Spaaze Help

Welcome

This is the new Spaaze Help system. Instead of creating a static manual I thought it would be better to have something dynamic where everybody could help. On the other hand I didn't wanted to set up a wiki, but try the "Book" system of this Drupal installation first.

So basically this is a collection of articles about Spaaze where everybody could help. If you are missing something simply write a comment, and I'll add it, or drop me a line at stefan@spaaze.com and I'll give you edit access to this help.

What to do with Spaaze?

What is Spaaze and why?

Spaaze is an infinte virtual corkboard you can put stuff on. Stuff like bookmarks, texts, images, files, videos, and more (new items constantly under development). Of course, for some it might be hard to find a use case for Spaaze.

So why is Spaaze as it is? Simply because I wanted a service without a given use case and without a given structure. I've developed an application for mind mapping myself (http://www.mind42.com) and know a lot of other really good web services (like Remember the milk for todos, Delicious for bookmarks, Google Docs for documents, ...). But the problem is that when using all of them your data gets spread all over the internet. Also every of this applications has it's use case, and doesn't really fit for anything else. Of course I could store links I want to remember in a todo list, I could write a todo list in a document, and I could store URLs as todos in a bookmarking service, but would this work out? The problem is that specialized services force you into a given structure.

I wanted to create a web app which doesn't has a given structure, and therefore can be used for everything. This has pros and cons. Like with hardware, there is always the question what's better, the generalized gadget which does everything (but maybe not that good), or the specialized one which does one thing, but really good. I'd say a mix of both. Specialized software (and gadgets, the metaphor is still valid :)) for the things I use most - there the advantages of specialization really pay off (like fast - task centric - keyboard shortcuts, suitable presentation, ...). But I really don't need, and don't want to sign up for a hundred specialized applications providing services I only use once in a while. For these things, I prefer the generalized solution, where I can put all my stuff into it, and manage it myself.

But why have a web app for this and not simply store all these things on your Desktop? Well, I used to do so, but with one computer in the office, one at home, and a notebook I had the same problem as with web applications. The information was spread among multiple places.

This is Spaaze, and this is why I did Spaaze as it is.

Below there are some use cases described in more detail, for those of you who still can't imagine how Spaaze works, and who haven't tried it out for yourself.

Storing things temporarily

Using Spaaze in combination with the bookmarklet is perfect to store things temporarily. This covers use cases where you'd normally use something like instapaper.com. While surfing the web you find an interesting article, or a video, or some products in an online shop you haven't decided to buy yet. Simply add these kind of things to Spaaze. In Spaaze you can store them in the center, or move them to some hotspots for categorizing them. Once you're done you can delete the item.

It's also good for textual temporary information. For example I have a todo list with my todos of the week, which I permanently change and update, or a note with some recipes, which I want to try out first before adding them to my recipe collection. Instead of having these things spread over multiple other web services I simply keep them on my Spaaze.

Storing things permanently

Once you have stuff on your Spaaze, you may also decide to keep them permanently. Since Spaaze is infinite you can keep adding stuff to Spaaze and then organize it. Organization, well that's the downside of a generalized system like Spaaze, but I've added some mechanisms to make this easier. Hotspots, to remember certain spots on the board, this allows you to categorize items by moving them to certain spots, an overview about all items and it's also possible to move multiple items at once and apply basic alignments on selected items. You'll find more about this later in this handbook.

Mood board

Spaaze itself is more or less a direct implementation of the mood board idea some may know. If not, try a Google Image Search. It's the use of a cork board to collect ideas and inspirations for projects. With the image item Spaaze of course can be used like this.

But it's also possible to use Spaaze for general planning, not only the visual mood board way. Like showed in one of our screencasts, planning a trip is no problem. Simply collect all the snippets of text, images, links, videos and files which belong together on Spaaze. The same principle can of course be applied to other things, like furnishing your home or brainstorming ideas.

Items

Concept

Items are the most important building block of the whole Spaaze concept. Items are the actual things you place on your infinite board. There are different kinds of items to store different types in information on your board, each item specialized in handling one type of information. There are items to store text, links, videos, files, images and many more will come.

In the following sections you'll learn how to create, edit, move and delete items.

Creating items

There are two ways to add an item to your Spaaze: Using the add menu or via the bookmarklet. For more information about the bookmarklet please refer to its own help page.

To create a new item simply click the "+" button in the menu bar and choose which item you want to create.

