Parallel Text in Tinderbox 7: Porting Metamorphoses Book 1

Tinderbox may be Storyspace’s bigger sibling, but that doesn’t mean that every Storyspace document works wondrously in Tinderbox – even the latest Tinderbox 7. I am aware that some of my Storyspace hypertext documents, particularly those using included text, are less than optimal when opened in Tinderbox.

This article describes first explorations of some of Tinderbox 7’s new features to try to make Ovid’s Metamorphoses Book 1 more accessible: in short, to implement parallel text using Composites.

Composite notes are a new and exciting feature of Tinderbox 7, which hopefully will come to a future version of Storyspace too. They are very easy to make: in the Map view, just drag one note to touch another and they become a Composite, which you can move around as a unit, and most usefully which displays the contents of both notes together.

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The idea started from a simple observation: make the Latin and English versions of the same section of text into a Composite, and when that Composite is selected, you get exactly the same effect as achieved using Storyspace’s ^include feature, with the added bonus of a neat dividing line.

So I restructured my document, taking the Latin and English notes out of their containers, and forming them into Composites within a series of containers representing each story within the whole text. Because this did not affect the content of the individual notes, but was a structural re-organisation, it was remarkably quick and simple.

This left the issue of how to incorporate links to the paintings. In the original Storyspace hypertext, they are appended to the writing spaces containing ^include links, which I was then removing.

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My solution is to put them in a separate note, then add that to the side of the appropriate Composite. Before doing that, I needed to make new text links for each of the paintings. This was done in the usual way, selecting the link anchor first, and taking it over to the parking space.

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I then located the painting in the Gallery container, and dragged the link down to the appropriate note containing the painting, making it a text link. Once I was there, I could repeat the process with the return text link from the foot of the note containing the painting.

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Again, those were made into text links, going back to the original note.

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The Map view confirms that there is now a link in and one out. Once all the links were completed, the note containing them was added to the side of the Composite.

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Select the Composite, and you now see the Latin source at the top, the English translation below, and (for those notes with associated paintings) the links to paintings at the foot.

With the text notes and paintings all bound into Composites, the next task was to give the user some easy navigational pathways through the text. At present, you cannot link the whole of a Composite to another, only the individual notes within Composites. So the user who wants to read the entire text in parallel form will need to select Composite notes in sequence to be able to do that.

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However, many users will be happy to read using one of the languages, choosing which sections for which to view the parallel text (and painting links). I therefore linked the complete Latin text using default links, and the whole English translation likewise. Making links between notes which are part of a Composite is not difficult when you use Command-click to select just the individual note. Drag the link and drop it on the correct destination (here, green L to green L), and Tinderbox places the link correctly.

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I also got to use the Quick Link method for adding text links – another of the exciting new features in Tinderbox 7. These allow you to make text links from the comfort of a note, without having to drag links around or use a Parking Space.

Although I made text links to and from paintings in the conventional way, as I needed to re-use existing anchor text, new links from the Start note were made as Quick Links: insert two (square) brackets [[ into the text content of a note, then type the first letter of the note name for the destination of the link, and up pops the menu from which to select the destination.

There is one important point to remember here: you must double-click the correct line in the popup menu to make the link. If you just select the menu item with a single click, then click away from the menu to dismiss it, the name of the destination note will be inserted without a link.

You may also want to provide different anchor text for that link. This is simple to do using the cursor keys to bring the insertion point within the blue anchor text, where you can add and edit as you wish.

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I then spent a little time prettivating the opening Map view and Start note, which hopefully makes the document a little more inviting.

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From that Start note, the user can use one of the text links to take them to a reading of the document in Latin, English, or the paintings alone. At any stage during that, they can select the current Composite to switch from single language to parallel text, with painting links.

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Click on one of the text links to a painting, and the user is taken to the Gallery, and that work displayed. The text link at the foot then returns them to the painting link note within the Composite where they started. To show the whole Composite again, they need to select that Composite, from which reading can be resumed.

Being a Tinderbox document, you can now use it to add your own notes, perhaps summarising content from one of the excellent commentaries on Metamorphoses. Those can be added to the relevant Composite notes, for example, to customise your own copy.

I welcome suggestions for other ways in which this parallel text can be implemented in Tinderbox 7. I also hope that Tinderbox users find this version a bit more useful and usable than that for Storyspace. It is available here: Ovid Metamorphoses Book 1 (Tinderbox 7) and in the Downloads page, listed in the menu at the top of this article.

If you haven’t upgraded to Tinderbox 7 yet, these are excellent reasons to do so now.