https://coppiceapp.com/blog The Coppice Blog 2020-10-13T14:30:00+00:00 The Coppice Team https://coppiceapp.com tag:coppiceapp.com,2020-10-13:/coppice_pro Coppice Pro 2020-10-13T14:30:00+00:00 2020-10-13T14:30:00+00:00 <p>Over the past few months we've taken a look at a lot of the functionality of Coppice but one thing we haven't mentioned is the business model. So today we're going to take a look at how we're planning to fund Coppice's ongoing development.</p> <h3>What is Coppice Pro?</h3> <p>We want to get Coppice into the hands of as many people as possible. At the same time, we want to make money so we can invest in further improving Coppice over time. To that end, we've decided to split Coppice's functionality up into two tiers: Core features and Pro features.</p> <p>Core features will be available for free in Coppice. You will be able to download Coppice and use it with these features without having to pay a penny. And most importantly, you won't have to worry about a time limited trial expiring.</p> <p>Pro features will be available after purchasing Coppice Pro. These will remove certain limits and provide advanced features to help you get the most out of Coppice. Coppice Pro will further enhance the Core features, with functionality such as advanced organisation and linking tools.</p> <p>Coppice Pro will be available as an annual subscription for just <strong>$19.99 a year</strong>, available through our website.</p> <h3>Subscriptions</h3> <p>Unfortunately subscriptions can be somewhat polarising for some people, so we wanted to discuss a bit more about why we've taken this approach with Coppice.</p> <p>Subscriptions can fundamentally change how you ship software. Using a traditional "paid upgrade" model, developers will release several free updates, but then collect a lot of features up into one large update to justify an upgrade price. This can often mean complete features stay unreleased for weeks or months, waiting for that big "2.0" update. With a subscription model we are freed from this restriction, as we have an ongoing income. This means we can release features when they are ready, getting the benefits of them to you sooner. </p> <p>We are also able to lower the cost of entry. With the "paid upgrade" model, you are effectively asking users to pay up front for the several years of development between major releases. With a subscription model, you are only paying per-year, so we can offer a lower starting price.</p> <p>Subscriptions also offer other benefits. While we have no concrete plans at the moment, our long term goal is to have Coppice available on other platforms beyond the Mac. Subscriptions will allow us to provide a unified payment model across platforms, so you won't have to keep paying separately for each platform.</p> <p>Ultimately, we believe subscriptions provide the best model for sustainable, long-term development, while keeping the cost as low as possible to open up Coppice Pro to everyone.</p> <h3>Core vs Pro</h3> <p>So how do we decide what features will be in the Core tier vs the Pro tier? It helps to define what the core functionality of Coppice is: </p> <ol> <li>To collect your thoughts and ideas,</li> <li>To visually lay out those thoughts and ideas, and</li> <li>To create links between those thoughts and ideas</li> </ol> <p>The Core tier will provide the basic functionality to make each of these possible, whereas the Pro tier will provide additional functionality to truly get the most out of them. Let's take a closer look at what this means in the initial version of Coppice.</p> <h4>Pages</h4> <p>You will be able to add an unlimited number of Pages to your documents in both Core and Pro, using both the initial types of Pages: Text and Images. </p> <p>Coppice Pro will add support for Folders. These will let you group your Pages in the sidebar, helping you to better organise your documents.</p> <figure style="width:232px; margin:auto"> <img src="https://coppiceapp.com/images/blog/coppice_pro/folders.jpg" alt="Coppice's sidebar, showing Pages grouped into Folders" style="width:232px;"> </figure> <h4>Canvases</h4> <p>In the Core tier you will be able to add as many pages to a Canvas as you like, lay them out, and view the relationships between them. However, you will be limited to just one Canvas per document.</p> <p>With Coppice Pro, you will have an unlimited number of Canvases per document. You will also be able to set the Canvas theme (Light or Dark) on a per-Canvas basis, rather than it always automatically changing with the system theme.</p> <h4>Linking</h4> <p>Linking is an important part of Coppice, so the Core tier will allow you to manually create links between pages without any restrictions.</p> <p>We want Coppice to help you find those links though, so with Coppice Pro you will be able to enable Auto-Linking. This will look for references to other Pages as you type and create links for you, leaving you to focus on the content of the Page.