Instaviz – Review

On December 9, 2008

App Type: Uncategorized

Instaviz – Review

Our rating:

By: Instaviz

Version #: 1.0

Date Released: 2008-12-06


Price: 9.99

User Rating:

I’ve used the "mind mapping" method of brainstorming and organization on and off for the past few years. I believe the approach works best with a tabletpc where you can draw shapes and add in free-form lines that are then organized by the application, but it has its place with a more traditional keyboard and mouse set up too. While I would never have thought to try it on an iPhone due to the limited screen realestate, with apps like Instaviz now available the concept deserves a serious look.

When you first start the app you’re struck by the fact that it’s exceptionally simple and graphically as "plain Jane" as anything you’ve ever seen. It isn’t that it’s ugly, but rather that it’s just not an interesting UI. Turns out, the developers didn’t put their energies into making a "pretty" app. They put their energy into making a powerful one. What is "under the hood" i pretty impressive.

Here is how my first use went–

First you start graph. You do that by tapping the upper right hand side of the screen. Then you want to start with your main topic. The problem is, when you tap the screen, the expected keyboard doesn’t make an appearance. So instead, take your thumb place it toward the top of the large white screen and draw circle. The application immediately creates a circle with the number 1 inside. Tapping the circle twice brings you to the detail screen. Here you have the option to change the name, change the border, change the thickness of the line, change the corner shape and more. Tapping the "done" brings you back to the main screen.

Below the circle draw triangle and then another. Tap the triangle with the number 2 and change the name. Repeat with the circle with number 3. Now draw a line from the large circle to each of the triangles. The three are immediately connected. Beneath the triangle that is now labeled "use" draw two squares. Label one square "creating a graph" and label the other "real world use". In the draw line from each of them to the triangle labeled "use".

That’s all it takes to create a simple graph or "mind map" you can also resize the image using the iPhone’s multi-touch.

When you’re done you can snap a screenshot of the graph and e-mail it to yourself or you can use the "export" function to export it to mobileme. (Note that a mobileme account is, of course, required in order to do this).

The documentation on the application is limited but, thankfully, I watched a video that we’ve embedded here on the site. That helped me learn how to erase the shape that was mistakenly added. It’s really quite simple — at least once you figure out who do it. You simply highlight the shape you want to erase and shake the article. Simple. But only after you learn the trick.

In all I find the application to be intriguing but definitely a version 1 release.

In order to create shapes and label them you’re required to do a good bit of back and forth between screens. I’m not sure how that can be avoided but I do know that it limits the ease-of-use for me. Documentation is missing and that is an issue. Moreover, I question whether or not the developers made a mistake when they chose to use "export to mobileme" for saving and sharing graphs. I would have much preferred to see them use the e-mail function (assuming that that’s something that developers are allowed to do — one never knows with Appe.

I am, however, impressed by what the developers have accomplished here. The engine driving the application is as amazing. The application really works. I’m not, however, completely sold on the "mind mapping onto my iPhone" thing. With an application as powerful as this one, however, I’m willing to give it a try.

Take a look for youselves-



Quick Take

Value:  If you use it high but Iam not convinced I would use it
Would I Buy Again:  Not yet sure
Learning Curve: Medium due to the lack of instructions (Watch the video if you buy)
Who is it for:  Organized people who like to mind map
What I like:  Impressive applicatio that actually works well
What I Don’t:   Some rough sides to it. The concept itelf is still an open question to me.

Final Statement: Instaviz is an impressive app. If you mind map, get organized best through visual means it is definitely worth a look.

Read the Developer's Notes:
Instaviz is graph sketching for your iPhone.

When you were young, the grown-ups used to catch you doodling little circles and lines on the back of your exercise books or paper napkins, instead of paying attention to what they said. They didn’t realize that you need to sketch things out, how they relate to other things, in order to get them into your head and other people’s heads.

Much later, you learnt the grown-up names for these sketches— mind maps, concept maps, semantic networks, flowcharts, social networks, genomic hierarchies, E-R diagrams... — but here we just call ’em graphs.- Sketch out a rough shape. Instaviz magically transforms it into a neat ellipse, circle, rectangle, square, diamond or triangle.- Sketch a link between two shapes. Instaviz quickly redraws the graph with the most pleasing layout.- Scroll the graph by dragging with two fingers.- Zoom in and out with the two-finger pinch.- To edit the label, color or style of a shape or link, double-tap on it.- To delete a shape or link, tap on it and shake the iPhone.- Export the graph to iDisk (MobileMe) or any WebDAV server, in DOT/GV and PDF formats.

Throw away the exercise books and paper napkins, Instaviz will figure out the graph for you. Brainstorm and conceptualize with Instaviz like you use pencil and paper, without a pesky user interface getting in your way.- Instaviz is international! Localized for Dutch, English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish.- Instaviz uses Recog, a new shape recognition engine. Trained on over 2,500 sketches drawn by real users, Recog uses advanced fuzzy logic to recognize what you just sketched in a split second.- Instaviz uses Graphviz as its automated graph layout engine. The industry standard for automated graph layout, Graphviz represents over 18 years of research work at AT&T and won two Apple Design Awards in 2004.
O U R   T A K E . . .

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danc has written 224 awesome app reviews.