Do you have documentation for TheBrain 9? (I can't find it). It will help your users to understand what they can do with your app. Moreover, they will message you  if documented features doesn't work - it will help you in testing.  

I am really hoping to see documentation for v9. It seems to be very well-behaved over all, but I definitely learn better when I have comprehensive "how to" material I can study. Any word on this?

Hi Alex,

With regard to a manual, we are not planning on creating such a beast for a few reasons...

  • The design philosophy from the beginning has been "If it needs a manual, it's wrong" 
  • The software evolves too quickly for us to keep it up to date easily
  • Most people don't read manuals anymore (right?)

We've tried to include all of the "less discoverable" features in the list of tips that are included with the application. Also, the new round of tutorial videos that are in the quick-start brain (Help > Create a Quick-Start Brain) is going to be fairly comprehensive when it is complete.

Cheers, Sean
Wow! This is quite a surprise since I am one of the people who DOES read the manual, and I've never used a sophisticated task/information management application that didn't have one.

That said, I do think the "Quick Start (video) Brain" is great idea, and I'll look forward to reviewing the finished version when it is released.

In the meantime, though, one of the most common ways I typically use a manual (after my initial review) is a quick search on individual words to drill down and get very specific "how to" details. Looks like this kind of targeted search is not going to be possible if we no longer have a manual -- unless you plan on providing some kind of comprehensive index with the Quick Start Brain?
I'm sorry, maybe I am a special kind of stupid, but I don't think that for example the dialog you get when you click on a link is all self-explanatory. I don't even think that new users would know what features are available, for example the one-way-button in said dialog. Not only discovered I this button somewhat late, it also tricked me the first time after it seemed to do nothing at first and later, when I came back from the other thought, I just could not find the first thought. (I thought it just adds arrows to the links so you could visualise some relations with it and I don't expected it to hide thoughts if you are looking from a special direction)

I work in software testing myself and I know that developers hate writing documentation, but I think you should at least have something that explains the concepts and functionalities. Maybe today a lot of people need YouTube-Explaining-Videos like from sesame-street, but I prefer also some documetation to read an in which I am able to look things up, search and have an index. Call me old-fashioned, but TB is no CandyCrush for relaxing but an not-too-cheap-software to be used as a tool, and I like to know my tools well to put them to best use.
shatcher wrote:
The software evolves too quickly for us to keep it up to date easily.
Also, the new round of tutorial videos that are in the quick-start brain (Help > Create a Quick-Start Brain) is going to be fairly comprehensive when it is complete.
So, the software evolves too quickly for you to update the written documentation but you'll be able to update your tutorial videos? [confused]
Most people don't read manuals anymore (right?)
Did they ever read manuals?? In any case, most people don't use TheBrain so the question is: What do most TB users want, especially new users? If you're trying to please the old-timers (who already know all the important features) then there's little reason for written documentation, especially if there are few new features. But, for a new user, all features are new, and as Mudhenn points out, TB is an expensive tool, not a game.

As a comparison of written documentation, Evernote has 200 million users (as of July 2016) and this is what they provide: Evernote Help & Learning.

I agree with you completely, Mudhenn. Thanks for taking time to share your feedback on this issue.

Even with the more "streamlined" interface in TB9, there are still so many "hidden" features and functions in software that I'm not sure documentation in the "tips" will be adequate. (If nothing else, the tips don't include a search function or an index.)

In fact, the more I've thought about this, the more the logic here eludes me:
> If the "less discoverable" features in TB9 can be adequately documented in the tips, then why would creating a manual (with an index) be such a "beast" of a task?
> Conversely, if creating a manual really is a beastly task, then how could the tips ever adequately capture everything that otherwise would have been included in a manual?

I'm also confused by Sean's comment: "The software evolves too quickly for us to keep it up to date easily."

I do realize that creating documentation is a demanding and exacting challenge. However, in this context, it seems like one (obvious?) solution to keeping the manual updated would to put the user guide documentation online in a brain where it could be maintained as a living document and regularly updated as the software evolves.

In fact, I thought TheBrain was already moving in this direction with the creation of this online knowledgebase for TheBrain 8:

I hasten to add, I understand the intention now may be for TheBrain 9 Quick Start brain to serve as this "User Guide" -- and I personally do like the videos provided in this brain. However, in it's current form, the Quick Start Brain does not include a detailed index, and it cannot be dynamically updated if it is provided as a downloadable template rather than as an online web brain resource.

In addition, since individual users have already attempted to provide "user guide" documentation for TB8 in their own web brains, this suggests to me there may be more than a few users would find an online "brain" manual to be of value of TB9:

Finally, I confess I'm also concerned about the fundamental design assumption Sean mentioned:
> "If it needs a manual, it's wrong".

I understand there are benefits to having a clean and streamlined user interface. However, if this particular assumption has been the guiding principle for the development of TB9, then this may actually confirm concerns that have been shared elsewhere in this forum that too much simplification of the user interface may actually run the risk of "dumbing down" the entire application.

Since TheBrain has historically been unique in its class, with a rich, versatile and customizable feature set, I do hope the long-term development of TheBrain 9 will follow in this tradition -- and I do hope reconsideration will be given to the merits of providing more detailed documentation for those users who want to take full advantage of all the great tools and features TheBrain has to offer.


Looks like you and I were responding at the same time.

Just now saw your post, and I agree 100%! ;-)
Thanks metta.

Some more comments about this: The design philosophy from the beginning has been "If it needs a manual, it's wrong" .

It's wrong if you need written instructions to do the basics. But, it's wrong not to provide written instructions for advanced functions.

The iPhone set the standard for complex technology that is easy to use. Guess what? There's an iPhone User Guide, along with lots of information on the iPhone Support website

Thanks everyone for providing the feedback.  I'll be sure to pass along your requests for written documentation to the write (pun intended) people [smile]

Matt Caton
Many thanks, Matt!

Always appreciate your supportive feedback and consideration of user requests. :-)
I'll take responsibility for trying to speak for everybody. Thank you all for the well thought out and clear comments. As Matt said, we truly value your feedback and will pass along your requests for written, searchable documentation.

Cheers, Sean
Thank you too, Sean, for your support and consideration.

I always appreciate how open TB staff are in response user feedback, and I'm grateful for your availability here to help as we are all learning what the new TB9 has to offer.
It is good to know that TB staff are listening. However, it seems quite bizarre that users have to *ask* for documentation. Software would have to be very simple to have all the features visible on the screen at any one time. The manual should be seen as part of the product, and writing of the manual as part of the development process, not an optional extra. This misapprehension is common - there are other software packages that would be useful if one could find out how to use them.
Although it appears logical from this forum feedback, from an actual support standpoint it isn’t. 
The actual number of people who use the documentation vs number of users is very low. I would estimate between 5-15% based on working for a software company and creating documentation and supporting customers. 
For a small company this means it’s barely worth it. The time it takes to create (which is a longer process than people think) could be spent documenting issues, creating videos, supporting customers etc. 

Not only that, but the software is in a period of rapid change right now. This means it is not at all efficient to complete the documentation as it will just have to be revised again and again and again. Most likely if they do decide to create a manual it will be released quite a while after the beta is finished.  
macOS 10.13
TheBrain 9.0.250

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