Tinderbox for Mac User Reviews

CNET Editors' Rating 4.0 stars

Excellent

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  • 4.0 stars

    "Getting better and better"

    June 30, 2005  |   By Rawtext - Arts&Bits

    Version: Tinderbox 2.5

    Summary

    This review was originally posted on VersionTracker.com.
    Tinderbox is the one innovative piece of software that I loved most in the last two years. It is so innovative, flexible and useful, that it should be an integral part of the operating system - like spotlight or dashboard.
    There are so many things one can do with Tinderbox, that it is very hard to describe or classify. It is a powerful texteditor, a highly flexible organisation tool, a content management system, a website creator, a visualization tool, an outliner, a content database and more. It can be used on an easy level for non-techies, but reaches down to lowlevel for geeks as well (it stores in XML, allows regex-queries, sophisticated html-export and the like). Some users use it for writing books, running journalistic websites, doing research, keeping dynamic todo-lists and there are problably endless more uses for Tinderbox out there.

    There are only little flaws:
    - the price is pretty high (145 US$ on first purchase and then around 75 US$ every year if you want to get all the updates - and you will want them for sure). This pays very fast if you can use the product professionally but will not pay for occassional private use. Fair enough, the entire product can be tested before buying. I was really struggling with the price, but it took me only 3 hours playing with the demo and I knew, this is the app I have always been waiting for, so I purchased and never regretted.
    - the learning curve is very steep. This is due to a poor documentation, the complexity of the matter and the sheer mass of functionality. But on the other side it is well worth the effort. You will learn a lot about self-organisation and content-management as a side-effect. And there is an agile community to help you out.
    - the user interface might look a bit nicer than it does today.

    There has been a notable accelleration in development the last three months, the company is quick in reacting and excellent in support and they are very responsive about user requests.

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  • 3.0 stars

    "Excellent update to excellent software"

    June 30, 2005  |   By dontspammeplease

    Version: Tinderbox 2.5

    Summary

    This review was originally posted on VersionTracker.com.
    This is a really nice update to TinderBox. A number of functions that were previously very difficult to create have been simplified. Support for MacOS X standards (like shift select as different from cmd select) has been improved, and overall, the application has had some nice improvements.

    Of particular note to geeks is the ability to pipe export files through command line tools. This makes it relatively easy to do some complex text parsing or even database insertions with Tinderbox data. The mind boggles at the possibilities!

    What's wonderful about Eastgate is that they have not only added new features with each release, but they've also put a great deal of effort into the small refinements that make Tinderbox more pleasant to use and more predictible in how it works. Half of the updates are really gripes and problems submitted on the Tinderbox wiki!

    So, wonderful update, well worth the $70 renewal price for those who are wondering whether to plunk down the cash.

    For those of you who don't have Tinderbox, take a look at the Tinderbox web site, the wiki, and the file exchange, and play around a bit. If it's your kind of tool, you'll figure that out pretty quickly.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Excellent for notes and organizing"

    June 9, 2005  |   By smolka

    Version: Tinderbox 2.4.1

    Summary

    This review was originally posted on VersionTracker.com.
    I have tried quite a few notetaking or writing apps, and own licenses for CPN and DT, and Ulysses, and while all have their uses, Tinderbox is the app I turn to when I want to organize my thoughts on a project, jot things down, or when I create a course.

    If I really want to focus on writing, I take the text to Ulysses, but I always start in Tinderbox, and Iuse both apps in tandem (with BibDesk as my reference manager). Tb is very flexible with its map, outline and other window options. Abstracts, reading lists, projects, minutes, they all end up in Tb.

    DT is great for storage, but less well suited (nor really developed for) writing. CPN is good for quick Web publishing. As a note-taking app, Tinderbox has overshadowed it for me.

    One of the great options is the possibility to create your own agents, and thus use Tb as a personalized database. True, it takes time to work out how this functions, one of the weaknesses of Tb. They never seem to have hired someone to explain themselves, or a computer illiterate to read the text.

    Another weakness is current lack of Unicode support, but that is on its way, as its text engine is WASTE and the new version of WASTE currently under development supports Unicode (as I can confirm after testing it).

    It is not the cheapest package around. The advantage of that is, that it will be supported properly, and stay. For software I use on a daily, hourly basis, that's worth something. Yes, I had to learn how to use it. I still underuse it, probably. But I'm hooked.

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  • 3.0 stars

    "Re: But DevonThink and DevonNote"

    March 10, 2005  |   By foaf

    Version: Tinderbox 2.4.0

    Summary

    This review was originally posted on VersionTracker.com.
    With all due respect, if you write the following: "Without having to tag everything first . .or enter meta data...", it betrays a lack of understanding of one of Tinderbox's primary strengths, which is to give users the ability and the freedom to create their own tags and build their own metadata models. I think DevonThink and DevonNote (and DevonAgent, for that matter) are fine products, but they certainly don't replicate the functionality of Tinderbox.

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  • 3.0 stars

    "Mixed bag"

    March 8, 2005  |   By Domino_k

    Version: Tinderbox 2.4.0

    Summary

    This review was originally posted on VersionTracker.com.
    Quite disappointed by this application. The interface is cumbersome, the documentation is hard to understand, the GUI isn't very pretty. Support is good though and tinderbox has some very powerful features.

    But what annoys me the most is that I have to pay every year a fee to be able to continue using this software. Too much for me as I am not using it that much.

