spetman
I'm a long-and-loyal Brain user, love it, and can't imagine a day when I won't use it for many things, both personal and professional; I believe 'organization' is the foundation of 'intelligence' so tools like TheBrain are unquestionably vital daily-use tools for folks who want and need a flexible way to capture, keep track of, organize, and dynamically explore many things (and, vitally, understand the relationships between those things). TheBrain is a superb 'universal/generic' tool which can be applied to any topic, but by definition it isn't (significantly) optimized or oriented towards some more-specific use cases like roadmapping, strategic enterprise management, project management, decision-support, etc. I recently discovered a cool cloud product which could be an outstanding complementary/additional product for Brain users, since I think Brain users would quickly take to it as I have, when they have needs around some of these specialized use-cases: SharpCloud. The foundational concepts of SharpCloud are eerily similar to the Brain's: SharpCloud has Items (which are basically 'Thoughts') that have a Category (which are 'Thought Types'), and any Item can be related/linked to any other Item in any way (just like the Brain's 'Links'); the Relationships can also be defined and customized (like TheBrain's link types). All sorts of 'Attributes' can be defined and highly customized (aka Brain tags). So the foundation is basically the same (with more customization available in SharpCloud, to be honest) but SharpCloud offers additional ways to visualize and present the content rather than 'just' the 3 views of TheBrain (Normal, Outline, and Mindmap); of course, the SharpCloud views are (on purpose) more static views than the 'exploration-oriented' views of the Brain due to what they are designed to provide, which is different 'pivots' around the information with the different layers of information shown in different ways. Users can define the views with both static and dynamic filtering capabilities, and content can be updated and linked by dragging things around on the views. In conclusion, I think it's a very cool and useful product that Brain users might also love if they have some of the special needs which TheBrain isn't optimized for handling - my helpful tip for the day!
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metta
@spetman ~

Fabulous tip of the day! Ã°Å¸â„¢â€š Thanks for sharing, Thomas.

I'm definitely interested in taking a closer look. However, SharpCloud appears to be an enterprise application -- and, with a quick search, I could not find any pricing info.

Are you, by any chance, using a free student account? Or, can you point me to any of their current pricing details?
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metta
@spetman ~

Thomas, I've just now spent quite a bit of time reviewing several of the SharpCloud videos -- and I'm tremendously impressed! Can't wait to dive in and begin testing....

In light of this, I wanted to ask you now:
> How long is the free trial?
> How reliable (bug-free) have you found this software to be?
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Cerebrum
@metta,

Take a look at this page: https://www.sharpcloud.com/pricing

If you click on "Small Business", you'll see the pricing at $600/year, with a 10-day free trial.
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spetman
I've been using a free/trial account provided by a sales rep heavily for about a month, exploring for a possible enterprise buy, and have found it very solid and stable (though I can't claim to have gone deep in every corner of the functionality) - and I've generated out a few different 'stories' now with a lot of content (a 'story' within SharpCloud is basically akin to a specific topic-focused Brain, with its own categories, views, and other configuration). SharpCloud is one of those finds where I already feel like it's making me more successful in managing my work; my fellow managers and employees have been wowed by it and we're having sessions where we dynamically add to it. As far as pricing, everyone has different budgets but I've always found that investments in tools that help you organize and make smart decisions always pay off, which is why I happily fork over the annual fee for TheBrain, despite it being more expensive than some other tools (a topic covered by other folks already on other parts of the forum). 'One smart decision' can make or save thousands, right? To each their own, but I'll be using both TheBrain and SharpCloud going forward, assuming they don't converge down the road to a point where they totally overlap of course (which would be one hell of a tool for certain!)
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metta
@Cerebrum & @spetman ~

Thank you both for your prompt and helpful feedback. It does look like SharpCloud will provide great value in terms of decision-making in a business context....Will definitely take a closer look since I already have several ideas about how I could use the software both personally and professionally....
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tomcal123
@metta - Hi.  When you do look into it, please let us know what you feel that it can do that TheBrain can't do.  SharpCloud and Roam Research both look like excellent products but TheBrain seems to be able to do the same things, only a little differently.  To me, having a Second Brain is great, having a third loses a lot of the benefit.  I try to use TheBrain for everything I possibly can, even if it takes an extra step or two (but it usually doesn't).  I'm very curious what other have found in these other apps as well.
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metta
@tomcal123 ~

Thank you for your interest, Tom.

