A friend of mine and I once shared file space on a network. We each had our own folder and there were no space restrictions so long as everyone had a decent amount of working room. I and most of the others organized our files in the normal way, folders and all that. But this one guy had only a single folder, and all of his files were scattered around in it. It would have been bad enough on a large 13" monitor, but this was a Mac Plus screen, and I couldn’t figure out how he managed to find anything (and indeed, he often couldn’t find specific files).
I was reminded of this when I heard about a free-form database called ThoughtPattern. ThoughtPattern is made by Bananafish Software (easily the best name of the year) and allows you to be as structured or unstructured as you like in organizing your files and other small textual and graphical information bits. You can enter your information directly into ThoughtPattern (oh for the day when Post-It-Notes disappear from my desk and pockets!), and you can link and view existing text, MacPaint, PICT, and EPS files. (Since Nisus files have the filetype of TEXT, they will be viewable within ThoughtPattern directly.) I like the idea of linking little notes with existing files, since I always feel stupid creating an entire file to hold a single line of text. ThoughtPattern can launch applications to view files it doesn’t internally support, and Bananafish is looking into including Claris’s XTND technology in subsequent versions to provide the maximum flexibility with other files.
Once you have information in ThoughtPattern, you probably want to get it back out in a useful manner. You accomplish this by setting up filters, which can include keywords, item types, and date ranges, to select the appropriate information. One feature that sets ThoughtPattern apart from other information managers is that ThoughtPattern can link in chronological information by allowing you to set alarms that can perform actions such as opening a set of files and ThoughtPattern notes, rather than simply reminding you to open them yourself, as most other reminder programs do.
ThoughtPattern’s potential for success is unknown, since it hasn’t shipped yet and we haven’t had a chance to check out a review copy. Information management programs are hard to write because everyone wants to organize information in different ways, and it is hard to please everyone all of the time. Still, it looks like Bananafish has put a lot of thought into ThoughtPattern.
Bananafish Software — 415/571-5939 — 800/522-5939
Steve Zagerman — Bananafish Software Representative
MacWEEK — 08-Jan-91, Vol. 5, #1, pg. 9