DenkWerkZeug is a personal, single-user desktop software tool. It let's you enter facts and connected items. Then you can view an automatically generated graph, navigate around and do queries.

Download DenkWerkZeug | DenkWerkZeug.com

Freitag, 19. Dezember 2014

TagCloud feature released in DenkWerkZeug v1.1.1

tl,dr: DenkWerkZeug v1.1.1 has a new tag cloud feature. 

The sample knowledge file "Lean Startup" as seen in the tag cloud feature

Just before the year 2014 ends, DenkWerkZeug brings you a new feature, the tag cloud. The tag cloud shows the most used items (or all, if you wish) on one single page. Bigger, reddish tags are used more, small and blue tags are used less. Usage is counted by existing (each item is thus used at least once). Each statement "uses" all three items (source, relation, target).

We also improved the UI a little bit. See all changes in the release notes.

Happy holidays,

The DenkWerkZeug Team

Freitag, 12. Dezember 2014

Dienstag, 9. Dezember 2014

DenkWerkZeug v1.1.0 Released

tl,dr: v1.1.0 can now be used by everyone for free; pretty stable; bugs will get fixed. 

The latest release of DenkWerkZeug v1.1.0 is released just today, on 2014-12-09. This is the first public beta release. 

What is DenkWerkZeug?

  • A universal modeling tool for connected things (ideas, thoughts, concepts, terms, words, entities, items, whatever you call them)
  • DenkWerkZeug combines a simple wiki with a database and a concept map.
  • Take a look at the full list of features (and screen shots)

What changed?

  • Re-written internal model managment
  • More changes listed in the release notes

What next?
  • Next we will work on improving 
    • queries (better, more power, embeddable in wiki text, bookmark-able) 
    • the concept map graph (better automatic layout, saving of manually positioned nodes, better formatting options)
    • a tag cloud giving you an overview of a complete knowledge file
    • options for merging and re-structuring knowledge files
  • What do you care about? Tell us via email.

Donnerstag, 18. September 2014

A 15-Minute Video on the Future of (Mechanical & Knowledge) Work

This video shows the future of work, even knowledge work.
The main points (for me) start at minute 7:24.

The main idea is, machine learning and robots can replace many (most) jobs. There is certainly a true aspect on this, but machine learning is not such a magic wand, as it might appear. Machine learning is good to classify things. Is this a fraudulent transaction or a normal one? Is this a one-way street or a normal street? Is this a person blocking the street for the self-driving car or just the shadow of a tree? Machine learning can solve this.

Another example from the video is auto-generated journalism. This is known to be used for sports and stock reports, where the text is very repetitive and ... there is well-structured data. In the stock market, the data is there already. However, in law, the data what somebody did is not crystal clear. There are several reports by several witnesses and they can be seen in this or that light. To go from there to data, one has to model the data. Modeling is not programming, but also not so far from it. If a programmer tells a computer what to do, step by step, then modeling is telling a computer what to .. eh... believe? Today's lawyers and doctors are likely quite good in modeling, although they have pretty old-school tools: text. There will be future jobs for modeling stuff. For explaining in great detail, what the robots and programs should do. Maybe not how.

Donnerstag, 14. August 2014

Version 1.0.0 Done

Why do I write "Done" and not "Released"? Well, DenkWerkZeug 1.0.0 is an internal release. It has the functionality of an older version of JspWiki, plus auto-linking, fast auto-completion, and a GUI for adding relations and properties to items. It's a huge milestone for the DenkWerkZeug project. The release will undergo some weeks of internal testing and then be used productively, internally. Due to upcoming holidays, this post must remain brief :-)

Have a great summer!

Freitag, 4. Juli 2014

Three modes of tool-supported thinking

I just read an old post from 2007 from colleague Matthias Melcher: Think-Tools for Connective Knowledge. Main point: We need visual, text and database-like tools, and we need them integrated. The model described in my thesis (CDS) aims for that, but the tool DenkWerkZeug, on which I am working on at the moment, targets only the text and database dimensions. Adding a strong visual tool might one day be achieved by integrating with the tool iMapping from Heiko Haller.

Thanks Matthias for writing this nice post, I really need to read more from your blog.

Mittwoch, 18. Juni 2014

Desktop Version starts to breathe

The current iteration of DenkWerkZeug is a personal semantic wiki, to be used on a desktop-grade computer, e.g. a laptop. DenkWerkZeug is not social, not built for sharing.

Here is another update. Internally, some components are quite ready by now. There is a working text search engine, an item data base, an inference engine, a rule engine. All of them are memory-efficient and fast. A link to an existing wiki (JspWiki) has been done. The new wiki parser is not perfect yet, but most parts work. This sound too technical? Look at the screenshot:

Figure 1: Working prototype, as of 2014-06-18

To make reading easier, here is what it says on the front page (copy and paste from HTML rendering):

Welcome to DenkWerkZeug

DenkWerkZeug is a tool (at which you look right now) to structure your thoughts, data and arguments. Probably you can also use it to manage your to-dos, as every tool is used to manage to-dos anyway.


