Introducing Twig, A Sort Of Tinderbox Lite



If you’ve ever spent any time exploring the world of OS X notebook applications, you’ll have bumped up against Eastgate Systems’ Tinderbox, without doubt one of the most powerful of them all.

It’s also one of the most expensive, and the one that polarises opinion most often. Tinderbox fans simply love the advanced features it comes with; critics point to the difficulty newcomers will have in getting to grips with them.

So, enter stage right: Twig, which although I’ve thought long and hard for a better term, is perhaps best described as “Tinderbox lite”. So what is it, exactly?

Eastgate calls it “a swift and agile tool for gathering and cultivating your ideas”, and that’s a pretty good summary.

Twig is centered around a window called the Noter, and in use it reminds me a little of everyone’s favorite lightweight text notes tool, Notational Velocity. As you type into the note title box, Twig searches for matching notes and displays them. If if doesn’t find any, it creates a new one. That’s very NV-like.

From there, Twig veers in the direction of its older sibling, Tinderbox. Notes can be re-arranged in a variety of views (chart, map, outline), and linked together. You can create prototype notes that hand on certain attributes to their children. Twig includes other Tinderbox features like agents (a bit like programmable searches), adornments, and search. Twig will open Tinderbox files, and vice versa.

In other words, it offers a great deal of Tinderbox’s functionality for a fraction of the price – Twig costs $79 (compare with $229 for Tinderbox).

So which one should you buy? Good question. Perhaps this forum post by Mark Anderson sums things up better than I can:

“Bear in mind Twig is effectively as ‘lite’ form of TB, centring on rapid intake of notes. If you’re going to make large massively inter-linked maps you should use Tinderbox – or at least for the linking part if you use Twig for the data intake.”

In other words, Twig (which is still officially a work in progress, and in “preview”) is well suited to creating lots of notes and searching and sorting them in a relatively basic manner. If you’ve ever been tempted by Tinderbox but put off by the price, Twig looks like an ideal starting point. A fully-functional demo is available for download from


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