Making Connections with Scapple

Scapple diagramDuring the last few weeks of April, I was working on a couple of end-of-semester projects for class. To help clarify my thinking, I really needed to sketch out how the various pieces of the project fit together, just so I could visualize it.

I suppose I could have gone to the local office supply store and purchased several large sheets of newsprint, but the later part of April happened to be when the team at Literature and Latte released Scapple.

Scapple is a completely free-form editor that lets you get ideas down quickly, move them around (or not), and make connections between them (or not). In short, you can place any item anywhere on the page that you like, and connect it to any other item—or just leave it to stand by itself.

It’s a great tool for mindmapping, though it’s not limited to that. It was certainly ideal for my purposes. I downloaded the trial version, installed it, and had the basics figured out in about two minutes. I was able to sketch out what I needed really quickly, and much faster than I could have done it by hand. It’s also possible to export a Scapple file as a PDF or PNG file, which made it incredibly easy for me to include my sketch in my presentation to the class.

Those who use Scrivener (which has received just a few mentions in this space) will appreciate the fact that the two applications play well together; notes can be dragged from Scapple directly into Scrivener.

I usually play around with software for quite a while before making a purchasing decision, but it only took a couple of hours to decide that, for me, Scapple was worth the price of the license (it’s a reasonable $14.99, and academic pricing is available).

The only downside (and this is not a dig at Literature and Latte; they’re a small outfit and just can’t do everything all at once) is that, unlike Scrivener, Scapple is only available for the Mac. So, while we’d love to hear your impressions about Scapple, we’d also be very interested in hearing from Windows and Linux users who’ve found something that works well for them to accomplish similar tasks. If you’ve got suggestions, please share them in the comments!

[Creative Commons licensed Flickr photo by the author.]

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