But why? Why does a hugely powerful text/database environment like Tinderbox need something like Yojimbo alongside it? What’s the benefit for Tinderbox users?
This morning, I watched Merlin Mann doing one of his excellent interviews for twit.tv, in which he (jokingly) described the two apps as “the tag team carbon combination from hell”. The point of the bundle is that Yojimbo is designed to make importing information very easy indeed. The idea is that it’s so easy to import stuff, you don’t need to stop and think about the process, you just do it. If something is too complicated, if it requires thought, people just won’t use it.
For the purposes of this software bundle, Yojimbo is supposed to act as an inbox for Tinderbox. It’s easier to get new data into Yojimbo than it is to get it into Tinderbox. But Tinderbox does a better job of organising data, and making sense of it in the long term.
Me: The idea is to use Yojimbo as an inbox of sorts, prior to transferring stuff to tinderbox - is that right?
Me: Have you built some kind of hook(s) that easily extracts stuff from the yojimbox and puts it somewhere meaningful in tinderbox?
Mark: Not quite. Here’s the issue… in Tinderbox, when you make a note, you need to put it somewhere. You need to choose a location in the map, or a container. That gives you lots of power, both immediately and down the road. But it’s not necessarily what you want to do right now, when you’re (say) browsing weblogs and want to note down a page for future reference. So, you drag the bookmark into Yojimbo, and every morning (or every Friday, or whatever) you go through your inbox and drag things into your Tinderbox notes, putting them where they belong. Yojimbo is really good at being a holding pen. You’re still going to have to move things over to Tinderbox, because you’re going to need to decide where things go. But you can do that whenever you like.
Me: Was there ever a point when you wanted to make your own inbox like this? Or did you just see/use Yojimbo and make the connection at that point? I’m interested to know if Tinderbox could have developed its own inbox-type tool, in an alternate universe.
Mark: Oh, an inbox has been in the planning list from the beginning — from Web Squirrel, in fact, the bookmark manager which was one of Tinderbox’s predecessors.
The difficulty is that an inbox/clipping manager needs to be good at managing intimate system quirks (e.g. hotkeys, custom docks, the stuff Yojimbo and Quicksilver do) that tend to break whenever the system changes. Where Tinderbox tries to concentrate on a different level of organization. Since Yojimbo must deal with these system hacks, they’ll stay on top of them. And we can concentrate on the knowledge management and linking technology we do best.
Me: And I’d expect there’s potential for some scripting goodness to link the two apps.
Mark: Yes. In fact, the right kind of scripting — the way you think about external links, I don’t mean the mechanics or language — is a very interesting and active research topics right now. Tinderbox 3.6 adds some very powerful hooks for grabbing stuff from other apps or from the Web. More are planned for the next iteration. But nobody fully understands how to approach this in a Tinderbox environment with links and agents and actions all interacting. It’s very exciting.
Exciting indeed. Some Tinderjimbo / Yojimderbox users have already started making notes on the official Tinderbox wiki. The right kind of scripting is surely not far away…