  • Simple syntax to edit pages (taken from JspWiki)
    • Headlines
    • Bulleted Lists
    • Bold, italics, links to web pages,
  • Easy links to other pages via CamelCase.
  • Fast search engine
  • Auto-completion to quickly go to pages
  • Simple triple queries
  • Table queries
  • Sleek modern UI
  • More powerful queries
  • Queries embedded in pages

Under the hood - Features for nerds

  • Arbitrary properties attached to items (every page is an item)
  • Types and type inheritance
  • Datalog-capable inference engine
  • Rule engine

How To

  • Create a new page: Go to SandBox (or any other page), edit the page and link to the new page using either CamelCase or put your page name in [braces ]

The "pink card design" from previous posts might be used to render the right side in the future. The next steps are a solid knowledge model API which will then be thoroughly tested.

Dienstag, 15. April 2014

30 German software tools for "Wissensmanagement"

A short post today. Here is a list of software tools for knowledge management ("Wissensmanagement"):

It is amazing how few systematic sites exist to actually find software products. The link leads to ca. 30 German tools like MindMaps, personal Wikis and similar tools.

Donnerstag, 13. März 2014

Index Card Design v2

The good news today is it looks just like yesterday. Behind the scenes we use now a plain HTML table, but bigger than what meets the eye. Our structure is a 5 x 5 table. The blog text editor has no table support, so take this ASCII art:

A1 | B1  C1  D1 | E1

A2 | B2  C2  D2 | E2
A3 | B3  C3  D3 | E3
A4 | B4  C4  D4 | E4
A4 | B4  C4  D4 | E4
A4 | B4  C4  D4 | E4
A4 | B4  C4  D4 | E4
A5 | B5  C5  D5 | E5

The cells B3,C2,D3 and C2,C2,C4 are the red cross, just 2px thick. The outer cells are the gray background. This allows to let elements appear on hover at just the right place (above a column, left of a row, etc). The title of the card is in D2, the left column in B4 and the main content in D4. To make the columns lineup nicely, the row nr. 4 is repeated for each content row.

Here is a screen shot of today:

This experiment shows, even a lot of content, like a full recipe (lamb with tomato) can fit in.

Dienstag, 11. März 2014

Initial Screen Design for Desktop Size Monitors

Working on screen design for a desktop size monitor. Should work in a browser. Expect at least 800 px wide. Hey, that would even work on an iPad or similar tablet. Instead of labeling anything, the text now speaks for itself. We have just two columns, in semantic web speak the relations and the objects. But who cares. Next is dealing with the extreme cases:
  • Very long titles (view, edit)
  • Very long relation names
  • Showing inverse relations
  • Starring and un-starring of relations
  • Very long object names
  • Very many relations
  • Very many objects
  • Special way to view, edit the type or types of an item?
  • Showing the direction of a relation

Freitag, 28. Februar 2014

Which tools used people before DenkWerkZeug? How do they compare to DWZ?

From the answers people gave use on the early access sign-up form, the following tools were mentioned in "Which tools did you use until before DenkWerkZeug?" We list them here, so that you have the choice.
  • Instiki - math-enabled wiki
    • DenkWerkZeug is inspired from wikis.
  • Freemind - an open-source mind-map tool
    • DenkWerkZeug is not a visual tool. It might have read-only visualizations to explore connections in search results.
  • Freeplane - a fork in 2009 from Freemind, supports plug-ins to extend functionality
    • Plug-ins are a great idea.
  • iMapping - an infinite zoomable pin board which supports visual linking, too
    • A fantastic tool for the visual user. Scalable, intuitive.
  • Yojimbo - information organizer for Mac OS X
    • DenkWerkZeug focuses more on handling complex models than on handling tons of simple, unconnected notes.
  • Evernote - very easy to take notes on all devices: text, voice, photos; organization by tags only
    • See Yojimbo. Maybe DenkWerkZeug should be able to import or connect to Evernote.
  • Trello - a list of cards; collaborative
    • A very simple model. 
  • Journler for Mac OS, discontinued after version for OSX 10.7 - very text oriented
    • DenkWerkZeug is not meant for writing documents. Should it?
  • editorially.com - collaborative writing; application no longer available;
    • See Journler.
  • iAWriter on iPad - writing texts with a MarkDown-like syntax; distraction free mode
    • See Journler.
  • draftin.com - version control; collaboration for writers
    • See Journler.
  • yEd Graph Editor - to visualize any kind of graph
    • Could be used to prototype visualizing the content of a DenkWerkZeug model
  • Goalscape - Visual Goal Management Software
    • DenkWerkZeug is not a special tool for managing goals or tasks. But it will be able to handle tasks as well. Every tool is mis-used to handle tasks anyway, so we better plan for it.
  • Citavi - reference management, knowledge organization, and task planning; roots in reference management
    • We have to check out this tool further.
  • Microsoft OneNote - a personal journal with great integration into all Microsoft products; collection of copy & paste office snippets
    • We will never achieve this level of Office integration. But we aim to be able to structure concepts and data better.
  • TheBrain - network of concepts; each can hold a note;
    • Very similar to DenkWerkZeug. DWZ will allow queries rendered as tables.

