IF you want to develop Brains that other people can access, you face a bunch of options/issues right now. To use TB 8 or TB 10, to rely on Web Client vs. Desktop Downloads, and whether to rely on Windows vs. iOS (and presumably Android). It’s actually very confusing to find a workable solution. I’m not referring here to capabilities gained or lost in the TB8 vs. TB10 Desktop, or to the ability to end your own Brains on-line, only to capabilities gained or lost in terms of providing 3rd Parties with access to your Brains.

TB 8 Web Brain.  A very modest version of the TB 8 Desktop, but basically functional in terms of online access.

  • Relatively fast (no more than a couple of seconds of lag time normally).
  • Replicates the Desktop in terms of what you see on your screen in terms of Types and Tags
  • Ability to use Tags (sort of) as One-Way thoughts, a powerful TB Desktop feature not otherwise available via Web Client
  • Ability to keep private thoughts hidden from 3rd party users
  • Ability to see screen-capture-based thought icons pop open upon hover, although very slowly (2-3 seconds).

TB 10 Web Client. A very modest version of the TB 10 Desktop, but not really functional in terms of online access:

  • Slower than TB8 by a factor of 3-5, with lag times of >30 seconds (!) experienced (for the identical Brain in TB8 and TB10). It’s hard to see average lag times of 5-10 seconds as usable in today’s world where everyone expects instant access. 
  • Doesn’t replicate the Desktop in terms of what you see on your screen, forcing you to see Types and Tags. Visible Types and Tags have useful applications, but also totally undermine the uses to which Types and Tags could be put in TB8 to help organize a Brain.  Sort of like going to a fashion show and being forced to wear 3D glasses that show you the models’ bone structure – not what you’re there to see. And Tags that have to be visible suggests that the “one-way-link” feature of TB8 Tags is gone.
  • The ability to see “live URLs” in TB10 is a huge step forward from TB8. But the Web Client TB10 seems to fail to show the “live URLs” a large fraction of the time (far far more often than happens on the desktop). So many that you almost want to turn the feature off so that users don’t get totally confused.  In which case you’re basically back to what we had in TB8, the ability to click on the URLs and have them open up in a new Tab.  Unfortunate, since live URLs are a huge opportunity.
  • The ability to see “live videos” is back to where it was in TB8 for YouTube, and improved in terms of live-playing Vimeo videos. A good step forward.

TB 10 Web Client Windows Download - Probably the most powerful way of letting 3rd Parties access a Brain, although by definition it’s not truly on-line access.  And requires users to download TB to their desktops, a major barrier barrier to initial use. 

  • The ability to download Brains in TB10 is a huge opportunity, particularly since it doesn’t download all the images and documents. And the ability to have “additional content” appear in downloaded Brains has huge potential (although it would have a lot more potential if using the Web Client were a legitimate alternative). If the only option for 3rd party access is to download Brains, then having additional features as part of the download sort of loses its meaning)
  • Downloaded Brains are as fast as on the original Desktop, and presumably a little faster given that all the attachments and images weren’t actually downloaded.
  • It does mean that the idea of truly “private thoughts” is gone, and anyone with pre-existing Brains will have to carefully scrub their Brains for potentially thousands of “private thoughts” in TB8 or later that really do need to be kept private.
  • Downloaded TB10 Brains presumably don’t have the Type and Tag problem, since on the Desktop there is more control over whether to make them visible or not visible. 
  • Downloaded TB10 Brains presumably don’t have the “live URL” problem, since it works much more reliably on the Desktop.
  • Downloaded TB10 Brains apparently retain all their functionality, even if the user chooses to go to the free version after 90 days.
  • But getting users to install TB on their desktop and download Brains is going to be A LOT harder than getting them to access Brains on line. And if the on line experience is poor (as it currently is with TB10), the challenge is likely to get even bigger. 

TB 10 Web Client iOS/Android Download   A powerful way of letting 3rd Parties access a Brain, although by definition it’s not truly on-line access.  Avoids the need to do a desktop download, which is very useful.  What’s discussed below is how the iOS/Android Download compares to the Desktop Download.  It doesn’t repeat all the bullets just above.

