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Tutorial for the Pooter Thought Map module

Why a tutorial?

Pooter's Thought Map module is not difficult to use once you know how. Its not even particularly complicated, but it may well be nothing like anything you've seen before. The manual, which is available from Pooter's Help/Thought Map menu item and also here, contains a summary of the operations described in this tutorial. The tooltips and the two example maps mentioned in this tuorial are also instructive resources.

What this tutorial assumes

You already have Pooter installed and you know how to copy files around your computer.

Getting ready

Copy the ThoughtMap subdirectory in the example directory into your Pooter data directory and the icons subdirectory into your Pooter config file directory. The example directory will be located in the Pooter installation directory, probably C:\\Program Files\Pooter on Windows and /usr/lib/pooter or /usr/local/lib/pooter on Gnu\Linux. If you have already run the Thought Map module the icons directory will already exist, as will the ThoughtMap directory if you created a thought map. In this case copy the files inside the directories instead

Location of the config file and data directories is available from Pooter's status bar, at the bottom of its display.

Loading a thought map file

Start Pooter, select the Thought Map module and bring up the file operations menu, either by clicking the File button on the toolbar or by selecting File in the Action menu. All the toolbar buttons have menu entries that perform the same function.

Select BrainWave.xml and press the popup menu's Open file button. Notice that the central node is named BrainWave. This is no coincidence, the file name is always the name of the root icon, with the extension .xml.

Highlighting nodes

Move the mouse pointer into the centrally located BrainWave icon. The icon is replaced by a grey box, this highlighting indicates a currently selected node. Move the mouse up into the magenta square of the Left click node; the empty square becomes filled. The default is for nodes to be represented by squares, but these can be replaced by icons that are present in your config/icons directory.

Revealing and Concealing nodes

Select and highlight BrainWave again and left click. Most of the map will disappear and the grey square will now have central dot. Move the mouse away from the node; its icon will now have a grey line beneath it. The central node is the root node of the map; all the other nodes are descended from it. The central dot and the line indicate that the node has concealed children.

Highlight the node again and left click to reveal its 2 children.

Both these nodes have the dot and bar that indicate concealed children, so expand them with left clicks. Now notice the Left click node, which has no icon; because it also has concealed children, when not highlighted it has a coloured central dot, rather than a line beneath.

Friends and Relatives

There are two magenta lines that lead to Left click, so it might seem that it has 2 mothers, but this is not the case. Highlight Start a new map and contract it with a left click and you see that Start a new map has concealed children, but that Load a map does not. Left click's mother is Start a new map and Load a map is its friend.

A node can have only one friend and mother, but may be the friend of many nodes and may have many children.

With a few more left clicks you should be able expand every branch of the map and return it to its original state.

Starting and saving new map

Remove the BrainWave map with the Clear button, then press New to bring a a new node menu. Choose the colour by pressing one of the coloured squares and the size, then enter some text. Since this is the root node, this text must also be a valid file name. Press create a new node.

Now left click anywhere on the white background; this time you will have an extra option. A node may have a web page as a resource, so type in a web address. Save this node and left click on the white background again. This time there will be one further option as you now have a choice of mothers for this next node.

Write your map to disc with the Save button.

Moving and Deleting nodes

Highlight one of the non-root nodes and right click; the node will dissappear. Move the mouse to a new space, without entering any other node, right click again and the node will reappear in the new position.

One way to delete a node is to move it to the extreme top left of the white display. Try this, clear your map from the screen without saving so that you can recover the map unchanged by reloading it.

Editing nodes

With the freshly reloaded map, watch the toolbar as you highlight a node. The Edit button will become enabled. If this is the node that has a resource, the Browser button will also become enabled. These buttons always refer to the last node you entered; if you now enter your root node, Browser will disable; root nodes never have a resource.

Press Edit and the edit node menu will appear. As well as being able to change your mind about the the characteristics you already gave the node, there are additional options, such as formating the text and adding an icon. This menu also provides an alternative way to delete the node.

If the map is crowded, a more convenient alternative to clicking the Edit button, is holding down the {CONTROL} key (bottom left on the keyboard) and left click on the node itself.

The three types of resources

You should already have created a node that has a web page as a resource. Before you test this, you must configure Pooter to use a browser. See Help/About Pooter/Preferences for instructions. Preferences can not be edited while a thought map is loaded so either press clear, or select another module.

Highlight the node and press Browser without highlighting another node. Your browser will start and open the nodes resource. On a crowded map, double clicking the node is a convenient alternative.

Clear your map and reload BrainWave. Highlight Edit the node {Ctrl}... and use one of the methods to open its resource. This node has another thought map as its resource, which now replaces BrainWave. You will see the Back button is enabled and pressing this will take you back to BrainWave.

The last type of resource is any file on disk that your browser can open (nb, unlike Firefox, Internet Explorer will not open plain text files).

Special effects

Browse to or load the SpecialEffects map again. This demonstrates how the nodes can make use of html markup code. To see the code, highlight a node and call up the Edit menu (see Editing nodes above) and click the Edit or format the node's text box. This cause the markup code to become visible.