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SVG Support (#1520)
Currently, when attaching an SVG file to a thought, TheBrain does not display any preview image. I'd like to request support for internal display of SVG images. You could easily accomplish this by rendering SVG files using the internal web browser.
Viewing Web Pages
Hi Harlan,

That does not work for me at all. When I tap on the icon, nothing happens. If I tap on it a few times, the number "1" sometimes appears on the icon, I guess indicating that there's one attachment. But I can't figure out any way to get it to display the web page.

Also, I'd like it to open web pages in an internal browser, rather than redirecting to Safari. And if it's not too much to ask, the internal browser should support 1Password, lol. 
Viewing Web Pages
Currently, to view a web link, you have to navigate to the attachments screen, then tap on the link, which then opens in Safari.

I'd like to propose something more closely approximating the desktop version. Tapping on an open thought should open the first attachment in an internal browser. The current action of opening the thought properties could be moved to a force touch or vice versa (should be user-configurable).
Suggestions to Improve Attachments
I have a couple of suggestions regarding attachments:

  1. Currently, the option to view attachments as tabs or as a list is a global setting. It would be much better if we could set a global default, but override the setting for individual thoughts. For example, I mostly use attachments for web links, which I want displayed as tabs. However, I just created a thought and dragged 600 font files into the thought as attachments. I want these displayed as a list, but if I change the setting, it will affect all my other thoughts as well. Another idea would be to have a setting to display attachments as tabs by default, but automatically switch to a list view if the number of attachments exceeds a certain number. In my view, the latter approach would be preferable, but maybe you could offer both options.

  2. I'd like the option to exclude attachments from indexing on a per-thought basis. In other words, attachments should be indexed by default, but in the thought properties, we could have a setting to exclude attachments from indexing. Going back to my example of 600 fonts, I don't want the font names showing up every time I do a search, as it creates clutter in the search dialog. I realize attachments are displayed in a separate section within the search results, but it's still too cluttered, as these font names now show up in many of my searches.

  3. An optional grid view would be a great addition, for thoughts containing large numbers of image attachments.
How to Make The Brain Useful as a Productivity Tool
Hi Harlan,

Thank you for your response. I totally understand your point and agree that migrating from Java to native apps is an enormous task, but certainly well-worth it in the long run. I emailed Patrick yesterday to commend him and your entire team for your great service and customer-friendly attitude. I mentioned that after using TheBrain for many years, version 8 was the first time I didn't renew my license. The reasons I cited were slow pace of development, lack of an internal web browser and the fact that it was still a non-native app.

After testing version 9 for a few weeks and after getting some encouraging feedback from Patrick and your team on the forums, I decided to jump back in and renewed my license. I'm happy to be back and looking forward to seeing more great stuff from you guys, in the months and years to come.
Popup Notes Editor

Currently, we have an option to display note icons on thoughts. However, the icons are non-functional; they simply alert you to the fact that a note exists.

It would be better if positioning the mouse pointer over the note icon would display the note content in a tooltip-style window.

Even better if you could double-click on the icon to open a mini note editor in a popup window. This would make it much more practical to use TheBrain in a non-maximized view and would eliminate the need to constantly slide the note panel open and closed.

Pasting Plain Text into a Note (#3946)
Hi Matt,

I've attached two files, spaces.txt and tabs.txt. We should be able to paste the content of either of these into a note and have it retain the exact same formatting as in the plain text file and no extra space between lines. Each line should be treated as an independent paragraph, so it can be indented independently of the other lines, but with 0px top/bottom margins, so the lines display single-spaced.
Pasting Plain Text into a Note (#3946)
Also, it seems to treat line feeds as <br> tags, rather than <p> tags, which means a pasted plain text block will always be a single paragraph. Thus, if you try to manually indent lines using tabs, it will indent the entire block, rather than just the line. I’ve also tried adding spaces manually and after adding the spaces, it snaps back, automatically deleting them.

