I'm looking for a tool that allows me to work with (read, write, edit) text in fragments that are connected internally and to other texts. I want to be able to follow these links, and they should keep intact if I move text fragments around (e.g. re-order them).

Specifically, I have a long text with definitions, requirements, recommendations and other statements. In my initial use case, this is an ISO norm.

I'm in need of writing a set of adapted rules and guidelines implementing this norm. This second long text, possibly in multiple documents, should be linked to the relevant sections of the first text bi-directionally.

I want to see at a glance

  1. which section(s) of the ISO this part of the rules implements
  2. from the ISO text, which rules or guidelines implement this requirement
  3. check if all requirements are implemented in the rules at least once
  4. ideally, be able to tag or comment the links/relations

I would like to link to phrases or even individual words within the texts, as some requirements consist of multiple parts which may be implemented in different rules. e.g. the norm might state "XYZ must have A and B" and I may have different rules implementing A and B, so I want to link A to one rule and B to another, not the entire sentence. I also could have another rule that references XYZ and sums up both rules, so I also want a link from the entire sentence to that rule (e.g. my link locations might overlap).

Options so far: I'm currently doing much of this manually with a mix of Markdown, HTML and Word export. I'm also looking into Filemaker as a way (using a database of textfields and relations). I've tried Scrivener, Manuscripts, Ulysses and a couple other writing / authoring tools which offer great ways to work with text in fragments, but their linking capabilities are limited.

I'm working on both Mac and Windows, a cross-plattform tool would be the best but I'd be happy to have one at all.


The Mac tool Tinderbox does hypertext as its main business.

The Mac / Windows code TheBrain can attach links to its file-system-like nodes.

Trial-use and tutorials are available for both, but neither one is free.

Best wishes ... cheers, drl

  • I tried and discarded The Brain several times in its long history (I think version 2 was the first one I had), because while I love its basic idea, its just unwieldy. For this particular use case, I don't find that it has any way of assembling a text from notes of nodes. I still need a text output in the end. – Tom Jan 4 '18 at 13:01

I actually found something very close to what I need: http://www.dh2012.uni-hamburg.de/conference/programme/abstracts/semantically-connecting-text-fragments-text-text-link-editor.1.html

Can't get it to work on my machine though, so I can't yet say if does everything I need. Inviting further answers of similar or otherwise useful tools.

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