Demystifying InfoQube

 
InfoQube is often seen as a complex program: 
Regarding InfoQube, I agree with Jan Rifkinson that it is a massively capable programme, the development of which I am keeping a close eye on. (...) However, I have found InfoQube to be a massively complex programme that requires more practice than I have had time to give to date
 
This always comes as a surprise to me as, IMHO, it is an incredibly simple program. The concept can be summarized as follows:
  1. An item is the basic unit of information
     
  2. Items can be arranged in a hierarchy :
    1. Items can have multiple children (i.e. sub-items)
    2. Items can have multiple parents
    3. Recursion is allowed (item1>>item2>>item1>>...)
    4. The hierarchy depth has no limit
    5. These links can be added  and removed at will without any restrictions. The only restriction, is that an item cannot be a parent of itself.
       
  3. All items are independent (i.e. deleting a parent item does not automatically delete sub-items. You are prompted)
     
  4. Custom fields can be created (types are: yes/no, text, date/time, number) and field values can be assigned to items. Items can have any number of field values (1 value per field per item), some system defined, some user-defined :
    1. Item name
    2. Associated numbers, dates, checkmarks
    3. bits of text
       
  5. A Rich Text (HTML) pane allows :
    1. Editing of a rich text document (either stored in the database or in the file system)
    2. Viewing of a web page, email message, PDF, MHT, EML, PPT, DOC, XLS files
       
  6. A Properties pane is available to view / modify field values and other item properties.
     
  7. Items with their field-values are typically viewed in a customizable Excel-type Grid, supporting hierarchy. But other views are possible (Calendar, MapView, Pivot table/charts, Gantt) and planned (card-view).
     
  8. Grids have many display options to effectively manage your information :
    1. Show / hide the hierarchy
    2. Show / hide the context parents
    3. Group by field value
       
  9. Grids do not contain items. They simply display the ones you choose to see
     
  10. You can Hoist any number of items, to focus on these, away from the full hierarchy
     
  11. You can filter and sort to view / arrange items just the way you want
     
  12. You can create hyperlinks to files, folders, web pages, items, grids, fields, wiki tags and Outlook items
     
  13. You can clip content from web pages and emails (currently there are IE, FF and TB extensions) or from any other application using a universal clipper. Clipped content is shown in the Rich Text (HTML) pane.
     
  14. Everything is stored in an industry standard database, which supports multi-user with simultaneous access and updates with granularity down to the field-value level (i.e. different users can modify different field-values of the same item)
     
  15. Users can create forms, which allow you to view / edit a group of related fields (i.e. contact info, task info, project info, appointment info, etc.) :
    1. Edit / modify / add items using the form
    2. You can define default values for each field in a form, and apply a form to an item to set any number of field values to these default values
    3. Forms are shown in the Properties pane
       
  16. You can execute code (built-in functions or user-defined ones). There are 3 types:
    1. Push equations (also called auto-assign). These are evaluated when a field-value is added, modified or erased
    2. Pull equations (Excel-type equations). You can set a field-value to be a function of other field-values of the item
    3. Hierarchy equations. To compute totals, averages, etc based on the item hierarchy (i.e. total project time, cost, etc)
       
  17. You have many ways to search in your database, including live-search
     
  18. You can import information for other applications
     
  19. You can export information to other applications and to the web
     
  20. Other applications can read live information from your IQBase
     
  21. InfoQube can read live information for other applications / databases
     

Re: Demystifying InfoQube

Pierre_Admin wrote:
 
InfoQube is often seen as a complex program: 
Regarding InfoQube, I agree with Jan Rifkinson that it is a massively capable programme, the development of which I am keeping a close eye on. (...) However, I have found InfoQube to be a massively complex programme that requires more practice than I have had time to give to date
 
This always comes as a surprise to me as, IMHO, it is an incredibly simple program. [giant snip]
 
No matter your surprise, Pierre, I think we all have to put our heads together to figure out how to combat this impression & to smooth out the learning curve.
 
Obviously all programs require a learning curve & I think most people -- to greater of lesser degree -- are willing to put in some time.
 
But you can see some of this concern even from dedicated & appreciative users like me in my post about printing. Printing, the simplest of processes & known to the world as <CTRL>+P is not really possible in IQ, etc. (I won't repeat my post here.) 
 
IQ requires programming or learning the right syntax for culling information. Ex: in some places, the criteria is separated by ","  In other places the "|" is used. And finally words like "and", "or" with parenthesis, etc. To make it do something fancy you have to know how to structure equations or write in some kind of language whose name I don't even remember right now.
 
Some of this stuff is built into other programs. We've been talking about exel. Well, Excel has a list of ready made functions for users, etc.
 
