Cornan
One of the things my grandfather level request (http://forums.thebrain.com/tool/post/thebrain/vpost?id=2953247&highlight=grandparent and http://thebrain.uservoice.com/pages/general/suggestions/78696) is meant to address is "empty plex syndrome" (see above in thread and below in this post).

In this example, because the lowest child "jquery.com" has no jump links and no siblings (and no children), making "jquery.com" the active thought results in empy plex syndrome.

An alternative to the grandparent level only for empty plex syndrome would be to allow the active thought to be moved to the singleton child without re-arranging the plex.

This might be less effort to implement than the grandfather level and would give some immediate benefit.

The only additional plex knowledge required would be to revert to today's behavior once the child acquired siblings or jump links.

Of course I would greatly prefer to see the grandparent level, but this would be a viable option for singleton children.

My apologies for abusing the word "singleton". Click image for larger version - Name: JQuery1_(active_group).JPG, Views: 241, Size: 39.13 KB Click image for larger version - Name: JQuery2_(empty_plex).JPG, Views: 243, Size: 33.87 KB
Click image for larger version - Name: JQuery3_(active_child).JPG, Views: 245, Size: 42.93 KB
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Darkstar

That's one of the benefits of expanded view. Your plex only fills up, it doesn't go from "lots of info" to "almost nothing", unless I reset it.

-Darkstar
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Cornan
I rarely use anything other than Normal View.  It seems that some people (not to say Darkstar, but in general) tailor Expanded View in what I think of a presentation, rather than navigation, mode of operation (inferring this from the recently added Save feature).  Personally I'm using the plex for navigation and visualization and want to see hierarchical relationships clearly displayed in an automatic and plex-filling way.

Normal View does needs to be spiffed up to show more thoughts in some cases, thus my grandparent request and my "halfway there" singleton suggestion, but Expanded View could be made to better display when in its automatic, navigation mode.

I recently re-organized an area of one of my brains and used Expanded View and Outline View to track down "errant" links and got some value from them, but I also see the problems with Expanded View almost every time I switch to it.

Here's what's "wrong" with Expanded View when used in its automatic, non-tailored mode of operation:

1) EV often gives too much weight to distribution around a point rather than parent-child links (in some cases it does pretty well), and doesn't use the visible dimensions of the plex (most often horizontal on a horizontal monitor)

2) EV has a kind of "Dark Energy" that pushes recent and distantly-related thoughts or parts of thoughts off screen.  This leaves "voids" and chops off thoughts at the screen edges.  It's frustrating to see a somewhat distant thought accelerate off the edge of the plex!

3) Links have to be expanded manually, either one by one or all at once.  It would help to have an "initial degree of separation" setting for Expanded View (i.e. show all thoughts 1, 2, 3... degrees of separation from the active thought)

"If you can't change the data to fit the universe, change the universe to fit the data"


Thus I've suggested that the Expanded View "plex gravity" (as I call it) be changed and/or be a user setting that might operate more on the horizontal plane, and would sometimes give more emphasis given to parent-child links and distant or recently accessed thoughts rather than just a "simple" distribution around a point.

I usually call this "Panorama Mode" and have thought that there could be a Panorama setting, perhaps on-screen control, that would smoothly adjust between the circular, non-hierarchical or weakly hierarchical mode and full horizontal Panorama Mode or even to vertical or diagonal modes of operation.

All of this relates to the automatic, browsing mode of the plex when used as a navigation tool and not to the unnamed "presentation mode" with one or more thoughts pinned on screen via the little tombstones.  One response to my grandparent request (lingering at #13 in UserVoice, so I have hopes!) was "why not arrange things in Expanded View", but this is 180° from the automatic navigation mode that I rely upon.


Let's return for a moment to the idea of a plex Panorama (or Gravity) Control.  This could be either a slider (horizontal plane only or Gravity / Dark Energy balance only) or an ellipse (to allow any orientation and control both orientation and Gravity).

The size of the ellipse could indicate the balance between Gravity and Dark Energy (and have nothing to do with the thought size controlled by the active thought's circle).

Gravity ::= the force bringing distantly-related or recently accessed thoughts into the plex
Dark Energy ::= the force pushing away those thoughts.  At maximum (today's setting), no recently-accessed or distant thoughts would remain in the plex

The orientation of the ellipse could skew the distribution of thoughts and along with it, the prominence of hierarchical links.  In other words, a circular gravity control would work exactly the same as today's plex, where the circular distribution around the active thought sometimes takes precedence over parent-child links.

Stretching the ellipse horizontally would tend to first spread the links from the active thought horizontally, thus allowing the hierarchical relationships among thoughts at additional degrees of separation to assert themselves.

I'm imaginging stretching the gravity control along a diagonal as well, which would then have something akin to an outline or tree effect.

Alternatively, the plex could be made to respond to the current shape of the displayed plex full time and then the Gravity Control would only control the balance between Gravity and Dark Energy, and thus the degree to which recently-accessed and distant thoughts would remain in view. Click image for larger version - Name: gravity_control.jpg, Views: 158, Size: 10.20 KB
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Cornan
Dyslucksia, have you given my grandparent idea on uservoice.com any votes yet?  I see its' crept up to 12th again, every vote counts at this point.


I think we're using PB because it's a generic tool, not strictly Mind Mapping or some other targeted functionality.

With a generic tool on their hands and a raft of divergent requests the PB team may have to decide just what PB is going to be / become (hopefully to include "profitable").  For me it's a navigation tool / free-form database and I've focused my input on navigation and database features. 

I see the manually crafted presentation mode of Expanded View as a valuable functionality that I just haven't needed yet, but we've got a roll paper DesignJet right here if we do!

