Mon, 03 Apr 2006


While working on a paper on immigration for a Model UN-type project, I discovered a great program called kdissert. It's a mind-mapping tool designed to help write papers and presentations. A mind map is similar to an outline, but ideas are laid out radially.

I usually use vimoutliner to organize my thoughts for a paper, but one problem I have when using vimoutliner is getting the text into OpenOffice for final editing. I generally convert to docbook, then to xhtml which I import into OpenOffice. Unfortunately, line breaks within the original text are preserved so the text doesn't wrap properly in OpenOffice. I'm sure I could fix this by either preprocessing the text prior to conversion to docbook or processing the docbook text, but I though I'd try something new.

Kdissert can export directly to OpenOffice and LaTeX. I found a small bug in the OpenOffice generator in which URLs to linked documents are not properly encoded, but the author of kdissert, Thomas Nagy, quickly addressed it. A PNG of the entire mind map can also be generated.

Unfortunately, I never finished my immigration paper; I couldn't figure out a way to reconcile my position with that of the US government which I was supposed to be representing in the simulation.

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The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else. - Frederic Bastiat