After we released Topicscape 1.0 in May 2006 and the five versions that followed it, we had some great feedback from users and a flow of ideas from our own continuous internal use.
This showed us that there are two main types of people who know and love Topicscape: The Simplifiers and the Extenders!
The Simplifiers turned out to be people who want something to help them deal with a complicated life by giving them a broad view of their ToDo lists and tasks quickly and easily. Whether they knew mind mapping or not, they liked this rare opportunity to see so much of their work laid out in a 3D landscape. For them we made Topicscape Lite.
The Extenders were the ones who loved that, but could also see the extraordinary possibilities that the 3D world offers, and wanted a sophisticated link to other software that they used in the past or still use. And they could see the benefits in time saved and the instant appreciation of their work and information on screen. They craved more control, more customization and more information visualization made possible by exploiting modern 3D graphics to the full. For them we produced Topicscape Pro.
But the thing that binds all Topicscape products is how the Topicscape looks, and you can click this link to open an illustrated page explaining the structure in another browser window.
3D Topicscape Pro
3D Topicscape Pro is our original Topicscape on steroids, thanks to the ideas put forward by Extenders. The immediate difference is in the appearance, as Topicscape Pro introduced 21 'skins'.
So what's the benefit, other than looking pretty? You can choose a Topicscape appearance to match your surroundings - a cool, understated one for the office (we like Smoky Plastic) or a brightly colored one for the kid's homework projects at home (Jewel perhaps). You can even choose different skins for different Topicscapes. The colors can show the structure, or you can choose a scheme where topics can be recognized by color.
But it's not just the appearance that has changed in Pro. You can switch from 3D to 2D and back, which is helpful if you're familiar with PersonalBrain for example, or have a small map that all fits well on the screen. If you know Cooliris, you already know how to operate Topicscape in 2D, and for 3D, the controls work much like Google Earth. Also, Topicscape Pro adds the ability to work with other software so that your investment in, say, 2D mind maps for planning (MindManager, FreeMind) or Microsoft Outlook to organize all your work, does not have to be given up when you start using Topicscape. Topicscape Pro uses the increasingly popular URI connection to some piece of information held in another piece of software - we call it a LiveLink.
The easiest kind of LiveLink to explain would be a link to the record of one of your contacts in MS Outlook; a specific Outlook task; or a meeting note in your Outlook calendar. The MS Outlook versions supported are Outlook 2000 - 2007.
The same kind of link can be made with items in many other types of software, as this type of link is increasingly popular and is being added to more and more software packages. Some examples are MyInfo, Whizfolders, UltraRecall, EverNote and ConnectedText.
Why would you want to do that? If you have a lot of information in other information-management products, you can switch to Topicscape gently, by bringing items in with a copy and paste to make a LiveLink. Double-click on a LiveLink and it will open the other application and then go straight to the item you copied in.
A particularly import new link type is the precision Topicscape link. This lets you have an occurrence in one Topicscape that will open another Topicscape at a predefined topic. You can have shortcuts on your desktop to do the same thing. So you can double-click a desktop shortcut and have it open your ToDo List Topicscape at the "Today" topic so that you can get right on with your planning and action.
Topicscape Pro's ability to import and export has been enhanced, in line with G&A M.C.'s policy of making Topicscape work with as many other information management products as possible. You can now import and export various forms of text, import XML and OML, and export, HTML (web page), OPML and XML.
So what? What does this mean?
- Well, you can take your Topicscape away to read in a text file or as a 2D list in a browser with active hyperlinks.
- You can take text output from other mindmapping software and import it to Topicscape and see your mindmap rendered in 3D - especially useful when the 2D sheet has started getting too big or too crammed.
- You can import your outlines and tasks from, say, ShadowPlan to make a Topicscape.
- You can export your Topicscape to an OPML outline with collapsible branches.
All of the exports and imports work with an entire Topicscape or just one branch (a topic, and all its children, grandchildren, in fact all descendants).
You can now export an entire Topicscape to folders and files, and re-import it if you wish to make a new Topicscape, with all of the structure preserved.
Topicscape Pro lets you preview many types of file, right there in the Topicscape window: graphics files, web pages and common MS Office documents. This is useful for quick recognition of the item you're looking for.
Specific topics that you want to stand out in the 3D landscape can be 'flagged'. The flag can literally be a pennant on the crest of the cone or pyramid, or a color that you choose to be applied to all flagged topics.
Topics and occurrences can be tagged, and you can apply a tag filter to hide all items not tagged with a specific tag or tags.
When installed, Topicscape Pro has just two skins. If you want the additional skins, you will need to download a small installer. It is at the main Topicscape download page. Additional skins are free.
The skins can be customized in many ways, including color, transparency, three model styles, new 'materials' for the topics, new ground textures, and different schemes for coloring topics based on user's individual choice or position in the structure. You can see samples of some of the skins for Topicscape Pro here.
Topicscape Pro is much more powerful in conquering troublesome web pages that don't want you to make a web archive file (.MHT) from them. Now you can save many web pages on your local disk and view them just as they look on-line. Topicscape Box Pro can do the same and comes as standard with Topicscape Pro.
3D Topicscape Lite
3D Topicscape Lite is a very capable tool for managing ToDo lists and files in your computer. Thanks to the Simplifiers, its strength is in presenting a lot of complex information in a simple way. You can see the big picture, and at the same time home in on the details and act. It lets you fly, zoom and search, then store files and notes, just as Topicscape Pro does, but provides a simpler interface with some of the more advanced Pro features left out.
If you want control without fuss, but would like a bit of fun at the same time, Topicscape Lite is a good option for you. It gives you an outstanding way to visualize, prioritize and organize your work, home and hobbies.
If you are familiar with Topicscape 2.0, you may just want to see a summary of new Pro features.
There is a comparison of exact feature differences between Topicscape Pro and Topicscape Lite here.