rjnagle
Hi, I'm a professional writer examining Personal Brain to assist me with research on several book projects.

I have glanced at the tutorials and played around with the program.

I find that I am entering most of my information into separate notes  corresponding with a thought. (not attachments).  I am using the notes editor included with Personal Brain.

However, when I want to export the brain so I can actually start writing, the only format I can export to is either 1)an outline of the topics only or 2)html personal brain where one note will appear at a time.

This is bad for me. As nice as it is to have an outline view, if I can only view one note at a time, I am not able to see the heart of what I am doing all at once. If that is the case, I have to wonder whether Personal Brain will become more of a tool for hiding thoughts than for facilitating them.

If I could imagine a dream function, it would be that there could be a button in the exported HTML to "show all notes." I wouldn't necessarily need to have this view all the time, but it would be helpful for reference at least.

The other issue is that it's not easy for me to know which thoughts have notes attached to them. the only way I can know is to click on the thought itself. That essentially means that when I get to the composition stage, I need to click on every single topic just to make sure I haven't missed any notes I have made. is there any way I can tell at a glance which thoughts have notes have attached to them?

(I read on one thread about someone adding tags to thoughts; maybe I could create a tag to all topics called "note"--if only I can tell in the visual presentation there is a note attached to it.

Please offer your thoughts and ideas. I am still not used to the concepts of this application. Thanks for your help.


Robert
aka idiotprogrammer
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ChefSteve

Kind of on the same subject. I need to know how to I print out part of the brain. I want to be able to give to a person all the thought about them.

Chef Steve
1-800-Bakery.com
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Dryopithecus
FYI, in 5.5 beta, there is a new command "Copy as Text Outline with Notes".

From the release notes of 5.5.0.0 beta:
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New command: “Copy as Text Outline with Notes”
This command copies the selected Thoughts along with their notes and places them in an text tabbed outline


More on this feature: http://forums.thebrain.com/post?id=3611759

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rjnagle
Thanks for your very helpful replies, dyslucksia and Dryopithecus.

(By the way, it just so happens that I am a fiction writer but never would seriously consider using a mind mapping tool for fiction--not that I couldn't change my mind !)

On the other hand, personal brain could be used for various experiments in hypertext fiction.

The show icon when notes are present solves my problem somewhat.

The Copy as Text Outline with Notes probably solves my problem totally on the Beta.

I think I will be purchasing a registered copy of the software. I was wondering: when should I expect 5.5 final release? Is it going to be timed around the Windows 7 release or is it going to come in early 2010?




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Dryopithecus
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I was wondering: when should I expect 5.5 final release? Is it going to be timed around the Windows 7 release or is it going to come in early 2010?

I'm not sure when it will be released.

I have a feeling that the latest beta is more stable than the main release.

You may find the following thread interesting: Should I move to 5.5.x.x?


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jarendt

@rjnagle: I started using PB just a little under a month ago. My trial would have ended in a few days. Because PB has met my needs and I've been actively using it, I went ahead and purchased a license for 5.0. The serial number is good for 5.0 and 5.5. In that sense, you don't really have to wait for 5.5 to come out to register. You can use the registration with either one.


I guess the only real concern is whether there would be a price increase or decrease when it does get released. Personally, I don't like playing those types of guessing games, hence, why I went ahead with the purchase.


Note: I have not used 5.0 at all during this period. Yes, 5.5 has had its fair share of bugs, some particularly annoying. All told, I found it quite usable for my full-time usage. And that's only gotten better. As Dryopithecus stated, the most recent release has been the most stable yet. YMMV.


If you are just starting out I would recommend using as much of the trial period, if not all of it, to get a good sense whether it will work out for you. Whether it takes you a few days, weeks, or a month to decide -- there's no real rush. When I was done with the trial period, I looked through the Core and Pro features, weighed their importance, and ultimately was able to make an informed decision on which version I wanted to go with.

PB 5.5.1.0-b | Mac OS X 10.6.1
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Darkstar
You should be able to export your brain as Simple HTML. IIRC, that should include the notes with the thought.

Then you can load that HTML document into any editor that understand HTML, and convert it to some other format if your preferred editor doesn't handle hyperlinks or HTML.
-Darkstar
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Darkstar

For writing? Check out: Literary Machine. I've used to write smaller works of fiction. Haven't gotten around to trying it out for novel (or greater) size, but it would certainly work for me.

It uses the tried and true "Notecard Index" metaphor. It allows you to create them, arrange them, and classify them however you want. You can create multiple versions of an outline, allowing you to compare how your work reads or flows putting the cards in different order. You can have a VERY LARGE number of notecards, projects, outlines, and whatnot stored in it. You can also export your work (project, outline, or just a selection of notecards), once completed, to many formats--- including to the open standard for e-books.

