joshsullivan
I'm loving the new markdown editor in TheBrain, so thank you very much for implementing it.

I would like to suggest a new button in the notes pane that will switch the notes pane from view to edit modes, therefore allowing the user the keep the notes pane in preview mode. The toggle would allow us to select and copy the formatted text from the notes pane quickly, as currently when you click in to select text, it changes to edit mode. I do know about the Open in Browser preview, but I feel this would be a far better implementation. I personally would prefer a button in the tool bar, that has a keyboard shortcut to quickly toggle between the two modes.

I would prefer all notes with text in them open in preview mode (empty notes should open in edit mode), so a global setting should also be added for those who prefer notes in edit mode vs preview mode when they are clicked into or highlighted.

Cheers,
Josh
TheBrain 11 Alpha Channel
Windows 10 2004 Enterprise
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Harlan
Hi Josh. So glad to hear your feedback on the editor. It was a significant undertaking.

What is the primary reason why you would like a manual way of switching into edit mode? Are you having trouble selecting text? The way it is now, you should be able to select text without the mode changing until you release the mouse button. Or do you just find the appearance of the markdown tags distracting once you have finished selecting text?
Regards,
-Harlan
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joshsullivan
Hi Harlan,

When I do the highlight without clicking into the notes pane, then copy (via keyboard shortcut, so I don't have to release the mouse), it doesn't copy the formatting of the preview, just the raw markdown, meaning if I paste it into a RTF doc, it will have the raw markdown, not the preview formatted text. If there was a preview mode, it would allow for copying of the formatted text immediately.

This happened on .87, and now .88 on Windows.

Cheers,
Josh
TheBrain 11 Alpha Channel
Windows 10 2004 Enterprise
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Harlan
What you want is "Copy as HTML" (from the notes context menu when text is selected). This will copy and keep formatting intact when you paste into another application that supports HTML formatting (such as Word). This will work regardless of whether the document is in `edit` or `view` mode.
Regards,
-Harlan
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joshsullivan
Thanks @Harlan, that works.
TheBrain 11 Alpha Channel
Windows 10 2004 Enterprise
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mcaton
Good to hear. Thanks for confirming.

Matt
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PhilM

As I have said before, I strongly agree with most of the design decisions and implementations made by the folks at TheBrain. However ...

  • As noted elsewhere in the Forum, "Copy as HTML" does not work when trying to paste that data into NotePad or NotePad++. Harlan notes that Copy as HTML works in "application[s] that supports HTML formatting (such as Word)." My experience is that you can open pretty much anything with a competent text editor, including HTML files -- because HTML files are text files. All the "formatting" in HTML files is expressed in text tags (and character codes). I do that quite frequently with NotePad++.
  • "Copy as HTML" does work for me when pasting that data into an OpenOffice text document or into a SeaMonkey Composer document. The HTML-coded data I paste into Composer from a Brain Note is perfect in Composer's WYSIWIG editing mode and it looks very clean when viewed in Composer's "View HTML Source"  mode. If I copy that HTM-coded text I can paste it into my text editor. So I don't understand TheBrain's special treatment that prevents me from copying directly from Note text (coded in Markdown) using Copy as HTML into many other applications.
  • I still don't understand the integration of Markdown as essential functionality in TheBrain. HTML was designed from day one as -- and continues to be used globally as -- a text-based format that can be used in any application that -- ideally but not necessarily -- understands the very simple syntax of HTML markup. (I prefer the more rigorous XHTML.) Multiple free HTML editors exist, so I see no advantage of any sort to using Markdown. I see only added complexity and problems of legibility and editing ... and, as we have seen since the introduction of Markdown in TheBrain, problems of compatibility with text editors -- which is head-scratching to me.
  • Why not integrate one of the free HTML editors into TheBrain? Of course, there must be issues with that choice that I don't understand. I am not a programmer, unless you count simple PERL scripts.
  • From W3: "XSLT stands for XSL Transformations. This tutorial will teach you how to use XSLT to transform XML documents into other formats (like transforming XML into HTML)." Or XHTML into a variety of markups. There's a lot of support for XSL and XSLT out there. From what I have seen, XSLT is simpler than PERL and is syntax-aware.
  • Thank God for SeaMonkey Composer, but I would like to insert HTML-coded TheBrain Notes directly from the Windows Clipboard into any other application.  I don't want a multi-step process!
  • I'm willing to bet that even the developers and support staff at TheBrain sometimes want to use a text editor to look at the HTML-coded text generated by the "Copy as HTML" feature. I certainly do.
  • It appears that if you open the Notes.md file associated with a Thought, it is all (or mostly) in Markdown. (I did see several <br> codes.)
  • Do people actually exchange [potentially error-filled] Markdown files when they can exchange the HTML files that "Markdown processors" (or validators) are designed to generate? Do people actually use Markdown-coded data in databases?
  • Unfortunately, this topic has been discussed at length in the Forum, so I do not hold out hope from the folks at TheBrain for a true HTML Notes option.

