capsule review

Tinderbox 1.2

At a Glance
  • Eastgate Systems Tinderbox 1.2

    Macworld Rating

Decades before the Web, visionary thinkers imagined information organized with hyperlinks, pathways, hierarchies, and keywords so people could easily share and organize their ideas. Now Eastgate Systems brings this vision to life, with Tinderbox 1.2.3, a remarkable tool for storing, arranging, exploring, and publishing data -- you could use it to brainstorm ideas, maintain a Weblog, or store recipes, for example.

Tinderbox's core is the note, which is like a styled text document where you enter text and pictures. A Tinderbox document can contain many notes, subnotes, and note aliases, which you can organize sequentially and hierarchically. Notes can also have attributes, which are like database fields. For example, a Tinderbox to-do-list document could have a Due Date attribute, a Priority attribute, and a Done attribute.

Tinderbox keeps track of your notes with agents, notes containing search criteria.

An agent finds all notes meeting these criteria and then duplicates them as subnote aliases. Agents can sort these subnotes, so a to-do list's agent might display its gathered aliases according to priority, for example.

URLs and e-mail addresses in notes are hyperlinks, of course. What's more, Tinderbox is itself a Web client. You can have a note download a Web page or RSS channel each time you open it; the note can either display raw HTML or export it to your browser for rendering.

You can export notes as Web pages, using note attributes and HTML templates to define a page's appearance, preserve hyperlinks, and generate navigational links. Once you set these templates, you needn't wrestle with any HTML.

Tinderbox is undeniably versatile, but we have some nits to pick: for instance, text changes mysteriously from antialiased to aliased (and vice versa). The program supports plain-text export but not styled-text export -- so you couldn't use Tinderbox to, say, write term papers (a big disappointment). And the program is expensive compared with similar programs; it costs twice as much as AquaMinds' NoteTaker and more than three times as much as UserLand's Radio UserLand.

Macworld's Buying Advice

Quibbles aside, Tinderbox 1.2.3 is easy to use and very intriguing. If you work with a lot of facts and ideas, it can provide vital clarity -- and it might just spark your creativity.

At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    Pros

    • Versatile
    • Easy to use
    • Powerful HTML export

    Cons

    • Pricier than similar programs
    • No styled-text export
    • Quirky interface
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