Hopefully you will be surprised by the support Breakdown Notes offers to import different types of files. In this blog we will talk about importing images, html snippets and text files, all by dragging and dropping or copying and pasting.
First up are Images. You might want to include some image that already captures a lot of information onto a map, or just add it because it looks good. Adding an image is really simple.
If the image is a file, you can drag and drop it onto a shape.
If you copy the image to the clipboard you can then just click a shape and paste it by pressing control v.
Most of the shapes and paragraph can be the target of the drop or paste event.
You can do all the things you could already do with the shape, that is add text to it, rotate or resize it etc.
If you resize the shape, you will notice that the image is not always as big as the shape is in. Either the shape is bigger,
(and the image is fully contained within it), or the image is bigger (and the shape is fully covered).
There are options to correct this. Check out the "Background Controls" in the edit menu (on the left). This should pop up the moment you click a shape that has a background image.
You might have seen that you can use icons. Most of the Font Awesome are easily added to a map. But what if you found one you like better ? Just drag and drop it onto the map.
The file has to be in svg format. Also, it does not work for very complicated svg's. Most small icons you find on the web, can be imported however.
There are lots and lots of icons available on the web. Some cost money, some are free, most require attribution. One that works great for me and is flaticon. But if you search the web for svg icons, you will find a lot more.
Breakdown also offers support for importing text files. While importing text files, you can control when a new shape is added, when a new paragraph is added and in what direction the shapes are added. These controls can be found in the "Import" menu.
You can import text files by simply dragging and dropping these onto an empty part of the map. You can also use copy paste (control c from the text file, then click the map, then control c).
By specifing a seperator for new shape and new paragraph, you can control when a new shape is added or a new paragraph is added.
For instance, for a new shape use "\n" (enter), and for a new paragraph use . (a point).
This will add a new shape to the map every time there is a line break (enter) in the text file
and a new paragraph every time it encounters a point.
You can also use multiple characters: For instance use a point and a space so that an email address inside a line will not be split over multiple paragraphs. Or you might leave one of the seperators empty so you get everyting in one shape, or only one paragraph for each shape.
In the import menu you have also the option to tag shapes which are added when you paste text on the map with a number and a tag. This might be helpfull if you want to keep track of where a sentence came from.
In the placement tab in the import menu, you will find options to specify how far apart shapes are placed while pasting text. There are delta's for horizontal and vertical distances (row / column).
To control how many rows or columns are made while importing, use the limit option. Implicitely this option also controls the direction the shapes are added to the map. With a limit of 10 rows, shapes will be placed below each other first, (untill there are 10), after which the next shapes is places to the right of the first. With a limit of for instance 4 columns, the shapes are added left to right, and when the first 4 are placed, it will continue with a new row below the first shape.
Importing spreadsheets only works when copying and pasting from the clipboard. You will not be able to drag and drop xml-like documents straight onto the map. Usefull piece of information is that the seperator for columns normally is the tab (either fill "tab" or \t). For rows the seperator normally is enter (\n).
Pasting HTML, (that is, just control c control v part of a web page) is a bit different from pasting text.
There is no control when new shapes are added, nor the direction in which they are added.
Instead, Breakdown Notes will try and add shapes in a way that mimicks the structure of the HTML you are pasting.
For instance, when encountering html tables or list, Breakdown Notes will try to put rows or list items
in one shape.
You can always check "force HTML to text" to force pasting as plain text. This will give you the same controls as with importing plain text.
There is also basic support for importing pdf-files by dragging and dropping these onto the map.
This is not intended for big files with lots of text (think e-books).
There is a 10 page limit: any pdf with more pages will not be imported.
Any images, artwork or annotation inside the pdf will be ignored. Only text will be imported. There is also a limitation on the number of text elements per page. If there are more then 250, Breakdown Notes will abort the import of that page.
Parsing pdf's is not straighforward. We took some shortcuts, and because of that, some text may overlap are be out of place after import.
Lastly, Any styling or colouring in the pdf will be disregarded. Only text size will be copied.
Given all these limitations, why then bother with importing ? Importing pdf can be very usefull for handouts or relative small documents. It will be easy to add your own remarks to the map, change the layout or even make flashcards out of some elements.
Also, while an imported pdf may not be displayed perfeclty, it will be a great starting point to build from. You can still move and style all the shapes, add pictures to it or make presentations out of it.
Lastly, it's also usefull to keep the layout / positioning of text as close as possible to the original. For instance, the result of importing a web-page as html (copy paste) or as plain text (copy paste with "force HTML to text") will not resemble the layout of the web page. However, first printing the web page to pdf (using your browser), and then importing it comes a lot closer.