Q & A: Linking Documents Across Platforms

q and a

One of the things that makes mind mapping on the computer so much more powerful than a simple paper document, is the ability to easily incorporate many different types of data. Be it images, music, texts, or other types of digital files.

Philip from the Netherlands asks: “I want to add files to my mind maps, can I do that?”

In MindNode 2 for Mac we have the ability to add any file on your Mac to a note. You simply open a Finder window and drag the file onto the note. MindNode takes care of the rest, adding an Alias for the file. To access the file you open the note, click the linked document symbol and the file is opened in Finder.

This is really great when you are working on a single Mac. Once you move over to using the same document with multiple devices, or even on both the Mac and iOS platform, you will run into trouble. The Aliases don’t transfer to other computers, or mobile devices.

Let me get overly technical for a moment:

There’s several reasons for this. An Alias is not the file itself, just a note with an address, like an URL. We don’t import the documents into MindNode, because it would make files huge and working on them clunky. And what’s worse, when you share the files to your mobile devices they would take up precious space and bandwidth.

So why can’t we do a thing where we store all the files in iCloud and then access them in MindNode on our iOS device? The answer is Sandboxing. It’s the technical term that Apple uses for the restricted file access that it has implemented.

Sandboxing makes a lot of sense if you consider that your carry your life around with you and you don’t just want any app, or any person accessing your files. It becomes an issue when you use an app as part of a whole workflow.

I’m not going to leave you with just technical ranting though. While there is no perfect solution, one way to circumvent Apples restrictions is to use links to cloud services, so online document storage.

If you store all relevant documents in a Dropbox folder, you can use the links to those in either node titles, or notes. When you open the link in MindNode 4 for iOS it takes you directly to the document in the Dropbox app. The same goes for documents stored in Google Drive. (Though be careful, Google Drive does mess up MindNode files if they are not saved in the Singlefile format.)

On the Mac this is slightly less comfortable, as the links will not take you to the Dropbox, or Google Drive folder, but to the website and there is no easy way to navigate from the Website to the actual document in your Dropbox folder. You can, however, read the document path and open the document manually. Another option would be to include both an Alias-type link to the file in your Dropbox folder and the Dropbox link so you can access them on either platform.

Q & A posts answer interesting and frequently asked questions by our users and give us the opportunity to share our long form answers.

photo credit: joshtasman Question Finger 1 (license)

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