How to gather resources for brainstorming in Curio
Quick Mac Tip, 27 November 2011
Do you need to gather ‘stuff’ for a project? Web links, PDFs, snippets of text, emails, apps? How can we possibly create a coherent project with all those things scattered around our computer? Guest author Christine Golden explains the solution she uses: an app called Curio,
the ultimate digital notebook.
Christine Golden often says she was born a couple of decades too early. At 50-something, she has finally found her calling in the magical world of web design and development. She works as a freelancer helping environmental professionals and green business owners find a place for themselves on the internet.
Online information is available to us in all sorts of forms: websites, links, emails, images and many different production apps, such as Pages and Numbers. Being able to gather up everything related to a project or problem into in one place is an incredibly useful first step in project creation and management.
With the Mac-only application, Curio, you can easily collect all kinds of resources on an electronic whiteboard, then rearrange and reformat them to brainstorm the next steps.
Curio is the product of Zengobi. At the time of this article the price for the standard version is US$120. They also have core, standard and professional versions, an iOS app and academic and family pack pricing. A 15 or extended 60 day trial will let you give Curio a thorough workout before you buy.
How I’ve used Curio
Think about the times you’ve spent in forums trying to get answers to application or coding issues. You know that it often takes 20 comments in a thread before you find that nugget of information that actually addresses your predicament.
With Curio, I can pull out just the text I need, associate it with the link, in case I need to go back, keep screenshots of error messages and write all my notes on one ‘whiteboard’ in front of me.
I keep Curio open in a second monitor and just drag everything into it. Once I’ve come up with a solution, I can store it all in Curio’s versatile Organizer for future reference.
Present and manage a project
Curio has powerful tools for presenting your ideas and managing the project. This MacTip touches on the various information gathering tools you can use with Curio.
Space for ideas
Curio’s main working space is called an “Idea Space.” By default it is a blank white space which you can resize in various ways, and configure to either resize manually or automatically as you add resources.
To capture the link from a website, just drag the link from the browser’s address bar onto the Idea Space. The link remains active and will open the page in your default browser when you double-click it. You can select and drag text from a web page as well.
You can drag images directly from a website or you may prefer to take a screenshot of the page or any portion of it. Use Mac’s built in copy-to-clipboard command (
⌘⌃⇧4) and paste the screenshot onto the Idea Space.
See 6 great free ways to make a picture or video of your Mac’s screen for more help with screenshots.
If you already have images on your desktop, or anywhere on your Mac, you can drag the image into the idea space from the desktop or Finder folder.
Images are automatically resized to fit in the Idea Space. Recover the original size of the image from Curio’s “Shelf,” which is an Apple-style Inspector. Use the “Display” tab to find the “Natural Size” button.
Link to emails
From Apple Mail’s Inbox view, drag any email to the Idea Space. It drops in as an icon which will open the email even if you’ve deleted the original.
This is great as a ready reference to client comments related to a project. You can, of course drag images or text from the open email directly onto the Idea Space.
You can also select the message, still from the Inbox view, choose
Edit > Copy, then
Paste into a re-sizeable text box on the Idea Space. The content of the message will be embedded and directly viewable.
Reference application files
Cross-reference pertinent application files such as Pages or Numbers documents by dragging the files onto the Idea Space.
Curio creates an icon which opens the application and file when double-clicked.
The file is embedded into Curio’s Library, which means you can open it even if you’ve deleted the original file. You can “Show as Preview” on your Idea Space if you want to have a small image of the file contents.
Curio can also accept iCal events and Apple Contacts.
View PDFs flexibly
Curio has a special feature for handling PDF documents, which as you know can be created from any other kind of document. It will allow you to view each page of a PDF on a separate Idea Space. This comes in handy as a reference or when you want to include the PDF with other Idea Spaces in a presentation.
The Idea Spaces you have created can also be converted to PDFs.
Curio will link with and allow you to create, edit and save Google Docs right in the Idea Space. By using what is called “WebViews,” you can download website archive files into the Library, or even open and use the online site in an iframe.
You can also draw on your Idea Space with a pen tablet. With a big enough monitor, a Curio Idea Space could replace your wall-mounted whiteboards.
Besides its whiteboarding features, Curio has powerful tools for presenting your ideas and managing projects. This MacTip barely touches the surface.
Tell us in the comments how this Tip helped you.