Improve hierarchical (Normal) view with grandparent level
Normal View in 4.5 only shows two levels of hierarchy (parent and active thoughts), leaving the child level to hold "content" thoughts. Much of the content we mirror in PB is in fact hierarchical, and extends much deeper than two levels of "folders" (e.g. SharePoint structures tend to get quite deep).
Normal View, effectively the "hierarchical view" in PB, is unlike Distant Thought view (Normal view with "+" pressed) and Expanded View, which are better suited for navigating in a non-hierarchal way. Both of these options display additional relationships for all thoughts on screen and/or require manual intervention to keep thoughts on screen or expand / collapse individual nodes.
In addition, "Don't shrink with Distance" doesn't apply to Distant Thoughts View, leading to unreadable distant thoughts.
Neither of these views is as effective at navigating hierarchical links as Normal View.
I propose adding a limited "grandparent" level to Normal View, that would not display all the "aunt and uncle" links (siblings of the parents). This is "symmetric" with how child thoughts are displayed today, where jump thoughts are not shown.
The grandparent level would not be shrunken (as with Normal View and "+") and the grandparents would not leave the screen or require manual intervention, as with Expanded View.
If desired an "up arrow" button or similar in Normal View could be used to Expand only grandparents.
I can imagine alternative ways to improve hierarchical navigation, though they have disadvantages:
1) "Keep grandparents on screen" in Expanded View (though the screen in Expanded View would still be more complex than Normal View)
2) Allow "shrinking" to be disabled in Normal View with "+" pressed (though as with Expanded View this would still show many more thoughts than a grandparent level).
3) "somehow" enhance the Properties area so that multiple children could be more effectively stored in a single thought, letting the plex be used for hierarchy and the Properties for "Content". A lot would be lost with this approach, unless "Properties" items could still have thought links. This sounds terribly complex!
After considering the present options, I conclude that a grandparent level, "symmetric" with the present Child level, would be an excellent solution for improved navigation of hierarchical elements in a brain.
Just a quick note to confirm that this need still exists as of the version 5.5 beta (184.108.40.206). In other words, we need your votes!
My best mockups of an improved Normal View and the gap this request fills appear at http://forums.thebrain.com/tool/post/thebrain/show_single_post?pid=30225577&postcount=10 (FYI, I can't confirm the link this morning as the forum website is unavailable).
This request is a more complete form of my simpler request to have PersonalBrain avoid an "empty plex" when the childmost thought is the active thought in Normal View (http://thebrain.uservoice.com/pages/4597-personalbrain/suggestions/80083-make-plex-abhor-a-vacuum-in-normal-view). So far, all the supporters have chosen this request over the simpler one.
The alternatives suggested in the comments generally fall into iconic "papa bear" and "momma bear" categories:
1) "time consuming" suggestions that involve tailoring the plex through one or more clicks. This request is about facilitating navigation rather than presentation, so "tailoring the plex" defeats the purpose.
2) "too much information" suggestions, most notably bu pressing "+" in Normal View, which potentially floods the plex with additional thoughts,
Instead, this request intends to provide a "baby bear" solution that will enhance Normal View navigation while retaining its focus on the active thought's ancestors, siblings and descendants.
Open "Six Degrees of Music History", switch to Outline View, and activate "Carmine Appice", for example. This thought, as well as many others, is intricately linked to several levels in the brain. The new outline view does a good job of displaying that multi-level linkage.
Well, with more "grandparent" experience it should be all the easier to improve Normal View :)
Harlan, though I don't think it supersedes this request, how would one find a brain on webbrain.com to show the new Outline View?
The main points of this grandparent request are to be automatic to facilitate navigation / browsing and to do a better job of filling the plex when the active thought is at or near a bottom (childmost) thought, where the 5.0 Normal view leaves a largely empty screen.
Without jump links, and if the user needs to spend time expanding relationships, then the enhanced Outlive View is still more like Expanded View, which also requires time to tailor and is therefore more a presentation mode than a navigation / browsing one.
FYI, if you look at the Outline view in http://webbrain.com, you will see that parents can be infinitely expanded (grandparents, etcetera). This type of bi-directional outline view is included in the upcoming release of PB.
Out of votes? Go to uservoice.uservoice.com and vote for one of the voting enhancements.
I mean that the grandparent level should be automatic and visually hierarchical to facilitate navigation. If you'll look at the thread in my sixth comment, you'll see a sample of a cluttered and very non-hierarchical Expanded View, in that particular case very different from grandparent view. Our thinking seems to converge on a less cluttered sibling area.
We already have grandparent view simply by clicking the "+" button, but what I think you mean is that the grandparent thought should have same (or similar) font size and distance from parent as parent has from active thought. Excellent suggestion.
Where many siblings are displayed, the ability to suppress sibling display (by hotkey) would create more space for grandparents. My pet wish.
I think that I accidentally duplicated your idea, the one regarding grandparent thoughts. The current view makes for limited utility and extra work. Thank you for your excellent exposition of your suggestion. You were very thorough and I just wanted to commend and thank you for your good thinking.
Thanks, KIaaskildre, for the votes.
I wonder if we should accept a scrolling grandparent section. Would it make the plex seem too complex if we had to remember why our grandparents were "coming and going"?
I also submitted a more general version of this idea ("...abhor a vacuum") to cover the other "extreme" of a nearly empty plex, such as when the active thought has no children.
How about implementing this "show grandparent" idea only in the case of having a small number of parents, like two or so - in this way, it would minimize the risk of being over clogged. So, for such limited cases the grandparent(s) would show automatically and therefore ease navigation. From a certain critical mass, this would disappear automatically again. How about that?
I like this idea! Great post at the forum Cornan. This would enchance readability and navigation in this view.
I've posted some mockups of a grandparent level at: http://forums.thebrain.com/tool/post/thebrain/show_single_post?pid=30225577&postcount=10
covering both "extremes" - a plex where Distant Thoughts mode make a mess out of the plex, and where displaying the lowest level in the plex leaves a barren desert.
Thanks, bhurd, for sticking with this one.
This is a pretty clear request for those of us who use their brains to NAVIGATE. I had to make the text more complex to show I had considered existing features.
Some of the other new features (like saving a view or Outline view) are great for drilling into a particular area of the brain, but offer no help for navigation per se.
well, Harlan showed me, he actually moved the first version of this suggestion to the "completed" tab. NOT!!! So it is good that it is restated here.
and now that I am done ranting I see that you are the same guy that suggested it. Is there no way to edit the first posted suggestion? Or delete it? I am just thinking about somebody voting for the one and not the other. I assume Harlan and the gang can figure it out but it would cleaner... Again, I carry on....
This was already suggested and commented on by several users. I like it, by the way, but this brings up a question about how this uservoice thing should work. Is there anybody that is supposed to consolidate the ideas? Should everybody take the time to familiarize themselves with some 200 suggestions? Huh, I'm just ranting.....sorry