iThoughts The Legend

(Originally posted 2016-05-19.)

As I’ve indicated elsewhere we use iThoughts for outlining our podcast episodes (and use it to track completion).

I’ve developed quite a nice technique for iThoughtsX (the macOS flavour), which I’ll share with you. This is in case you’re inclined to play with newer toys. 🙂

Consider the following fragment of an outline:

You’ll see some of the nodes are filled (arguably) blue, others red and still others green. So we’ve started to colour code the nodes.

Over to the left you see a set of coloured boxes. Zooming in a bit on them:

  • Blue is for “Yes, we will do this bit in this episode”.
  • Red is for “No we won’t this time”.
  • Green is for “This is where the guest comes in”.

The idea for the green is that we share with the guest the outline by screen sharing when recording (over Skype) and they can concentrate on just their bit.

So this is a kind of legend, describing the colour coding of the nodes.

But there are other times when I want a legend. Namely when I’m abusing mind maps to show, for example, which CICS regions connect to a particular DB2 subsystem.


This Is The Stuff Legends Are Made Of

Making one of the boxes of the legend is simple in iThoughtsX (on macOS). You can do it one of two ways:

  • Topic -> New Topic -> Floating and then move the node into place.
  • Context Menu -> New Floating and again move it into place.

You can change the shape to a square as I have done. You also want to set its colour using the colour palette, and those of the “in the tree” topics you want to match it. Finally you’ll want to put some text in the box.

Legends And Templates

We actually have a template for our podcast episodes, which I copy into a new outline. That’s pretty straightforward.

For my other uses I use REXX code to generate the outline – in a particular form of CSV (Comma-Separated Value). I haven’t found a way to robotically generate the legend but there is a simple technique to “parachute” it in: Paste As Floating does the trick.

One example is for CICS-related regions. Specifically I colour code e.g CICS Data Tables Server address spaces but hang a child node with the text “Data Tables Server” off the node that names the address space. With a legend I can dispense with this child node and tidy up.

An Infestation Of Ticks

You’ll notice the red tick marks.[1] They’re actually to signal we’ve completed that piece of the recording. iThoughts supports tasks and the notion of completion. I defined a pair of Keyboard Maestro hot key combinations to mark completion and unmark it.[2]

So, for those of you who like playing with modern tools (as I do), I hope this has been interesting.

Anyhow, more mainframe technical content soon.

  1. When capturing the graphic I accidentally left them in. But it’s actually a nice feature so I didn’t remake the graphic.  ↩

  2. While iThoughts allows you to specify partial completion we are binary: It’s all or nothing, completionwise.  ↩

Published by Martin Packer

I'm a mainframe performance guy and have been for the past 35 years. But I play with lots of other technologies as well.

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