With the newest release of MindPlan (Version 2.1) we introduced a completely refurbished exporting-system. I am going to introduce this new exporting-system and explain some of its hottest features in more detail in a series of articles in this blog.
Today I just want to give you a rough overview of the new exporting-system and its basic concepts. In subsequent articles I will go more into detail for certain features.
When designing the new exporting-system, we focused mainly on two principles: Ease of use and flexibility.
To accomplish the first one, we use a wizard-based approach to configure each export-process. With the export-wizard, all the necessary settings for an export-process can be assembled step-by-step.
In order to keep the exporting-system as flexible as possible, the settings for each export-process are separated into two basic parts. The first part contains the settings for the format of the data that should be produced. The second part contains the settings regarding the destination of where the exported data should be stored or send to.
For both of these parts MindPlan offers a set of options to choose from, which can be combined freely with each other. These are e.g. html-, xml- or an extremely flexible text-format for the format-part. For the destination-part there are e.g. the file-, clipboard- or Lotus Notes mail export targets available.
Naturally, each of these options offers a different set of settings. Hence depending on the selected option, the pages of the wizard-dialog differ. However, for each export-process there is one general configuration page to combine a format and a target. The first set of the subsequent pages is used to configure the settings of the export-format and the second set of pages to configure the settings of the export-target.
To combine those two main concepts into a complete system, the feature of export-profiles is introduced. With this feature, recurring export-tasks can be defined as an export-profile and hence be reused for exporting data from different MindPlans.
To enable working with export-profiles, each export-process is separated into two stages: Designing the export-process and executing the actual export.
Both stages are based on the export-wizard, which only slightly differs according to the current stage. While designing an export-process, every property on every wizard page can be altered to assemble an export-process that can produce the desired result. After the settings for the export-process are configured, the process will be stored as an export-profile.
In the execution-mode some of the properties are read-only, while others can still be altered for a single execution of the export-profile. Additionally, properties, for which no value has been specified during the design of the profile, will be highlighted to indicate that they still need to be specified for executing the export. However, the major difference between execution- and design-mode is, that in execution-mode none of these adjustments to the profile will be saved when the export is executed.
An interesting feature of the export-profiles is, that each profile can be tagged to be valid for only some of MindPlan's node-types. With this feature, you can mark export-profiles that only create a useful output, when MindPlan-nodes of a certain type are selected for an export. The list of export-profiles in the export-dialog can be filtered to only display those profiles especially tagged for the selected nodes. Additionally this filtered list of export-profiles is available in the "Export nodes"-tab of the properties-dialog.
The new exporting-system is used in the new release of MindPlan already to offer some basic tasks. Sending links to MindPlan-nodes by mail, creating a conceptual html-document of a MindPlan as well as minutes of a meeting are implemented on top of the exporting-system and its export-profiles.
(Hint: If you hold the "shift"-key pressed while executing the "send links to nodes as mail"-action, the respective export-profile will be executed step-by-step, so you can maybe redirect the output to a file or the clipboard or adjust some other settings.)
That's all about the basics of the new export-system for today. Please stay tuned, if you are interested in the more detailed descriptions of some of the hottest features of the new export capabilities of MindPlan.