Recently in Tinderbox Techniques Category

I've been revamping the architecture for behind the scenes, and some nifty features are coming out of my explorations. I'm used to working in the Outline View, which is strange because I'm a very spatial thinker. After watching Mark Bernstein take notes in Map View at eNarrative 6, though, I decided to give Map View another shot. I soon came up with one technique that you could easily adapt to your own files: adornments that act like stamps. This and the pen have made the Map View just as useful to me as Outline View.

As of Tinderbox 3, adornments can have actions. This is huge! Since adornments cover an area of the map view (without taking up space in other views), this means that you can make a section of a Map View a functional 'drop box'. Make a note; drag it so that it touches the adornment; the action is applied to the note. Now drag it wherever you really want it.

Read on for the hows and whys and examples.

Tinderbox Worklog Template

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This blog has been quiet for quite some time while some big things have been afoot: I moved to a new city, changed jobs to start freelancing, and those are just the beginning.

The freelance work has forced me to get more organized on a number of fronts, and one of those fronts is how I track and report my time and my work. Tinderbox was a natural place to start gathering my work because I knew the shape of my notes was going to change, and because I knew that, pretty soon, I'd want to share my notes over the web and make invoices for my clients and partners. I set up a Tinderbox file that would:

  • export part of itself to the web, but could ...
  • ... contain notes that were not shared
  • automatically report on my hours and generate text file invoices
  • track what I've been paid for and what I am owed
  • include notes with web links relevant to my work and all the 'scratchpaper' I could ask for
  • be modular enough that I could copy and adapt it to a new client in a few minutes

That last feature also makes it worth sharing with others. It's easy to have Tinderbox files that become a part of your mind, that reflect the way you think, and therefore are difficult to pass on to others. I put in a few extra hours to make my file modular enough for my various projects, and it's therefore modular enough (I think) to share.

They're here as a Stuffit file:


Mapper 2.0

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The Tinderbox community comes through once again! Not long after I posted a quick exploration of exporting the Tinderbox map view to the web I began getting suggestions and further thoughts. Mark Anderson stepped up and did what I couldn't because of time and expertise-- he figured out how to get Javascript to wrangle Tinderbox's attributes into a proper display. And as this is a debugging process, he found a couple of challenges that I hadn't tested for.

The other night on my bus ride home a stray thought about CSSimplicity touched off an idea for exporting the Tinderbox Map View onto the web. I've wanted this for a good while, but the only method I could think of for getting a working map view to the web was a screen shot doctored in the HTML to be an imagemap... not exactly a scalable solution.

However, with CSS you can specify everything about an element, from visual styling to screen positioning. Since Tinderbox gives ready access to all of the variables that make it work, a bit of poking around gave me a fair approximation of the map view with only two fairly simple export templates. There's one hurdle left that I think will require some non-trivial javascript, so before I muddy my pretty templates with javascript code, it's worth writing up the TBox and CSS bits-- along the way I learned a bit about the way that Tinderbox works and the what CSS can and can't do.

Beyond the cut: directions and distractions for making an online map view.

Last week I wrote in a series of entries about adapting the Tinderbox Simplicity template to CSS. The first step was to analyze the existing template to glean its structure, and I marked up the stylesheet and the html of a sample page to do so.

This next step, then, is to move it over to CSS. I'm going to take it slowly and with lots of explanation, because figuring out exactly where CSS ends and HTML begins was tricky for me.

Two disclaimers: First, I'll walk things through, but I'm assuming that you have a very, very basic level of CSS. I'm assuming knowledge of CSS Syntax. If you're not sure, scan that link-- that one page is what I'm assuming you know.

Secondly, I'm being "thorough", by which I mean that the end result will be a bit more complex than the Simplicity template. The HTML will be simpler (without the tables), and the templates will be simple and easier to edit, but the stylesheet is going to be rather longer than the old one so that more of the page is stylable. That extra complexity will hit in this post, so if it seems confusing, shake it off and go to the next post.

I'm being thorough for two reasons: First, I want to be able to do CSSZenGarden-like styling, and that means having the CSS mirror the semantic structure of the Tinderbox notes. Secondly, being this thorough means that the CSS can mirror the semantic structure, and that in turn means that your visual style can more clearly indicate the semantics. I.E. You can make your blog easier to read and navigate.

The whole thing is turning out to be a bit more of a process than I thought, so it might take two steps. Here goes.

I'm making some new templates for Tinderbox. I'm doing this because I think that Tinderbox could use some well-structured, simple, elegant templates that really use CSS. I'm doing this because I think that CSSZenGarden is one of the coolest sites I've ever seen. I'm doing this because it's hacking in one of the nicer meanings of the term. While I'm at it, I'm going to log the process so that you might follow along if you're learning Tinderbox, CSS, or both.

Beyond the cut: making existing CSS visible to analyze it.


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I've come up with a title for this post that makes it sound like a musical, but the fact remains: I've put up a simplistic rss feed for I'm still playing with it --trying to include html and links rather than just plain text broke it for LiveJournal and NetNewsWire-- but it is up and working. Thanks to Doug Miller for suggesting the feed and for advice.

I haven't been posting much here on because my "hypertext time" has been spent on tasks other than readings... and is supposed to be a log of my readings. However, Tinderbox has been making those distinctions --between reading and working, between working and hypertext study-- a bit fuzzier. This has happened in several ways.

Beyond the cut: Tinderbox everywhere in everyday life

New archiving system!

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Inspired by Mark Bernstein's site, J. Nathan Mathias' Notebook of Sand, and others, I considered my archive system and realized that it wasn't going to scale.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Tinderbox Techniques category.

Term is the previous category.

Tool is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

March 2009

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