But thanks for your continued support.

Phil Murray

TamingComplexity.org

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mcaton
Phil,

Thanks for posting. I'll document the request to have the Copy as HTML feature be compatible with Notepad ++

Thank you,
Matt
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Harlan

The reason the copy command does not work as you expect is because if it did you would not be able to paste into word processors or other WYSIWYG editors - it would paste the text of the HTML instead. I think what are looking for is “copy as HTML source”.


There are many advantages to markdown, too many to get into right now but I’m sure others will weigh in.


There are so many problems with writing notes as HTML... Versions 9 and 10 used one of the most popular HTML editors available and we put years of work into fixing it and customizing it. In the end we (TheBrain company and our customers) were still very unhappy with it. HTML was never intended as a medium for composing text in and the fundamental design of it has severe limitations that make it extremely clumsy to adapt to that purpose. 

Regards,
-Harlan
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PhilM
Harlan --

> I think what are looking for is “copy as HTML source”.

Yes. That is how I should have phrased it. Thanks for clarifying that.

> There are many advantages to markdown, too many to get into right now but I’m sure others will weigh in.

I would really like to hear about Markdown from others, because I just can't see that.

I would also be interested in knowing which HTML editor you used in Versions 9 and 10. I complained a lot about those implementations, too, especially since I really liked the Notes editor in Version 8.

> HTML was never intended as a medium for composing text

That's a very simple, broad assertion. I am sure that it does not reflect the richness of your thinking on the topic. So I respectfully but strongly disagree with that assertion as it stands -- in isolation and out of context -- because HTML was designed explicitly as a medium for composing relatively simple text to be communicated online among scientists.

But HTML was not designed as a markup language for conventional print publishing. After the rapid acceptance of the first graphical Web browsers, HTML was hacked relentlessly in efforts to make Web pages look like [pretty] print pages. (As simple as HTML was, the treatment of tables was actually very good.)

Like many with publishing backgrounds, I was appalled by the sloppiness and limitations of HTML. But simplicity usually wins. And I gradually accepted those limitations, because the alternatives -- especially Microsoft Word -- were a nightmare of complex, structureless incompatibility.

I have worked with a range of composition systems, including Latex, Scribe, Ventura Publisher. I contributed to the design of coding for the Xyvision publishing system, which was widely used by corporate publishers. And I managed production at a small shop that had implemented a unique OCR input process for foreign-language and mathematical book publishing via an ATEX [newspaper] publishing system.

I studied SGML when it first appeared. I participated in the design and implementation of an SGML "application" for the Wall Street Journal. I moved on from print publishing to hypertext (pre-WWW hypertext, that is.) Then to what is broadly known as "knowledge management" ... and systems to support my view of KM. After many not-so-satisfying experiences with a wide range of "knowledge mapping" and "concept mapping" tools, I ultimately settled on TheBrain.

So I have a lot of strong opinions (AKA preconceptions) about what's good and what's not in systems of markup, editing, and publication for complex documents, online documents, and representation of practical knowledge.
 
