Twig: A promising idea capture tool for Mac OS X

Eastgate, the developer of the powerful Tinderbox information management and idea capture program for the Mac, has released a preview version of a lighter-weight application called Twig.

Recently, I visited the Eastgate website to find some information on their flagship information management program for the Mac, Tinderbox. I was surprised to discover that several months ago, the developer released a preview version of a lighter-weight application called Twig.

Twig appears to be a stripped-down version of Tinderbox, with a limited number of views and limited analysis capabilities. Where Tinderbox is an incredibly powerful information mapping and analysis tool with a great depth of features, Twig is designed to help the average information manager get started immediately with capturing their ideas and knowledge in a more streamlined interface.

Twig’s views include:

  • Noter, where you can quickly capture notes of any length, add tags to them, create prototypes (these appear to be like templates, where you can tell Twig to have one note inherit a prototype’s properties). The Noter displays a list of related notes and a topical word cloud.
  • Map enables you to capture ideas and express relationships between them. This sounds something like a mind map, or at least Tinderbox’s flavor of visual mapping.
  • Outline gives you the ability to arrange your notes in hierarchical outlines, and to add checkboxes, columns and styles to them.
  • Chart displays your notes in a tree-type browser. Like Tinderbox, Twig allows you to add adornments to help you to organize your maps. Adornments function something like intelligent agents, and can even reach out and arrange new notes for you.

The content you capture in Twig is readable in Tinderbox, and vice versa. Here’s how the Twig web page describes the relationship between the two products:

“Twig is great for quickly capturing new ideas and for discovering relationships among them. Almost everything happens in a single window, making Twig ideal for conferences, meetings, and brainstorming on the run.

Tinderbox gives you unequalled power for analyzing and sharing. Tinderbox agents and rules can move and modify notes, letting you build intelligent notebooks that help organize themselves. And Tinderbox export templates provide unmatched flexibility for export to the Web, to XML, or to almost any modern format.”

The Twig preview version is available on the Eastgate website for US$79; in comparison, Tinderbox retails for $249. Sounds like Twig may be just the thing for those of you who are looking for an elegant information management solution; if you outgrow it, you can always move up to Tinderbox. Eastgate may also be trying to blunt the momentum of other lower-cost information management applications for the Mac that have emerged during the last few years, such as  DevonThink and Curio.