Nathn Matias offers an intelligent review of Tinderbox at SitePoint.

“It's like no content management system I've ever used….. Tinderbox is a truly open-ended writing tool. It can be used to build Websites, keep track of contact information, produce flowcharts, and visualize database records. And these are just the obvious uses.”

“Tinderbox, which uses XML as its native file format, stores information in notes. These notes can be organized and linked many ways: in a hierarchy, in a two-dimensional map, or in any other structure you think of. It's as simple as drag and drop.”

One nice thing about Matias's review is that he describes a variety of good ways to use Tinderbox for getting work done. It's common for magazine reviewers to limit themselves to working through the tutorials or trying the obvious, familiar tasks, but Matias does a lot of real work with Tinderbox. The color scheme of the example map view in the first screen shot, for example, shows care and flair. The discussion of different tasks — taking notes on historical events, building a recreational web site — makes the review worth reading, even for experienced Tinderbox users. It's not merely a consumer guide to making the purchase decision.

It's also nice to see that Matias gets the point — even though he's not naturally inclined to the Tinderbox way.

“Tinderbox takes time to understand. It's unlike any piece of software you've ever used, and, unless you have time to learn it, Tinderbox might not be the software for you. On the bright side, the process of learning Tinderbox is also unique. Much of the learning process involves freeing the mind from the beaten-down assumptions and flat limitations we get from using word processors.”

He describes himself as ” a hardcore free/open source software fanatic:, but concludes in the end that “this is one of the few software packages I believe is well worth the money.”

[Mark Bernstein]

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