Difference between DT and Tinderbox?

What would be the differences between Tinderbox and DT?

I am a college lacrosse coach and i have to manage my practice schedules, game planning, player management, recruit management, video of games and practice, offensive and defensive schemas. I am looking a both of these products and wondering which one would be better or if they would each do something different and i could use them in tandem.

thanks in advance for any help.


I’d be interested to know how you use these programs to help you. I’m coaching a girls team (5th & 6th grades) with a full season under my belt :exclamation: and will be looking for new ways to get through the next. ‘:roll:’

What a great game.


I now own both. I can simply say that the most striking difference is difficulty of use (for me).

To be accurate, there are considerable differences including the reasons why you would choose to use one or the other and more importantly what you want to achieve. Both have their ‘devotees’ and ‘evangelists’ - and perhaps strengths and weaknesses. They are definitely not in the same category of tools and you might find you could use both!?

Without really giving you a simple answer (Im starting out with both myself) I suggest the best way to find out is to explore the respective software’s sites and wikis/forums - and then go from there to Google them as usual.

Meanwhile I suggest reading through this http://www.atpm.com/10.10/atpo.shtml for insights into Tinnderbox and on DevonThink here in these very DT forums.

Right now i am using DT to pretty much manage my documents and images. Still playing with it for video management. I use iDive for that phase right now. I capture a lot of links and post them into different folders. It is also very good at helping my organize all of my documents.

I am playing around with Tinderbox, and really not sure how to use it at this point.



Hope you enjoy DT.

I was at Indiana University for 10 years. Had a log cabin on Grandma Barnes Road in Brown County. Beautiful area.

By a series of flukes, IU went to the Rose Bowl while I was there. The quarterback was named Harry Gonzo. :slight_smile:

Im now discovering that I can use DEVONthink for the kind of information management I had originally purchased TinderBox for. I can capture web pages, grab text, add notes, classify, search and so on… and in more formats.

In my case there’s nothing like having a doctorate weighing heavily on my shoulder in terms of a motivation… especially of the kind where you spend time assessing various tools to help you gather, organise and search resources and eventually write. Without a system to manage a growing collection of URLs, PDF’s, notes, clippings, video/audio files and so on it starts to all get very difficult to locate resources let alone remember links and associations. Both tools allow linking and associations between information.

Each has their strengths and I have spent some time testing them. I would highly recommend anyone who is in the business of collecting information by the bucket-loads consider some sort of Personal Information Manager (PIM) like these tools. I have successfully used DEVONthink to manage aspects of my recent teaching and it looks like being my one tool of choice.

The common feature with these is that they are effectively ‘databases’ with all the power of being able to search and cross-reference the things you collect. Spotlight in Macintosh OSX Tiger could be (for you) all you need to stay on top of your gigabytes of data. These tools used with Spotlight might be even better (I dont run Tiger yet), but on their own they are very useful. Without Spotlight, something like DEVONthink is a great alternative and miles above anything like Filemaker for OS integration and the needs of a (visual) researcher like myself.

DEVONthink is my current favourite and it keeps getting better. I carry my database with me between work/home on an iPod.

http://www.eastgate.com/Tinderbox/index.html TinderBox I was always excited about, but less so now as my needs become clearer. It depends on how YOUR head works and my head it seems now doesn’t suit TinderBox. http://www.eccentrix.com/members/andrew/tbx_views/index.html I really like the various views though which gives a global picture of all your notes.


I have been using DT since May and it has really helped with my document management issues.
And thank you for the reply the other day on how to revert back to DT PE.

Bloomington is an awesome place. We love it out here, great place to raise our daughter.



Thanks for the link. Good reading and helpful.


I too own DTPro and Tinderbox. I too am searching for a “tool of tools” to research, collect, organize, analyze and write for my PhD.

IMO, Tinderbox has much better outlining capabilities and can switch between “views” on the fly. I lacks the associative power of DT’s AI engine but it is visually superior.

Tinderbox is not a great outliner however and import/export formats are severely limited. The learning curve is, like DT, steep (actually probably much steeper than DT).

The Tinderbox exchange has links to “templates” created by various users.
You might explore those.

Also check out 43Folders.com. Search for Tinderbox. They have a few pieces regarding its use and organizing/scheduling.

Post back with your impressions, I’m sure all will benefit.



Well, as long as all the IU alum are pitching in … (I was there 91-99 for my Ph.D. in folklore studies, but I took a few years off to work in the Business School, being a management consultant of all things.)

I found TB amazingly powerful, but in the end, just too overwhelming. It has its devotees, and perhaps users on their forum could convince you. (And I remember the app when it was StorySpace – I was at Syracuse University when Catherine Smith, who was married to John Smith who was one of the early developers, was there and hypertexts were posed to become the next great literary medium. I ended up writing an article for the in-house journal which basically said that life was like a hypertext and that people turned to art not for its direct mimicry of life but it’s ordering of it.

