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I am looking for a FOSS software that is similar in spirit to a tool called TheBrain. TheBrain can be described as a sophisticated mind mapping tool, where you can visualize concepts and establish relationships among them.

One major use case I am planning to use the requested software for would be historical research. Since in historical research you are dealing with many dates, the software should have a notion of time (which TheBrain unfortunately doesn't have). That is, the user should be able to associate concepts and relationships with timestamps.

The below list represents a prioritized feature set:

  • FOSS (if necessary I must be able to modify the software according to my needs)
  • Visualization of concepts and their relationships
  • Ability to associate concepts and relationships with a timestamp or timespan (e.g. kill(Roman senators, Julias Caesar) on (44 BC, March, 15))
  • Ability to attach documents such as websites or PDF documents to concepts
  • Quick navigation through the knowledge base (e.g. search for concepts)
  • Ability to collaboratively work on a shared knowledge base with multiple people
  • Written in a language that will run on most platforms without adaptation (e.g. Java, Python)

I am aware that the above requirements are very high, but I am already grateful for recommendations that fulfill only 3 to 4 of the requirements.

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While it does not meet all of your criteria, maybe the iMapping Tool is right for you. It is a visual knowledge mapping tool that lets you organize your text snippets, files and pictures visually on what could be described as an infinite pinboard. Items can be nested and interlinked so you can add structure as your collection grows. It uses a semantic back end that allows for structured queries.

Comments to your requirements:

FOSS (if necessary I must be able to modify the software according to my needs)

While an older version of the tool was open source, the current implementation is not. However, you could get the soucecode in a bilateral agreement.

Visualization of concepts and their relationships

√ Definitely. Check out the video ont the site.

Ability to associate concepts and relationships with a timestamp or timespan (e.g. kill(Roman senators, Julias Caesar) on (44 BC, March, 15))

Well, not semantically, sorry. Could be hacked with text patterns and using supported semantics like subclases etc.

Ability to attach documents such as websites or PDF documents to concepts

Quick navigation through the knowledge base (e.g. search for concepts)

Ability to collaboratively work on a shared knowledge base with multiple people

Not in real time. The Map is stored in a sinlge file though, that can be shared via dropbox, file shares or similar.

Written in a language that will run on most platforms without adaptation (e.g. Java, Python)

√ Java. (Included in Mac and Windows versions, needed for Linux)

The website is in German, while the tool itself is English. Just check out the video - you will get an impression.

Disclaimer: The iMapping tool is my own development I sell it commercially (although there is a free version availabe for download).

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