</p> <figure style="width:369px; margin: auto"> <video width="369" height="192" controls title="Using Coppice with VoiceOver"> <source src="https://coppiceapp.com/images/blog/coppice_pro/autolinking.mov" type="video/mp4"> Your browser does not support the video tag </video> </figure> <hr> <p>Over time we will be adding new features to both our Core and Pro tiers. While our focus will be on further improving Coppice Pro, we already have several new features planned for the Core tier. In a few weeks we will be taking a look at our plans for Coppice after its initial release, so be sure to subscribe to the Coppice Blog, the <a href="/#mailing-list">Coppice Mailing List</a>, and follow <a href="https://twitter.com/coppiceapp">@coppiceapp</a> on Twitter to stay up-to-date.</p> <p>Over the past few months we've taken a look at a lot of the functionality of Coppice but one thing we haven't mentioned is the business model. So today we're going to take a look at how we're planning to fund Coppice's ongoing development.</p> tag:coppiceapp.com,2020-09-29:/designing_for_accessibility Designing for Accessibility 2020-09-29T15:00:00+00:00 2020-09-29T15:00:00+00:00 <p>Accessibility is something near and dear to our hearts at M Cubed Software. For over a decade we have advocated for making software accessible to everyone, and over that time have helped many other developers to improve the accessibility of their apps. So when it came to developing Coppice, accessibility was high on the priority list.</p> <p>Making an app accessible doesn't just help the 15% of the population living with a disability, it also helps every single user by letting an app better adapt to their needs and workflow. By making accessibility a core part of the design process, rather than simply an afterthought, it ultimately helps you build a better app for everyone. </p> <p>So what are some of the ways we've made Coppice more accessible?</p> <h3>Keyboard Navigation</h3> <p>Coppice is a very visual app, especially on a Canvas. In many cases you will use a mouse to navigate around the UI, but it's also helpful to navigate using the keyboard. We've worked hard to provide support for fully navigating Coppice's UI with just the keyboard by hitting the tab key.</p> <p>This even extends to Canvases, where you can tab between pages, and then the controls within a page. We even flash the page content when you tab to it, to let you know exactly where you are in the UI.</p> <figure style="width:810px"> <video width="810" height="338" controls title="Tabbing through the Coppice UI. Navigating to a page, then to its close button, and then to editing the content"> <source src="https://coppiceapp.com/images/blog/designing_for_accessibility/tabbing.mov" type="video/mp4"> Your browser does not support the video tag </video> </figure> <h3>Moving Pages</h3> <p>One of the primary tasks you will perform on a Canvas is moving pages around. As well as dragging pages with a mouse, you can use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move the selected pages around the Canvas. Holding down the shift key will move pages 10x as much, letting you quickly zoom about.</p> <figure style="width:346px"> <video width="346" height="270" controls title="Moving a window using the keyboard. First shifting by a few pixels using arrow keys, before moving 10x as much by holding shift and using the arrow keys"> <source src="https://coppiceapp.com/images/blog/designing_for_accessibility/moving.mov" type="video/mp4"> Your browser does not support the video tag </video> </figure> <h3>Sidebar Sizes</h3> <p>For many people, being able to change the size of parts of the UI can massively improve their ability to use an app. Some people prefer a UI to be more compact to fit more content on the screen at once, whereas others prefer the UI elements to be bigger so they are easier to read and interact with.</p> <p>With Coppice, we support the ability to change the size of the sidebar in a document. By default this matches your system settings, but you can also override this specifically for Coppice, if you prefer something different</p> <figure style="width:761px"> <video width="761" height="372" controls title="Changing the size of the Coppice sidebar from the system default to large, to medium, and then to small"> <source src="https://coppiceapp.com/images/blog/designing_for_accessibility/sidebar.mov" type="video/mp4"> Your browser does not support the video tag </video> </figure> <h3>VoiceOver (and other assistive tools)</h3> <p>It's also vitally important to provide full support for those who use assistive tools such as VoiceOver. In many cases this just means ensuring controls are correctly labelled in the UI. We have also made the effort to ensure navigating through the UI with assistive tools is as easy as possible, by ensuring the UI has a hierarchy of groups, rather than appearing as one long, flat list of every element in the UI.</p> <p>Coppice also presents other challenges. By its nature, it is a very visual tool. So how do you communicate this to someone who may not be able to see? There are also other actions such as resizing a page. How do you make this functionality available to someone who cannot see the page edges or who may not have the fine motor function to be able to use a mouse?</p> <p>The video below shows some of the solutions to these problems we have added to Coppice. When you select a page using an assistive tool like VoiceOver, it reads out the page type as well as where that page was linked from, which gives you some context as to the relationships on the canvas. Interacting with a page also exposes special resize handles so that users of assistive tools can easily resize a page.