Remember, I'm someone who loves the possibilities that IQ provides & I came from Agenda & Ecco Pro & a few others in between & after. Most people just want to get something done & are looking for the right tool. They don't want to build the hammer to knock the nail into the wall.
 
I'm on your side. Let me know  how I can help & I will do my best. I really want you to succeed.
 
--
Jan Rifkinson
Ridgefield CT USA
HP Blackbird Vista Ultimate SP-1

Re: Demystifying InfoQube

This is a long thread already, but here are some thoughts ...
I don't think IQ has any complexity problems per se. The challenge is not with the software, it's with how we the user implement it.

My analogy is likening IQ to walking into a large store with 1000 different brands of soap! Unless you know exacly what you want before you walk into the store, you are going to be overwelmed with choices and decissions. Too many options can be unhelpful, if you don't already have a clear idea of what you want.

So the challenge is with understanding HOW to implement IQ to your own best advantage. That requires understanding your needs and being able to chunk them down logically into function and processes.

To quote the blurb " InfoQube does not try and constrain you to a fixed information management system" but offers a more flexible apprach that gives you the choice to design the data management how you want.

Ok, there's the 1000 brands of soap again. Sometimes it's easier to have someone say "hey, here's the one, this what you need" It takes away the pain of decissions, but also the flexibility of individualism.

I seriously think anyone using IQ needs to spend time really mapping out what they want to do and implementing that map to IQ. The chances are that done this way IQ will outpace any other software.

If you want an easy ride, choose another application. It will give you a prescribed route that requires little planning, but ultimately stifle your work with limitations.

Re: Demystifying InfoQube

Quote:

To quote the blurb " InfoQube does not try and constrain you to a fixed information management system" but offers a more flexible apprach that gives you the choice to design the data management how you want.

Ok, there's the 1000 brands of soap again. Sometimes it's easier to have someone say "hey, here's the one, this what you need" It takes away the pain of decissions, but also the flexibility of individualism.

I seriously think anyone using IQ needs to spend time really mapping out what they want to do and implementing that map to IQ. The chances are that done this way IQ will outpace any other software.

If you want an easy ride, choose another application. It will give you a prescribed route that requires little planning, but ultimately stifle your work with limitations.

 

This is quite true. For IQ to reveal its true power you really need to think about how you want to work and organize your stuff -- of course, some already excellent suggestions are made in the sample DB. More to come.

IQ's flexibility  is/was also designed to solve specific but also varying enterprise organizational problems : with the help of a consultant who will be able to create all the grids, fields, filters, etc. that the user needs, it becomes a piece of cake. Much more flexible and easy to use and install than Access.

One thing that could be done in the future (and it's already started) is to have many sample database/configuration for different types of users. One Database which is more writer oriented, one geared towards project management, etc. At least, users will be able to see how it can be done.

This won't solve the most basic IQ "problem" though : users need to think and plan to get the best out of it.

Re: Demystifying InfoQube

Thanks folks, but I was hoping for comments as to whether or not this helps in demystifying IQ...

Re: Demystifying InfoQube

Pierre_Admin wrote:
Thanks folks, but I was hoping for comments as to whether or not this helps in demystifying IQ...
 
Pierre
I think it's good, (but I know all this stuff already so I cant really be a judge of it)
I think it should go in the manual too
I posted a link to here in donationcoder thread in the hopes some beginners will come and check it out and see if it's a good intro   

Re: Demystifying InfoQube

Pierre_Admin wrote:
Thanks folks, but I was hoping for comments as to whether or not this helps in demystifying IQ...
Sorry about that diversion; I should have started another thread.
 
It's a very good conceptual compendium, but there's a lot of mystery left, as to the HOW, especially if you want to use everything it's capable of.  I think a full manual, lots of sample applications,  and lots of templates will be equally important.
 
In case you hadn't read it closely yet,  gregory and Jan's comments in Need some opinions on the manual cross-references are quite perceptive.
 
What a great program-it can be simple, or mind-boggling, and it is quite addictive! We've just got to figure out how people can "get it" in hours instead of weeks or months.
 
 
 

Re: Demystifying InfoQube

if IQ remains mysterious it's probably not so much because of some obscure principles, but -- IMO -- because of some complexities/inconsistencies/incompleteness in the interface, terminology and implementation of some of the features. It's getting there though, and it's already -- for me at least -- more efficient than most software to accomplish certain tasks I use it for.
 
 
Yes some principles are hard to get used to at first because (and this is a mixed bag of user contextual habits/UI design/bugs, etc.):
 
1- the user is used to the folder metaphor, and grids look like folders in which items are stored. It usually takes a while to understand that each IQ grid is more or less like a search result page, but more sophisticated. I think that grids should be presented as such (search results pages, like if they were just different tabs in a desktop search program). Almost everybody who's familiar with computers knows what a desktop search app is nowadays.
 
