Earlier this week, I recorded another short podcast with Eric Mack as part of our ongoing project to get Eric up to speed on Gyronix ResultsManager. Eric has been fully loaded 24 x 7 for several weeks now, so our rate of progress is dictated by other unavoidable deadlines at the moment.
We talked about the practical issues of sharing MindManager maps with other team members. Many users will have already experienced the "rabbit" effect of e-mailing maps to each other - the next time you look, there are two or three slightly different copies of the same map that need to be merged back into one again. The ideal solution is to have only one version of the truth for your project, by putting the maps in a place where everyone can access them directly from MindManager. Shared network drives, perhaps accessed over a VPN, are one answer. When you open a map, MindManager creates a "lock file" that prevents a second person editing it at the same time.
But what if you want to work off-line on your laptop, on a copy of the map? There are other solutions available for this. At Gyronix, we use Groove, created by the designer of Lotus Notes, and now a Microsoft product. Groove offers "shared folder workspaces", where you can keep a folder on one PC synchronised with a folder on another, and work either offline or on-line. If you work on your copy of a document off-line, then the next time you connect, Groove will synchronise the copies so that everyone has the latest version. Although Groove does not scale very well, it works fine for 90% of the time, which is a much higher success ratio than proliferating shared maps by e-mail. Groove runs out of steam with large workspaces containing a lot of files, though.
But one of the challenges of folder synchronisation software, including Groove, is that system files are usually omitted from synchronisation. MindManager's lock file, which prevents simultaneous edits of the same file, is a system file. So when you are sharing in Groove, you don't know whether someone else is already editing the same file, because Groove does not synchronise the lock file that protects the map.
So to support our joint project, we have provided Eric with a copy of "LockShare", a MindManager add-in from Gyronix that also creates a plain text lock file whenever a map is opened in MindManager. LockShare's files are synchronised by Groove, so that when I open a MindManager map while Groove is running, other people in the same workspace are prevented from editing this document. When the map is closed again, the text lock file is also destroyed. Although there is a "window" from a few seconds to a few tens of seconds while Groove synchronises, it works well enough for everyday use. The worst case scenario is that you end up with two copies of the same file containing different edits. If two people do manage to edit the same file at the same time, you don't lose one set of edits, but you do have a little bit of work to do to merge the maps again.
Gyronix LockShare is not available for direct purchase, but we provide it to our consulting and training clients who also using Groove. We are also testing Microsoft's new "FolderShare" tool which looks promising for the same kind of sharing solution.
Eric and I have set up a shared workspace in Groove, and installed LockShare on our MindManager software so that we can edit shared maps. Now Eric just has to complete the next stage in his Masters degree and we will be back on track!