</p> <figure style="width:817px"> <video width="817" height="720" controls title="Using Coppice with VoiceOver"> <source src="https://coppiceapp.com/images/blog/designing_for_accessibility/voiceover.mov" type="video/mp4"> Your browser does not support the video tag </video> </figure> <h3>The Future</h3> <p>This is just the start for accessibility in Coppice. As with any aspect of software, there are always ways to improve accessibility. Our goal is to make Coppice one of the most accessible pieces of software around. That's not an easy task for an app as complex and as visual as Coppice, but it's one we intend to continually work on.</p> <p>To achieve this we will need your help. If you ever find something in Coppice that feels inaccessible, please <a href="mailto:support@mcubedsw.com">get in touch</a> and we'll try to fix it as soon as possible. And if you want to try out the features above before release, you can add your name to the waiting list for the <a href="https://coppiceapp.com/beta">Coppice Private Beta</a>.</p> <p>As always, if you would like to stay up-to-date on Coppice, make sure to subscribe to the Coppice Blog, the <a href="/#mailing-list">Coppice Mailing List</a>, and follow <a href="https://twitter.com/coppiceapp">@coppiceapp</a> on Twitter.</p> <p>Accessibility is something near and dear to our hearts at M Cubed Software. For over a decade we have advocated for making software accessible to everyone, and over that time have helped many other developers to improve the accessibility of their apps. So when it came to developing Coppice, accessibility was high on the priority list.</p> tag:coppiceapp.com,2020-09-15:/designing_for_privacy Designing for Privacy 2020-09-15T14:00:00+00:00 2020-09-15T14:00:00+00:00 <p>At M Cubed Software we believe that privacy is a fundamental human right. Sadly it isn't one that is universally protected, and it is common in the software industry for some companies and their apps to vacuum up user data left, right, and centre. We prefer to take different approach, so today we'd like to show you how we have built Coppice and our surrounding infrastructure with Privacy in mind.</p> <p><em>(All information here is accurate as of the time of writing. If you are reading this at a later date some details may have changed, but our principles will always remain the same.)</em></p> <h3>Privacy Policy</h3> <p>The key to privacy is transparency. Transparency about what data we collect, how we collect it, and why we collect it. This level of transparency is something now required by law thanks to the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and takes the form of our <a href="https://www.mcubedsw.com/privacy">Privacy Policy</a>. This outlines the data we collect, the reasons we collect it, and what your rights are with respect to your data. We have just updated this to be even more comprehensive and clear, so be sure to check it out.</p> <h3>Data Minimisation</h3> <p>Privacy is fundamentally about protecting data, and the easiest way to protect a piece of data is to not have that data in the first place. As such, when we were building our websites and the infrastructure to support Coppice, we took a long hard look at every piece of data we stored and asked &quot;is this something that we <strong>need</strong> or merely something that we <strong>want</strong> to collect?&quot; If it's the latter then we tried to remove it.</p> <p>Here are a few examples of how we minimise data collection:</p> <h4>M Cubed Accounts</h4> <p>When you sign up for an M Cubed Account we only ask for your email and password. We don't ask for your name, your address, or any other data that is not absolutely necessary to provide you with a secure way to manage your subscription.</p> <h4>The Coppice Mailing List</h4> <p>Similarly, when you sign up to the Coppice Mailing List we only ask for your email. Sure, it would be nice to have any email we send you start with your name but it isn't necessary for the mailing list to work. We have also chosen a mailing list service that allows us to disable tracking when we send out emails. All we need to know is whether the email failed to get to you, we don't need to track what you do with it after it arrives.</p> <h4>Analytics</h4> <p>We also keep our analytics to the bare minimum. For our websites the story is simple: we only collect essential access logs. </p> <p>For Coppice, we give you an option to send us some basic analytics data to help us improve the app. This is entirely opt in and is stored anonymously on our servers. You can always change your mind in our Preferences window, and we also give you full details of what information we send, as well as exactly how each piece of data helps us make Coppice better. Below is an example from one of our machines.</p> <p>We even went an extra step with this. The tool we use to collect and send this data (Sparkle) is used by many apps on the Mac and can collect a lot more data such as how fast your CPU is, how much RAM you have, etc. For some apps this is very useful information, but for us it isn't necessary. Unfortunately it doesn't allow developers to choose what data is sent, so we opted to customise it to let us only send the data we really need to make decisions about Coppice. When Coppice is released we will be offering these changes back to the Sparkle project so other developers can benefit.