At this point, my interest in SharpCloud is for personal use in terms of sharing content with others, rather than decision-making in a business context -- and I am not looking to use SharpCloud as a replacement for data management on my desktop. For this, I am still partial to TheBrain. I also agree with you about the escalating challenges associated with trying to manage data in multiple locations.

However, based on my initial review of several SharpCloud videos and projects in their gallery, SharpCloud already appears to be a far more robust presentation tool than TheBrain.
> SharpCloud on YouTube
> SharpCloud on Vimeo
> SharpCloud Gallery

SharpCloud has significantly more data visualization and presentation options than TheBrain, and these options appear to be far more user friendly and reliable than any of TheBrain's current sharing options.

The rub for me is going to be justifying the $600/year price tag for personal content sharing projects. However, SharpCloud is so versatile and feature rich, that I can't help but want to take a closer look....and if, as a professional meeting facilitator, I can find a way to incorporate SharpCloud in my professional work, that will make the purchase of a SharpCloud subscription a much easier decision for me.
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metta
@tomcal123 ~

= Update =

Upon closer review, it looks like there may be several sharing-related limitations related to SharpCloud of which I was not initially aware. For example:
> As far as I can tell, TheBrain has a distinct advantage over SharpCloud in that every thought has its own unique URL. In contrast, SharpCloud has a variety of intriguing and user-friendly views of the collected data, but there seems to be no easy way to directly point individuals to specific content items.
-- @spetman: Thomas, please correct me if I'm wrong.

> In addition, I just discovered that PDFs attached in SharpCloud's Knowledgebase cannot be viewed within SharpCloud. Instead, clicking a PDF link automatically downloads the document to the user's desktop, which is not what I prefer.

In light of this, I suspect my original goal of using SharpCloud for content sharing (both public and private) is probably an edge case to which SharpCloud is not ideally suited. Instead, it looks like SharpCloud will function optimally for the specific use cases for which it was originally designed: 
> Use Cases
> Case Studies

That said, I do think SharpCloud would still be a great augment to TheBrain, as Thomas originally proposed -- and there is still great potential for using SharpCloud in a facilitation capacity, so I will definitely be keeping SharpCloud on my radar for possible future use.
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LuizAlfredo
Very impressive. Thanks for sharing. We have in this tool many features TheBrain Benchmark Team could analyze. The Item View Options are fantastic. 
I really liked TheBrain 11 and think it is becoming a very mature and versatile tool. But the Plex and Thoughts visualization options must evolve in V.12. As soon as possible I will upgrade.
L.A.G.M.
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Spacenexus
SharpCloud looks great, but this is much more enterprise dashboard software, moving into the PowerBI and Tableau domains. Although not quite on topic, some of the context I point to is related in this old post on using the brain as a hub coordination for other tools. SharpCloud is and others like it are increasingly going to nibble at the use case domain of TheBrain and certainly do a bunch of things much better, like connectivity and info silo integration. BrainEKP was an old enterprise version of TheBrain that once attempted the same but there was not enough critical mass for development.

I've noticed for decades (no exaggeration now!) that folks looking at my brain whilst I'm working are really curious and engaged. Yet, that rarely translates to uptake. The barrier to information entry is high for the majority of addressable market - people lose patience and return to linear habits. I believe why TheBrain catches the users it does have, is because the threshold of plex utility is just right to allow significant visualization and associative value, yet minimize the barrier to information entry to the point where a fraction of the population (the current brain user base) can still use it as second nature.
  • Try and increase user numbers by reducing barrier to information entry and functionality suffers.
  • Try to increase functionality by adding more features (to the plex specifically) and barrier to information entry gets even worse, and you lose users.
"Harlan and the Neurons" have been honing that balance for years and manage it very carefully.

Tools like SharpCloud, PowerBI etc are trained productivity tools where time on target is billed as productivity related. It's like using Autodesk or PowerBI; training is required and billing time is allotted for usage.