I agree strongly on the formatting of the thoughts themselves (a string of text? really!).  Even within the confines of JavaScript and multi-platform compatibility it should be possible to spiff up the thought display to at least a text box (border type, color and weight would be nice attributes to add to the Type feature).  This could make a huge difference in the cosmetics.

Other than the thoughts themselves I don't find the graphics too bad, especially as I always use a tiled background and assign icons and distinctive background colors to my "higher level" thoughts (via Types and Super Types).

I worry that the PB team will move in the direction of a strongly-typed "formal" database, which might also make it harder to use my approach of using types for their display attributes, just as we've lost the use of tags as "non-displaying indexed text" (or have to settle for a long, rambling list of tags).

Like Dyslucksia I wish Expanded View Dark Energy would just go away, especially the aggravating way thoughts trundle off screen when there's plenty of room for them (Come back, Shane!).  On the other hand by now I instinctively think of ways to transition smoothly between current and future functionality, and that's how I've couched my arguments.  It also seems a good idea to put these settings in the hands of the users and not locked up in hard-coded parameters.

I suspect that adjustments to Dark Energy would be pretty easy, given that there is already clearly such a "feature".  Other changes to Expanded View to give recent thoughts some real estate and to give the hierarchical relationships a bit more breathing room might take a bit more work, but they would still be much more evolutionary than revolutionary.

With TheBrain.UserVoice.com having become somewhat congested I'm getting curious about the future direction for PB.

(See also my UserVoice suggestion Support dynamic vote limits based on activity / congestion; it's not faring nearly as well in their forum ).
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zenrain
I've found one thing that kinda helps with the flyaway is the Automatically Recenter setting under the Preference UI window. Generally I activate a thought, it brings it to the center and I have a chance to pin it before stuff goes shooting off. If I pin each thought hub that I bring up, it all stays pretty consolidated.

I do like the idea of limiting the flyaway. Similarly, the reaction of thoughts that aren't pinned when you bring in a new connected thought into the plex should be toned down or shut off if possible to do that and maintain the integrity of the plex at the same time (not have thoughts on top of each other).

The Google earth browsing interface is already available in Mindmaps. It's just not doable for PBs multi-parent and jump thought  situations. You can already see how difficult it is to display that in a meaningful manner in 2-D space (Expanded view). Implementing it in a fixed space mapping capability is, well, physically impossible, unless you add the third dimension. Once again, implementing a third dimension in a fixed space would be confusing at minimum, without directly controlling what relationships you are showing, which brings us full circle back to the normal - normal Expand All plex.

I guess as far as graphics are concerned, the plex is what you make it. If you keep the default settings, yeah, it's vanilla at best, outdated at worst. With the customization available both for the plex, thought Icons, and .css for notes, you have the capability to customize it so it's far more current, personalized, and, well, an extension of your workspace.

As with any software package, if it doesn't meet my needs then of course I will move on. Similarly, if I find something better I move on. There's nothing wrong with requesting more, but I've found that waiting/expecting my needs to be met down the line is pointless as it's now that I'm using it. It is what it is.
I happen to find it indispensible and enjoy discovering relationships and the ability to immediatly access information in context, but everyone has different expectations and requirements.
Windows 7
J-1.6.0_22
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OSX 10.6.3
Java SE 6
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Cornan
Agree with zenrain.  

I have a bit of a feeling that PB is the only game in town with this mix of hierarchical and non-hierarchical links, so I give it a bit of my time in the hopes of making a contribution and getting a better tool in the bargain.
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Darkstar

Well, I don't love Expanded View. But it is much better for my usage then Normal--- most of the time.

Expanded View's problem is that it tries to turn each "expanded" node into a "Normal Plex" arrangement--- and it puts these "normal plex"s it builds on a "tile". That's why you start off, everything is fine. You click a related link, and most of the info suddenly slides off. PB spawned a new "plex", placed it on its own imaginary tile, and makes sure that tile doesn't overlap in the slightest the first tile it generated. Relate per expansion, and you have a LOT of wasted space in the plex.

PB would be much better off if it dropped the tiling, and instead went with a proper weighting and repulsion method.

But, I don't expect TheBrain to actually change how things work in the Plex. In fact, I expect they won't at all, since TheBrain owns the patents on how the Plex graphically presents things.
-Darkstar
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FransJehoul
Conan,

I almost always use expanded view and i never save views because all the thoughts in the plex are arranged in a usable matter. If a group of thoughts are arranged left or right, on the top or the bottom isn't relevant (for me). Supertype/type (including Icon, Color ...) and linktype explains enough.

I use the mouse wheel to expand and then collapse the plex because i gives the plexengine the space to group thoughts in a sensible matter.



Regards,

Frans
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Darkstar

dyslucksia wrote:
I'd like to add two more suggestions. The first is: Why do we need this silly feature of moving the Plex up and down in Normal View (Shift+Up/Down)? It's just a toy. I can't be bothered playing with it. Scrap it. Instead, let the plex adjust to fill the Normal View space, spread out the thoughts and thus make it possible to increase the Distant Thoughts font size, but not along with that of Normal Thoughts. One of my pet hates is making normal font size gigantic just so I can read Distant Thoughts.

Now, slow down there, my friend! In normal mode, I use the "move the plex" up/down upon occasion. It's a great way to EXPAND the display area of the children or the parents. This is especially useful when you've got a lot of parents and the parent thought space is only displaying a couple of parent thoughts at a time.
-Darkstar
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FransJehoul
I agree with you Darkstar although i don't use normal view a lot.

Frans
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