</p> <figure style="width:612px; margin:auto" class="borderless"> <img src="/images/blog/designing_for_privacy/privacy-sheet.png" alt="A sheet from Coppice's preferences explaining why analytics are collected. Below is a table showing the data that is sent (OS Version, CPU Type, Model, Language, App Version, and Bundle ID). Above the table is a toggle allowing users to switch between the Raw data or a human readable version" style="width:612px"> </figure> <h3>A Local App Means Local Data</h3> <p>One of the benefits of writing a native app that runs on your machine is that we don't need to handle your data. In fact, unless you actually send us a document you created with Coppice, we don't know anything about what you create with Coppice. Your documents are stored where you want, and you have control over who you give access to them.</p> <h3>Coppice is Our Product, Not You</h3> <p>Unfortunately there are some companies out there that don't view their app or their service as their main product. Instead, they see it as a way to collect the thing they really make money on: your data.</p> <p>We take a different, more &quot;traditional&quot; approach: offering you a great product in exchange for a great price. That is how we make our money, and it makes all of the other points we mentioned above so much easier to implement. It also means that <strong>you</strong> are our number one priority. We don't need to add features and functionality to satisfy some other group of people. Instead we can focus on making sure Coppice keeps providing you value.</p> <hr> <p>So that is a bit about how we view privacy and how it has been designed into Coppice. Privacy is always an ongoing thing, so if we ever need to change something we'll be sure to always be completely transparent with you. If you have any questions related to privacy then please feel free to email <a href="mailto:privacy@mcubedsw.com">privacy@mcubedsw.com</a> at any time.</p> <p>If you would like to stay up-to-date on Coppice, make sure to subscribe to the Coppice Blog, the <a href="/#mailing-list">Coppice Mailing List</a>, and/or follow <a href="https://twitter.com/mcubedsw">@mcubedsw</a> on Twitter.</p> <p>At M Cubed Software we believe that privacy is a fundamental human right. Sadly it isn't one that is universally protected, and it is common in the software industry for some companies and their apps to vacuum up user data left, right, and centre. We prefer to take different approach, so today we'd like to show you how we have built Coppice and our surrounding infrastructure with Privacy in mind.</p> tag:coppiceapp.com,2020-09-01:/the_coppice_private_beta The Coppice Private Beta 2020-09-01T14:00:00+00:00 2020-09-01T14:00:00+00:00 <p>For the best part of a year we have been at hard at work on Coppice, designing interfaces, building features, and fixing bugs. Over that time only a small handful of people have been able to try out Coppice and offer feedback on it. Now, we're happy to announce we're looking to expand that group with the Coppice Private Beta.</p> <p>We're looking for people who would like to help us shape the initial release of Coppice and iron out any bugs we have missed. You can register your interest in the beta at the <a href="/beta">Coppice Private Beta page</a>. Just enter your name and email you will be added to the waiting list. We will start selecting people to join the Coppice Beta soon.</p> <p>Please note that Coppice requires a Mac running macOS 10.15 or higher, so make sure your machine can handle that before signing up.</p> <p>We can't wait to get Coppice into the hands of more people and see what you think.</p> <p>For the best part of a year we have been at hard at work on Coppice, designing interfaces, building features, and fixing bugs. Over that time only a small handful of people have been able to try out Coppice and offer feedback on it. Now, we're happy to announce we're looking to expand that group with the Coppice Private Beta.</p> tag:coppiceapp.com,2020-08-26:/designing_for_macos_big_sur Designing for macOS Big Sur 2020-08-26T14:00:00+00:00 2020-08-26T14:00:00+00:00 <p>Coppice has been under development for close to a year and its interface has undergone many design changes over that time. We had finally got the interface into a state we were happy with a few months ago and were expecting to ship with that interface this Autumn. Then along came Apple with WWDC…</p> <figure style="width: 747px"> <img src="/images/blog/designing_for_macos_big_sur/pre-dubdub.jpg" alt="Coppice, running on macOS Catalina prior to WWDC 2020" style="width: 747px"> <figcaption>Coppice, running on macOS Catalina prior to WWDC 2020</figcaption> </figure> <p>Every developer goes into WWDC week expecting that they'll have to make some changes to their apps. There are the inevitable bugs that new OS versions introduce, and the new platform features to implement. And then, every so often, Apple decides to completely redesign the visual appearance of the OS.</p> <p>The first thing to do when this happens is install the new beta OS and launch your app to get an idea of the damage. Thankfully, in Coppice's case, it wasn't too bad. As you can see in the screenshot below, most of the UI updated just fine.