3. IQ Surface

The IQ Surface

The two-dimensional IQ Surface is an infinitely-sized sheet that can be used to show items.
It is an innovative way to view outlines, combining the free-form 2D layout and linking of concept maps with the expand / collapse features of grids:
 
Surface View :   vs Gantt View
 
In a nut-shell:
  • Use View > Surface to open the Surface
  • Unlike grids, where the number is unlimited, there is currently only one Surface. Multiple Surfaces support is of course planned
  • The Surface displays all items that have the Surface1 field checked
  • All child items are also shown
  • A child item is shown in one of 2 ways:
    • As a sub-item, immediately under the item
    • As a linked item, with a line joining it to the parent item
  • To switch between the two:
    • Drag out a sub-item to have it shown as a linked item
    • Drag a linked item back to the parent item to remove the link line and have it shown as a sub-item
  • Right-click from an item to another to create a parent - child link
  • Surface items are like any other item, and can be viewed in other views (Grids, Gantt, Calendar, Properties pane, etc)
  • The Surface will update to reflect changes to items done in other views, such as adding a child item, adding / deleting a parent
  • New: Auto-Arrange command !
     

1. Adding Items

To add existing items, open a grid, the Calendar, or another view. Select 1 or more items and:
  • Do Item > On the Surface
  • Check the Surface1 field (show the field in a grid or use the Properties pane)
Adding child items to an item that is already on the surface is automatic. You can do it in any grid and these will show up on the Surface
When existing items are added to the Surface, these are initially placed at the Origin, with child items collapsed. Press the Home key to quickly move to the Origin
 
To add new items, use any of the following methods:
  • Right-click on a blank area of the Surface and select New Item
  • Double-click on a blank area of the Surface
  • With no item selected, press Enter or the Insert key
 To add a new sub-item, you can:
  • Right-click on an existing item and select New Item
  • Select the parent item and press Enter or the Insert key

1.1 Editing Item Text

The item text can be edited in all views and in the Properties pane. To edit it within the Surface:
  • Right-click on an item > Edit
  • Double-click the item
  • Select an item and press the F2 key
The Pop-up Editor will open:
(See Popup Editor for details)
  

2. Removing Items

The Surface is not as dynamic as a grid, in that the source cannot be changed. It is set to the system field Surface1. And, as it does not support filters, it becomes essential at times to clean it up.
 
To remove items, select 1 or more and do one of:
  • Press the Delete key
  • Edit > Erase Item (or right-click)
A dialog will be shown with the following options:
 
 
  1. Erase will remove the items from the database (Surface, Grids, Calendar, etc)
  2. Removed item remain in the database but all Surface-specific properties will be deleted
  3. Hidden items retain all their Surface-specific properties (box size, border color, link lines types, etc).
    If a hidden item is shown again, it and its child items will be shown exactly as it was before hiding
    It is the equivalent to un-checking the Surface1 field
  4. Hidden items can be shown using Surface > Show Hidden Items
    To have these show in the normal view, either do Item > On the Surface or check the Surface1 field
      

3. Formatting items

Items on the surface are shown as a rectangular boxes. The following system-wide properties are shown for items on the Surface:
  • ItemColor: shown as the box background color
  • ItemForeColor: shown as the text foreground color
  • Embedded HTML codes (font, size, bold, italic, images, hyperlinks, etc)
  • ItemFont is NOT shown for items on the Surface, all items are shown with the same font
The following are Surface-specific formatting::
  • Box size: Auto-size or Sizable
  • Box border color
  • Item text alignment and padding
Note that:
  • When 1 or more items are selected, the above commands are applied to these items
  • When no item is selected, the following commands sets the default for new items created: AutoSize, Padding
  • When no item is selected the remaining commands are applied to items that have the default value. For example:
    • The BackColor command sets the box color for all items that do not have a value for ItemColor
    • Text Fore Color and Border Color behave the same
       

4. Linking Items

Links on the IQ Surface are nothing more than regular parent - child relationships (i.e. seen in a grid as an outline).
 