TheBrain may be the world's most powerful manual information management tool in that it has such a relatively low barrier to information entry; the information retrieval is legendary frankly. Under my "Graphic Organizers" thought I now have 105 entries (including TheBrain). None of those that I tried out have ever come close. One can also start looking at AI driven environments such as Quid, but this is a tool on a different end of the spectrum where information entry is automated and retrieval of massive data is extremely elegant, but it's a different use case.

It would be good to continue to add functionality over the coming decade in terms of:
  • Other views to add to Outline, Mindmap (and the returning Expanded) are always welcome, such as a Plex3D.
  • A capable API to really connect with the ecosystem of tools out there would be great.
But these are frankly icings on an already amazing cake. The man-years of development that has gone into this product has prudently been weighted to stability, robustness, usability and data integrity. New features come when they do on top of this and it's totally the right way to approach this in my view. Having not participated in the entire TB11 dev cycle yet being a Brain user since 1997, I cannot emphasize enough how solid, polished and elegant TB11 is. An incredible job by the team and all of you in the forum community, this really is a case study of quality product development.

The way I use it at least, TheBrain continues to be the central conductor to a dynamic orchestra of tools, environments, platforms and ecosystems.

Jim
@200229:
TB8022 32bit
Java 32bit Version 8 Update 141

Testing 11.0.60.0

Firefox, Office 2013 Pro Plus 32bit
64bit Win10Pro
64bit Primary Laptop, 8GB RAM, Intel Core i7
64bit Secondary Laptop, 64GB RAM, Intel Xeon E3
Brain user since 1997
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GaryW

@Spacenexus @metta@Harlan@mcaton

You raise really goods points as we observe products go through their evolutionary life cycle. I’ve watched Evernote go through the “more is better’ phase adding questionable offerings that may excite a few but aren’t used by the masses.  Evernote Market was introduced in 2013 to sell physical goods: printers, backpacks, and notebooks. Fortunately they woke up and Feb 2016 the company shut down the Market, noting that “[u]ltimately…Evernote is a software company.” Other closures included some versions of Skitch and its Food app.

Under a new CEO EN has gone back to improving its basics - notes editor and search. I’m delighted to see the efforts made in TB11 to strengthen robustness and build resilience. The lessons shared in the book Meltdown clearly apply.  

I view TheBrain as a system of systems with parts sometimes unknowingly interacting in unsuspecting ways, tightly coupled in that there is little slack or buffering. A innocuous change in one part may quickly induce failure elsewhere.

It may sound like a paradox, but my confidence in TB increases with the number of versions released with fixes. Progress in a complex system is achieved obliquely, not linearly. IMO, the key is not being distracted by adding “nice to have” features which inadvertently can lead to a tipping point.

Life is what happens when we are busy making other plans.

2019 Mac 3.1GHz i5 16GB RAM: Catalina v10.15.5, Safari v13.1, Chrome 83.0.4103.97; 2018 iPad Pro: iOS v13.5.1

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spetman
Just as a reminder, I started this thread by indicating that TheBrain is awesome and SharpCloud has similar conceptual constructs, but is tweaked around specific use cases for which TheBrain is not optimized - so some may find it useful when they are looking for a solution in one of those cases where TheBrain is somewhat limiting. SharpCloud is also a poor solution for some things that TheBrain does very well (like pure content curation, relating, and search). The right tool for the right job...and no tool is perfect for all jobs! I think both products have opportunity to grow a little towards each other and also towards other tools too (pure BI tools, as one example) - that's the nature of evolution. But creating elegant, useful tools that are easily adopted and employed without needing training classes or serious study is the sign of a good tool, and all tools definitely need to not lose sight of that crucial goal [as apparently Evernote did before course-correcting]. P.S. I love the (approx.) quote: "you've never really truly leveraged software until you've pushed it and used it in ways beyond what its designers intended it to do", because that's how ideas are born and great things are achieved. Kudos to all the dedicated and passionate fans on this forum who are so keen on pushing the boundaries of TheBrain, Knowledge Management, and Process Efficiency. I have no doubt TheBrain and SharpCloud are where there are today because of engaged users every bit as much as because of the passionate developers and corporations trying to solve real-world problems and make a good living doing so! You guys (and gals) all rock, and need to keep the debate(s) and envelope-pushing going.
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