It comes in two "flavors". One if a lighter feature version (still highly useful) that is free. One is pro, with even more bells and whistles.
-Darkstar
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rjnagle
Thanks for your thoughts and replies.

You know, I probably should write a blogpost about the topic of writing & mind mapping.

I'll just say my method for story creation might differ from most people's. But it seems that mind mapping is effective at capturing  plot and character  details, but not so important for the actual creation process.

So I could see how this software could be used for mapping out story arcs for the TV show Lost but not so much for a Hawthorne novel.... Let me play more with the software, and I'll report back in a few months.

But let me say: letting me have an outline view to see nodes and notes together opens up a lot of possibilities.



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Darkstar

Mind Maps are just radial outlines.

You can also use WikidPad or ConnectedText if you like.

WikidPad is a free, open source personal wiki tool which would let you tag each note with various information (location, characters, date, etc) and find everything with that tag, as well as giving you an outline view at the same time. You can even plot out all sorts of information using GraphViz (if you install it), which is itself an open source graphic package. WikidPad also supports a few other open source graphic packages, so if you really want, you can have it graphically plot out whatever you can need with just a small investment of your personal time.

ConnectedText is a commercial personal wiki tool, and it is extremely well featured (even more than WikidPad --- has all that WikidPad, and then some it doesn't). You could also tag your info in it, and create all the graphs and whatnot in it--- it goes ahead and installs all the same tools as WikidPad supports, plus it includes more.

Again, it depends on how you like to write.

You won't be able to create a final version in PB. But you could work from the first seed of a story or article, all the way to the final version in WikidPad and ConnectedText. With Literary Machine, you could go from inspirate through to "ready to polish" state (you'd need to touch up what it exports for final presentation, but it isn't much work compared to other tools I've played with).
-Darkstar
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dyslucksia
A couple of things come to mind:

PersonalBrain might be OK for composing your book and keeping trees of Notes on different aspects of its background, but no good as an actual reader, since there's no way to make a Brain read-only, and PB hasn't got a reader version, so you'd have to use some other application.

You said earlier:
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On the other hand, personal brain could be used for various experiments in hypertext fiction.


There was a time when adventure games came in book form with hyperlinks ("Yes: go to p.46; No: go to p.53"), and the ending depended on the path you took. Seems to me it could take you five times as long to write the actual book if you had to consider multiple outcomes.

PB 5.5.2.1 on Windows XP, J-1.6.0_17
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Darkstar
dyslucksia wrote:
A couple of things come to mind:

PersonalBrain might be OK for composing your book and keeping trees of Notes on different aspects of its background, but no good as an actual reader, since there's no way to make a Brain read-only, and PB hasn't got a reader version, so you'd have to use some other application.


Actually, PB does have a reader--- Personal Brain. That is why there is a trial/free version.

Also, if you exported your interactive fiction brain as a site brain or put it on Web Brain, you would have a non-installation required fiction experience. But it would be fairly non-standard to navigate (having to click in the plex to move to the next bit of the story).


dyslucksia wrote:
You said earlier:
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On the other hand, personal brain could be used for various experiments in hypertext fiction.


There was a time when adventure games came in book form with hyperlinks ("Yes: go to p.46; No: go to p.53"), and the ending depended on the path you took. Seems to me it could take you five times as long to write the actual book if you had to consider multiple outcomes.

Well, there are several hypertext fiction creators out there. One I've started tinkering with recently is: twine. Nice and simple. You build each bit, "card"/text page by page, and include wiki style linkages. It creates draft copies (for basic editorial reviewing) and finished product (a TiddlyWiki style HTML page which people can use to read the story).

-Darkstar
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mvpcs
rjnagle Great post. (#1)

Strikes me that if TheBrain would listen and implement an xml parser built into the program not only would it permit an exported outline view it would respond to a huge demographic — students preparing presentation through both visual and written information.

Pulling in notes from database tables would strike me as a simple thing, seeing as this is a database retrieval and display program.

I bet it has to be a limited bandwidth/attention issue and/or TheBrain's lack of a sense of what is valuable, practical and openly exportable (eg. simply export Word or .rtf). It also seems that they may have a proprietary limit on cross-program integration. It cannot be difficult to implement.

I just cannot buy the "non-linear" "fern, stem, leaf" "dyslexia" analogy. If they can import an outline with subtopics they can export an outline with subtopics/notes.
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zenrain
You can export notes one of two ways:
  • Select all the thoughts you wish to export with notes and choose Edit > Copy as Text Outline with Notes. This exports your notes in a text only format (no formatting or images)
  • Select all the thoughts you wish to export and choose File > Export > To Folders. This exports your notes into an HTML formatted file in folders corresponding to your thoughts. 
Export to Folders is a Pro only feature. I'm not sure about Copy as Text Outline with Notes. Both of these features require PB 5.5.

Windows 7
J-1.6.0_22
--
OSX 10.6.3
Java SE 6
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