I don't understand all the fuss about needing to have multiline thought names and labels, directional links, left and right jump gates, custom arrangement of thoughts, etc., etc., when one can already do it all. 

This layout was created entirely in Expanded View (EV), PB v5.5.2.4, in Windows XP.

It was not faked. You don't even need v6. Note the following:

1) The Plex background ([Background, center], [Background, top and bottom]) is black (my preference, but any single color will work though you will need to adjust the others to match).

2) [Thoughts, text shadow], [Active thought, outline], [Gates, normal] and [Highlighted thoughts, background] are black too. [Gates, highlighted] is green. Hiding otherwise empty ("normal") gates by making them the same color as the background turned out to be a great idea, resulting in a cleaner plex. Now, if you see a gate (green solid dot) you know there must be other thoughts attached to it.

3) Active Thought Indicator is turned off. [Active thought, resizing circle] is dark yellow (#DFDB00). [Links, normal] is dark red (#990000) to make them less prominent.

4) The solid arrowheads, as well as the small square marking the link angle between A and D, are symbol characters taken from the Windows Character Map. They are assigned to a thought type whose color is pure red (#FF0000) though you could darken them to the same color as normal links to make them less prominent.

5) I have also used a link type named Hidden whose color is - guess - black.

6) The second line of the multiline Thought A is really a separate thought, linked to the first line by a hidden link.

7) The right-pointing arrow between A and B is a thought whose name is the symbol character. Jump links connect it to A and B. Since no hidden thoughts are linked to it, its jump gate is "normal". Since, normal gates are hidden, it now doesn't matter a damn anymore whether thoughts have one or two jump gates - neither is visible.

8) The two orange "link labels" above and below the A-B link are actually orphan thoughts, so you can move them anywhere you like.

9) Thoughts B and C each have one highlighted gate (green). Even if C has 50 more children they are not visible to disrupt the pristine beauty of this Plex, because you have learnt to handle C with the R mouse button only. You cannot inadvertently expand a completely collapsed thought if you R-click it, only if you thoughtlessly, though intuitively, left-click it. If you happen to do so, drag it immediately, anywhere, before releasing the LMB, then it won't explode. Handle it with kid gloves, as you would a UXB. That is why you also see an:

10) Active thought (in blue, with Plex resizing circle around it). Every EV should have one, since otherwise you may find yourself stuck with no way to collapse a thought. Unless you're working on some other Thought, Active should always be active; save your EV this way too. In PB's current design, the only way you can collapse a thought is to make some other thought active first!. The catch-22 here is that if every other thought in the EV happens to be fully collapsed, you cannot make any others active without expanding them too. Admittedly in this example plex there are several other thoughts which are fully expanded, but why create needless worry for yourself when right from the start you can ensure that there will always be at least one thought you can activate without fear of anything happening? Hence the thought named Active. You don't have to attach it to anything; simply leave it as an orphan (as it is here). You can't lose track of it if it is always part of a saved EV.

11) Similarly, each line of the orange-colored link comments in the A-B and B-C links is a separate orphan thought. Sometimes I feel I'm running an orphanage instead of PB.

12) Just as other mind-mapping apps enable you to add "thought balloon" comments to the whole map, you can do this here in EV. The "All this might look..." comment in green again requires a separate thought for each line, but since they are also orphans they won't show up in Normal View to spoil it. Designing your EV should not be thought of as simply an extension of Normal or Outline view. It is a totally different ball game.

13) Since the only available arrow symbol characters I can find are left-right or up-down, an angled link such as A-D looks better than if I had connected A straight to D. Besides, you can append extra relational information at the angle thought in its thought label or its note, provided you insert appropriate symbology known only to you as a reminder that this information exists. As you are probably aware, PB can't tell you that your thought label contains text until you remember to hover over it. In the A-D link, the little box thought at the angle has A as its parent and the right pointing arrow, not D, as its jump.

14) As you can see, left/right arrows can be in the middle of a link (e.g., A-B) or at one extreme (A-D). In the latter case, there is a very short, hidden link between the R arrow and D. This is just so you can follow it back from Normal view. Of course, you could omit this hidden link so the arrow and D are actually not connected, and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference in EV.

15) When it comes to up/down arrows, it's a bit trickier due to the vertical offset between a thought's parent and child gates. Ingenuity to the rescue. Note the three tiny periods (...) to the left of the up arrow above Thought A, and the same to the right of the down arrow below thoughts C and D. These push the arrow in either direction so that its parent or child gate, as the case may be, is aligned with the center of the arrow. Unfortunately PB won't allow us to include leading or trailing spaces in thought names, so this is the next best thing.

16) Why hasn't the down arrow in the B-C link got the same three periods in its name? Because it's just an orphan thought placed to overlie the link! Do all vertical link arrows this way if you prefer.

17) I have not included bidirectional (left-right) arrow links but you should have all the information necessary to create them. BrainEKP may be able to display and manage directional links, but can it handle bidirectional ones? Now you can.

18) Last, if your starmap of the galaxy spreads across several EVs, you might prefer to subdivide it into several screenfuls to suit the size of your screen. In this way, no background dragging is required to view all of it. So to make life easier, I have added two "Go to EV (number)" thoughts simply to remind you which EV to load next. They can be orphans (as here) or attached to a thought.

More hints:

You should find "Create Duplicate Child Thought" quite helpful when working in EV, to clone arrowhead thoughts, etc.

Create types for thoughts such as arrowheads, link comments, map comments, Active and Goto labels, assigning a unique color (or icon) to each.

Don't forget to save frequently or you may have to start all over again.

And last, a wishlist:

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to:

- Lasso and move groups of thoughts (and associated links) at a time;
- Align links exactly horizontally or vertically if required;
- Align thoughts horizontally or vertically (left, centered or right);
- Find a Collapse tab on the Active Thought;
- When "Save Expanded View As..." opens, be shown a file directory box, not just a text field, enabling us to overwrite a previously saved view instead of having to type in the full name and then be told it already exists and do we wish to overwrite it?;
- Get PB to create angled links and add arrowheads parallel to the directions of existing links;
- Be able to click a shortcut attached to the "Go to EV #" thought and actually be taken there?

Alan Rhodes
Thanks for a very detailed description here of possibilities in the Expanded view. This is what we call a workaround.
TheBrain Slackware 14.2 KDE 4.10.3 Java 1.8 / (Windows 7)

Thanks jostber. Sad but true.

One little refinement has just occurred to me. If Automatically recenter is turned off, and the Active orphan thought occurs in every saved EV, it need not even be visible in the Plex to be useful. First, pin it. Then move it out of sight offscreen. Now, when you wish to collapse any visible thought in EV, click the Active pin which activates it offscreen. Now the thought you want to collapse will exhibit the Collapse tab.

This ensures that you will never have to hunt through the debris left by a thought that has gone nova to find Active - it will always be up there on the pin bar.  Another workaround.

Alan Rhodes

You want to create enclosures too? Why not.

First, create a pair of horizontal and a pair of vertical parallel links around the thoughts you wish to enclose (AA, BB, CC), as shown below. Use any short name for the thoughts at each end; I used upper case O. These thoughts began as orphans.

Now, create a type for the thoughts with the same color as the background (black) to make them invisible.

That's all there is to it! Unlike enclosures in some other applications, you can be more creative and have links leading into and out of the enclosure, as well as any combination inside. Truly, this is thinking outside the box. Another workaround.

In this example, there's no advantage in making the enclosure background a different color. Doing this might make thoughts and their links less visible as their colors were chosen to be seen best against the main plex background.

Alan Rhodes

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