Tinderbox as a Minimalist Writing Environment

Eastgate’s Tinderbox is a deep, complex, and significant piece of software that I have been using daily for years. It’s an outlining, mindmapping, blog-publishing, timeline-generating, text-analyzing, agent-using, note-taking everything tool.

It’s also a minimalist writing environment.


  • Create a new note.
  • Hide the sidebar (if shown by default)
  • Close any other note windows
  • Write.

There are no toolbars, palletes, or anything else to distract you. Tinderbox doesn’t have any sort of distraction-free “mode” which hides other apps, centers the window, etc. but I find that simply dragging the note window to the middle of an empy “Space” works pretty well.


On the other hand, you can open other windows (views) within the same document and see a map view of your research notes, a helpful timeline, or simply an outline of the rest of the document. Organize these windows to suit and you go from a “minimalist” environment to one that is actually useful when going beyond more than a few paragraphs, without the need to change tools at some point in the process.

There are a few things that could improve this process for me. First, I’d like to see a little better Markdown support. Not that big a deal, since the whole point of Markdown is that it’s completely usable as plain text. Still, some minor formatting help would be welcome. Second, I want to name and save my window arrangements in any given Tinderbox document and recall them later. That way I could more easily switch between the several views I use most often.

Other than that, Tinderbox includes everything I need for writing a simple blog post (like this one,) but also does all the other magical things that I find so useful.