What is 3D Topicscape?

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3D Topicscape is personal software designed to help you manage information. It grew out of the mindmapping way of thinking but now makes information organizing a 2D or 3D activity available to everyone. Even if you've never heard of mindmapping you'll quickly understand what its 2D maps and 3D landscapes are about and see how it helps you save time and find information quickly.

It's not just about organizing information more efficiently, though. Once you've used this, you'll never want to go back to plain mind maps for organizing information and computer files:

  • You will see exciting new relationships between elements of your information that were there, but simply haven't shown up before;
  • you will spot what you're looking for by recognizing where you are for with the 'sense of place' that we all use every day in our 3D world;
  • you can identify items more precisely from descriptions that you add yourself to files and topic. Searching can include these descriptions;
  • you can go inside the 2D rectangle or 3D cone of a topic and find the items relating to that topic (occurrences) that you've put there;
  • you can place the same item in several places, without the need to make copies or shortcuts and therefore find them more easily. How often have you puzzled where to put a document - being torn between two or more places where it seems to fit logically? Here now, is the answer.

There is a brief learning curve - navigating in 3D in the computer screen isn't something most of us do every day. But it's made especially easy in Topicscape, because you can view the same scene in 2D or 3D. Review the built-in demonstrations and then really take charge of your information. There are obvious business and personal benefits in controlling your tasks even when you have many conflicting priorities. And you'll find you're ahead of others with answers when it's a case of finding a needed reference, as well as being able to research on the web with rare efficiency.

How do I learn the 3D operation of Topicscape?

3D Topicscape is not one of those products that installs, opens a new sheet and waits for you to start. We've all seen those, I guess. Topicscape has built-in, active demonstrations to guide you by the hand, and sample Topicscapes for you to explore.

Topicscape comes with a ready-made and extensive sample called Topicscape in your Life that you can fly around or even start modifying immediately. It's the kind of Topicscape that you might use to organize your personal and family information.

There's another Topicscape that one of our demonstrations will build before your eyes, with on-screen explanations as it goes. Topicscape Pro and Lite build a demo Topicscape about computer security and the Student Edition makes one about dinosaurs.

The top learning tool is this live demonstration. It covers the controls for flying and the main Topicscape functions.

3D Topicscape Pro starts in a relatively simple state (Limited Mode). This is not some trial version restriction (we just hate it when software that does that). Instead, it's a way of presenting the essential features first, while hiding the items that you don't need to know to understand what Topicscape is about.

Then it keeps an eye on what you do, and if, for example, you don't switch mouse flying on after a few runs, it offers to do so for you. Of course it also shows options to remind you later or never ask again. Then if you stay in the Limited Mode for a few more runs, it provides reminders about the other modes.

The demonstrations can be run slowly - people whose first language is not English may find this helpful - or at a steady pace, or quickly if its just a refresher you want. It can run in sections or from beginning to end uninterrupted, and most of the time you can pause with the space bar. Or you can pick a single section to review.

Each edition of Topicscape has its own Quickstart guide - you can read through this and follow its steps if you prefer this to watching a demonstration.

Of course, Topicscape has a comprehensive Help System in this wiki, which is linked to from its menu bar.

Finally, the Topicscape Support Team is ready and willing to help users who email enquiries.

Can you explain the 3D structure that Topicscape uses?

We have made a page with illustrations and an explanation here: Topicscape's 3D structure. We have also given an explanation in Topicscape's self-running demo, which you will see on first installation or can run at any time from the Help menu.

How does 3D compare with 2D mind mapping or concept mapping?

The underlying idea in 3D Topicscape is similar to these two techniques, but the presentation is very different.

As with a 2D mindmap or concept map there are nodes and connections between nodes. But instead of lines showing those connections, their locations show their relationship. These are 2D and 3D equivalents:

Small 2D 3D.jpg

Now, if I were making and using a mindmap with as few nodes as that, and I didn't expect it to grow much, I'd probably use a 2D mindmapper. It's when maps get big, or when they are being used to organize files, say, that 3D mindmaps become important. If you don't want to use both techniques, though, 3D Topicscape has much more mileage in it, as it can scale up indefinitely, offers cloning (one node appearing in more than one place without copying) and lets you store as many files in a topic as you like.

To see the difference for a large mindmap, take a look at this plan and research map for a real-life consulting project that was mapped both ways (click on the links or images to see more):

First in 2D ...
... then in 3D.

A mindmap is a tree structure except for the curved lines that are often used to show additional associations. A concept map on the other hand need not be, though it often has some hierarchy. It may have many relationships that are not parent-child. 3D Topicscape can handle both. Small 2D concept maps drawn to express a specific piece of knowledge, like this one about ecology:

But if you are researching a new subject, gathering information, recording how each topic is related to others - creating knowledge, in fact - things can quickly get out of hand in a 2D sheet. Then the value of 3D becomes plain as you uncover an ever-expanding landscape of knowledge and no longer bump against the edge of the sheet, or find it necessary to scroll, slide and collapse parts of the map.

Topicscape offers extraordinary support for the gathering of files, notes and web pages for research and study, with its ability to save files in its topic cones (nodes), save web page archives (.MHTs) in a background queue and easy cross-linking. The capability to describe relationships is usually important for concept maps as well and that can be done with Topicscape: The connection phrases appear in 3D blue panels floating between the cones they describe. This example is from the Student Edition, but Pro can also show association descriptions (click to see larger image).

click to see larger image

The result of this flexibility and expandability is that knowledge is that much easier to capture without the worry of software limitations. By working in a 3D landscape, Topicscape calls on our innate "sense of place" to help you recognize where you are and find what you want quickly.

Here is an illustrated explanation of Topicscape's structure.
 

Mindmapping articles - more about this great way of getting organized

Mindmaps Directory - thumbnails and links to mind maps
 

For an exciting free guide to all things visual, visit the
Visual Thinking Center
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