bkonia
I have used PB for years and have tried virtually every other information manager application on the market. In the end, I've always come back to PB and I applaud the developers for the steady improvements they've made over the years. However, in the area of collaboration, PB is sorely deficient and so far behind the times that I feel the product is in danger of becoming irrelevant.

We live in a Web 2.0 world now and the days of standalone single-user information manager products are numbered. Everything these days is about teams and collaboration...both internal collaboration with company employees and external collaboration with clients, vendors, etc... I run a small company with about half a dozen employees. I would love to be able to create a company-wide knowledge base and project/team management system based on PB, but this is simply not possible. The best I could do would be to create a knowledgebase in PB and export it to the Web. This is far from an ideal solution as it provides no opportunity for other team members to contribute to the knowledgebase. The irony of the situation is that TheBrain Technologies is one of the pioneers in the area of collaboration. Brain EKP has been on the market for years, long before the Web 2.0 revolution and it's probably exactly what we need. However, with no price published on the website, I would guess that EKP is priced way beyond what my company could afford.

The point is, the technology clearly exists to do this today if the developers wanted to, but I haven't heard anything about any plans for adding collaboration features. I suspect that the TheBrain is hesistant to add these types of features to PB for fear of cannibalizing EKP. To that, I would say that there are certain "enterprise level" features in EKP that go beyond basic collaboration capability and would allow TheBrain to continue selling EKP at whatever stratospheric price they are currently charging for it. For example, EKP has the ability to create automated processes that are triggered by certain events. While I could probably find a way to use this feature in my business, I could certainly live without it. EKP also offers the ability to connect to all kinds of high-end datasources. Again, it's nice to be able to connect to external data sources, but I would be happy with just ODBC.

What I'm envisioning is an intermediate level product, that would be priced much closer to PB than to EKP. This product would essentially be the PB desktop client, but instead of the database residing on the user's local machine, it would reside on a network server. Ideally, the user could run in either local mode or networked mode and it would automatically sync the local database to the network database each time the user connected.

Presently, I'm using a product called MindMeister for my team collaboration efforts. I use PB to manage all my personal projects and MM to manage my team projects. MM is a fairly conventional mindmapping application, but its killer feature is that it allows users to collaborate in real time using its web client.  The mindmap literally updates in real time as other users make changes to it. MM also offers users the ability to work offline using the Google Gears framework. When the user goes back online, it automatically syncs the local database with the web database.

MindMeister hosts all your data on their servers and they charge a monthly per-user fee. Another idea for TheBrain would be to offer a subscription-based version of EKP. This would allow them to continue charging big bucks for purchasing EKP outright, but would make it more affordable for small teams to collaborate because they would be paying on a per-seat basis. Yet another idea would be to simply offer the existing version of EKP on a per-seat basis. This would allow customers to host their own EKP server, but would limit them based on the number of seats they purchase. Perhaps this is how EKP is currently offered. I have no idea because as I mentioned, there's no EKP pricing on the website and in my experience, that's never a good sign!
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jeffkowalski
I recall earlier proposals for "TeamBrain" to complement "PersonalBrain".  What became of that?


Jeff Kowalski
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simonb
Brad, you have absolutely summed up my huge frustration with PB. Not just for collaboration but for ease of access to a valuable information store, I would love to be able to simply access my Brain(s) on the web. Let's hope someone is listening to you.
Thanks,

Simon
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bkonia
If you feel that this would be a valuable feature, please vote for it!

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Cornan
I just had a co-worker ask about this a couple of days ago when I showed him PB.

Does Brain EKP allow multiple users to create and link thoughts?

Given the big price gap between PB and Brain EKP, there seems to me to be plenty of room for a group-enabled version ("Group Brain"?  "Collective Brain" for diehard Star Trek fans).

Such brains would probably grow into a thicket almost overnight, but unlike the other impenetrable forest I deal with almost daily (SharePoint), a "group brain" would likely generate as many links as content, and not be the black hole SharePoint becomes.

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zenrain
Ugh, I hate sharepoint.
Sorry to digress, back to the topic.
Windows 7
J-1.6.0_22
--
OSX 10.6.3
Java SE 6
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paulcampbell
This has my full and unreserved support!  I've been asking The Brain team about this for quite some time and have had many reassurances that Team Brain is on its way, but with no timeline confirmed.

I'm sitting on a KM need for a pretty large team who only have SharePoint (good grief!) micro/blogging and wikis to kelp them.  It's far from ideal.

Instead, just imagine a world where everyone you work closely with can share web resources, email messages, documents and notes; in a way that explodes great ideas out of hidden corners and guides you to unexplored, exciting new places you would never have thought were linked. 

And all from anywhere you work - via a web, desktop and mobile client, online and offline, all kept in synch.  Think of it as Evernote mated with DropBox, but on steroids!

The potential for generating new ideas, new business, new customers and huge success is massive.  You may even enjoy working with your team more (again!)

Btw, we did price EKP and it is (as you all expected) pretty expensive - tens of thousands I'm afraid.  I would hope that the "Team Brain" pricing model would offer a much smaller cost footprint.

If you want this too, PLEASE VOTE on their new user feedback service.
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dlorde
This is a major failing of PB for me too - never mind team collaboration, I want access to my brain from my main PC, my laptop, and my work PC, without having to close it whenever I may want to access it from elsewhere. PB should be active on the desktop of all machines I want to access my brain from. As MindMeister shows, concurrent database access for this kind of product is not impossible to manage and there are various strategies for managing potential clashes.
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Darkstar
In the days of old, a "Team Brain" was planned to go along with "Personal Brain". IIRC (and I may not), as Nartificial worked on that, its capabilities grew and it became "Brain EKG".