  • The TB10 iOS app is excellent, and a huge step forward from the TB8 iOS app. You can actually navigate even mega Brains using the TB10 app.
  • It seems likely that the Type/Tag problem of the online Web Client reoccurs here since you don’t have the same power to control your view as with the Desktop download. It’s not at all clear what to do if you know the same Brain will be downloaded both to desktops and to the iOS app.
  • There seems to be a fundamental problem with the display of thought icons (at least those based on screen captures). They often don’t pop up when you press on them, and they don’t show up as attachments.  Presumably converting all your thought icons to attachments would solve this (?), but manually changing tens of thousands of thought icons is a challenge. 
  • Getting users to download the iOS or Android app is probably a lot easier than getting them to download the desktop TB.

So what’s the answer to the Brainiacs conundrum of TB8 vs. TB10, Web Client vs. Download, Windows vs. iOs?  It seems that the TB10 Web Client Desktop Download is probably the most powerful option available right now, assuming you can get rid of your private thoughts, and assuming you can get 3rd Parties to download the Desktop software.  But to not have even a basically functional version of the Brain online is a problem (since a large fraction of users will never consider a desktop download), and have to account for the fact that if people download the same Brain to iOS they may get a very different user experience and it's not clear how to avoid that without getting rid of key things like Types and Tags. 

What’s missing from the above?  What did I get wrong?  And what will change with respect to the various options that could change the assessment I’ve provided?


Hi Mark,

I understand that you have been in direct email correspondence on this topic already, so this message isn't really for you but rather to clarify some of the topics you've brought up here on the forums.

First, while the version 8 server is presently still running and there is no immediate plan to shut it down, it will not remain available indefinitely. With this in mind, no long term plan should involve it and everyone should be actively migrating off of version 8 especially if you already have an active subscription.
There are of course many differences between version 10 and 8. The version 10 web client is continually improving. The points below address specific issues raised above with regard to the v10 web client:
  • Speed: We made a change about two weeks ago that makes speed of navigation on version 10's web client significantly faster. This should no longer be an issue.
  • Types visibility: Making the visibility of types follow the settings of the desktop is something we are planning to do soon.
  • Tags visibility: An option to hide tags for the non-active thought on the web client is coming very soon.
  • Thought icons: As far as we are aware, there is not a problem with thought icons in the web client.
  • "Live URLs": Browser security prevents framing of some web sites. This is not something we have any control over and this is why it is an option that can be toggled via the "Embed linked web pages" setting for a Brain.
Thank you for your feedback, Harlan -- and thank you too, Mark, for raising these important questions.

The speed improvements in the web client have been noted and are genuinely appreciated -- and I'm thrilled to know we will soon have the option to hide thought types. I'm also exceedingly grateful for the attention that is being given now to improving the performance of TB web client.

In light of this, and Mark's comment about the importance of having a "basically functional version of TheBrain online", I have several questions related to this discussion, along with a few related bug reports.

Tag visibility: Are there plans to (eventually) provide any of the following tag control options?
  • Hide tags on the active thought -- Simply hiding tags on non-active thoughts will leave users with no option to hide all tags all the time.
  • Control the display of tags on a tag-by-tag basis -- It would be a huge help to be able to HIDE admin tags and SHOW public tags, in the same way that thought type visibility can be controlled in the desktop client. Might this be an option at some point in the future?
  • Provide the same 3 tag (text & icon) display options in the web client that are already available in the desktop -- Specifically: 
  • -- Icons: Do Not Show | Show on Hover | Show
  • -- Text: Do Not Show | Show on Hover | Show
  • Tag BugLong tags lists overlap with the adjacent thought note
Thought Icon Bugs: Currently there are several problems with thought icons in the web client. The first 2 bugs detailed below almost completely undermine the use of thought types because the thought type icons are lost when images and/or links are attached to thoughts.
Live URLs in the Embedded Browser: Since some percentage of sites is never going to display properly in the embedded browser in the web client, are we eventually going to have an option to open attached links in a new tab?

Search Bug: Where do things stand with fixing the broken search in the web client?
> Not having a reliable, working search is one of the most significant limitations in attempting to use or share a web client brain.

Back and Forward Navigation Bug: Where do things stand with fixing this broken navigation in the web client?
> This problem can be confusing and frustrating for new visitors to a shared brain.