Thus, the only way to make it work is to manually hit Enter after each line, forcing it to create a separate paragraph. Additionally, this has the negative consequence of creating extra vertical space between each line. Thus, depsite the inclusion of a Code Block style, the notes editor is pretty much useless for storing code blocks.
Pasting Plain Text into a Note (#3946)
When pasting plain text into a note, indentations are lost. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using spaces or tabs, it’s all trimmed. This is extremely annoying when pasting in code blocks. TheBrain has a nice style for code blocks, but you have to manually add the spaces to create indentations, after pasting in the code block.

Perhaps we could have an option to “Paste as Code Block” and/or “Paste Plain Text” that would retain the spaces and tabs. It would be nice if “Paste as Code Block” would both retain the spaces/tabs and apply the Code Block style in one step.
Miscellaneous Feature Requests for TheBrain 9 (#3935, #3936 and #3944)

Another approach for locked web links would be to make it so the user cannot navigate away from the locked page in the original attachment tab. Instead, all links on that page would open in a new attachment tab as an unlocked web link. From a UI perspective, this might make more sense, as it would be clear that a locked web link is literally locked on its URL.
Miscellaneous Feature Requests for TheBrain 9 (#3935, #3936 and #3944)
  1. An option to not display the brain name in the tabs, only displaying the thought name. I usually open multiple views to the same brain, so it's a waste of space and distracting to have to see the brain name in every tab.
  2. An option to not display the sync status or to display it much more discretely, perhaps a green dot that illuminates when syncing. Again, it’s distracting to have to view the full details of every sync as it’s happening.
  3. Add a lock/unlock feature for web links, with an option to specify the default state. If a web link is unlocked, the most recent page will automatically be saved as the location for the web link. If a web link is locked (the current behavior), the saved location will not change when navigating to other pages. Having the ability to unlock web links would allow for using TheBrain as an actual web browser, rather than simply a place to store and organize web links.
More Folder Import Options
I'd like to request additional import options when importing folder structures. The current behavior is to import folders as thoughts and files as attachments. Instead, I'd like it to display a dialog where the user can enter a list of file types/extensions that will be imported as their own thoughts, rather than as attachments.

The most obvious example is text files. These should be imported as thoughts, with the file content mapped to the Note field. Same for HTML files, RTF files, web archives, etc... For other files types like web bookmarks (webloc files), the bookmark would be the primary attachment to its own though, so it would display the web page immediately when activated.

I realize, of course, you can drag attachments out of thoughts manually, but when importing thousands of files, this is not a practical approach. Also, when dragging a text file out of a thought, it creates a new thought, but the text file is still an attachment to the new thought. TheBrain should be smart enough (pun intended) to recognize file types that can be rendered in the note viewer and automatically convert them from attachments to notes.
How to Make The Brain Useful as a Productivity Tool
zenrain wrote: In a standard outline format the sorting is incredibly easy to implement. However, in TheBrain, a thought can belong to multiple parents. 
So now we have a situation where the thought is in a list under one parent, however when switching to a second parent, the order has the option of being the default (basically NULL) or ordered with a different order than when under the first parent. Now add the fact that a thought can have limitless parents. The problem has to be tackled where a way to store the relationship and order based on the parent, must be stored separately from the thought, and link data, AND also synchronize to other machines (and the web interface) and be read and affect the output on the screen near instantaneously, while potentially scaling to millions of records.

