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Author Topic: IDEA: Grid-based-layout Information Manager  (Read 3198 times)

superboyac

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IDEA: Grid-based-layout Information Manager
« on: July 18, 2011, 12:19:44 PM »
*This is not TreeSheets even though it sounds very similar*

OK, I've harped on this in the past, but I think a really neat and potentially very practical information manager would be a grid-based layout type manager.  The key feature here is the ability to use rectangular cells (like Excel) and be able to merge/split them to your heart's content so that you can create any layout imaginable.  The only restriction would be curvy shapes...that won't be possible.  Everything will be rectangular: vertical and horizontal divisions only.

Within each cell, you can put some text.  The power is in the flexibility of the layout.  below is an example of what I'm thinking (made in excel):
screenshot_20110718101920.png

This would make for a very powerful information organizer, if you really think about it.  I actually think if TreeSheets added this capability to it, it would be just about perfect.  Treesheets has mastered the hierarchical end of information management, and the rest of the application is nice, fast, responsive, etc.  But it can't do this type of layout stuff.  For Treesheet users, think of every "section" shown in my example above as an area to build a treesheets style hierarchy, and you'll notice how powerful it can be.  In fact, later when i have more time, I'll stick in some fake images of treesheets style hierarchies in the example above, and you'll see how cool it can be.

rgdot

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Re: IDEA: Grid-based-layout Information Manager
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2011, 12:27:47 PM »
I am all for something like this, sort of improved version of Pigeonhole, StickySorter and Text Block Writer

superboyac

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Re: IDEA: Grid-based-layout Information Manager
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2011, 03:42:17 PM »
What's always hard for me to explain about this is that a lot of existing applications *seem* like they already can do this.  But the important thing to remember about my described method above is that each "block" that is shown has it's own style to it.  Most existing programs have their OWN way of organizing things.  For notetakers, this falls into a hierarchy of some sort...you know, parent/child relationships.  The most typical way is obviously a tree with the parents indicated with folder icons, and the children represented as document icons.  And the other programs just make variations on this theme.  They may show the tree as bullets, or they may have some funky visual, like circles within circles, etc.  Treesheets offers BY FAR the most flexible and elegant of the outlining presentation that I've seen.  Infoqube is BY FAR the most powerful of the traditional outline style.

What I'm asking for is the ability to extend the CONTAINERS for each individual outline or hierarchy, or just general note box.  You can stick whatever you want in the boxes, I don't care.  A mature program would allow the insertion of images, hyperlinks, etc.

I think this is truly the next step for general purpose information managers.  I've tried all the others, and they all lack this freeform ability.  Their problem is they all lock you into just one way to visualize things, which is usually a diagonal hierarchy.  Meaning, as you go deeper in the hierarchy, you are pushed DOWN and to the RIGHT since this is the typical Western language direction.  So I'm asking for something directionless and truly freeform.

Onenote is also close to this with it's freeform placement of notes.  Onenote's problem is that it offers no way to section off a view the way I've shown above.  It's almost like it's TOO freeform.  That's the power of grid-based layout: it's pseudo-freeform, but still pleasantly structured.  Not too much, not too little.

JavaJones

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Re: IDEA: Grid-based-layout Information Manager
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2011, 03:47:05 PM »
Have you suggested any of this to the TreeSheets dev? Seems like it could be a natural evolution or optional mode, considering most of the rest of the functionality is there. Whereas building a new app from scratch to do this seems laborious and unnecessary. In other words if TreeSheets already does 90% of what you want but without quite as much flexibility as you want, then that's where it makes sense to start.

- Oshyan

superboyac

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Re: IDEA: Grid-based-layout Information Manager
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2011, 05:22:41 PM »
Have you suggested any of this to the TreeSheets dev? Seems like it could be a natural evolution or optional mode, considering most of the rest of the functionality is there. Whereas building a new app from scratch to do this seems laborious and unnecessary. In other words if TreeSheets already does 90% of what you want but without quite as much flexibility as you want, then that's where it makes sense to start.

