There is a Google Group for discussion of issues, questions and suggestions related to BrainTool and Personal Information Management. You can access it here

Common BrainTool Problems

BrainTool gives you complete and full access to all the data saved in the app by writing it to a file on your Google Drive (if you have a Google account, you have Drive storage). Nothing is stored anywhere else. Ironically taking this hands-off approach to your data requires you to grant the application additional permissions after the extension is installed. This additional step of walking through the Google permission flow is the cause of confusion and some conflicts with other things going on in your browser,

I installed the extension but I don’t see anything

By default Chrome hides installed extensions under the little jigsaw piece icon on the nav bar. If the BrainTool extension installed correctly you can see it by clicking the jigsaw piece. You can pin it permanently to the nav bar by clicking the pushpin icon.

I see ‘Error Authenticating’

Google uses what are called ‘third-party cookies’ to store its information. These kinds of cookies are also used by various other web tracking sites. To avoid such tracking, some users disable third party cookies in their Chrome settings. If you have done so BrainTool will not be able to save your data and will fail to launch. You can add an exemption for accounts.google.com in your Chrome settings. Doing so and restarting BrainTool should solve the problem.

After clicking Authorize GDrive nothing happens

Related to the above, some security and privacy related extensions stop web pages from sending messages to third party sites, in some cases I cannot catch this as an error. Privacy Badger is an example of such a site. You will need to disable such extensions for the braintool.org url.

I use two computers and don’t see my changes on the second one

As noted above your braintool file is stored on Google Drive in a file associated with your Google account (the file is called BrainTool.org, you can see it by visiting drive.google.com). Thus you will have a single such file across any set of computers you use. If you have BrainTool running simultaneously on multiple computers you need to use the Refresh button at the bottom of the BrainTool side panel to reload the latest version of the file when you swap between computers.

Current Roadmap items

This list is my current near-term roadmap items. Feel free to email braintool.extension@gmail.com with your thoughts, feedback and requests; or post to the BrainTool Discussion Group. See also the BrainTool philosophy page for the longer term perspective.

Browser Window Control options

BrainTool’s model is that each url you have added is associated with a specific browser tab, and each tag you have created is associated with a specific browser window. When you click a link in a BT controlled tab the application will open that link in a new tab rather than navigating the BT controlled tab.

Relatedly when in the course of regular browsing you open a BT controlled url, the application will open that url in the browser window associated with the url’s tag, creating the window if its not already in use.

Both of the behaviors described above have caused confusion for some users, as well as perhaps infringing on the default browser behavior in a way that some users dislike. Control over this behavior is on top of the roadmap list to be addressed in a next release. I encourage your input on how windowing should work in the discussion group.

Remove GDrive dependency

As noted in the Problems section above, Drive authentication adds an extra step to getting BT up and running. A subsequent release will remove the Drive dependency by optionally storing your information directly in browser local storage.

BrainTool Side Window options

Default window position and size should be configureable.

New item insertion

Currently new links are added at the top of their tags list of children while new tags are added at the bottom of their parent tags list. That ordering makes sense to me personally but it should be configureable.

Tag all tabs at once

Session save/restore

Font sizes

Tree expand/collapse control

Some users have requested that there be short cuts to expand or collapse the tree en mass, eg collapse everything to show only top level nodes, or only top and second level nodes etc.

Keyboard shortcuts

It would be nice to have keyboard shortcuts to navigate within the BT tree, to open or close windows/tabs tags/links etc.

Org-mode support

The BrainTool.org file is saved in an org-mode syntax. In fact the original impetus behind the project was to unify my personal process of taking notes in Org with my browsing history. Currently the app faithfully retains file metadata, headlines, basic TODO states, and tags, within the file as it is read and written. Other org structures such as tables, code blocks, checkboxes etc will be lost, and whitespace may be changed. Ideally BT would work seamlessly with all org structures.

Multiple Files

Most peoples org-mode workflow involves using more than a single file. The ability to combine the contents of multiple files in the tree would be good.