That’s a lot of digressions – it’s a Friday afternoon – so I’ll get to the point: I only use a quarter of the power of DT and it’s already a tool I depend on. But I mostly use it as a place for notetaking. Sometimes that’s grabbing extant materials from websites, PDFs, and DOCs and sometimes that’s for creation of reading notes that I create from materials I’m working with. I tend to save writing for applications better suited to the purpose: Word or Mellel or OmniOutliner (the latter could probably me replaced by DT, but there are times when I simply do my best writing in OO and that’s all there is to it).

OmniOutliner is great, I must admit. I would be interested to know from folk out there what their preference is between OmniOutliner versus HogBay Notebook, and why? Particularly how you use them in conjunction with DevonThink to complement your research/writing toolkit.

Heres some things that HB Notebook does:

  • Importing RTFs (OmniO only links)
  • ‘Assembling’ and exporting a selection of notes back out to RTF (OmniO only exports everything)
  • Wiki links and ‘auto’ Wiki linking (like in DT)
  • Full text search with relevance ranking
  • Bookmarking (quicklinks)

Reading through this HB forum reveals many insights in to its use (including using it with DT)

Well, it’s been a while since I tried all those other outliners out, so I can’t speak to much of what you ask, but with HBN in particular, I think one advantage OO enjoys is the ability to view Notes inline as opposed to a third pane – at least, that’s how I understand the HBN interface. I also find that OO simply has the best interface for style control that I have ever encountered. If only all apps behaved this well.

As for your exporting of just one section woes: yeah, there’s no direct path, something I should send in to Omni, but what I do is copy the section I want – which is easily done by simply clicking on the particular heading – and paste into a new document which I then export. If I did this more regularly, I would probably write a script for it, and someone probably has. (Omni does itself a disservice by having only listservs and not a user forum, so a lot of really good information is not readily available: that is, there are some real scripting gurus on the OO listserv, and OO is very scriptable.)

The in-line notes view, which makes viewing an outline in OO more like viewing one in a word processer, is what makes OO work for me. I can just flat out write in the app, using only a few keystrokes to drop in and out of notes associated with headings, ESCAPE now toggles it and TAB for adjusting headings.

And OO plays nice with OG and Keynote, which is important to me, especially since I now find that OG is in fact even displacing Keynote for many presentations. (OG Pro does slide shows.) If you are ever in the market for a diagramming app, I can’t recommend OG highly enough. In fact, I’ve just finished putting together a proposal to record the stories of Katrina evacuees using a portable digital audio workstation as well as a report to a granting agency. Typically I would have done the job in Word, porting in any illustrations from OG or elsewhere, but then it dawned on me that I could do it all in OG. And, my, how people gawk at the finished product.

I also started by using Tinderbox before converting to Devonthink.

It is such a shame that Devonthink does not offer any mind map capability like Tinderbox does.

Is there any plan for such development in the near future ?

Pascal Venier


Christian has noted in the forum that some form of mind-mapping may be considered for a future version. No promises on when such a feature might appear.

TB: Through its “attributes” feature it offers a very powerful analysis capability. If you want to analyze information or create some form of hypertext document its the most powerful of tools. While it can be used for mindmapping I think Inspiration is a much better tool. It can also be used for organizing your life where its quite good at implementing a “Getting Things Done” approach but its not as powerful as DayLite. Because of the attributes feature it has the appearence of being a good information storage application but if you collect a lot of information then it pales alongside DT and DA.

DT: Very powerful for finding and storing information in a way that the user can find it quickly. Its an application that will do a lot of the work for you once you learn how to use it (Tinderbox has the same characteristic). The superficial things like outlining while they can be useful for writing etc don’t highlight the real strength and “leverage” quality of the application.
Most time management approaches suggest that keeping things in one place is an efficient approach and DT is the one place to keep all the information you collect and use.

Richard Bullen

I use both; DT for storage, and organizing PDF’s and notes,
Tb for drafting, quick notes, organizing my thoughts. And for data for which I define “attributes”.

Tb has a nice feature: the agents, which I use for certain aspects of texts (keywords, and other self-defined attributes) so that I can easily analyse the collection of data. Agents update themselevs, so if I add a new piece of text, and it has the same attribute as defined in an agent, that piece of information will become visible under the agent all by itself.

Also, I prefer writing in Tb, I don’t like writing in DT at all, especially not since they have switched off the possibility to limit the full screen mode to a certain text-width. I use DT as an engine.

But Tb does not support unicode (yet), which is a very serious limitation. It is much more expensive, too, and for really large data collections it tends to slow down. In all of these areas, DT is far superior. And while Tb has hypertext links, DT has the more powerful Wiki-links.

Truth be told, when I really start writing seriously, I use neither of these two products, but switch to Ulysses, the ideal writing tool. :exclamation: Yet Ioften start in Tb.

