TreePad Software

Meet Henk Hagedoorn, creator of TreePad

I interviewed Henk Hagedoorn by email on the 14th April, 2002.
Interview by Creativity Web (AUS) A comprehensive site on creativity -
contains ideas, techniques, books, visual thinking, drawing, mind mapping,
the brain, Genius Gallery, Quotations, Affirmations, humour, ideas.

CC: Tell me a little bit about yourself and what was your motivation for writing Treepad?

HH: I needed a program to store things I wanted to keep, like URLs, certain email messages, pieces of text from the Internet, personal notes, information I needed to remember at my job, etc. I started storing them into separate files on disk, but very often it was difficult to find what I had written, and because of that, most of the time I did not bother storing my information any more. That's when I decided to search for a program which could do that for me -- that was in 1995. I searched the Web, but did not find anything which could be useful for my purposes. I saw no alternative then to create such a program myself!

Since 1989 I am a professional programmer and since 1996 the owner of an online software company (Freebyte). In 1999 I decided to quit my job so I could start working full-time on Freebyte.

CC: When did you start work on the program and when did you first release Treepad?

HH: I started working on it in 1995, when I saw an early Windows version with the Windows Explorer. I decided that combining the explorer (the tree part) with a program like NotePad (the article part) would be very useful to create the program I needed. Hence also the name 'TreePad'. I used it for half a year without putting it on the Net. Somewhere in 1996 I decided to publish it on the Web.

CC: How would you describe the main benefits of the program?

HH: Basically, storing and retrieving information, without being forced into some kind of structure, like you would be forced into if you wanted to store data into a Microsoft Access database, you will need to fill in fields in a form the programmer has defined for you. This way the designer of the database forces you into some kind of structure.

Not having much structure imposed frees your mind and stimulates your creativity.

Other benefits are ordering information, visualizing information, keeping notes, and since 2001 also distributing and publicizing information through the Web site generation functions, the TreePad Viewer, etc. I think the TreePad concept can lead to a still larger number of uses and applications.

CC: What sort of uses have people found for Treepad? I can see examples of diaries, PIM, Bible Study Notes, and publishing books such as Alice and Wonderland.

Keeping notes, creating books⁄university thesis⁄poems⁄articles⁄sermons⁄etc., brainstorming, distributing and organizing information to improve the functioning of teams (for this there will be the multi-user version as well, not yet released), database for a helpdesk (storing problems and their solutions), database used by journalists inside a television station, storing data on car-parts (for a car shop), photo album, creating and publishing eBooks and Web sites, genealogy (quite popular with some genealogists), PIM, Word processor⁄database, shortcut manager (to programs and files on your disk), URL manager, language teaching, to-do manager, diary, creating tutorials and documentation, CD-catalog, storing programming code fragments, multi-user (readonly) knowledge base, etc. etc. etc.

CC: What features have you planned for Treepad?

Spell check in 20 languages, thesaurus, presentation mode (full screen), auto-dial (all these will be available at the end of this month). Furthermore, support for multi-gigabyte databases, a multi-user network version, a Linux version, more features related to Web generation and eBooks, and a ton of other things I don't want to reveal yet.

CC: How could Treepad be used to write a thesis, a novel, an article, a speech?

This depends entirely on the person using TreePad, and that's the nice thing of the TreePad Concept. You are not forced into working in a certain way but you need to find your own approach. I give you two different possible approaches to writing a novel:

(1) One way to write a novel in TreePad is to start with one node, and you create new nodes whenever you have a new idea or theme. From that set of nodes, you can create sub-nodes in which you write down your idea⁄theme in more detail. These can be paragraphs, fragments or even chapters. You can use child-nodes of these paragrahps to store different versions of them, and look at them later to see which ones you like the most. Managing, rearranging and ordering all the chapters, paragraphs, fragments and versions of all of these, is relatively easy by using the tree. By expanding⁄collapsing certain parts of the tree you can decide for yourself what information you currently want to see and what is not relevant at this moment.

Many of the available (TreePad PLUS) word processing functions will assist the writer in the actual process of writing down the words, like marking texts with colors, styles, e.g.). When finished you can export your final product to a HTML or text file, or a set of text⁄HTML⁄Rich Text files, print the pages, create an eBook, or create an Web site within a few seconds.

(2) Another approach is to create the structure of the novel beforehand in the tree part. Then one just needs to fill in the rest by writing the articles. There are people who prefer to write that way, but my approach would probably resemble method (1).

Writing an article or speach can be done likewise, by using the tree to visualize and order your ideas, list alternatives, and write them down in more detail in the associated treepad-articles. By associating different icons with different nodes, you can mark them as 'not good', or 'very good', 'great idea', 'must look into this further', or whatever you want.

Again, the exact approach will differ for each person and there are many more ways of writing a novel, article or speach using TreePad.

CC: In what ways do you see Treepad as a creativity tool?

See my previous answer. It can help you write down and organize your thoughts and ideas. It can stimulate your brain by giving you a visualization⁄feedback of your own idea. You can alter the results and create alternative versions. You can work towards the final version by creating, storing subsequent refinements. You can mark nodes⁄ideas with different icons.

CC: What limits are there on the size of the HJT file? I guess you hold the file contents in memory then write it all to disk when you close or save the file? I would imagine that files of several megabytes in size are feasible?

HH: This depends on the size of your internal memory, but database sizes of 15 - 20 Mb are supported on computers which have 64 Mb memory or more. One of my databases is 18 Mb, running just fine! You are right, currently the internal or virtual memory is used to contain the text data. The images are only loaded when they are needed, so for images there is no real limit on the database size.

The new Gigabyte version will not load the total database into memory anymore, removing any practical limits on the database. I expect that this version is available in 2 months.


Henk lives in the city of Almere in the Netherlands about 35 kilometres from Amsterdam. He can be contacted by email at http:⁄⁄⁄support

You can read my review of the TreePad Software, browse the Freebyte web site, or visit the TreePad web site to download the software (a free Lite-version, or 21 day trial copies).

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Page updated: 20th April 2002