Flow – A Mind Map for your document flow

There is a public beta available now of Flow, which is sort of Mind Map for files.

I’m not a design professional, and while I don’t produce projects with hundreds of files, I do indeed produce projects which take up, say, tens of files such as grant applications, Keynote and PowerPoint applications, html files, etc, and Flow looks like it would provide a terrific way of managing the files. Software developers have had applications like this for years…they are called source code control applications.

My tactic now is to create a mind map using Mindjet’s Mind Manager, and link in all the files on the map. Of course this doesn’t address versioning, and only addresses the top level file names; I can’t expect to keep track of graphic files, for example which are inserted in a iWork Pages file. Also, all my “mind mapped” files usually get converted to .PDFs, or Windows files at some point, and so the number of physical files on disk doubles or triples as soon as I start working with other people on a project because of all of the conversions, and then the real version problems start.

After playing with FLOW for an hour so far, I submitted the following issues to the beta forum.

1. Support for iWork 08 is stated as a supported application list, is ’09 supported?

2. In opening a Keynote ’09 file, I didn’t see that Flow found the component files for the project.

3. Wondering how this will work with multiple users on a network, and/or over the web. I”ve got my iDisk indexed in Flow, and this seems to be working Ok, but I don’t know how it will manage a sync between my Macbook and my iMac.

4. Would like support for Microsoft Visio Files. I haven’t found an equivalent drawing program on the Mac…. if I had I could dump Microsoft Window and Parallels.

5. Would like to be able to start a “new project” in Flow.

6. How do we delete obsolete files? For example, my map shows a .pages temp file that was downloaded from my mail program. This then got saved to a folder, and became my starting point….but the temp file stays in the map, and I don’t know how to delete it.

The beta is currently available only for the Mac, but the Windows version is on the way. Pricing looks very reasonable. While the beta doesn’t pass the five minute test, it bears further investigation; in the long term this could become an essential, “how did I get along without it” tool to your document work flow.

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