After choosing an item it will appear under your mouse cursor. Depending on the item type it will be in standard mode or in edit mode (ready to be edited), which will be explained in more detail in the next section.

Each item has a number and a white "S" on a blue circle besides it. This is the "price" of the item in SpaazePoints. SpaazePoints is the currency used in Spaaze to charge for the creation of items and other actions. More information about SpaazePoints can be found on the account management help page, but the short answer would be: Unlike many other commercial web applications which use subscriptions, Spaaze uses a pay-per-use pre-paid system.

Editing items

Items represent pieces of information which you keep in your Spaaze. Of course it's possible to edit the stored information (bookmarks, text, ...). All items have at least two modes, a standard mode and an edit mode. Only in edit mode the information the item contains can be edited.

How to get into the edit mode and therefore start editing an item depends on the type of the item, but there are two usual ways: Double clicking the item (for textual items), clicking a wrench icon that appears when hovering the item (all other item types).

Once in edit mode you can edit the content of the item. What and how you can edit it again depends on the item type (see item specific help sections below), but usually you'll have some input fields and buttons to cancel/discard the changes (or pressing ESC), and buttons to save/apply the changes (or pressing ENTER). Editing an item is not costing any SpaazePoints.

Moving items

One of the main features of Spaaze is its infinite nature. Naturally positioning items is one of the most important things to do, thus there are many tricks to move items available. For now we'll start with the most basic move action: In standards mode simply move your mouse over an item, press hte left mouse button, move the mouse to move the item, and release the mouse button to finish the move action. This is called Drag and Drop, and you'll probably know it from many other applications. It also is one of Spaaze's most important interaction mechanisms.

Now for the mentioned tricks: It's possible to select and move more than one item at once, it's possible to move items directly to special placed on the board called hotspots, it's possible to align items vertically or horizontally to each other and it's possible to scroll the board while dragging items by moving them to the edges. It's even possible to prohibit the movement of items to "lock" their position. All this possibilities get described in the chapters after the next one, which introduces all the navigation possibilities first. For those who can't wait here are the links: Item management, Board options

Deleting items

You have two possibilities to remove items from your board you no longer need.

1. Start the edit mode of the item and in the upper left corner of the item there will be an "X" button. Clicking this button will permanently remove the item from your board, so don't mistake it for a button to simply end the edit mode. The image below shows the edit mode of a bookmark edit where you'll see the delete button.

2. While moving items you've probably already recognized the icons which pop up at the bottom of Spaaze during the move. One of these icons is a trash can. Wo while moving the items simply move your mouse cursor over the trash icon (a tooltip will appear which says "Delete 1 item") and release the mouse button.

Item types

As mentioned more than once on this page every item type is specialized, and therefore a little bit different regarding editing and interaction. You'll find a detailed description of every item in the sub-chapters of this page.

Bookmark item

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File item

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Image item

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Label item

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Note item

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Youtube item

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Navigation

Scrolling

This short paragraph represents "Moving around your Spaaze 101". So how to go to another spot on your infinite board. There are three methods available:

This are the basic movement actions, of course there are more advanced ones which include moving items and moving to certain spots, which will be covered next.

Hotspots

Hotspots are the key to bring in structure to your Spaaze. A hotspot is simply a spot you want to remember on your board. To create a hotspot simply scroll to a point of your board you want to remember, and press the star icon in the toolbar. Enter a name for the hotspot and you are done.

Add hotspot

Hotspots are only coordinates on your board, and when creating them they won't be visible in any way. So how to use them - what are they for? Hotspots allow you to come back to the exact same spot at any time. When you've scrolled somewhere else, and you want to go back to a hotspot you can simply got there by choosing it from the "Jump to" menu in the menu bar.

Jumping to a hotspot

With some hotspots in place you can start categorizing your items. Like in the screenshot above you can for example create hotspots for certain projects (like "Spaaze development"), categories (like "Tutorials") or anything else like link lists (like "Restaurants & Bars"). How to move your items to hotspots will be described in the next chapter (Navigation).

It's also possible to edit hotspots. To rename or remove hotspots, click on "Edit hotspots" in the "Jump to" menu. There you'll see a list of all your hotspots, where you can edit any of the hotspot names, or remove a hotspot by clicking the delete icon besides it. The changed will be applied when clicking "Save", so if you've accidentally removed a hotspots simply click close or press the "ESC" key to discard the changed.

