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.