- Oshyan
I know, very true.  I've started keeping a list of things I'd like to see in TreeSheets, and once I see a theme emerging, I'm going to send it to the developer.  I don't want to pepper him right now with little nitpicks until I've really understood the program and can send some powerful and well written feature requests.  I'm the type of person that can nitpick anything initially without knowing what I'm really talking about (just emotions).  So I want to collect my thoughts first and then I'll send it over.  Right now, I'm pretty scatterbrained.

Here's what I have so far:
ts1.pngIDEA: Grid-based-layout Information Manager

JavaJones

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Re: IDEA: Grid-based-layout Information Manager
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2011, 05:32:59 PM »
Speaking as someone who helps run a software development business, I prefer to see feature requests come in as they're thought of (although yes it's good to have them fleshed out). This may be a particular quirk of my own personality, but having someone send in an email that's 5 pages long with 20 features/ideas is overwhelming and I don't even really want to respond. With a single request at a time I can evaluate and respond reasonably to that single request, usually with either "great idea but not something we can do any time soon" or "yeah we can do this, I think maybe in the next version", etc.

I have a tendency to want to be "complete" in everything I do, in my communications, so if I have potentially lots of feedback I too want to sort of assemble it into a more cohesive document or something. But considering it from the other end, for me at least, that's not what I want to be getting from users. It's sort of like "Hey great product, but I think you need to do all this to make it better".

Just something to think about. As a bonus, if you sent in exactly what you said above, with the mock-up (perfectly serviceable), the dev might understand it quickly and get to work on it (if they agree it's a good idea) and you could have the feature quicker.

- Oshyan

superboyac

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Re: IDEA: Grid-based-layout Information Manager
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2011, 05:37:44 PM »
Thanks.  I've often wondered how the developers like to receive such requests.  I'm like you in that I really don't like to give people things in bits and pieces.  But if developers prefer them in small chunks, I'll do that.

JavaJones

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Re: IDEA: Grid-based-layout Information Manager
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2011, 05:55:40 PM »
Well, let me stress again that that is *my* perspective, and I'm not actually a dev, though I do run a software development company and am heavily involved in the bug management process. Ideally users would actually submit bugs/feature requests straight into an issue tracker, but that's not usually possible. Barring that, for my preference, individual emails, not too frequent, with 1 or at most 2 issues/feature requests with good descriptions, would be ideal. Again 1 huge email with lots of requests and issue reports would put me off.

- Oshyan

superboyac

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Re: IDEA: Grid-based-layout Information Manager
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2011, 06:04:19 PM »
Well, let me stress again that that is *my* perspective, and I'm not actually a dev, though I do run a software development company and am heavily involved in the bug management process. Ideally users would actually submit bugs/feature requests straight into an issue tracker, but that's not usually possible. Barring that, for my preference, individual emails, not too frequent, with 1 or at most 2 issues/feature requests with good descriptions, would be ideal. Again 1 huge email with lots of requests and issue reports would put me off.

- Oshyan
Do you now?  How much would you charge to create custom software according to provided specifications?  Something on the level of a coding snack...maybe a little more intensive.

JavaJones

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Re: IDEA: Grid-based-layout Information Manager
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2011, 07:01:07 PM »
We're a very specific software house with an existing product that takes all our time. ;)
http://www.planetside.co.uk
Maybe mouser is available for hire?

- Oshyan

rgdot

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Re: IDEA: Grid-based-layout Information Manager
« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2011, 07:21:43 PM »
Mouser is probably too expensive (I have no idea what that means lol)

From my perspective the emphasis should be on note visibility without using a search form. Mimicking notes written by hand on a paper but in an organized fashion.
I realize this doesn't sound like a complete thought and that's why some of the above mentioned come close, it's a lot like "I won't be sure until I use it and see how it is"

JavaJones

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Re: IDEA: Grid-based-layout Information Manager
« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2011, 08:44:06 PM »
Good coders aren't cheap, and mouser is good. :D I've worked with him before and would certainly recommend him. With his recent experience with Yii, knocking together web-based projects should be quite fast for normal stuff too.

- Oshyan

superboyac

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Re: IDEA: Grid-based-layout Information Manager
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2011, 08:54:12 PM »
Sorry, my question wasn't specifically for this thread's topic. ;D

I was just curious how much coding small programs would cost.