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Saturday, December 21, 2013

MindMup, Daedalus Touch and my so-called career

It's the end of the year - and also, the launching of my new career - so I am once again looking at my software tools. I ran across two today that I probably don't need, but I found very well done.

The first is an open source mind map application, run from within a browser. It has a wonderfully clear and intuitive design. Things tend to do about what you think they'll do. It's called MindMup. I've used it on my laptop and on my iPad. The interface automatically adjusts to the device it's running on. The desktop version has sensible keyboard commands (Enter to make a sibling, tab to make a child), a good set of features (links are live, everything can be dragged around, expanded or collapsed), runs quickly, and saves to Google Drive or Dropbox. It will print, export PNG, PDF, HTML, or Freemind (and a few others).

Here's my first map:

You can see that the collapsed topics (Articles, for instance) have a stacked-card look. There's a lot to be said for free, platform-agnostic tools that work in a sane and simple fashion. And you can also see how I'm sizing up my work in 2014. (I'll be taking over the ebook blog from Chris Harris for American Libraries, co-editing Public Libraries' Perspectives column, writing a bunch of articles, working on a book, doing consulting, and giving some attention to keynotes and continuing education workshops. So far, it's all coming together pretty quickly, with tremendously interesting and exciting opportunities.)

The second program is iPad only. It's a text editor called Daedulus Touch. Another clean, minimalist writing app, it has a marvelously clever user interface metaphor: a pile of papers. You can start a stack, and add pieces of paper to it. You can also shuffle the papers around, just by swiping. Or jump to another stack. There's been a lot of talk after Apple's iOS7 update about the idea of skeuomorphism - where the notepad app looks like a legal pad with torn edges, for instance. With Daedulus touch, the design is modern and clean, but the use is deeply familiar to anyone who smears things around on a desk. While I don't know if I'll actually use it (I've settled on Simplenote for shorter things, and WriteRoom for longer), Daedulus Touch is free today from the Apple Store, and I recognize quality when I see it.

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