But, moving forward ...

What ultimate formats do users of TheBrain want? I'm genuinely curious. A lot of folks consider Microsoft Word and PDF the gold standard for publishing information. PDF is obviously useful for distributing some documents with complex formats, but Word is just ghastly.

I want clean, stylesheet-free XHTML in my sources, most of which are simply-formatted 500- to 1500- word texts that may be re-used in a variety of contexts. So do many other people. Because, of course, HTML is the format of the most widely used publishing platform in the world.

I may have asked this before, but I would like to have suggestions from TheBrain users for web sites and forums devoted to what I refer to as "representation of practical knowledge for people" -- not to be confused with the interest of the KR folk who specialize in ontologies for computer interpretation of texts.

Phil Murray

TamingComplexity.org



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Harlan
Hi Phil,

> > HTML was never intended as a medium for composing text

> That's a very simple, broad assertion. I am sure that it does not reflect the richness of your thinking on the topic. So I respectfully but strongly disagree with that assertion as it stands -- in isolation and out of context -- because HTML was designed explicitly as a medium for composing relatively simple text to be communicated online among scientists.

Thank you for your very civilized disagreement with what I agree is a broad assertion... I respect and appreciate your deep background on the subject matter. It is really wonderful to have people like yourself as customers.

I started writing a response to the post and suddenly it was over 1,000 words. So I decided to convert it to a blog post which you can read here. I hope it answers your questions and I am glad you prompted me to explain some of our reasoning.
Regards,
-Harlan
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DavidGretzschel
@Harlan
Thank you for posting that, it was very interesting.
I have no experience with TB 10. And I do like using something more feature-rich than plaintext.
And the HTML-editor issues sound like things, I'd hate.
And I like typing out Markdown tags, rather than using a keybinding.

I have no idea, how many people use TheBrain for publishing, though.
And I expect that anyone who doesn't need what the core Markdown audience needs, is at least a bit annoyed by how it looks, at the moment.
There might be a lot to like about Markdown especially for publishing, but most of what I write in TheBrain is for myself.

For me there is no Markdown-style divide between writing/constructing an article as the writer and reading it as the reader.
I don't write articles in TheBrain.
Reading what I wrote and writing is one continous process.
It's all about making sense of the current moment or planning and referring back to that plan within a day.
Or actions and steps within a project.

Stream of consciousness would be like:
Plan the day, what to do now, insert timestamp, add project-text link via keybinding (I never click them, but I do enjoy them having this visible blue reference) to specify what project I want to tackle, make some tasks, add some nested/tabbed subtasks, insert timestamp, [actually do the tasks, normally outside of TheBrain or at least that document], go back and tick off, rearrange, add more tasks.

I use headers and color for prestructured templates and I appreciate the added structure a lot.
I tend to type out Markdown directly, mostly *asterisks* for bold or # for headers. I do enjoy typing them, but there is no need for me to see them after.

I tend to not bother pressing ctrl+s, when I read one sentence, to have the document look prettier for a couple seconds,
only then to press ctrl+n again, to type again with "full Markdown control". Rather ugly text than extra keypresses.
And the ability to quickly rewrite a bold word (or just adding a plural s to it) is more important to me than seeing where a tag ends.
Having the tags visible also means having to go around the tags, which is often not convenient.

@PhilM
re: what format do I want

Depends on the work. I don't think I would write things for publication in TheBrain.
It's mostly personal project management/time management stuff.
Markdown would be perfectly fine especially with the added color options.
Typing out tags is pretty neat. I just don't need to see the MD-code itself.
A lot of what I write into the Brain refers to other Thoughts, that are also in TheBrain.
Things like Thought-text-links are important to me.
If there are more and greater features coming along those lines in v12, as has been alluded to,
and Markdown makes that possible, then that's definitely all worth it.

