A personal journey in information management (contd.)
OK, that's how it's organized, and found. Now show it to me!
Seeing contents of files
It had to be possible to open any file in Topicscape, using that file's own software, provided, of course, that the software was installed on the PC. That's a given, because managing information doesn't end when we collect it and look at it. Information management software must allow the content of files to be changed where possible. If it's not editable directly - like a PDF, EXE or MHTML file - that may not apply, but other file types should be editable if the user has the software to make changes.
We decided that this is not enough. We needed to be able to preview files if possible. So we added a preview panel for many types of files:
- MS Office files like Word documents, spreadsheets and presentations
- image file types like jpg, png and others
- PDF (Acrobat) files - this one was very important
- web pages - URLs, web archive and simple HTML pages
- text files (of course)
And thumbnails are all very well, but a medium-sized preview would be a good addition. Oh, and why not a large one as well. Often, when it's a case of quick reference, using the medium or larger preview is enough and we don't need to open the file. But like most previews, for multi-page documents it will show only the first page.
Downgraded by Windows
Here's a disappointment. We used a Windows function for some types of files, including web pages and links to web sites (URLs). Windows XP handles that very well, though it can slow things down as it waits for the information to be retrieved across an Internet connection. Sadly, Microsoft took this capability out in Vista. So Topicscape users on Vista have to do without web page previews.
Seeing our added file notes and descriptions - the metadata
We need to be able to read the descriptions, authors, source information and so on that we may have added to files. We decided to show this in the Topicscape window as soon as any item - occurrence or topic - is shown.
We decided that the Topic cones would be a good place to hold the Occurrences, and by double-clicking on one, the camera flies towards it and enters. No users have been injured by the rapid passage through the cone wall. Once in there, they see this:
A double-click on any occurrence opens it up.
How did this work out for organizing reference material? ⇒