Scapple is a simple yet powerful program from Literature and Latte, the people who created Scrivener, a wonderful writing tool and I am using it for almost everything. However, Scapple, is now staking a claim to be the first program I open when I begin the creative process.
What is Scapple?
Imagine a piece of paper, a blank piece of paper. You have a pen in your hand and you can write any thought or idea anywhere on that piece of paper. What you write can be connected by lines. The writing can be big or small and you can also draw shapes around what you have written to highlight certain sections.
Scapple is a digital version of that blank piece of paper. But it can do a lot more than just capture your thoughts and connect them with lines. Being digital the ideas can be moved anywhere on the page. You can edit the text, format it and highlight it with different colours and shapes. You can ‘stack’ blocks of text and ultimately you can export the text.
Unlike traditional mind-mapping techniques and software, you are not limited to building your thoughts around one central idea. In fact you don’t need to connect your thoughts at all. Scapple is a free-form text editing tool.
How do I use scapple?
I am using scapple for three things:
- Capturing my thoughts and ideas
- Organising my thoughts and ideas
- Exporting my thoughts and ideas
The final step, exporting my ideas, is where Scapple’s pedigree comes into its own. I am able to drag and drop selected text from Scapple onto the cork board view in Scrivener. I don’t have to be concerned with export settings, I just open up Scrivener and drag and drop.
What would I like to see?
Scapple is still very young in its product cycle. There are, I’m sure, plenty of additions planned in further iterations, however, Scapple’s genius is in its simplicity. I would like to see more drawing and image options, but at the same time I understand this is a text tool. I have a couple of times created a large amount of text notes, all connected and covering the digital sheet of Scapple. When I have selected all the text and dragged it into Scrivener, it then takes a while to re-organise the text into the places I want. There could be some way to ‘tag’ notes in Scapple that made sorting easier. Once again though, that is something that Scrivener was made for and handles very well.
What is wrong with Scapple?
To be honest I don’t think there is anything wrong with the software. Okay, so I’m not blown away by the name, it does sound like a disease from Victorian times, but I can live with that… the name, not the disease.
The only downside is that Scapple is Mac only at the moment. But then so was Scrivener a few years back. So perhaps other operating systems will get their own version in time.
I am using Scapple whenever I begin a project. It has become a vital tool to help me organise my thoughts, and more importantly save time as I process and take them to the next stage in the project I am currently working on. Oh, and I forgot to mention there is a free trial, so why not give it a go. I think you’ll like.
If you are using Scapple I’d love to hear how you are using it and if you have any tips to share.