</p> <figure style="width: 747px"> <img src="/images/blog/designing_for_macos_big_sur/post-dubdub.jpg" alt="Coppice, re-compiled to run on macOS Big Sur with no changes. Some toolbar icons are clipped or the wrong size and all on the right side of the toolbar, the selection highlights are misaligned, and the toolbar stretches the full width of the window" style="width: 747px"> <figcaption>Coppice, re-compiled to run on macOS Big Sur with no changes</figcaption> </figure> <p>The bulk of the work that needed to be done was with the sidebar and the toolbar. In simple cases, icons and controls were just misaligned. However, Big Sur is not just a visual update to sidebars and toolbars, but also updates how these work, and what counts as &quot;standard&quot; behaviour.</p> <p>First, the sidebar. Big Sur makes a full height sidebar the new norm. This was thankfully a relatively easy thing to implement and makes a huge difference to fitting in with the new aesthetic. Besides a few bugs fixes not much else had to change.</p> <p>Next, the toolbar, which represents the biggest change. Previously a window had a title bar, containing the window's &quot;traffic light&quot; buttons and the title of the window, and a toolbar full of controls below the title bar. In Big Sur these can both be merged into one.</p> <p>The first change we made was to break up the sidebar/inspector toggles. Previously the convention was to have such controls grouped together, but Apple has moved them to the left and right sides of the toolbar in their apps with Big Sur.</p> <p>Next, we looked at the New Page control. One of the changes to Big Sur is developers can link toolbar items to panes in a split view. In our case this allows us to move the New Page button to above the source list in Big Sur. </p> <figure style="width: 747px"> <img src="/images/blog/designing_for_macos_big_sur/toolbars.jpg" alt="Two images of Coppice's toolbar on macOS Big Sur. The top toolbar image shows the toolbar icons all on the right, with some clipped icons and some icons the wrong size. The bottom toolbar shows the new page item shifted above the sidebar, the toggle sidebar and inspector items split up and put either side of the, and new icons for all toolbar items" style="width: 747px"> <figcaption>Top: initial toolbar after building for Big Sur<br>Bottom: final toolbar for Big Sur.</figcaption> </figure> <p>We also took this opportunity to rethink how the control works. Previously you could click on it and get a menu to select the page type. This is great if you're wanting to make pages of different types, and the final version of the control still works this way if you click and hold on it. However, it made creating many pages of the same type just that little bit harder. To fix this we made it so that simply clicking on the button will now create a page of the same type as the last page you created. It's an example of how having to redesign for a new OS can help improve things for users on older OSes too.</p> <figure style="width:300px; margin: auto"> <img src="/images/blog/designing_for_macos_big_sur/old-create-page.jpg" alt="The old create page button, a basic pull down control with a dedicated 'new page' icon" style="width: 139px"> <img src="/images/blog/designing_for_macos_big_sur/new-create-page.jpg" alt="The new create page button. The icon now shows the text page icon, and the menu shows page type icons next to the menu item title" style="width: 139px"> <figcaption>Left: The old create page control<br>Right: the new create page control</figcaption> </figure> <p>Finally, we have the icons. Apple has built up a large collection of icons for developers to use over the past few years called SF Symbols. These help to give a more consistent look and feel to the platform. With Big Sur, Apple has brought this collection of icons to the Mac.</p> <p>We wanted to replace the icons in Coppice with these new icons. Unfortunately though, they don't work on macOS Catalina. To work around this we decided to re-create the icons ourselves, so we can keep them consistent across platforms. We also added some of our own, such as for the Canvases item in the sidebar.</p> <p>This also had another benefit. Traditionally, icons like this have been designed to perfectly align with pixels on your screen. This helps keep them crisp, clear, and easy to understand. Unfortunately, Apple's new icons are designed to be infinitely scalable, which means they don't do this pixel alignment. This isn't too bad at large sizes, but at the sizes required for use in most apps it can lead to them looking very blurry, especially on non-retina displays. By re-creating the icons ourselves, we were able to fix this issue, so they should look crisp no matter what Mac you run on.</p> <figure style="width:276px; margin:auto"> <img src="/images/blog/designing_for_macos_big_sur/sfsymbols.jpg" alt="A selection of icons from the sidebar and toolbar of Coppice. The top row shows SFSymbols icons, which are all blurry. Below are the re-created icons optimised for non-retina displays with non of the blurriness"> <figcaption>SF Symbols (the top row of icons) vs <br>manually re-created icons (the bottom row)</figcaption> </figure> <p>In case it is a bit hard to see the difference, here is the same image scaled up. Note that in both cases these images show non-retina versions of the icons.