Details Panel

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(Go to:Topicscape Pro User Guide - contents list)

When a topic, occurrence or association is selected, a Details Panel appears. This gives you more information about the selected item and the freedom to add you own. There are three types of Details Panel and which shows depend on what type of item is selected (topic, occurrence or association). These panels can be dragged to different parts of the screen by their title bar. 3D Topicscape makes extensive use of somewhat transparent objects so that, for example, while reading a 2D list of search results down the left side of the screen, you can still see the general shape and structure of any topics that might be behind that list.

Whenever you click on a topic, an occurrence in the Topic Center, Loosely Associated item in the LA or tunnel list (see Tunneling through to more ideas) or a topic or occurrence item in the Hit or History lists (see Search results -- the Hit List and Searching with Latin alphabet characters with diacritics and ligatures), the details panel will show up. This panel may be shown full size, like this:


or as a small minimized bar in the bottom


right of the Topicscape window, depending on whether you have previously pressed the minimize button:

If any type of details panel is visible, it will disappear as soon as you start flying, or if you click anywhere other than on a topic, occurrence or association line. It shows just one line of description area when empty. As you add description, the panel expands, but only as far as four lines. Any Description beyond four lines will be accessible by scrolling. The Description area can hold up to 2000 characters of text. Any properly-formed URL (http://xxx.yyy.zzz/) in the description will automatically become a live hyperlink.

The details panel can be moved by dragging its top bar, and minimized (or restored) by double-clicking the bar, or the minimize / restore buttons. You can also hover the cursor over the minimized panel and the restored panel will appear, letting you read it, edit it, and select controls on it. If you press Enter, after editing, or move the cursor away from the minimized or full panel, it will automatically minimize again. Double click the minimized panel or click on the icon in its upper left to restore it fully.

The Topic details panel has a small double-chevron button that shows or hides additional information about the topic.

To change the name, select the topic or occurrence and either press F2, or click over the name area on the Details panel (the cursor changes to an I-beam or text insertion point when it is over text that can be edited). This will put the text field into text edit mode (white background) with the cursor at the end. F2 always prepares the name of the selected item for editing, but using the text insertion point, you can open any editable text item for changes. To move from one text item to another, use the Tab key.

Details Panels allow for the addition of a Description of up to 2000 characters


(letters, numbers, punctuation and special characters). You can also add a rich text format description to a topic. Next to the Description caption, there is a [+] button. Pressing that will make an RTF (Rich Text Format) file and associate it with this topic. This allows you to include in a Description text with varied fonts, colors, images, tables and embedded OLE objects like spreadsheet portions.

Description Plus (Description+)

Pressing the [+] button next to the Description caption will open an RTF (Rich Text Format) file in a new window. It will use the application associated with the .rtf extension in your computer. This may be MS Word if you have that installed, or OpenOffice Write. If you do not have separate word processing software, it will use Windows' WordPad.

The file made when you press the [+] button will be given a name identifying the topic. Each topic can have only one Description+. Once you have added a Description+, the background to the plus sign will turn green, as in the example above. To delete a Description+, right-click anywhere in the Details panel and a small pop-up menu will give you that option.

Topics with a Description+ will be handled correctly when you export a whole Topicscape and re-import it. The rtf file will be ignored though if you export a specific topic or a topic group (topic and its descendants).

The rtf file will not be deleted when you delete a topic, but can be cleared up using the "Check for stray files" option on the Tools menu, or using Data Repair. Until the clear up is done, it will be found in that specific Topicscape's folder in a subfolder called .Topicscape-RTFDescription.

New data, like the Description+ data, has been introduced to handle various functions of Beta 1.5 and we have now extended Data Repair to cater for this.

If you merge two topics with a Description+, the target topic's Description+ will be retained in Topicscape and the source topic's will be placed on your Desktop for you to make a decision on what to do with it.

Description Plus entries will be exported and re-imported from Topicscape in the relevant Export and Import processes. They will appear as RTF files at the same level as the item they describe. Topicscape does a little magic to ensure that if you re-import the export, they are recognized and made into Description Plus entries again (unless you rename them, move them or change, for example, the manifest file).

The above are general points that also apply to the occurrence Details Panel described later.

Other information shown via the Details Panel

You can easily know how many loose associations a topic has and see a list of them. In the panel's title bar, Topicscape shows the number of "Topics loosely associated with this", the selected topic. If there are any loosely associated topics (LAs), a small "View" button will appear. Clicking on that will show the tunnel panel, listing the LAs.

You can quickly see the contents of a topic without going into the topic center. If there are any occurrences in the topic, another small "View" button will appear next to the number of Occurrences. Clicking on this button will show a topic's contents list showing the occurrences in that topic.

You can bring up this panel via the right-click menu. More about that below.

You can also find out some of the history of a topic. The panel has a small chevron button at the top right which will extend the panel downwards to show the dates when this topic was created, last modified and last made into the Current Topic.

The occurrence Details Panel shows information about occurrences and lets you change aspects of the occurrence:


Names or file path information, if they do not fit into the available space on the panel, will end in an ellipsis... To read the full name or path, hover the cursor over the entry and the full line will appear in a separate blue panel (see Blue expanded topic name panels).

In the Occurrence Details Panel's title bar, there are color-choice radio buttons and a "Finished with" checkbox. More on these in Occurrence flagging. The Association Details Panel shows how two topics are associated:


This lets you describe what associates the two topics in each direction.

Concept map "linking phrases" (association types)

If you have used concept maps or topic maps you will probably have worked with association types (sometimes called 'linking phrases') before. They help to describe how topics are related and are a way of capturing knowledge. To see the association Details Panel, click on an association line and hold briefly.

In 2D, Loose Associations are indicated with a dashed white and black line, provided that topics at both end of the line or in the 2D Map at that time. They are also indicated by a small tunnel icon.

In 3D, the association line will not provide a way of seeing Association types for Loose Associations - they are only shown on the tunnel panel or in the Topic Center in the navigation panel. To define the association type in more detail for Loose Associations (i.e. as more than just 'loose'), just right click on a topic in either of those panels and, on the menu that appears, select "Define association type". This will show the association Details Panel and allow you to enter your own descriptions of the Loose Association type.

This associations Details Panel is mainly there for editing. There are two other ways of seeing Association types: One is in the 3D scene, another is in the form of a small blue hint panel. These are described and shown in the next section.

Text editing

If you hover the cursor over the text areas in any of the three types of Details Panel you'll see the text editing cursor (the I-beam, or text insertion point). Click on the text area with that to edit text. Text areas that you can edit are: Name; Description (for topics and occurrences); Author; Authority; Source (occurrences only); Association types (associations only).

You can have a much larger area for editing if you select the text area and press Shift+F2, like this:


The "Label" and "Type" areas are where imported data specific to PersonalBrain appear and can be edited after import.

Next: Topic Center


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