Plex Link Bug: Are there any plans to prevent the display of links in the web client plex from becoming jumbled and splayed after navigating between a series of thoughts? You can see the problem I'm referring to in this brain if you follow this navigation pattern:
  • From the home thought navigate to the "History" (child) thought and then to the "Information" (child) thought.
  • Then return to the pinned home thought "Compendium".
  • At this point, the connecting lines (links) will be dramatically jumbled.
  • If you refresh the page, the lines (links) will settle back into place.
  • Based on the testing I've done, this link displacement seems to be especially problematic in brains where jump thoughts are frequently used.
Hidden Number Bug: Hidden numbers are still displaying on the "More" pin button and the Search box.

Like Mark I, too, am interested in exploring the possibility of sharing TB10 brain projects via email, but it will be vitally important to have a smoothly functioning web client in order to attract any interest in shared brain downloads.

Since TB10 web client has the potential for being one of the best resources for sharing, promoting and marketing TheBrain, I will be eagerly looking forward to the ongoing development of the web client and the resolution of these outstanding bugs.

About the Thought icon behavior you mentioned: Two of those are actually the expected behavior.
-The icon of an attachment takes precedence over a Type icon. 
-Same with an image attachment, it takes precedence.
-The image not zooming every time you hover over it is a bug though, and has been documented.
Thanks for your feedback, Sean -- and thanks for documenting the zoom issue.

As for the other 2 "bugs" I reported, if the disappearing thought type icon behavior is to be "expected", then I would like to submit a feature request that would allow the brain owner to set the default icon behavior since there are several problems with the current behavior:
> The brain owner currently has no control over the default icon display whenever multiple attachments (links and images) have been added.
> In my use case, I nearly always want the thought type icon to be the default display.

Specifically, this means I would like to be able to set the thought type icon as the default display, unless I choose to manually change the default icon on a thought-by-thought basis. (This would be comparable to the requests that have been submitted for toggle control over the display of thought types in the desktop plex, with manual control over the selective display of individual thought types.)

Otherwise, I'm going to have to go in and manually attach the preferred thought type icon on every single thought in my public brains to which an attachment has been added, and this will be monumentally time consuming task.

Moreover, since the thought type icons do NOT disappear in the TB10 desktop (or in TB8 web client) when links and images are attached, this is, in fact, why:
  • I assumed the disappearing thought type icons were a bug and NOT the "expected" (or desired) behavior and
  • I would like to have the same behavior mirrored in the TB10 web client.
The brain owner currently has no control over the default icon display whenever multiple attachments (links and images) have been added.

The brain owner has no control over when attaching an image to a thought with a Thought Icon based on Thought Type, it will replace the thought type icon (which has been the case since I can remember, and I would also like some control over this). However the owner does have control over which image will be shown if there are multiple attached images. It should show the first attachment recognised as an image as the thought icon.
macOS 10.14.6
TheBrain 11.0.119
Thank you for your feedback, ZenRain. I appreciate you weighing in on this issue, and I'm glad if having more control over the thought type icon display in the web client would also be helpful to you.

Thank you also for confirming that the first image attachment will automatically become the thought icon in the web client. This "first" image display feature can provide a visual enhancement in those instances where a thought type icon has not already been assigned.
However, in my public and shared brain projects, I use thought types (with icons) on virtually ALL of my thoughts, and I only rarely manually replace the default thought type icon with another image.

This is, for me, one of the great benefits of using thought types: the default styling of thought types (and their assigned icons) allows brain owners to create a much more visually consistent display in the desktop, and I would simply like the same display continuity to also be reflected in the web client.
Moreover, having a matching display between the desktop and the web client is especially important in those cases where brains are shared via email because the brain users will be accessing the shared brain in both locations: on the desktop and in the web browser.
Kudos also to TB team for providing the option to hide tags in the web client🙂

The design of this new feature is great not only because it creates a much cleaner display and it solves the long tag list problem (mentioned above). Best of all, it still allows brain owners to point to specific tags (with links in notes) on a selective, as needed basis.

Many thanks for the wonderful web client enhancement!! ðŸ‘

I've documented the request to be able to choose which icon/image is displayed on a Thought that has attachments. Thanks for the suggestions!
Thanks for confirming, Sean.

What about the original request to provide an option for the existing thought type icon to take precedence over ALL attachments -- and automatically match the default desktop display? Is this option included as part of the feature request you've documented?

Preserving thought type icons is very important for maintaining a consistent display between brains shared by email and in the browser.

In addition, it would be immensely helpful if preserving the thought type icons could be a preference setting, instead of having to select this icon on a thought-by-thought basis.


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