BrainSharper Blog 0.5: Groups Tue, 20 Nov 2012 15:31:00 +0100 <p><a href="module:BlogEntryHeader?entry=blog%2f201211201531-05-groups&amp;name=0.5%3a+Groups&amp;date=November+20%2c+2012"></a></p> <p>BrainSharper gets groups!</p> <div style="float: right"><img src="201211201531%20Groups.png" /></div> <p>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.</p> <p>And there is more:</p> <ul> <li><p>Based on feedback I've got, I decided to make the design of the nodes a bit simpler. There is no distracting border anymore. Only the shadow and the optional color discriminate the node from its background. I think the overall look of your concept maps will feel more modern this way. If you think different, please leave a comment.</p></li> <li><p>The nodes are larger and the default font size has been increased to improve the readability of the text.</p></li> </ul> <p>I hope you like this version, if so, please leave a comment and tell your friends.</p> 0.4: Toolbar And Colors Fri, 18 May 2012 12:00:00 +0200 <p><a href="module:BlogEntryHeader?entry=blog%2f201205181200-04-toolbar-and-colors&amp;name=0.4%3a+Toolbar+And+Colors&amp;date=May+18%2c+2012"></a></p> <p><img style="background-image: none; border-right-width: 0px; margin: 0px 0px 8px 16px; padding-left: 0px; padding-right: 0px; display: inline; float: right; border-top-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; padding-top: 0px" title="node-colored" border="0" alt="node-colored" align="right" src="/blog/201205181200%20node-colored.png" width="203" height="115" />Finally, 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.</p> <p><img style="background-image: none; border-right-width: 0px; margin: 0px 0px 8px 16px; padding-left: 0px; padding-right: 0px; display: inline; float: right; border-top-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; padding-top: 0px" title="bs-toolbar" border="0" alt="bs-toolbar" align="right" src="/blog/201205181200%20bs-toolbar.png" width="32" height="213" />Additionally, 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.</p> <p>These are the good news. </p> <p>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. </p> <p>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 &#8211; cross-developing with Windows, Visual Studio, and on the Mac side with MonoDevelop and XCode is quite a demotivating indirection. </p> <p>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.</p> <p>And on the feature side, the next big one are groups. </p> <p>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.</p> <p>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. </p> <p>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 <a href="" target="_blank">provide feedback on uservoice</a>.</p> 0.3 Tue, 29 Nov 2011 12:00:00 +0100 <p><a href="module:BlogEntryHeader?entry=blog%2f201111291200-03&amp;name=0.3&amp;date=November+29%2c+2011"></a></p> <p>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:</p> <ul> <li>A single node selected by drawing an area is getting focused now. </li> <li>The image copied to the clipboard via CTRL-C is now transparent (as long the pasting program supports PNG). </li> <li>Fixed a problem that prevented BS from shutdown when multiple nodes were selected. </li> <li>Undo works quite well now, even when the user is currently interacting with the document. </li> <li>When an error happens, BS asks you to send me an Email containing the version number and a stacktrace. </li> <li>A blank document now shows the BS logo and instructions how to start. </li> <li>F1 for help! </li> <li>CTRL-A: select all, also works now! CTRL-A + CTRL-C is the fastest way to copy a screenshot of the complete document to the clipboard. </li> <li>When using CTRL-V (paste), the document from the clipboard is now inserted at the <strong>center</strong> of the current document. </li> <li>When multiple nodes are selected, a move-cursor is shown at the locations where they can be dragged together. </li> <li>Virus warnings &#8211; which always were false positivies btw &#8211; should be gone now. BS uses a new Bootstrapper and also installs all prerequisites for the .NET 4 client profile framework (Windows Installer 3.1 and Windows Imaging Components). So you should get BS running on a Windows XP SP2… . But I don’t see a future of supporting Windows XP, so please get Windows 7 or .. for god’s sake .. a Mac! </li> <li>I’ve beautified the setup. That really makes BS look “professional”. </li> </ul> <p>Additionally, I’ve completed the <a href="/documentation" target="_blank">documentation page</a>.</p> <p>Next on my list are a number of architectural refactorings and … yes … as announced on the <a href="/download" target="_blank">download page</a>, 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 <a href="" target="_blank">MonoMac</a> 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.</p> Welcome to BrainSharper Mon, 21 Nov 2011 12:00:00 +0100 <p><a href="module:BlogEntryHeader?entry=blog%2f201111211200-welcome-to-brainsharper&amp;name=Welcome+to+BrainSharper&amp;date=November+21%2c+2011"></a></p> <p>What is this program about, you may ask. It is looking like a mind mapping tool, but the topics are not organized around a common center, and moreover, it has labels?</p> <p>Well, I don’t know where this is leading to… but I want to tell you why I am building it:</p> <p>I am building BrianSharper to let you organize your ideas differently. For me, <a href="">mind maps</a> are a great tool to organize to do lists and projects outlines. But due to the hierarchical nature and the fixed center of a mind map, it always felt too restrictive to capture more complex and behavioral ideas.</p> <p>Some mind mapping tools attempt to overcome this restriction by introducing relationships that connect individual branches. But these solutions looked like a compromise to me and never were applicable to what I wanted to capture: Natural, graph-based structured ideas.</p> <p>Eventually, I took a closer look at <a href="">concept maps</a>. Concept maps don’t seem to be widely used to organize knowledge, and obviously, they are not that popular yet. But when I took a more attentive look around the Internet, they appeared at a lot at places where complex models needed to be visualized.</p> <p>Usually, concept maps are created by Power Point or simple drawing tools. Sometimes, professional tools like the <a href="">Visual Understanding Environment</a> or <a href="">yEd</a> are used to create them. These are great tools, but they are not providing the usability that makes the sharing of ideas simple in ways I do imagine.</p> <p>In my opinion, concept maps reflect the very basic nature in which knowledge can be communicated between humans. That is, graphically and efficient. And that is exactly what BrainSharper should be about.</p> <p>So my objective is to create a tool that enables you to communicate concepts in the simplest and fastest way possible. BrainSharper’s user interface will be designed to be discoverable, naturally to adapt to, efficient, and – whenever possible &#8211; so that it does not get in your way.</p> <p>BrainSharper is in its early stages now, a prototype at best, and future versions can not be built without you. And so I hope that you are interested enough in starting a journey with me to an unknown territory where you can actively influence a tool that a lot of users will love. </p> <p>Of course, I do have a commercial interest in BrainSharper. But to sell a product, there needs to be a community at first. Therefore I decided that there will always be a free version of BrainSharper with a large enough feature set for the occasional user.</p> <p>If you like BrainSharper, you should <a href="" target="_blank">subscribe to the blog via RSS</a>, or <a href="" target="_blank">follow BrainSharper on Twitter</a>. And if you’d like to <a href="" target="_blank">share some ideas</a>, I am happy to collect them.</p>