Organizing notes, Tinderbox?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by caeneal, Feb 3, 2008.

  1. caeneal macrumors member

    Aug 20, 2007
    I'm getting started on studying for my PhD qualifying exams, and I'll be reading somewhere around 100 books and probably hundreds of .pdf articles. I'll also be taking notes on most of those books, articles, and random thoughts related to both.

    So, I'm thinking I might need to do more than keep just my usual simple word/pages files, and I've been kicking around the web looking at possible applications that might help with this. I was wondering if you all had any opinions about the following apps, or if you all had better recommendations for things I should look at.

    1) Scrivener. This looks simple enough to use, but not all that powerful or flexible. Good for notes, bad for pdf's and not sure how it is for organizing thoughts. The price is good, though.

    2) DevonNotes/Think/etc. Haven't tried this yet, but it looks useful--particularly like the fact that it can organize pdf's. Not too expensive.

    3) Ulysses. I can't see a reason to use this over 1 or 2, honestly.

    4) Tinderbox. Ok, now this I don't understand at all, but I've been playing with the demo and it seems powerful, flexible, intuitive, and almost perfect. BUT, Oh dear lord is it expensive. $220??? It better come with a guarantee that I'll pass....

    So, any thoughts? Any experiences with these? Will I regret not getting tinderbox? Am I forgetting something equally as good as the others?

    To recap, I want to keep notes, pdf's (or links thereto), and be able to organize them hierarchically and visually by author, subject, thesis, etc, etc. I'm doing an exam in literature, by the way, if that matters at all. So lots of authors, lots of books, lots of criticism, lots to organize.:eek:
  2. McGiord, Feb 3, 2008
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2011

    McGiord macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2003
    Dark Castle
  3. caeneal thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 20, 2007
    Thanks, I'll look into that program. It seems rather useful--I like the tag line, "like iPhoto for pdfs".
  4. Pittsax macrumors 6502


    Dec 8, 2004
    Toronto, Ontario
    I'd like to give a shout-out for Papers. I'm not sure what field you're in, but I'm a neuroscience researcher, and this program is a life-saver when it comes to archiving journal articles.

    Another plus is that it can export the PDF files you have into either an Endnote or Bookends library, which'll really come in handy when you're writing papers or your dissertation.

    P.S. Good luck with the qualifying exams!
  5. caeneal thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 20, 2007
    I just fooled around with Papers. It's quite nice, but seems more geared towards science journals. I study literature, so history and literary journals are more my speed. Still, for anything that google.scholar can get, it seems just dead useful.

    Still, I'll email them and see if we could get MLA, JSTOR or Project MUSE integration along the lines of what they have with PubMed, arXiv and Citeseer. There aren't that many journals that are excluded, but there are a few that it won't pull up.

    Still, the interface is quite nice, and the little notes panel seems good. I'll have to start seeing what it's capable of, with the collections and such.

    I'm probably wasting too much time on this software-organization search, but what else do I have to do? Oh, yeah, read....:rolleyes:
  6. Pittsax macrumors 6502


    Dec 8, 2004
    Toronto, Ontario
    #6 least half of being a PhD student is effective procrastination ;)

    I'd definitely email the developers about adding your archives of choice. They seem to be very receptive to comments like that (the 1.0 version only had PubMed access).
  7. Eastgatesystems macrumors newbie

    Feb 6, 2008
    On Tinderbox

    I work at Eastgate, the developers of Tinderbox.

    If you want to organize a bunch of pdfs, there are lots of good tools. DevonThink is one, YOJIMBO is also great. Finder+Spotlight is surprisingly good, too. You don't want the expense of Tinderbox if that's all you need. (Tinderbox includes a license of YOJIMBO, incidentally)

    Where Tinderbox stands out is in giving you new ways to visualize, explore, reorganize, and present your notes. There's a lot of good discussion in the Tinderbox Forum (and also on Scrivener's forum).
  8. cls macrumors newbie

    Feb 4, 2008
    I think Scrivener is one of the absolutely finest applications there is for writing books, theses or whatever longer texts on your Mac.

    I use it, e.g. for writing scientific articles, and find the MultiMarkdown support excellent - I can export to LaTeX for final formatting.

    Pdf support in Scriveer is very good, although it is not a good place to store everything you stumble upon whilst doing your literature review. For that, I think DevonThink is excellent.

    For bibliographies, if you use BibTeX, BibDesk is a wonderful piece of software, at an unbeatable price.

    I wrote my dissertation in Ulysses, since Scrivener was not available at that time. However, I consider Scrivener far better and more useful for my way of working.

    I also tried Tinderbox, but found that mindmapping and plain old post-it notes games suited my way of thinking and organizing better. There is absolutely no limit to how much time you can spend on organizing notes in nifty ways in Tinderbox, adding attributes and agents etc. So for procrastination, it is a clear winner ;-)
  9. Mekot macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2008
    Tinderbox and PhD

    I'm using Tinderbox a lot, and I'm doing my phd now. For brainstorming, for visual presentation of your ideas, references, citations - it's great. For organizing and linking your notes - perfect. I've written quite a few articles in Tinderbox, its map and explorer views helped me a lot. You should definietely give it a try. It's been my daily word processor and mind mapping tool. But the more I need to write and publish, the more often I am thinking of giving it up...

    For the one small (too small to be seriously considered) thing: lack of support for international text. Unicode? No way. Just Mac - Roman. So if you want to compare translations of Aristotle's "Poetics" in Russian, Czech and French you are lost. Copy and paste of the first two languages from a text editor or web browser into Tinderbox will not work, you will see just some lines of question marks. If you want to export your Czech text to way, better do it manually.

    It is completely bad and quite common in Anglo-saxon dominated software world, and Apple itself is not an exeption. What is the use of Mac-Roman script only if Unicode contains Mac-Roman text, and a bunch of others as well?

    Call it a cyber - colonialism ?
  10. Eastgatesystems macrumors newbie

    Feb 6, 2008
    Tinderbox and Languages

    Tinderbox already works pretty well with lots of languages -- both European and Asian.

    Full unicode support is coming soon.
  11. twentyeighth macrumors newbie

    Apr 9, 2009
    I hate to resurface this thread, but I'll soon be in a similar predicament.

    Caeneal, what was your final decision? How has it worked?

    I wrote my Master's Thesis in Scrivener and found it very useful, though I'll need to organize a larger volume of research in the future. (I'll probably still use Scriv to draft it.)

    I'm testing the 2.0 beta of DevonThink. It seems nice. About to try the Tinderbox demo.

    Any new programs surface recently?

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