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  • 4.0 stars

    "Tinderbox - the tool for information processing"

    October 29, 2004  |   By Alwin Hawkins

    Version: Tinderbox 2.3.4

    Summary

    This review was originally posted on VersionTracker.com.
    Tinderbox is one of those unique programs that is a little hard to understand at first glance. Is it an outliner? A weblog tool? A database? A presentation app?

    Yes, yes, and yes. But like the blind men examining the elephant, each view is a very limited perception - a look at the pieces without appreciating the whole.

    What Tinderbox *is* is an information processor, as Photoshop is an image processor and Word is a word processor. That means that without understanding some basic concepts about TB first you will be limited in your ability to make it perform all the tasks of which it is capable. Think "layers" in PS, for example.

    Once you begin to grasp the basic memes of the program, you begin to see what an all-in-one, Swiss-Army-Knife type of tool that Tinderbox is, with a wide variety of uses. In a lot of ways it is like Emacs; more a tool-set to build more applications than a self-contained single-purpose application.

    One of the valid criticisms is that the documentation is not a very good introductory guide to the application. That's true of most modern, complex applications; one of the reasons there is a huge market for post-purchase books (Visual Quickstart Guide to XXX, YYY for Dummies, ZZZ: The Definitive Guide <i>et al</i>) for beginning users is that most documentation does a poor job bringing novices up to speed. TB shares this problem, and unfortunately doesn't have the market to allow an independent tech author to publish such a volume.

    This doesn't diminish the value of Tinderbox. It does mean that you must take advantage of the excellent tech support offered via IM, email, and Wiki by Eastgate if you wish easier access the powerful toolset that awaits just beneath the surface of the application. I strongly urge you to download and trial this unique bit of software if you find yourself drowning in mountains of data and having trouble mining the valuable bits if information that they contain.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Tinderbox is so convoluted, it's a maze."

    August 1, 2004  |   By MikeWelsh--2008

    Version: Tinderbox 2.2.0

    Summary

    This review was originally posted on VersionTracker.com.
    I totally agree with minton, although that review (below) is far more in depth than I need to go. The app is excruciating to learn and the price is way beyond what I want to pay. I assume it will have followers, nonetheless, of the analytical stripe. I'll take NovaMind & Keynote anytime (yeah, I know they won't do some of the complex marvels TB does.)

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  • 2.0 stars

    "For those who want to hang with the Artificial..."

    June 28, 2004  |   By minton

    Version: Tinderbox 2.2.0

    Summary

    ...Intelligence crowd
    This review was originally posted on VersionTracker.com.

    TB is a system that will appeal to many people, especially those who like the idea of entering their text once and having the power to automatically publish that text in many diferent documents or contexts. The interface is intimidating in its total lack of structure - you soon realize that if one had the stamina to create ten thousand notes on the first level TB would let you. You have to have some faith and just get your text into TB - the important point is stamping each one with relevant keywords (hint: use prototypes). Unfortunately, keywords that are user created are buried down below system values in the pop-up menu to assign keywords. This stings a bit - having to wade through the system keywords before my own is like having to wait in line because they forgot to put me on the guest list . Once you dive in and start entering notes and moving among different containers you wil probably need a virtual desktop application to control the window clutter. The zoom feature is cool, but being sucked in and thrown back out of levels will have you feeling like Alice in Wonderland.

    After you've dumped all your knowledge for your book or research project into TB, you have to use agents and export templates to get it back out. The normal map view is useful if you've set it up to show logical linkages between the notes and various containers, but the whole point of TB is to publish your text based on the note's keywords. You use agents to match notes having certain criteria and then specify an export filter to let TB know how you want the printed notes formatted. You can either have html or text output - html will give you more options. This is where TB is kind of confusing for me as it has its own export codes that you will need to learn - I'm able to export but I don't really understand how the code works, so little tweaks are out of the question.

    Two points: 1) Not to be a PC-troll, but I've heard people complain that there's nothing similar for the pc. That's not true - there's something called Axon Idea Processor that goes beyond TB by actually starting to generate new text based on your existing notes (scary - this is starting to get into Stephen King territory).
    2) The TB agents feature is going to be built into Tiger 10.4 as the finder will support metadata. This will make your entire hard disk a large free form database - see http://www.apple.com/macosx/tiger/searchtechnology.html

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  • 3.0 stars

    "So useful"

    June 5, 2004  |   By jimph_dotmac

    Version: Tinderbox 2.2.0

    Summary

    This review was originally posted on VersionTracker.com.
    Tried this program about 6 months back, liked it but was put off by the price. Went and bought a cheaper outliner instead.
    Kept missing what Tinderbox could do, though. Linear notemaking is good for shorter projects, but for large projects (larger Uni assignments, journals and writing in general, anything that requires discovery of structure from chaos) that start off as ideas that could lead anywhere, Tinderbox is ideal.
    Saw Tinderbox used on a website recently, thought about what I was missing, and bought it. Couldn't be happier.
    This program takes a fair bit (ok, a huge amount really) of trial and error to set up and use, and the 200 odd page manual is really the bare minimum. The Wiki website (and websites of other users) are where I get most of my ideas from. I get the impression that I will still be learning how to best use Tinderbox a year from now.
    This program is quickly turning into the most useful bit of software on my Mac, and is certainly the bit I look forward to using every day.

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  • 2.0 stars

    "Great app"

    December 15, 2003  |   By Domino_k

    Version: Tinderbox 2.1

    Summary

    This review was originally posted on VersionTracker.com.
    that needs some polishing to make it more accessible to the masses.

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