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Short story: I'm looking for a software to visually organize files. The layout should look something like a mind mapping software, only with files instead of mere text snippets. It should also be capable of previewing the contents of the file.

Long story: The files I want to organize are mostly text or image files. On a more zoomed out, file structure level it should only display perhaps the name of the file, but I'd like to be able to expand/zoom in and view the actual text in the text file and highlight/annotate relevant sections.

I work at an engineering firm where each project generally start as a text document detailing the scope of work. As work progresses this document spawns a large number of branches. Different types of drawings, models and other "input" types of files. These input files are then used in a large number of analyses, creating further branches with various types of results, or "output". Finally the findings are summarized in a series of reports.

It's a rather complex flow, and quickly getting an overview or determining cause and effect can be very time consuming. Viewing a simple file tree in e.g. windows explorer might work for looking into a small analysis. But there's no real trace of which input file spawned which output file. For a non expert it can even be hard to determine what is input and what is output. If you're lucky the engineer might have left you a readme.txt file with some brief explanations, or commented some of the code. The analysis conclusions might be detailed in a report, but there's no trace of which lines in the several thousand line output that spawned a particular conclusion. Arrows/lines connecting the files, or specific lines in the files, with input for the next analysis or conclusions in a report would greatly simplify things.

Is there any application out there capable of handling at least parts of what I'm asking for?

UPDATE: I've now tried The Brain, but it didn't do it for me. Perhaps what I'm looking for is some type of file manager/browser. I want to organize a file structure without actually moving the files (e.g symlinks). I'd like to view this new file structure in a kind of workflow/mind mapping software layout. I'd like the capability to view/preview text files and images "live", just by zooming/expanding the selected file. I'd like to add comments and annotate each step and file. Preferably also the content of each file.

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closed as off topic by random Apr 19 '13 at 22:45

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There are many charting/graphing/structuring applications but I've not seen one with functionality to hotlink text files. –  Sandro Dzneladze Jul 19 '12 at 7:37
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3 Answers

I've used one called The Brain. It's not free, but the trial does include the full featured version, after which you can choose which feature set you want to pay for.

It does allow for linking/associating files with the different 'nodes'.

I used it to try and map out a corporate network structure , attaching backup configs and manuals and such. Pretty neat.

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You can put links to files in MindManager. I love it but it is expensive. I am not sure if you can zoom in to edit the file text as you want, but you can create a map containing your files' names with links to them.

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Would a mindmap with metadata and links to the files work? It would avoid using a layer of symlinks. Freemind (GPL) can do this for sure. I've seen people use it to manage project resources and documentation. They have a list of similar programs on their wiki that may also suit you.

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