</p> <figure style="width:552px; margin:auto"> <img src="/images/blog/designing_for_macos_big_sur/sfsymbols-scaled.jpg" alt="A selection of icons from the sidebar and toolbar of Coppice. The top row shows SFSymbols icons, which are all blurry. Below are the re-created icons optimised for non-retina displays with non of the blurriness"> </figure> <hr/> <p>So that is some of the work we have done to help make sure Coppice is ready for Big Sur from day one. Be sure to subscribe to the Coppice Blog, sign up to the <a href="/#mailing-list">Coppice Mailing List</a>, and/or follow <a href="https://twitter.com/mcubedsw">@mcubedsw</a> on Twitter to stay up to date on Coppice's development.</p> <p>Coppice has been under development for close to a year and its interface has undergone many design changes over that time. We had finally got the interface into a state we were happy with a few months ago and were expecting to ship with that interface this Autumn. Then along came Apple with WWDC…</p> tag:coppiceapp.com,2020-08-18:/why_create_coppice Why Create Coppice? 2020-08-18T14:00:00+00:00 2020-08-18T14:00:00+00:00 <p>Last week we took a look at Coppice's features and interface, looking at <strong>what</strong> Coppice is. This week we'd like to take a step back and talk about <strong>why</strong> Coppice exists. There's little point in creating a solution unless there is a problem to solve. So what problems is Coppice trying to solve, especially in a market that is replete with apps to let you take notes?</p> <h3>The Problems</h3> <p>There is a principle with programming that you should optimise your code for readability, as anyone working on that code will spend far more time reading it than writing it. This principle is not limited to just code though, it can apply to any sort of information. </p> <p>There are plenty of apps out there that are excellent for collecting information, for taking notes, etc. They optimise for getting information into the app, but allowing you to actually <strong>use</strong> that information is often a secondary thought. They offer basic tools such as grouping, sorting, and searching. Some apps even use machine learning to help surface what they think might be relevant. However, they all assume that once you've found that piece of information, that's all you needed to do.</p> <p>The second problem is these apps don't treat information as intrinsically interconnected. Again, you can do things like create links between bits of information, but these merely navigate between information. They don't treat the relationship as a first class citizen, nor really allow you to view all these connected bits of information at once. This promotes users to create fewer entries in the app, but make each entry bigger, such as having large sprawling notes that contain multiple thoughts or ideas.</p> <h3>The Solution</h3> <p>Coppice tries to solve these two specific problems. It is optimised for using information over collecting it, and it promotes using smaller but interconnected Pages rather than a few large sprawling notes. This is visible in many of the concepts and design choices in Coppice.</p> <p>One of the first things you will find is that Coppice is a document-based app. It is not designed to be a central repository of all your knowledge, but series of documents focused on understanding particular things. This lets you keep unrelated things isolated, essentially letting you explicitly state that two bits of information <strong>don't</strong> have any relationship by having them in separate documents. After all, there's no reason why the information on that client project for work should be held in the same library as the information on redecorating your kitchen at home.</p> <p>Next, Canvases let you visually organise these thoughts on your computer. We do this all the time in the real world, from laying out papers on a desk to drawing on a whiteboard. However, unlike the real world Coppice can give you an ever expanding space to grow your thoughts.</p> <p>Canvases also allow you to see the relationships between bits of information. When you open a linked Page on a Canvas, there will be an arrow between the two Pages showing the relationship. This makes the relationship a concrete and visible part of understanding your thoughts. This can also help you see relationships you have yet to make. If you place two pages close to each other on a Canvas, but they don't have an arrow between them, maybe that's a sign to you that they should be linked.</p> <p>These relationships can also depend on context. You may want the same collection of Pages to be grouped or linked differently in two different contexts. To solve this, Coppice Pro allows you to have as many Canvases as you like, giving you many different views on the information in a document</p> <h3>Examples</h3> <p>These high level concepts are all well and good, but what does this look like in practice? Here are a few examples from our own usage of Coppice:</p> <section style="margin: 0px 30px"> <h4>Learning a new Subject</h4> <p>A key part of building and selling any piece of software is learning new things. One of the things we needed to learn was how to set up and handle payments with our payment processor. This required reading their documentation and creating notes. As this required learning about many topics, Coppice was perfect for the task.