Was ist DenkWerkZeug?

“Was Excel mit Zahlen tut, macht Denkwerkzeug mit Gedanken, Wissensfragmenten und Argumenten.”

Sortieren, Strukturieren, Zusammenhänge herstellen

  • Gedanken und Argumente: Gelangen Sie schneller und präziser zu Entscheidungen in komplexen Fragestellungen (z.B. bei teuren Anschaffungen, der Wahl eines neuen Jobs oder der Bewertung von Geschäftsideen)
  • Persönliches Wissensmanagement: Notieren Sie Gedanken kurz und einfach. Fügen Sie dann nach Wunsch Verweise zu anderen Einträgen oder “Tags” hinzu. So steigt der Wert Ihres Eintrags: Er wird leichter gefunden und kann in Abfragen verwendet werden.
  • Komplexe Systeme: Verwalten Sie in Denkwerkzeug komplexe Systeme oder die Dokumentation zu einem solchen. Sie können z.B. die Architektur eines Software-Systems verwalten und dabei alle Betrachtungsebenen gemeinsam modellieren.


  • Denkwerkzeug bietet
    • eine Verwaltung von Text-Einträgen und Beziehungen dazwischen, sowie
    • ein flexibles, strukturiertes Datenmodell
    • mit mächtigen Abfragemöglichkeiten.
  • Denkwerkzeug wird auf dem Desktop-Rechner installiert und über den Browser bedient. Spätere Versionen werden auch in der Cloud laufen und Synchronisation mit Android- und iOS-Geräten ermöglichen.
  • Durch intelligente Auto-Vervollständigung beim Tippen wird die Wiederverwendung vorhandener Namen und Konzepte erleichtert.
  • Denkwerkzeug bleibt auch bei sehr vielen Querverweisen übersichtlich. Dafür sind die einzelnen Einträge eher kurz.
  • Verweise zu anderen Einträgen sind nicht an den Text gebunden.

Vergleich zu ähnlichen Werkzeugen / Comparison to similar tools

Vergleich zu ähnlichen Werkzeugen / Comparison to similar tools

tung /
text processors
tion /
spread sheets
bank /
data base
Mind Map
Beispiele / Examples

Word, Google Docs
Excel, Open Office
Access, MySQL, Oracle
Freemind, Mind Meister, Mind Manager
MediaWiki, Semantic MediaWiki, JSP Wiki
Verwaltung großer Mengen an Notizen / Management of large volumes of notes
Visuell, Grafisch / Visual, graphical
Strukturierte Abfragen / structured queries
Querverweise / cross references
Flexibles Datenmodell / flexible data model
1) Verweise zu anderen Einträgen sind nicht an den Text gebunden. / Cross references to other entries are not rooted in the text.

Weitere verwandte Werkzeuge: Outliner (z.B. Omni Outliner, Workflowy), Digitaler Zettelkasten (z.B. Evernote, Google Keep). / Other related tools: Outliner (e.g. Omni Outliner, Workflowy), digital versions of a “Zettelkasten” (e.g. Evernote, Google Keep)

Early screenshot

Leaked! A very early screenshot of Denkwerkzeug. Here we see the design for mobile, even for older iPhones. The lower part of the screen is debug information. The screenshot itself shows the view after having browsed to the item "has type" - apparently a Semantic Web researcher is at work here.

Sonntag, 2. Februar 2014

What is DenkWerkZeug?

“What Excel is for numbers, Denkwerkzeug is for Thoughts, Snippets and Arguments.”

Sort, Structure, Connect

  • Thoughts and Arguments: Reach complex decisions faster and with higher precision (e.g. when making expensive purchases, making career choices or evaluating business ideas)
  • Personal Knowledge Management: Note your thoughts short and simple. Then add links and tags, as desired. This enhanced the value of your entry: It becomes easier to find and use it in queries.
  • Complex Systems: Manage complex systems or the documentation for one in Denkwerkzeug. E.g. you can model a software system and look at all layers of abstraction in a single tool.


  • Denkwerkzeug offers
    • Management of text snippets and connections between them, stored in
    • a flexible, structured data model
    • with powerful ways to query it.
  • Denkwerkzeug is installed locally and used in the browser. Later versions will run in the cloud and sync with iOS and Android devices.
  • By using intelligent auto-completion, reuse of concepts and consistent naming is provided.
  • Denkwerkzeug can handle many cross references. The linked text snippets are usually rather short.
  • Connections exist on their own and are not bound to the text content.

Use Denkwerkzeug

Right now, Denkwerkzeug is “By Invitation Only”. Sign up now and get a great spot on our waiting list.
UPDATE: DenkWerkZeug beta is open for all now. Sign-up for the mailing list to get notified on new versions and special features.