Storyspace Reader: a tutorial, 2

In my first tutorial, I concentrated on the tools and features which support reading and navigation through hypertext documents in Eastgate‘s free Storyspace Reader app. This article moves on to consider how you can get the most from its views and customisations.


When reading a hypertext document, you will normally focus your attention on the content shown in the right pane of the window, nominally text but far richer, of course. But the left pane can show one of six different view types to aid your reading.


The Map view is the most common, as it shows your place within the document, the anatomy of its links, and enables you to move around the document very easily. If you ever think that you have got lost in a document and need to look at the routemap, the Map view is usually the best place to return to.


The other view which I showed in the previous article is the Timeline, a specialist view which may not make sense in many documents, but in others is worth its weight in gold. The time axis runs along the bottom, and above it items within the document are positioned according to the time of their occurrence, which includes start and end dates if desired.

There are three simple ways to change the left-hand view in the current tab:

  • Control-click and hold (or two-finger tap-hold) on the small document icon at the top left of the tab, and the contextual menu will appear, offering you Map, Outline, and Chart views;
  • switch using the commands in the View menu;
  • show the window toolbar using the View menu, and switch in that.

The toolbar offers the following additional types of view.


The Outline view shows the document’s writing spaces and containers in an outline format, with triangular disclose tools to open up containers. Although links are indicated on items within the outline, this view does not show the anatomy of those links, which can limit its usefulness when reading.


The Chart view is similar, but items are structured more across the view as well as down it.


The Attributes view is more useful when creating hypertext, as it shows different attribute fields. You should seldom have any use for this in Storyspace Reader.


Likewise, the Treemap is a structural view of the whole document which is of limited value in the Reader.

You can always add or close tabs too. Adding a tab is just a matter of clicking on the + tool at the far right of the tab bar, and you close a tab by clicking on the x button which appears when you move the pointer over the document icon at the left of the tab. There are additional Tab commands available in the View menu.

You can open second and subsequent windows on a given document. Tabs and windows behave differently with respect to their location in the document, which you can use to enhance your reading.

Within each window, the contents of tabs are controlled separately. If you have two tabs in Map view, they will each show their respective selected writing space. So your first tab might show the Guide, and the second one of the individual content pages from the narrative.

The contents shown in the current (front) tabs of two or more windows are linked: move to show a different writing space in one, and the other window will automatically move to show that same content.

This is powerful, as it enables you to have (for example) one window showing the Map view, and another showing the Timeline. As you move through the Map, following links, your position will automatically be updated in the Timeline. Being separate windows, you can size them separately too.

If you want to flip back and refer to the Timeline without it being constantly updated as you work through the document in your Map view, then keep them as two tabs in the same window.

Keeping your place

When you close a document which you have been reading, its layout and your place in the document, together with any changes you have made to its settings, are automatically saved. If you like, you can use the Save command in the File menu for safety, but you should not need to.

Similarly, if you quit the Reader when documents are still open, each will be saved at the correct place, and automatically re-opened when you next open the app.

Customising views

Storyspace Reader contains many settings which you can customise as you wish, which are saved to the document.


Click on the i tool of the document icon in the tab bar to alter settings for all the graphical views (Map, Timeline, etc.) of that document.


For a Timeline view, this control shows those settings not for the view more generally, but for the time bar at the foot of that view.


Click on the + tool at the top right of any tile in the Map view to assign or change a badge for that tile. These are chosen from several libraries of badges, which are built into the Storyspace Reader app. You should also be able to add your own custom badges, in the ~/Library/Application Support/Storyspace/badges folder. Badges can have many uses, for example as bookmarks or comments.

You can also edit the title of tiles, either by double-clicking the title of the tile, or at the top of the content view on the right.

Each view can be shown as Text only (right contents), View and Text (default), or View only (left contents). These are selected for the current tab in the Window menu.


The appearance of any selected tile can be changed using the Inspector: this is a powerful tool which can alter quite a lot and should be used with care. Many of the settings included here are inherited from the Storyspace parent app, and are thus of little purpose here, or non-functional.


The other suite of tools is accessed through the Document Settings… command in the Edit menu, which produces this dialog. This is probably most useful for the standard colour schemes available in its Colors tool. Note that the Text settings offered here apply to newly added text; because the Reader app cannot alter or add to content, they are not effective at present.