You're way overcomplicating it:
  • Each node is a database record.
  • Since each node can have unlimited parents and since each parent can have unlimited children, this is a many-to-many relationship.
  • In a many-to-many relationship, there's an intermediate table, which contains a record for each parent-child relationship. This record stores information about the relationship between parent and child nodes.
  • In its simplest form, the intermediate table would contain two fields, child_id and parent_id. Thus, given any child_id, you can lookup the id's of all its parents. However, there's no practical limit to the number of fields each record can store.
  • Presently, the intermediate table stores things like link type, etc... It would be a piece of cake to add a new field called weight. This would represent the weight of the child in the context of that specific parent-child relationship and relative to all other nodes that have a relationship with that parent.
  • When the user clicks on a node, the database looks up all the children of that node to render the view. With a manual sort, each child would have a weight relative to that parent. If the node has multiple parents, it will store a different weight for each parent. Again, this information is stored in a table that already exists. It's just a new field in an existing table.
zenrain wrote:
Also, I LOVE DevonThink and use both. DT doesn't have even close to the same relational structure as TheBrain. DT is a hierarchical structure which allows replicants and duplicates to mimic files belonging under multiple folders.

You're correct in this regard, as DT does not allow for directly linking nodes. However, in the context of this discussion, it's a moot point. Each DT document can have multiple parents, just as each Brain thought can have multiple parents. The only difference is that since DT is folder-based, only folders can be parents. It doesn't make it any less complex, it's just a different way of organizing, likely a design choice to maintain compatibility with the underlying folder-based file system.
How to Make The Brain Useful as a Productivity Tool

I appreciate your fast responses and thank you for submitting these feature requests.

However, I want to add that I'm a developer myself and I work with relational databases all day long. Nothing I'm asking for is impossible or even particularly difficult in the context of a relational database; it's just a question of priorities. I've used TheBrain off-and-on since 2007 and I've always been impressed by the UI, but generally underwhelmed by the feature implementations.

Because I love the UI concept so much, I've tried many times to use TheBrain as my primary information store, but time and time again, I've run into these annoying limitations and awkward usability issues. I've gone back and forth multiple times between TheBrain and DEVONthink. Although DT lacks TheBrain's signature UI, it does almost everything else right. For instance, DT has the same relational structure as TheBrain, yet somehow they manage to provide manual sorting and node-specific views. So for the time being, I need to use the application that allows me to work efficiently, not the pretty application that constantly gets in my way.

It's my sincere hope that Harlan and your development team are able to address these shortcomings and elevate TheBrain to the world-class productivity tool it deserves to be.
How to Make The Brain Useful as a Productivity Tool
Hi Patrick,

Thank you for your response. I have some additional comments.

  1. You mentioned that thoughts can be sorted manually in an Outline view. I think you meant Expanded view, as the standard outline view does not allow for re-positioning thoughts. While it's true that thoughts can be manually positioned in Expanded view, that's not at all what I'm looking for. I don't want to be dragging thoughts around to manually position them, as that would quickly devolve into a mess. I want TheBrain to manage the layout and keep everything neat and organized, but I want the option to manually ORDER the thoughts. Do you understand what I mean about the difference between manual positioning and manual ordering?

  2. I read the forum posting about hidden ordering. It's better than nothing, but it's still a workaround, in much the same way that prefixing/suffixing thought titles with a comma is a workaround for creating unique titles. These are crude solutions for behavior that should be handled more elegantly by TheBrain. I go back to my original point about reordering. Even the most basic task management program allows you to drag/drop tasks to reorder them. Why can't TheBrain do this? Why do we have to make do with primitive solutions like manually typing numbers to order thoughts? It's nice that the numbers are hidden, but this is more like a temporary patch than a solution. After all the years of people asking for manual ordering, it's disappointing that this is what your development team came up with.

  3. Regarding switching views. Of course you can switch views quickly, but the new view is applied to the entire plex, not just the branch you're working on. Constantly having to manually switch views is not conducive to an efficient workflow. If I create a Mind Map, I shouldn't have to manually switch to Mind Map view every time I view the map. Same thing for task lists. A nice feature of version 9 is the ability to have multiple views open in different tabs. However, the view/ordering settings are still global. So I could have a task list open in one tab and a Mind Map in another tab and each time I switch tabs, I'd have to manually switch the view to the one appropriate to the selected tab. We should be able to assign views and ordering to individual thoughts and their ancestors and these assignments should be sticky, so whenever we return to the branch, the view automatically switches to the one we assigned.
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