While waiting on "Team Brain", several people developed freeware that emulated or were inspired by "Personal Brain"--- but worked for multiple users simultaneously, and almost always, across the web.

You can still find those projects on the web... such as:
Lucid Fried Eggs and similar projects can be found at: http://www.pantha.net/index.php?NodeID=17

Some of those products have since gone on to become their own major products. For instance, transLucid, which is available from:
http://www.pantha.net/index.php?request=displaypage&NodeID=2

It does collaborative sites for PersonalBrain and MindMappers. Although I don't know how it does with PB version 4 and 5, since it was developed to work against PB 3 (back when TheBrain "stopped" doing anything with PB for that--- what? 7 years? 10 years? of nothing--- no support, no sales link, and sometimes not even a mention on the company's website.)

I know that some "Cloud" sites offer online collobaration (wiki, blogs, etc), for free or for low cost, such as http://zoho.com/. Althought I don't know how well Zoho would work for a small group, and it doesn't do PB at all. But, the right tool for the right task.
-Darkstar
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ShelleyHayduk
TheBrain is working on a collaborative version PersonalBrain. Of course, this is something we are thinking about and developing. (Therefore I can't resist this post  

Right now BrainEKP does offer advanced Web based collaboration, multi-tiered access control, group administration, LDAP integration and indexing technology but is it designed for large scale corporate use. It requires a Windows server and either Oracle or SQL database. So yes, there is a chance that it is overkill for small work groups but utterly amazing for large scale content management.
 
There is a noted jump in requirements and price between PersonalBrain and BrainEKP. Our next collaborative product will be designed and priced for peer to peer collaboration. Small user groups will have an affordable solution and it will be easy to gett started and share your Brain.
 
Regarding PBs history, PersonalBrain was always on the company site, developed and supported. It remains and always has been the company's flagship product.

In early 2000 there was a period where the code base of version 3 was rewritten from the ground up. So less activity at that time, forsure, while under massive development. Then PersonalBrain 4 was released with our next generation architecture. Which is why version 4 is so far ahead of version 3 and we are now pumping out the new versions, adding as much functionality as we can and will continue to do so. So stay tuned for more beta releases....


Shelley
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Darkstar
Shelley, PB was not your flagship product for many years. I used to come by, once a year, and check the company site out, checking for new updates to see if the fixes for any of the bugs in PB 3 had been posted. Nartificial publically abandoned PB. Several times, users in the PB forums had to contact the company DIRECTLY to BUY a copy of PB because there was not even a MENTION of PB on Nartificial (which later became TheBrain)'s web site.

Now, there was lots of cool information on the corporate site--- such as about the WebBrain, and how different major sites were using Site Brain (and later the BrainEKP) and how you guys could make such great things for other companies (serious enquiries only, contact for price estimates for the job).

I used to report all the bugs I found, even back then. I still have several of my old contact infos for several of the developers and other support member, from Harlan downward. And that entire time, PB languished on the back burners (I know there were always plans to do various things with PB, and that some had even started up at least the initial phases, due to occasional email correspondance with some of the Nartificial employees). Sometimes, you had to know the actual URL to download PB if you needed to download another copy of the program from the corporate site, because it was not listed at all on the web site. Other times, you had to know the solitary deeply nestled page where the PB info sat to get to the download. That is not "FLAGSHIP". Flagship is ALWAYS featured, and usually on your the front page, because that's your money maker--- that's the product paying the company's rent and feeding the workers' families. PB was not that for several years. How could it be? You didn't have a solitary "Buy here" or "Buy it from..." links on the company site! Not even a basic "Find our product at these great retailers!" page!

A lot of the original core users moved on to other products or ways of working, due to those years of no apparent support. It seemed to most of the PB support communities that PB had been abandoned, while the company was focused elsewhere (or at least, while the public face made it seem that way). Harlan even come by a couple of times back then, just to let us know his company still had plans for PB, and would be soon be starting on the next generation of PB, that waiting would be well worth it for what they planned to do to PB to make it even more useful.

TheBrain has gone through a lot of different phases over the past, what? 14 years? That's a good thing, as growing companies go through changes. But it isn't true that PB has always been a featured product (let along a FLAGSHIP product) for the company--- despite it being the very first one. I'm glad you guys are back to being able to give it some developer love and attention. The new versions of PB are truly great software products, IMHO.
-Darkstar
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fjgrijalva
Software documentation was also scant around 1999-2000 when I started using PB. As you can see, we are a bunch of persistent PB lovers.
Fernando
PB 6.0.7.9 Pro - Win 7 Pro
J-1.7.0
25,000+ Thoughts; 155,000+ Links
user since 2000
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jostber
Collaboration features and the possibility to link brains would be very welcome and more.




TheBrain 8.0.2.0 Slackware 14.1 KDE 4.10.3 Java 1.7.0_25 / (Windows 7)

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Tracy
wow, it's terrific to see just how long many of you have been using PersonalBrain!

PersonalBrain is definitely a focus now.
Tracy Barr
TheBrain Technologies
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Darkstar
Personal Brain is a great product. I'm loving all the advancements its gotten since PB 3. Looking forward to seeing what else is slipped in the future.
-Darkstar
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