Some day I’d like to talk to someone whose head works like Tinderbox works–someone besides Mark B. The whole point, it has always seemed to me, is to have some modicum of control and retrievability without the necessity to stop and tag (or worse) first. In that respect, Spotlight also leaves me cold–and all the Devon products seem nearly magical.

Besides which, everything is laid out before one, text and hypertext and image alike, in ways the Finder will never, ever be or do. Presently, I tend to drag and drop a lot; I’ve learned over time that sorting of my subject matter is a vital part of my thinking process (Have you all read The Social Life of Paper?!) So I’m not wanting to Classify at all. But this took about a year of living Devon.

I still let the Finder do its humble task, now and then. But if there’s anything I really want to “see” . . .nothing compares to DT, or even DN. Tinderbox sure hints at some treasure at the heart if you will only stick with its enormous learning curve, but the few times I downloaded and took a look–I find that an app with a really ugly interface, one unchanged since Classic days, that’s one learning curve I don’t need to climb over.

BTW, for now at least, I’m solving some of the Which Database Do You Keep Open problem by keeping different subjects in DNote, DTPersonal, and DTPro.

Connie / Zo

I’ve reviewed Tinderbox and tried to compare it to DT Pro, and the conclusion is that they’re are too different. Tinderbox is note and attributes based (which allows for it’s note linking capabilities). On the other hand we have DT which can index or import any kind of document, and use its AI to provide reliable search and organising results. I do like the idea of having visual links, etc. but then again the graphics in Tinderbox are ugly (subjective) and confusing (bit more objective here). I would like a visual linking interface for DT Pro, but that is not my highest priority. What DT Pro really needs is proper styles like Omni Outliner. If DT Pro had the styling capabilities of Omni Outliner there would be no competition at all, in my mind at least. What DT Pro really needs is someone very visual in their team; remember a message is not just words. But that is for another post. In short, DT Pro is a much better product, if not visually, than Tinderbox or any other document management software for the Mac in the market right now. :smiley:

(BTW Did you find my post difficult to read? If you did, then that is how I feel about DT Pro. It can have all the information there, but the presentation is lacking)

What I think about the visual–and it certainly has become predominant, in OS X–is that it is risky business. I used to feel as you do, if I understand you correctly–I felt Devon was rather plain. In the year or more since, after running thru heaven knows how many trials and purchases, I appreciate that simplicity like mad.

If you are fortunate to find the perfect fit, that’s great. However, let us not downlplay the importance of the visual, in the sense of one’s attraction to the interface and also, in the sense of learning, memory and study. Many of us are visual learners–rather a side note, but in the hierarchy of perception, the visual has it all over text, words, the verbal. That’s just scientific fact. I tone down Tiger’s eye candy like mad–but again, I think DT is one set of apps that demands . . . not customization, as it is commonly thought of, but . … in time, the methods and appearance you develop, for yourself, are the essence of the gift Devon offers the user. Your work flow will suit you in an integrated manner that can only be arrived at by working through. Priceless.

I think that was part of my point. No one can sell you that, and by design or out of happy necessity, Devon apps acknowledge that truth by their very structure. Seems to me I recall being told that Devon began with writers who wanted something like I describe, not with software engineers.

Are you wanting something like those little colored arrows in Circus Ponies Noteook? Good luck getting the Devon folks to spiff up the interface! I think I create visual linkage for myself, as I work, by flipping between various views, dragging, dropping, etc. Giving it the ol’ Mac workout, in other words. DTPers and Pro respond to the creative process during the creative process. I used to qualify that more by adding, for me. I don’t think so, anymore.That’s simply what DT is. Flexible, responsive, and the fact that it remembers, and can make associations–for you who do research, it must be a revolution.

BTW, I think saying Tinderbox as “ugly” is not subjective at all. Children have a better sense of design than whoever made that interface. It is studiously, intentionally ugly–which is to say, without aesthetic consideration. That takes work! I could be wrong–I’m probably not, but it’s always a possibility–but I think this tells a story that is simply no longer true. Which is quite ironic given the superiority TB makes no bones about putting forth. A story about the intellect, that it is verbal, and that its function and hence the verbal is superior. When in fact intuitive knowlege has been proven far more vast than that we consciously take in.

But I do go on. And probably failed to answer your question!


I described in detail in earlier parts of this thread (I think) andd esp’ in the “DT as a writer’s tool” thread how the visual map view of Tinderbox objects would be a great thing for Dthink to implement. In my opinion the multiple ways to ‘view’ your data in TinderBox is its greatest strength (for me) and utilises the innate human ability to recognise patterns and pick out differences. To get a visual representation of a database or folders or indeed a search would help immensely in the process of seeing correlations and connections. Its the equivalent perhaps to having a wall covered in sticky notes giving you a global view of your material, except like in TinderBox these notes can be smart “agents” (a little like Devonthinks smart folders). This kind of thing also starts to be like a dynamic mind or concept map. Powerful stuff I think for managing large amounts of data.