Okay, first of all, while I'm the current project leader of the Fenfire project, it's of course not only my project. The original project was founded by Tuomas J. Lukka, who is the other main designer of Fenfire (and who unfortunately doesn't work with us anymore). The FenMM mind map prototype whose screenshot you liked uses Fenfire technology, but was designed and mostly implemented by Asko Soukka ( picture; English page). The design of the PDF tool in the other screenshots is mostly due to Tuomas. (Both of the tools need OpenGL, by the way, and the mind map tool also needs Nvidia's Cg shader language for its beautiful graphics.)
The overall plan for Fenfire is to create a desktop environment that, instead of being structured around files and folders, is structured around a network of items, where an item is any concept the user cares about - a person, a meeting, an idea, an e-mail - and the network is formed by the relationships between those items (people in a meeting, ideas discussed, what-have-you). We call this philosophy hyperstructure. Our implementation of it is based on RDF. There's an e-mail from me with some notes about what hyperstructure is, which wasn't intended for the public but a couple of people have linked to it so perhaps it's a useful summary. The Fenfire homepage also has a short note about the Fenfire vision, and I also have a writeup of the intended UI but that was wr!
itten for the group and I'm not sure how readable it is to outsiders (comments appreciated).
The first concrete step on the way to a desktop environment is an RDF browser and editor that users can use to create a network of items, basically a way to store information but without special views for special kinds of information. We've called this component Loom (we'll have to change that tho because there's a knowledge representation system called Loom). Loom is currently usable but clunky; I've started to use it for some small things.
To give you an impression of Loom, here's a screenshot of your FOAF file, showing personal information about you, and here's a screenshot showing people you know. On the left hand side of the screen is a list of properties in different categories; if the checkbox left to a property is filled, the property is shown. (By the way, I notice from the list of properties that you have an "rdf:seeAlso" lurking somewhere!) Clicking on a connected node brings it to the center, showing its connections around it. Clicking on a connection "rotates," so that the connection is directly right or left from the center (that's how you step through a large set of connections of a single node, such as the set of people you !
foaf:know). Loom doesn't currently look as gorgeous as FenMM, but I hope it still looks agreeable Here ( 1, 2, 3) are some more (older) screenshots of Loom.
What our screenshots cannot show is the animation when you move around, present in all of FenMM, FenPDF, and Loom, which besides looking nice helps you to see what went were if you click somewhere to move there.
Okay, now for the bad news. Fenfire has always been a Free Software project, but currently, our user interface code (Loom, in particular) is not public, and hasn't been since last fall, because of some patent problems, and I don't know when there will be a resolution. (Basically, there's a ridiculously broad patent for which we as developers believe there's ample prior art, but we need to know what happens if some courts run amok and decide otherwise, and whether we could be personally liable etc. After Microsoft/Eolas, you kind of wonder…)
- thanks Benja!
Seems like Fenfire has converged on the same kind of model I got to with IdeaGraph (RDF "items") despite coming from quite a different direction ( ZigZag). That's reassuring. (For future ref - some of Asko's notes on mindmaps)
Quick questions : which patent? which bit of the system is affected? what programming language(s) are you working in?[Danny Ayers]