Concept Map of Sci-Fi Authors: A quick intro to ThinkComposer

Learn the basics of ThinkComposer while creating a Concept Map of Science Fiction Authors:

(maximize the player to look in HD when bandwidth is available)

You can download the sample composition from here (Note: Your browser might change the file extension to ‘.zip’, so rename back it to ‘.tcom’ if necessary).

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:


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.

Web Environment (or Network) Management sample diagram

The next is an example, created with ThinkComposer, of an informal Web Environment Management diagram.

The symbols and connector types are encapsulated in a user defined Domain, that can be reused for creating new diagrams.

The “Access Perspective” folder content is…

You can download the Domain (containing this diagram as template) from here.