</p> <p>We created a Canvas and added Pages as we moved through the payment processor's documentation. As we had multiple Pages on screen at once we were able to add the information we found to the appropriate Page, so that it fit the mental model we were building as we learned.</p> </section> <section style="margin: 0px 30px"> <h4>Running an RPG</h4> <p>At M Cubed Software we enjoy playing table-top RPGs. If you have ever run such a game, you may know that it requires keeping track of a lot of information: locations, characters, plot points, player backstories. It's an ever-changing, ever-growing story, and one that requires the ability to think quickly and improvise to what your players choose to do.</p> <p>You can use Coppice to store all the information on the campaign you are running. You might create a Page to represent a town in your world, then create linked pages for all the locations in that town, which in turn link to pages on characters the players might find in that location. </p> <p>You can then use a Canvas to organise information that you think may be relevant for the next session you play, but you can know that any related information will always just be a click away if you need it.</p> </section> <hr/> <p>So that is some of the thought process behind why we built Coppice, and why Coppice works the way it does. What ways will you use Coppice? Let us know at <a href="https://twitter.com/mcubedsw">@mcubedsw</a> on Twitter.</p> <p>Next week we'll be talking about how we re-designed parts of the Coppice UI for Apple's upcoming macOS release: Big Sur. If you don't want to miss that and other updates on Coppice's development be sure to subscribe to the Coppice Blog. Alternatively, you can now sign up to our mailing list, which you can find at the bottom of the <a href="https://coppiceapp.com">Coppice home page</a>.</p> <p>Last week we took a look at Coppice's features and interface, looking at <strong>what</strong> Coppice is. This week we'd like to take a step back and talk about <strong>why</strong> Coppice exists. There's little point in creating a solution unless there is a problem to solve. So what problems is Coppice trying to solve, especially in a market that is replete with apps to let you take notes?</p> tag:coppiceapp.com,2020-08-13:/exploring_coppice Exploring Coppice 2020-08-13T14:00:00+00:00 2020-08-13T14:00:00+00:00 <p>Last week we launched the Coppice website, where you can learn what Coppice is and the concepts behind it. This week we want to delve deeper into the actual app and show you what these concepts look like in practice. So let's take a tour through Coppice's interface.</p> <p><em>Note: the screenshots here are from an alpha build running on macOS Catalina, so may look a bit different to those on the home page</em></p> <section class="right"> <div> <h3>Sidebar</h3> <p>The primary way to navigate through a document in Coppice is via the sidebar. This contains a list of all the Pages in your document, as well as providing you access to your Canvases. Pages can be ordered however you like and, with Coppice Pro, can be grouped into folders for easy organisation.</p> </div> <figure> <img src="/images/blog/exploring_coppice/sidebar.jpg" alt="A standard mac app sidebar. The top row says Canvases. Below are rows for pages and a folder" style="width:261px; height: 523px"> </figure> </section> <section class="centre"> <h3>Editors</h3> <p>Editors take up the bulk of the window. If you select a Page in the sidebar you will be presented with that Page's editor. Each type of Page has its own editor. The first version of Coppice features two type of Pages: Text and Images. Text Pages give you a rich text editor, whereas Image Pages provide a more modest editor allowing you to set the image.</p> <p>Selecting Canvases in sidebar opens up the Canvases editor, which requires a more in-depth look.</p> <figure style="width:565px"> <img src="/images/blog/exploring_coppice/editors.jpg" alt="A text editor in the middle of an application window. It shows multiple text styles in the one page" style="width:565px"> </figure> </section> <section class="centre"> <h3>Canvases</h3> <p>On the left is a list of Canvases in your project, and on the right is the editor for the selected Canvas. The core experience of Coppice is adding Pages to a Canvas and visually arranging them to help you make sense of the thoughts they represent.</p> <figure style="width:807px"> <img src="/images/blog/exploring_coppice/canvases.jpg" alt="A list on the left side shows previews of each canvas. The majority of the image shows a canvas with several pages containing text laid out. Arrows go from the centre page to various pages surrounding it." style="width:807px"> </figure> <p>Adding a Page to a Canvas is as simple as dragging it from the sidebar. You can also add Pages to a Canvas using the Menu Bar or by right clicking on Pages in the sidebar.