Editing hotspots

You may have noticed that there is no option to move a hotspot. And yes, currently there is no option to directly do this, but here is a trick how to manually move a hotspot. The problem is that the items around a hotspot (which is simply a coordinate) are not connected in any way with the spot. So you actually have to create a new hotspot, move all items you want to go there to the new hotspot, and then delete the old hotspot. An example: I want to move my hotspot called "Tutorials". So I go to the new spot for it and create a new hotspot called "Turorials new". Then I move all items I want to go to the new hotspot there. Finally I open the edit hotspot dialog and remove the old "Tutorials" spot, and rename the new one.

Centering

The center of your Spaaze has a special meaning and there is no need to create a hotspot for it. Wherever your are, a simple click on the "Center" button is enough to return to the coordinates 0/0, the center of your board.

Center Spaaze

The center is important because it's the spot you see when logging in, and it's the spot new items will be added to when using the bookmarklet. The center is like the entrance hall for new items, at least I treat it like this. When surfing the web and adding stuff to my Spaaze, they end up in the center. When I visit my Spaaze I'll find them in the entrance hall, and I can move them to a hotspot or keep them in the center for temporary things. I use the center itself as a spot for new and temporary items (to read it later), and the area around the center for the most important things like todo notes.

Item group indicators

Besides manually scrolling to spots, or navigating by hotspots Spaaze will show arrows to where items are at the borders. These arrows are called group indicators, because there is one arrow for each item group. As you probably have realized by now there is no such thing is item groups, each item is stand alone. But showing one arrow per item would be a lot. Therefore Spaaze tries to detect items near to each other as groups. Additionally if one of these groups covers the coordinate of a hotspot it's assumed that it's a hotspot item group. You see there is a lot of guessing going on for this group and hotspot detection, but overall it hopefully helps to make things a little bit clearer.

Group indicators

As you can see on the screenshot above the arrows have different colors. Black arrows are item groups where a hotspot has been assigned, while white arrows indicate item groups where not hotspot was found. Clicking the arrow will directly scroll the item group into view.

Search

To be done ...

Overview

The overview is the latest addition of tools to navigate your Spaaze. It provides a schematic birdview of your Spaaze, showing all items as grey boxes at 10% of their size. Since it's hard to do an overview of infinity it only shows the part of Spaaze where you have items. To open the overview click the icon with the nine little squares in the menu bar.

Overview button

Within the overview you'll see a blue frame showing your current view of the board. You'll see the items as grey boxes and hotspots as star icons. You can move to any spot by clicking there, or dragging the frame there. To close the overview when done press the "X" icon or simply press the "ESC" key.

Overview

Item management

By now you've learned to create and edit items, to set up some structure (hotspots) for your Spaaze, and to move items around. But when dealing with a lot of items these tasks get harder. This page will show you some tricks to better manage your items.

Selecting items

Whenever you've moved an item you've probably recognized that it gets a grey underlay. This indicates that the item is selected. It's also possible to select multiple items. Simply press SHIFT and click on a second item (be careful to not click on the link, e.g. of a bookmark item, when doing this, because this would open the link). Now when you move one of the selected items around, all other selected items will follow.

It's also possible to select multiple items by dragging a rectangle over them as you're used from your desktop. This again works by holding the SHIFT key but not clicking on an item, but dragging a rectangle.

Selecting items using SHIFT-DRAG

Whenever doing the SHIFT-trick please realize, that SHIFT-selected items that where already selected will be unselected. This is the case for SHIFT-CLICK as well as for SHIFT-DRAG. Also note, that when using SHIFT to select items the newly selected items will be added to any already selected item. So if you have selected an item in the center and SHIFT-select another one at a hotspot, both will be affected by moves (also if one of them is out of sight).

Move items to hotspots

By now moving items and hotspots have been covered, but it was never mentioned how to move an item to a hotspot. This is done using the droplet which appears at the bottom of the screen while moving items (the same way items can be deleted). Simply move one or more items, and drop them on the appearing start at the bottom of the screen. A menu will popup where you can choose a hotspot (or simply click somewhere on the background to cancel the move). When selecting a hotspot the items will be moved to a free spot there and the view will be scrolling to the new position of the items.

Moving items to hotspot

Aligning items

Each item is a stand alone entity, there are no dependencies or links between items, so it's your job to move them into a place where it makes sense for you. The problem is though, that you may want to group them in a nice list, and you never manage it to get it straight.

