected that it used its own database rather than working with plain text files, but I didn't actually check that out.

    I guess to be fair I should have a closer look, based on your recommendation :smile:

    I do have two questions, though. I've tried porting zettels from my zettelkasten directory into TiddlyWiki and found there was a fair amount of overhead. Do you have any experience importing Markdown files into Tinderbox, or do you just create your zettelkasten right in Tinderbox? And what format does it use for its note files?

  • edited January 2021

    Hello @GeoEng51

    Tinderbox does not use a database: its files are XML, and as such can even be edited outside Tinderbox, if the fit takes you.

    There are various ways of getting material into Tinderbox -- see the reference page on import.

    Drag and drop is very easy, but Tinderbox can also "watch" a Finder folder. This means that the files in the folder are instantly made available as read-only notes in the Tinderbox file. If you want to edit the material, you can change the "read-only" property of the notes. The problem will be that linking is handled differently, but the experts on the Tinderbox forum are remarkably good at coming up with ways to solve problems like that, and they might have a solution to turning [[xxxx]] into a clickable link. (The text window in Tinderbox acts like a rich-text editing space, though you can also write in Markdown if you want.)

    As you are discovering, getting material out so that others can use it poses another challenge. Tinderbox has quite a range of export options, though it can take some tweaking to get the results you want. Users do come up with some very sophisticated solutions. There is a day-book export here, and a discussion about creating pdfs here. The most highly developed solution that I have seen is BoxPress, which is way too complex for me, but illustrates what can be done. And perhaps it is worth mentioning that there is a whole section of the Tinderbox forums dedicated to export.

    In short, it takes some effort to learn Tinderbox, but it will do things that most other programs will not. I've never used it for a Zettelkasten myself, though it could certainly be done. I tend to use it more in scenarios where I need to make sense of material where there are complex relationships between things, or for planning. At the moment I am doing some tutoring, and I'm using Tinderbox to keep track of material that I need, material that I am finding in my research, deadlines for assignments, and so forth. There is a lot of linking going on ...

    The program is a bit pricey, but you do get a personal service from the developer. I had a file with a glitch, was asked to email it, and got a reply with the problem sorted in about half an hour -- across the Atlantic, too!

    Hope that helps a bit.

    Edit: I should have searched the Tinderbox forums more carefully. Have a look at this discussion which is specifically about The Archive and Tinderbox.

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