Curio 2.4 Professional Edition full review

Zengobi describes Curio as “the ultimate idea development environment,” and the description is apt, if vague. In plainer English, it’s an ideal brainstorming tool, so whether you’re roughing out a Web site, creating a lesson plan, or sketching out the characters and plot for a screenplay, Curio lets you capture your inspiration without being restricted to notes and outlines.

Every Curio document has a Dossier, which is like a cover sheet. The Dossier lets you keep notes about the project you’re working on, such as project goals or client information. Curio provides numerous examples (such as Creative Briefs and Lesson Plans), which are easy to modify or create from scratch.

Curio lets you assemble your project in idea spaces, which can contain just about anything – text, images, audio, movies, links. A Curio document can contain multiple idea spaces. You can drag and drop items from outside the program into it or create new objects in Curio: text, checklists, shapes, clippings, links, images, movies, sounds, or other files.

Curio offers an easy workflow for creating a new document in another application, and embedding and editing it in your Curio idea space. This makes it intuitive to add, for example, a new Keynote presentation to the business plan you’re creating.

A Curio document can have as many idea spaces as you like, and idea spaces grow as large as 5,000 pixels square to accommodate your inspiration. Arrange idea spaces by dragging their thumbnail previews around in the Organizer on the left side of the application window, which is similar to the slide organizer in Keynote. You can link an object to another object or idea space, and attach actions that create an email message or launch a file, URL, or AppleScript.

Finding items in Curio is easy. A Library pane shows all assets in a document or idea space, or in the Scrapbook (a shared library for all Curio documents). When you type in a search, any asset (or idea space) that doesn’t contain the search term dims. There’s no way to search within a text object, but if you’re using Tiger, a Spotlight plug-in indexes and finds text in a project.

To assist your research Curio includes Sleuth, a mini Web browser with a number of built-in bookmarks. Enter a search term and you can hop from one site to another just by selecting the site from a pop-up menu. Then, simply drag snippets from the site into an idea space.

Projects can be saved as PDF documents, and idea spaces as individual TIFF, JPG, or PNG images. Curio can also export to HTML, and if you have a .Mac account, you can publish directly to your iDisk.

Curio is easy to use, but it has some minor problems. For example, if you change the background grid, there’s no easy way to revert to the default style. Objects can be snapped to a grid, but there are no automatic alignment options for arranging multiple objects.

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