Curio 5

When Curio was first released several years ago, I was hugely enthusiastic about having an endless virtual desk to scatter stuff over. My enthusiasm waned as I found that Curio 1 (and 2,3,4) were limited when it came to what I really wanted to do with it: a form of project management. I haven’t renewed since 1.0.

Now Zengobi has released Curio 5, and my enthus-o-meter has shot way back up again. As with all Curio releases, it’s a beautiful bit of work in its own right, but this time I think George and Greg have also made it much more usable and flexible. New features here:

Testing, testing.

Definitely interested here as well. I kind of felt the same way as you did with the older versions. It has such a great platform for brainstorming projects and so forth, but once you got past the brainstorming and planning phase, your Curio projects just kind of hit a wall because other tools were so much better at tracking progress and/or implementing the ideas. I’ll have to play with the demo a bit and see how it works in practical usage. It is not going to replace something like TaskPaper or OmniFocus most likely, but there are plenty of projects I have which require a level of visual planning that neither of those tools address very well.

My view is that Curio is an easily overlooked programme, especially suited to brainstorming, gathering and structuring research “pre-Scrivener”. Perhaps the problem has been that till now it’s been a jack of several trades, but master of very few. But now no longer?

In my case, I own a license for Curio 4. But I’ve been looking at mind-mapping software to try to decide whether MindManager or even NovaMind stacks up against FreeMind, and would be worth purchasing. Curio 4 had mind-map functions, but at a fairly basic level, and I didn’t use them. Now along comes version 5 with (among numerous other improvements) expandable and collapsible mind-maps and corresponding outlines (alongside OPML import and export), and all for an upgrade price that’s a fraction of the price of MindManager and an even smaller fraction of NovaMind Platinum. Hmmm!

It is also especially nice for in-depth study of a text or other medium. You can put the content down in a very tall column in the middle of the “desk” area, and then extensively annotate, hyperlink, media collection and so on right along-side the text. Doing this with a tablet is not far removed from analysing a document on paper in the “tactile” sense, and in many ways it is far superior. My desk isn’t forty feet tall, for instance. This is one area where, once you get comfortable with the tools, it makes things like Skim and Acrobat feel like dinosaurs.

yes, but what about the longevity of the Curio data format? All this sounds nice for whatever you need to get over with quickly. But as soon as you need to archive your results in a format that still takees advantage of the capabilities of a certain program, Skim et al might suddenly look much prettier again. Pdf and plain text are not going anywhere soon, but what about Curio in 10 years time? Or 5?

I am not trying to badmouth Curio (in fact I own a licence for version 4) but not being able to open some of my documents I wrote during the beginning of my career makes me think sometimes. And explore programs that use transparent formats in more detail.


That’s a very good point, and part of the “wall” that I mentioned earlier in regards to where things go once you get past a certain phase in Curio. I haven’t looked at it seriously since version three, however, so I’m not sure what sort of export options are available these days. Input and longevity of output are one of the two first things I look at.

It’s an issue. Curio exports to PDF, but not searchable PDF. It may be the one thing that stops me taking the plunge on Curio 5.

From the v5 release notes on the new feature “PDF spread”:

[i]Say a professor gives you a 50 page PDF with slides for today’s lecture. You want to pull that into Curio and annotate the pages while you’re taking notes. Here’s how Curio 5 makes that a piece of cake:

Create a new idea space titled with today’s date, for example: “September 15, 2008” (which you filled in using the Insert > Date menu, naturally).
Drag the PDF into the idea space and arrange it on the left side of the page.
On the right side, create a empty list figure for key points, with a fixed-width text field below that for additional notes as that slide is discussed.
Next, choose the Organizer > Spread PDF menu item.
In an instant, Curio quickly creates 49 additional idea spaces using that first idea space as a template. Each subsequent idea space will show the next page in the PDF. Everything is all set for you to take notes and use the sketching tools to make annotations right on the PDF image.

On that first idea space, you could have duplicated the PDF figure multiple times where each duplicate showed a different page within the PDF (via the Asset Figure inspector). So, for example, you could put pages 1, 2, and 3 on that first PDF. Then, when you selected Spread PDF, Curio would have created only the number of idea spaces need to show each triplet of pages.[/i]

Huh? Works fine for me! I just generated a 20M PDF from one of my large Curio (now v5) documents and Skim searches as well as Spotlight searches work just fine.


Damn - you’re right. I’d had Curio set to auto-rotate idea spaces on export, so PDFs appeared with the text tilted vertically. That obviously confounded the search. Works perfectly now. URL’s aren’t live, which is a pity, but otherwise I’m digging around Curio 5 with great interest.