One day I'll get around to learning Mathematica and that can do marvelous, interactive things,
that I certainly wouldn't expect TheBrain to support. If I needed "fine control" and mathy stuff, I'd write in Latex at the moment.
I don't like Latex, but I admit that is mostly due to lack of effort invested into properly getting good.
At the moment, I can't imagine doing math other than on paper. (and perhaps on my new tablet)

I also dislike PDFs, as there's no single good way to extract math into my SRS system.
(which admittedly is the worst useful piece of software ever created)
And everything my university will throw at me is in PDF form, because that's what you generate with Latex.
I do really appreciate, that Adobe Scanbot can digitize formal paper work with integrated OCR, though.
This makes PDF definitely a very good format for digitizing paper, which I then can integrate into TheBrain as a Thought Attachment.

I'm getting into blogging and there I don't know yet. The new WordPress Gutenberg editor has codeblocks and users say it's either brilliant or terrible and I'm mostly just confused. Maybe I could write blog posts in TheBrain and post them into WordPress, but that's too soon to tell.

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How to use TheBrain 11 fast (work in progress)

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PhilM
Harlan --

I will attempt to honor the spirit of Blaise Pascal's thought, "I only made this letter longer because I had not the leisure to make it shorter.”

The blog post was great, Harlan. It takes a lot of work to get to simple. And clear.

I, too, run into issues of cursor placement in WYSIWYG HTML editing. That happens frequently when changing text style -- for example, from bold text back to plain text. Going to the underlying HTML markup to fix such instances is a royal pain, even in a good HTML editor.

We share a dislike for the nightmarish HTML coding generated by MS Word.

One problem I encounter is using an older, slower Windows desktop. I get some funny effects when editing Notes in Version 11. Time to do more of my work on my new Surface Pro 7. I make good use of TheBrain's sync service.

I do almost all of my writing in Seamonkey Composer, including this response, and I still like Composer a lot. But pasting from Composer into a Note works beautifully in the current version (11.0.103.0) of TB, so I can still use the tool I am accustomed to most of the time. I will try to be more aware of specific cases in which Markdown would make my life easier.

Confession: Sometimes HTML coding of text on Web sites is so nightmarish that I just copy the passage as codeless text and start from scratch in SeaMonkey Composer. That might be one of the cases for which Markdown would provide an advantage.

Part of my preference for HTML is my familiarity with it. I know what can go wrong and I know how to avoid or resolve most problems related to HTML markup.

Thanks very much!

Phil Murray
TamingComplexity.org
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LuizAlfredo
Harlan wrote:
Hi Phil,

> > HTML was never intended as a medium for composing text

> That's a very simple, broad assertion. I am sure that it does not reflect the richness of your thinking on the topic. So I respectfully but strongly disagree with that assertion as it stands -- in isolation and out of context -- because HTML was designed explicitly as a medium for composing relatively simple text to be communicated online among scientists.

Thank you for your very civilized disagreement with what I agree is a broad assertion... I respect and appreciate your deep background on the subject matter. It is really wonderful to have people like yourself as customers.

I started writing a response to the post and suddenly it was over 1,000 words. So I decided to convert it to a blog post which you can read here. I hope it answers your questions and I am glad you prompted me to explain some of our reasoning.


Well explained. Thanks. 
L.A.G.M.
Quote
PhilM
David --

re: what format do I want


Thanks for taking the time to reply. Everything you wrote makes good sense.

My short-term goal is to publish a "knowledgebase" devoted to healthcare issues in America -- as a Web Brain. But I also use TB as a way of tracking almost everything I research or think about ... in one place. Because I sure do forget a lot of stuff -- including connections among things.

If I were doing math, I'd probably check out the Amaya browser/editor. I don't remember (There it is again.) whether it is like TeX products philosophically. I'm sure it's more interactive, but that isn't always a plus.

I reviewed Donald Knuth's TeX for publication many years ago, comparing it to other composition options of the time. He was kind enough to review my draft thoroughly. He even critiqued my writing in spots.

That's the kind of response you get from many of the truly great people out there. Remarkable.

Phil Murray
TamingComplety.org
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