2- the laws  governing filter interaction is not always easy to grasp and can remain obscure even after many weeks of usage (for one simple reasons : if you're not tinkering with filters everyday, you tend to forget about all that) (the famous "named filters" would be handy here...). The UI doesn't facilitate enough the understanding of what filter is active, and the "hierarchical" laws governing the way filters condition what shows up in the grids.
 
3- some features can be a bit confusing because they don't necessarily "correspond" exactly to their description/"identifier" (e.g. : the very useful flat view, especially, which still allows for a hierarchical view. Maybe the term describing this mode should be reviewed... or the save item state deactivated just before the mode change (to be reactivated at will), etc.)
 
4- the hierarchies are sometimes disrupted because of 2 well know (related) hierarchical bugs, and so that makes the user think that there's something wrong with the filters, and then start tinkering with filters, etc.
 
5- The inconsistencies of the "refreshing" : some changes needs a grid open/close to show, others an app restart, sometimes just a grid change or item switch, etc.
 
6- Some simple actions like copy/paste are sometimes difficult to achieve -- or at least more complex than in another program (more steps -- especially in the case of inter-grid pasting --, and sometimes just... won't work, like the tab-delimited mode.) : items don't appear where one would expect them, etc.
 
7- some terms are not always used consistently (in the documentation fields are/were sometimes called folders or properties, grids are/were called sheets, etc.). One term I was having a problem with at the beginning was the "field-folder-property-column" one. A consensus should be reached, and only one or 2 expressions should be used : field and field /columns, I believe, because that's what they are and how they usually appear (in grids)
 
 
These are the main reasons I can think of at the moment.
 
As for the concepts on which IQ is based... I agree, it's simple.
 
This is how I'd rearrange the description :
 
 
IQs main elements are Items, fields, grids and filters.
 
ITEMS and FIELDS
  1. An item is the basic unit of information
     
    1. Items can be arranged in a hierarchy :
      1. Items can have multiple children (i.e. sub-items)
      2. Items can have multiple parents
      3. Recursion is allowed (item1>>item2>>item1>>...)
      4. There is no depth limit
      5. These links can be added  and removed at will without any restrictions
         
    2. All items are independent (i.e. sub-item's existence does not rely on their parents)
       
    3. Items can have any number of field values, some system defined, some user-defined :
      1. Item name
      2. Associated numbers, dates, checkmarks
      3. bits of plain text
      4. Rich text , edited in a pane which allows :
        1. Editing of a rich text document (either stored in the database or in the file system)
        2. Viewing of a web page, email message, PDF, MHT, DOC, XLS files
           
    4. Users can create forms, which allow you to view / edit a group of related fields (i.e. contact info, task info, project info, appointment info, etc.) :
      1. Edit / modify / add items using the form
      2. You can define default values for each field in a form, and apply a form to an item to set any number of field values to these default values
         
GRIDS and filters
  1. Items with their field-values are typically viewed in a customizable Excel-type Grid, supporting hierarchy. But other views are possible (Calendar, Pivot table/charts, Gantt) and planned (Mindmap, card-view).
     
  2. Grids have many display options to effectively manage your information :
    1. Show / hide the hierarchy
    2. Show / hide the context parents
    3. Group by field value
       
  3. These grids do not contain items. They simply display the ones you choose to see, as if they were the result page of a searching program (e.g. : desktop search)
     
  4. You can filter and sort to view / arrange items in grids just the way you want

That's it... for the main concepts.
 
 
But there's also OTHER fun stuff ... Here are a few examples.
 
  1. Apart from the Grids where items are shown, there are other UI components to facilitate the item management
    1. Panes used for different purpose:  the properties pane (to show a detailed view of each item's fields, or to edit them), the HTML pane (to edit and format richt text)
    2. Dialogs/windows to configure the different aspects of the grids, items, fields, forms, etc.
    3. Other views of items : gantt charts, pivot tables, outlook like calendar, etc.
       
  2. You can create hyperlinks to files, folders, web pages, items, grids, fields, wiki tags and Outlook items
     
  3. You can execute code (built-in functions or user-defined ones). There are 3 types:
    1. Push equations (also called auto-assign). These are evaluated when a field-value is added, modified or erased
    2. Pull equations (Excel-type equations). You can set a field-value to be a function of other field-values of the item
    3. Hierarchy equations. To compute totals, averages, etc based on the item hierarchy (i.e. total project time, cost, etc) 
       
  4. You have many ways to search in your database, including live-search

Database and more technical related stuff
 
  1. Everything is stored in an industry standard database, which supports multi-user with simultaneous access and updates with granularity down to the field-value level (i.e. different users can modify different field-values of the same item)
     
  2. You can import information for other applications
     
  3. You can export information to other applications and to the web
     
  4. Other applications can read live information from your IQBase
     
  5. InfoQube can read live information for other applications / databases
     
Don't know if that was clear... Off to bed...
 

