ThinkComposer reviewed in Mind-Mapping.org

Recently, ThinkComposer was reviewed by Roy Grubb of Mind-Mapping.org. He did a great job summarizing the product and giving feedback of both, its pros and cons, plus in relation with other products.

thinkcomposer-mind-mapping-org

Also, ThinkComposer was included in the very extensive catalog (the “master list”) of visual tools that mind-mapping.org exposes, which is a great source of information of the market tools and their way of help visual thinkers. Great!

Help to decide ThinkComposer next features

File and Code Generation in ThinkComposer version 1.3

A new version of ThinkComposer (1.3) is available! It can generate text files, either for code generation or custom information export, based on templates using the Liquid markup language. So, the precise knowledge stored in Composition documents can be consumed from external sources. Lets take a look.

Suppose you want to export the information content of the next Composition diagram…

Sample_for_Templates

…and your desired generated file, for the ‘Compute Result’ Concept, would look like:

[Concept]
Global-Id: 7b104a91-b464-484a-9419-9d37ee578b9c
Name: Compute Result
Summary: Use the entered Code to calculate the proper result.
MARKINGS [2]:
 [1] 'Correct' (Correct state.)
 [2] 'Star Gold' (Star Gold award.)
 Descriptor: 'Approved' -- Full compliance with our test cases!
INPUTS [1]:
 [1] 'Flow (Idea 10)' FROM 'Is Valid?'('Yes'); .
OUTPUTS [1]:
 [1] 'Flow (Idea 11)' TO 'Show Result'; .
[End-Concept]

Then, to achieve that formatted result file, you can use the Output-Template editor (accessed thru ‘Domain’ -> ‘Edit Domain’-> ‘Output-Templates’ -> ‘Concept base templates…’) as shown in the next screenshot:

sample-template-decl

The complete sample output-template is:

%%:FileName={{ TechName }}.txt
[Concept]

Global-Id: {{ GlobalId }}
Name: {{ Name }}
Summary: {{ Summary }}

{%- if Markings.Size > 0 -%}
MARKINGS [{{ Markings.Size }}]:
{%- for Mark in Markings -%}
[{{ forloop.index }}] '{{ Mark.Definitor.Name }}' ({{ Mark.Definitor.Summary }})
{%- if Mark.Descriptor != null -%}
Descriptor: '{{ Mark.Descriptor.Name }}' -- {{ Mark.Descriptor.Summary }}
{%- endif -%}
{%- endfor -%}

{%- endif -%}
{%- if IncomingLinks.Any -%}
INPUTS [{{ IncomingLinks.Size }}]:
{%- for Link in IncomingLinks -%}
[{{ forloop.index }}] '{{ Link.OwnerRelationship.Name }}'{% unless Link.Descriptor == null %}('{{ Link.Descriptor.Name }}'){% endunless -%}
 FROM {% for OriginLink in Link.OwnerRelationship.OriginLinks -%} '{{ OriginLink.AssociatedIdea.Name }}'{% unless OriginLink.Descriptor == null %}('{{ OriginLink.Descriptor.Name }}'){% endunless -%}; {% endfor -%}.
{%- endfor -%}
{%- endif -%}

{%- if OutgoingLinks.Any -%}
OUTPUTS [{{ OutgoingLinks.Size }}]:
{%- for Link in OutgoingLinks -%}
[{{ forloop.index }}] '{{ Link.OwnerRelationship.Name }}'{% unless Link.Descriptor == null %}('{{ Link.Descriptor.Name }}'){% endunless -%}
 TO {% for TargetLink in Link.OwnerRelationship.TargetLinks -%} '{{ TargetLink.AssociatedIdea.Name }}'{% unless TargetLink.Descriptor == null %}('{{ TargetLink.Descriptor.Name }}'){% endunless -%}; {% endfor -%}.
{%- endfor -%}

{%- endif -%}
[End-Concept]

Output-Templates can be defined, at the Domain level, for:

- Composition: To create a file for the root of the Composition.

- Concepts: Use one template to generate files with the same format from all Concepts.

- Relationships: Same as the prior, but for Relationships.

Plus, the Output-Template can be declared individually per each Idea (Concept or Relationship) Definition, in case you have specialized or more complex ones.

These Output-Templates are stored in the Domain, so you can reuse them in other Compositions.

To generate the files, just select the “Tools” tab and click the “Generate Files…” button. The next window will be shown:

sample-file-generation

The description of the Output-Templates language and the ThinkComposer Information model can be found in the manual.

ThinkComposer 1.2 published

I’m pleased to announce the release of ThinkComposer 1.2., which includes the next improvements:

  • Diagram views and Reports are exportable in PDF format.
  • Reports can be generated as HTML
    • Diagram symbols can be clicked to access the respective Idea page.
    • Uses subdirectories to include nested diagrams (easy to copy/publish on your website)
  • Reports are enhanced with the inclusion of deeper information about:
    • Idea Details (attachments content, links address and tables data)
    • Relationship Links (origins, targets and their companions/siblings)
  • Simplified declaration of Table-Structures for Tables and Custom-Fields.
  • Predefined graphic styles for easy apply.

Also, the next Domains has been added for your use and extension:

Flowcharts

Use Case diagrams

Class diagrams

Sequence diagrams

Plus lots of other improvements and fixes!

Multilevel Concept Maps or Diagrams

A problem while working with 2D graphics, in the style of big concept maps or other kind of diagrams, is that when the matter is complex, they can become a problem to navigate  and edit them like in the next very cluttered map:

This is unavoidable if you need to show (or print) the map as single unit.

However, with the help of software, you can divide the map in hierarchically contained sub-maps, spanning multiple levels. Consider the next diagram, made with ThinkComposer, representing a simple aircraft design as an advanced concept map:

With this multilevel capability you can “compose” (or decompose) your ideas to any extent into a single document. Plus, notice that you can still connect nodes, not within the same view (map/diagram), by using Shortcuts that you can point/click to easily navigate to the original source.

Concept Maps and Mind Maps with Typed Nodes and Relationships

Why most Concept Maps are visually homogeneous and flat? Most have the same basic visual elements: Ellipses for Concepts and Arrows for Relationships, like in the next sample:

I come from the world of software development, where is very common to do analysis and design using heavy typified diagrams (Flow Charts, E-R, UML, etc.). In these diagrams the objects are visually and easily classified on their predefined shapes, line styles, colors and other graphic elements. Then, why not to do the same visual classification in Concept Maps?  Some may argue that by doing this, the map would become distracting or too complex. But as the Mind Mapping school says: Colors, styles and other graphics elements helps the user to remember better and use most of our brains.

So, now consider a typified yet simple Concept Map:

As you can see, all Concepts have a visual style corresponding to a semantic typification, like a rounded gray rectangle with brown border for the planets, yellow background for the stars and so on. Also, the Relationships are stylized, having two types: Facts as blue arrows and Predictions as segmented green arrows.

Also, this already typified Mind Map shows a common simple appearance:

Now, consider the next visually typified and annotated version of the ‘Astronomic’ Concept Map as shown next.

And the corresponding improved Mind Map in the next sample.

Maybe you could think that having so much information in a map is very confusing instead of helpful. As in most cases, it “depends”… if you have dozens or even hundreds of nodes in your map, you will need to be clear, precise and highlight the charactestics of your information elements. The key point is to have the chance, because not all cases just need a high-level overview, there are complex scenarios where you discuss, analyze or design delicate matters and precise details are required.

Having this in mind, I created ThinkComposer with an emphasis on typification and information details presentation as powerful as you want.