</p> <p>By default, Pages have a minimalist appearance, only showing their content. Hovering over a Page will show more details, such as the Page's title, as well as letting you close the Page. You can move and re-size pages much like windows on your Mac, so you can position and size them however you like. You can also select a Page by clicking it. You can select multiple Pages by dragging a selection on the Canvas or by shift clicking, much like selecting files on your Desktop.</p> <p>Each Page on your Canvas features its full editor, letting you modify the Page directly on the Canvas. To start editing a Page you simply click it once to select it, then you have access to the full array of editing functionality for that Page.</p> </section> <section class="right"> <div> <h3>Inspectors</h3> <p>On the right of a document's window in Coppice are the Inspectors. Inspectors allow you to modify attributes of an object, such as a Page's title, a Canvas's theme, or the current font when editing text. Which Inspectors are visible will change depending on what you have selected in the editor.</p> </div> <figure> <img src="/images/blog/exploring_coppice/inspectors.jpg" alt="The right side of a Mac window showing inspectors for editing the Page title, and for styling text inside the page." style="width:261.5px"> </figure> </section> <section class="centre"> <h3>Page Selector</h3> <p>The Page Selector is a special window that can appear in certain circumstances. It allows you to search through the Pages in your document and then selected one using only the keyboard, in a very similar way to Spotlight.</p> <figure style="width:440px"> <img src="images/blog/exploring_coppice/page-selector.jpg" alt="A window with a search field at the top with the placehold text 'Jump to page' and a magnifying glass icon to the left. Below is a list of pages showing the titles and a snippet of content from each page" style="width:440px"> </figure> <p>What happens when you select a Page depends on what the selector is being used for:</p> <ul> <li>If you choose <b>Jump to Page…</b> from the Menu Bar, selecting a Page will navigate to that Page, just like clicking it in the Sidebar</li> <li>If you choose <b>Add to Canvas…</b> from the Menu Bar, selecting a Page will add it to the current Canvas</li> <li>And if you are creating a link, selecting a Page will create a link to that Page</li> </ul> </section> <section class="left"> <div> <h3>Search</h3> <p>Finally, we have search. As your document grows, you may need some help in finding information in your document. The search field in the toolbar allows you to search for some text in every Canvas and Page in your document. As you type in some search text, the sidebar will change to show the results of that search. You can even drag Pages from your search results onto a Canvas.</p> </div> <figure> <img src="images/blog/exploring_coppice/search-results.jpg" alt="A standard mac sidebar showing the results for the search term 'request'. At the top it says 'Matches for 'request''. Below it lists canvases and pages that match, showing titles and content. The canvas row states it has 2 matching pages. The three matching pages highlight the matching term in their title or content" style="width: 261.5px"> </figure> </section> <hr/> <p>Hopefully this has given you a more detailed overview of Coppice's UI, and some of the features and functionality that will soon let you cultivate your thoughts.</p> <p>Be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow <a href="https://twitter.com/mcubedsw">@mcubedsw</a> on Twitter to be notified of future updates. Next week we will be looking at what motivated us to create Coppice in the first place.</p> <p>Last week we launched the Coppice website, where you can learn what Coppice is and the concepts behind it. This week we want to delve deeper into the actual app and show you what these concepts look like in practice. So let's take a tour through Coppice's interface.</p> tag:coppiceapp.com,2020-08-04:/welcome_to_the_coppice_blog Welcome to the Coppice Blog 2020-08-04T14:00:00+00:00 2020-08-04T14:00:00+00:00 <p>Welcome to the Coppice Blog, the best place to get all the latest news on Coppice, as well as tips on how to get the most out of Coppice and sneak peeks into future versions. Coppice is a great new app for the Mac that allows you to organise and make sense of your thoughts. You can find out more about Coppice from the <a href="features">Features</a> and <a href="faq">FAQ</a> pages of this site.</p> <p>We're still putting the final touches to Coppice, but we're hoping to share a lot about it over the coming weeks and months before release, including an in-depth look at how Coppice works, what prompted us to create Coppice, and even a look at our plans beyond the initial release.</p> <p>If you want to stay up to date you can subscribe to this blog in your favourite RSS reader using the link in the sidebar. You can also follow us on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/mcubedsw">@mcubedsw</a>.</p> <p>We can't wait to share Coppice with you.</p> <p>Welcome to the Coppice Blog, the best place to get all the latest news on Coppice, as well as tips on how to get the most out of Coppice and sneak peeks into future versions. Coppice is a great new app for the Mac that allows you to organise and make sense of your thoughts. You can find out more about Coppice from the <a href="features">Features</a> and <a href="faq">FAQ</a> pages of this site.</p>