June 28, 2006
MarkBernstein.org
 
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Tinderbox 3.5 for MacOS X

Tinderbox 3.5.0 for MacOS X is now available. Visit the Tinderbox 3.5 page for all the news, to download the demo, or to order your upgrade.

Yes, Tinderbox for Windows is late. It's coming along. I'll be telling you more about it here, soon.

The Tinderbox 3.5 page has lots of details on the most important new features. Here, I'll just make some personal observations about a few of the big ones.

Tinderbox 3.5 for MacOS X
Separators and named separators are first-class notes that have a distinct appearance and role in outlines. I've been using ad hoc separator classes for project management for several months. Separators provide a new way to add a little extra information to your lists; they're a good way to overcome the weakness of outlines -- premature commitment and obsessive categorization.

Tinderbox 3.5 for MacOS X
Separators also cropped up in a customer request. I wasn't immediately convinced that they weren't simply a drift toward presentational elaboration. The difficulty was whether separators should be treated as adornments: should they appear outside outlines? Does it make sense to put things inside a separator? In the end, we found that people wanted separators to be full-fledged notes with a distinctive appearance, and that made the implementation very clean indeed.

Tinderbox 3.5 for MacOS X
Making the font size separately adjustable for individual notes gives you another visual dimension for communications. Since the relative font sizes are attributes, you can inherit them and you can set them with agents and rules. This gives you extraordinary flexibility to bring attention to significant notes. It also can promote visual noise; use with restraint!

Tinderbox 3.5 for MacOS X
The Common Words system exposes infrastructure we needed for our work with automatic link discovery. Why not find ways to expose the data we're collecting? We won't know what's useful until we use it.

Tinderbox 3.5 for MacOS X
Tinderbox 3.5 has quietly transformed agents. First, there's a new query #word() that looks for a specific word anywhere in the text, title, and user attributes. It's not as flexible as other agent queries, but it's very, very fast.

Tinderbox 3.5 for MacOS X
Agents and containers have a bunch of new sorting options. We've exposed these options in the HTML export tools, too. If you want your blogroll to be alphabetized, for example, Boswell can appear before Clark and Frank.

Tinderbox 3.5 for MacOS X
Tinderbox 3.5 supports services and lets you use the Font Panel. More MacOS X goodness. (Not just MacOS X, it turns out: the font panel work was brought to you by the need to abstract font manipulation for Windows).

In the long view, the big news might be the Similar Notes window, which I think you'll find makes linking to your weblog archives much easier and more pleasant than has previously been imagined. Similarity is a blunt tool, but it's a good place to start.