Knotview is a crossing between a concept mapper, a wiki and a database. The main idea behind it is to split information into small chunks (knots) and make links between them. Visual organisation is not enforced : links can be drawn arbitrarily. With Knotview, only the user decides how the information must be shown. Creating links pointing towards files or url is possible and make it very easy to gather scattered information into a single place. Knotview can be used as a powerful bookmark manager, a mind mapper, a small database, and much more.

Knotview is released under the GNU General Public Licence (GPL).

Knotview 0.2.0rc2 (release candidate 2) has been released. Some small bugfixes have been made in the Kdb browser dialog and in knotdb. Download it here with its gpg signature.

Key Features

What distinguishes Knotview from other concept- and mind-mapping software if the fact that it separates contents from appearance. A knot consist of a title, some arbitrary properties (e.g. urls) and an associated text. It is stored in a database (kdb) which does not include any displaying informations. Display is left to a client application, and saved in a separate file (kv).

This allows some useful behaviour, such as displaying several times the same knot, in the same application. Nothing prevents doing the same with different applications : the same knot can be displayed in a graph, and simultaneously in a 'todo-list' software. This last feature is under development and will probably come out very soon (written 30 october 2007). A very important feature of knotview is the ability to show the same information differently, depending on the users' needs. A todo-list will be shown in a list view widget, whereas a brainstorming needs a powerful graphical interface.

Each knot can be assigned one or more user-defined categories. This allows to set shorts of 'type' to knots. As for now, only displayed knot color is affected, but much more can be done with this. A good example where this is useful is a dictionary. Nouns, verbs, adjectives can be affected different categories. Other categories can be used to distinguish between feminine and masculine (if applicable).

More examples are (will be) given in the tutorials.

For future plans and crazy ideas see the development page


Main window, which shows connected knots with several categories. The part of the window showing the knots is called the graphview.

kdb browser window, which shows the state of the kdb file, and can be used to perform some basic actions. Categories are shown in the left part, and knots in the right part. Knots can be dragged from this window to the graphview.

Main window with the knot popup menu open, showing the various actions.


Some terminology helps understanding knotview...

Basic building block of knotview. Composed of a short title, some attributes and a longer (optional) text. A knot can be linked to other knots and can belong to categories.
Entity linking to knots. Always oriented. Can belong to a single category.
A set containing edges or knots. It has a title.
kdb file
Shortcut for knotview-database. This file contains all data (knots, edge, categories and associated texts), but no information about how to show them (such as color or position).
kv file
Shortcut for knotview-file. This file contains no data, but only the way to show them to the user. It always refers to a kdb file. Several kv files can refer to the same kdb file.

The kdb file can be thought of as a filesystem, whereas Knotview can be thought of as a file manager (which can save its display).

To get started with Knotview, there is a small tutorial, which is unfortunately already out-of-date : part 1.

No reference documentation exists for the moment. It might be written someday... Any help would be appreciated.

Requirements and download

Knotview is written entirely in python. Version 2.4 is required. Required python modules are :

Knotview 0.2.0rc2 (release date 16 march 2008) and older versions can be downloaded from the download area.

Instructions for installation can be found in the INSTALL file included in the package.

You can also get the bleeding-edge version through svn :

svn co knotview

(see also the gna! documentation)

Installation instructions can be found in the INSTALL file.

Starting with version 0.2.0rc1, Knotview needs a separate server (provided in the tarball), called kdbd. It must be launched before Knotview. Both can be launched from the source directory by typing :



A (very short) list of related programs.

A lot more can be found on the Wikipedia pages about concept map and idea map.

Some more original/experimental projects :


For questions, bug(s) reports, feature requests, complaints or congratulations, feel free to write to Philippe Gervais (phyxie AT gna DOT org).

Last modified on Sun Mar 16 20:44:05 2008