0.5: Groups

November 20, 2012

BrainSharper gets groups!

Beginning with version 0.5, nodes can be grouped together. The groups can be colored and are updating live with every movement of a contained node.

And there is more:

I hope you like this version, if so, please leave a comment and tell your friends.

0.4: Toolbar And Colors

May 18, 2012

node-coloredFinally, I had some time to build in the long awaited color support for BrainSharper. The color set is quite restricted, but should cover all your needs for now. You can change colors for individual nodes or all the nodes in the selection area by clicking the (+) sign.

bs-toolbarAdditionally, I’ve implemented a small toolbar with the intention to make some hidden features a bit more accessible. For now, you can access undo/redo, share document, help and feedback from the right edge of the screen.

These are the good news.

The bad news is that the Mac OS X Version will take some additional time to complete. I’ve already put a month of work in the port, and it went well on the database and system level, but as soon I hit the user interface I was struck by the subtle details in Mac OS X Cocoa framework. For the interested: I use the monomac bindings to access the native Mac OS X components from Mono.

The port is a lot more work than I’ve anticipated, and though powerful, the Mac OS X APIs differ greatly from the .NET APIs and – in addition – cross-developing with Windows, Visual Studio, and on the Mac side with MonoDevelop and XCode is quite a demotivating indirection.

I am now considering to port the Windows 8 and iOS tablet version before the Mac Version. Here, of course, the big challange is to get the usability right.

And on the feature side, the next big one are groups.

I’ve found three primary methods to group spatially nodes together. The first one is a simple group of nodes with a border and a title around it. The second one is a simple group but a lot smaller, so that its structure is clearly visible but (automatic?) zooming is required to get into it. The third one is just a group node that acts as a folder for a nested concept map.

I think it is safe to say that the first option is the most straight forward one to implement. For once, regular groups can be printed – the other two need special consideration when exported as a png or printed – and second, viewing them on the screen needs no context-switches in the user interface.

So, now, I wish you a lot of fun creating colored concept maps, and I would be glad if you would share some of your thoughts here or provide feedback on uservoice.


November 29, 2011

I’ve pushed out version 0.3 of BrainSharper today. This is mainly a bug-fix and a maintenance release. The fixes include a lot of details that make BS “just work”. Here are a few highlights:

Additionally, I’ve completed the documentation page.

Next on my list are a number of architectural refactorings and … yes … as announced on the download page, the Mac Port. Which I’ve totally excited about. I will learn for the first time how the native user interface on the Mac looks like from the inside. The plan is to drive that via MonoMac as far as possible. If anything gets wrong or annoying, I will choose to build a mixed UI application: OpenGL for the rendering of the document, and the native UI for editing. I just hope that the back-porting to Windows won’t get into a nightmare. But what I know is that the architecture will benefit a lot from making the UI platform independent.