For this purpose a right click menu has been added to Spaaze, providing the menu point "Align". You'll find two commands there, one to align the selected items horizontally, and one to align them vertically. They will always be aligned at the position of the first item (which is the leftmost item for horizontal alignment, and the topmost item for vertical alignment). Using this tool a nice list can be created without any hassle.

Aligning items

Board options

Fix board

The right click menu of the board which also hold the alignment options also provides two fixing options. One is "Fix board":

Add hotspot

Fixing your board means that you temporarily can't move your board around. This affects using the mouse using drag and drop, using the mouse wheel, or the arrow keys. But it still works to move the board using the overview or the hotspot dropdown.

The idea behind this is that in some situations you may want to move around items without accidentally moving the board (which happens automatically when you come near the boarders of the board)

Fix items

The idea behind fixing items on the other hand is to avoid moving your items when scrolling around your board very fast. If you have for example a section with lots of Youtube videos (kinda like a video wall) with nearly no space between the items this can be very useful. Fixing the items means that when dragging an item nothing happens. But they are still fully functional and can be edited or clicked (like the links of bookmark items).

Board settings

Within the board setting you currently can change the background of the board, and also set up the virtual page size.

Add hotspot

Currently Spaaze offers 5 different backgrounds, one with freely selectable colors (stripes). Changing the background is charged with 10 SP, but only when you click "Save". So you can select backgrounds from the list to see how it would look like before being charged.

As explained in the help text below the setting the virtual page size is for moving the board with the cursor keys. The idea behind this is the following: When moving around with the cursor keys you for example always want to end up at the same spot when pressing up twice and left twice. For this to work the application always has to scroll the same amount. If Spaaze would scroll exactly one screen width, it would always be different depending on the size of your browser window. This is where this setting comes into place. Most people will probably never have to change this though, since the default works pretty well.

Board export

To be done...

Bookmarklet

This page explains what a bookmarklet is and how you can use it. Long story short: With bookmarklets you can simply add bookmarks, notes and youtube items to your Spaaze while browsing the web.

What is a bookmarklet

A bookmarklet is special bookmark, which doesn't open a page, but executes something on the page you are currently visiting. All this magic is possible using JavaScript, but because of exactly this reason browsers have very strict security policies what scripts can do what on which pages. What the Spaaze bookmarklet does, is to open an overlay on the page you are currently visiting. Within this overlay you have the possibility to create a bookmark (with the URL and name prefilled from the page you are staying on), a note or a youtube video if you are on a youtube page.

It might not always works (please report sites where it doesn't), and might looks a little bit clumsy at times (it e.g. needs long to close and shows a black border while closing, all due to security limitations) but best way to add stuff to your Spaaze you've just discoveres. Read on to learn more about the installation and usage.

Installation

A bookmarklet is installed by simply putting the special bookmark into your browsers bookmark menu or bookmark bar. You can reach the page containing this special bookmark and some instructions from the settings menu at the top menu bar.

Install bookmarklet

On the page there will be a link called "Add to Spaaze". With most browser you can simply drag this link into your bookmark bar.

Usage

With the bookmarklet in place you can go on your discovery tour through the web. Now, whenever your find something you want to put on your Spaaze, for example to read it later or to collect ideas for a project, simply click "Add to Spaaze" from your bookmark bar. An overlay will appear:

The bookmarklet overlay

What you get there looks similar to the settings mode of a bookmark, and it essentially is the same. Modify the already pre-filled data and click "Submit". The bookmark will be at the center of your Spaaze when you open it the next time. Alternatively you could have clicked the notes tab within the overlay. Like this you also can add notes to your Spaaze on whatever page you are currently surfing.

As a bonus the overlay will detect when being shown on a youtube page, and offer to create a youtube item as default on such pages.

Account management

Edit account

You reach the account edit screen by clicking your username in the Spaaze menu-bar or selecting "Manage account" from the "action" menu. There you'll find standard forms to edit account data and change your password.

If you've used OpenID for your account you can't change your password within Spaaze, you will have to do this with your OpenID provider (Google, Yahoo, ...).

All users will be able to edit their "name" or "displayed name" (Spaaze accounts and OpenID accounts) which gets used within the application, but Spaaze users can not change their "username" or "login name" which is used to sign in to the application (at least for now).

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