Being a two-dimensional view, the Surface excels at creating links with more control on how links are shown:
  • Easy link creation, in particular for multi-parent links
  • Link line color, line type and shape can be set, globally or for specific links
  • Links can have text (shown half way along the link line)
  • Children can be shown as sub-items or as a linked item (with a connecting line)
  • Expand / collapse can hide all children or just those shown as sub-items

4.1 Creating Links

To create links: 
  • Right-click on the parent item and drag to the child item
  • Drag out a sub-item
  • Select the parent item. While holding the Ctrl key, select 1 or more items. Do Surface > Link Items. Links will be created between the parent item and all other selected items
  • Select the parent item. Do Surface > Link Items. A dialog will show all items on the Surface:

    Select one of more items and click OK
     

4.2 Removing Links

To remove a link:
  • Hover over the link text (half way on the link line). The mouse pointer will change to a hand. Right-click and select Delete Link
  • Select the two items that are linked. Right-click and select Delete Link
  • To delete all outgoing links, select the parent item, right-click and select Delete Link. A dialog will be shown to confirm action
  • Select the child item and in the Properties pane - Parents section, right-click on the parent and select Delete Parent Link
     

4.3 Setting Link Text

To select link text:
  • Hover over the link text (half way on the link line). The mouse pointer will change to a hand. Right-click and select Link Text
  • Select the two items that are linked. Right-click and select Link Text
  • Select the parent item. Right-click and select Link Text. An input box will be show for all outgoing links. The link text can include icons, using the syntax <img>IconName</img>

4.4 Formatting Links

The following properties can be set for each link:
  • Line Color
  • Line Type (dot, dash, etc)
  • Line Shape (straight, curved, etc)
Note that:
  • When the 2 sides of the link are selected, the commands will be applied to that link
  • When only 1 item is selected, the commands will be applied to all outgoing links
  • When no item is selected, the commands will be applied to links with default properties
     

5. Working with the Surface

Users can move the view point, zoom in / out, and expand / collapse items and links

5.1 Moving the Surface

  • Click on an empty area of the Surface and drag the mouse (or Tap and drag)
  • On a touch screen, touch the Surface and move
  • To move up / down, roll the mouse wheel (or 2-finger up / down)
  • To move left / right, hold the Shift key and roll the mouse wheel
  • Press left / right / up / down keys
  • Press PgUp / PgDn keys (hold Shift for horizontal)
  • Press the Home key to move to the Origin
     

5.2 Zoom In / Out

  • Hold the Ctrl key and roll the mouse wheel
  • Pinch zoom in / out on a touchpad
  • View Zoom In / Out / Reset
  • Ctrl + Home to view all items
  • n.b. Pinch zoom on a touch screen does not currently work
     

5.3 Expand / Collapse Items and links

  • When an item has 1 or more sub-items, an expand button is shown to the left of the item box ( +, - ). Click on this button to expand / collapse sub-items
  • For links, the behavior is set with Surface > Hide Linked Items on Collapse:
    • If checked, linked items will hide when you collapse the parent item
    • If un-checked, linked will not hide when you collapse the parent item (only sub-items will hide).
      This is useful when the parent has many children. Simply pull-out some sub-items and collapse the parent. It effectively does a hoist
  • To quickly expand / collapse a multi-level hierarchy of items, use the Ctrl + 0-9 shortcuts:
    • Ctrl + n: Expand to level n where n=1, 2, ... 9
    • Ctrl + 0: Expand completely
       

5.4 Moving Items on the Surface

  1. Select 1 or more items
  2. Click and drag to the new position (mouse, touchpad, touch screen)
Note: When moving an item, make sure you drop it on a blank area of the Surface, otherwise you may be setting it as a sub-item of another item
 

5.5 Auto-Arranging Items

  1. Select 1 or more items
  2. Do Surface > Auto-Arrange... :
  3. Select options and click OK
Undoing the Auto-Arrange
  • After an auto-arrange, a pop-up notification is shown (bottom-left corner). Click this notification to cancel the auto-arrange
  • On auto-save and on closing the Surface, a confirmation dialog is shown. Use this to cancel the auto-arrange
     

6. Surface View Options

Use the menu commands to:
  • Set the Surface back color (i.e. the 2D sheet color)
  • Show / hide grid lines
  • Snap to the grid On / Off for items
  • Show hidden items
  • Behavior when moving an item: Should linked items move with it or stay put
  • Behavior when collapsing an item: Should linked items be shown or not

Tips and Tricks

  • Create a grid named Surface1 (or set the grid source to that field) and then all actions on the Surface will be seen there too. Conversely, all changes in this grid will be reflected on the Surface
  • You can quickly hide items by unchecking the Surface1 field
  • Item font is not shown on the Surface. You can however set the overall font using the Grow Font and Shrink Font commands
  • Press Ctrl + Shift to toggle how multiple links are shown (combined or separate)
  • The Surface layout auto-saves every 60 seconds
  • To know if an item was added to the Surface or just shown because it is a child of a Surface item, check the lower left of the item box. Surface items have a green check-mark