Re: Demystifying InfoQube

I'm greatly encouraged by the progress that Pierre is making with InfoQube. I'm also very impressed with the depth and breadth of support offered by the many contributors to this forum. As a community of users, we sometimes make critical comments in a desire to be constructive - we all want this project to succeed.
 
Some readers may already know of the site www.outlinersoftware.com. You may have missed the comment posted there by Alexander Delayannis, who said late last year:
"

Posted by Alexander Deliyannis
Nov 28, 2008 at 10:50 AM

Just a note of support to Pierre; I think that he’s done an admirable development job and I am also impressed by his providing a forum integrating several interaction tools for users to give feedback—my own questions and suggestions on this regard will be reserved for the IQ user webspace which I feel is more than enough for a developer to have to keep an eye on!-- as well as to contribute to the the program’s knowledge base and new user documentation.

Regarding the latter, it has been stated here repeatedly that InfoQube’s ‘weakness’ is its non-intuitiveness and lack of ‘how to’ documentation. I’m sure that some of it can be improved, but overall I would note that many of the programs praised here are far from intuitive. In fact I would risk the hypothesis that the most powerful programs -- those that can become our information management companions -- are the least intuitive and easy to grasp...

***///*** long omission here ***///***

In my opinion, InfoQube is a powerful information manager that doesn’t try to take over dedicated applications, but also offers a powerful writing environment, providing quite brilliant ways to manipulate the gathered information --whether it is words or numbers. Interestingly, the SQL power has already been there in the infrastructure of many information managers --but none really provided the user with access to its full power. This IQ does, and does admirably.
"
 
We, and especially Pierre, should take great encouragement from such perceptive and independent comment. I too am just an independent observer - who is researching personal information management for a Ph.D degree. I believe that IQ deserves to succeed because it is quite simply already the best PIM which I have yet encountered.
 
IQ isn't perfect, that's clear. However: I have used PC Outline, GrandView and then Ecco Pro over many years. IQ surpasses them all in its generality, conceptual elegance and power.
 
Mark Gregory, Rennes, France - GMT +1/+2; EST +6

Re: Demystifying InfoQube

Hello Pierre,
 
This my first post (and serious determined look at InfoQube), so I hope I am in the right place.  I apologize if I may have missed something, but in my defense, I have spent literally months (years?) attempting to find the right fit.  I tried SQLNotes in that iterration and even took a crack when it first became InfoQube, but was never able to get my brain around your "simple" program. Well, I am back for another go at it because after my excavation in the recent past I have NOT been able to settle on "the" program for me.  I am hoping that my search will end here.
 
As I read the above and "the longest running post on DC," I wondered if the addition of a straightforward and equipped text editor would be the way to "Demystify" IQ?  I am quite confident that a text editor resides in your app somewhere, but I have not been able to find it.  I am not suggesting the addition of another tool in IQ, but the addition of making what is there more accessible and intuitively so.
 
I know for myself and others (IMHO) the reason I ditched SQLNotes originally and IQ on the rebound before was due to not simply opening a editor and typing some text.  
 
Would it be possible to make the "text editor" part of IQ intuitively easy to open, write, save, etc?  If this were the case, then myself (and others) could have a solid text editor that could be happily used WHILE we flesh out that which "mystifies" us rookies. 
 
For myself, going to FILE >> NEW >>...  produced "Whoa!  Now what?!?"  I pressed on... "Right,  to the Help I go, but how do I find someplace to write what I am thinking before I lose it (a common occurrence at 50+)?"  Actually, I still haven't discovered how to write a simple paragraph yet.  
 
I have a high degree of confidence that IQ can be what I expect as I have enjoyed the insightful comments by a number of people I have a good respect for, but it will take some work to make it so for me..   
 
Again,if  there was a quick simple way to just "get something down" it would be most encouraging.
 
Thanks for your work and your ear,
 
Calvin

Re: Demystifying InfoQube

Hi CodeTRUCKER,
 
IQ does feel a bit different than other PIM at the beginning. But like Pierre said in this very thread, the basic concepts aren't difficult to understand (you can have a look at my previous posts too).
 
It depends what you mean by "Text Editor". You can edit text in the main grid, but the main advantage there is to have test into separate items that you can organize in an outline.
 
Apart from that, there's the HTML pane. Each item can have rich text /html pane content.
 
I strongly suggest that you have a good look at the documentation (http://www.sqlnotes.net/drupal5/index.php?q=booktree).
Start at the beginning 2. Getting Started. This will answer most questions.
 

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