Vithanco IBIS – An Editor for the IBIS Notation

What is the IBIS Notation?

Use visuals to help you thinking. Vithanco IBIS is an editor for diagrams that use the IBIS Notation.

Main Concepts of IBIS notation and Visual Thinking with IBIS
Annotated Screenshot from “Visual Thinking with IBIS”

The Issue-Based Information System (IBIS) Notation was invented by Werner Kunz and Horst Rittel as an argumentation-based approach to support analysis of so-called “wicked” problems. However, IBIS Notation can be used for all problems, whether wicked or not.

This app creates and changes IBIS diagrams in order to map out a dialogue/argumentation or a thought/analysis. It uses a simple structure to help you getting to the bottom of your problems.

The IBIS Notation is a simple graphical presentation of questions and answers with their respective advantages and disadvantages with the following rules:

  • A question can have any number of answers or ideas.
  • Any answer/idea can have any number of arguments for each answer, split into the two categories of pros and cons.

The result is a simple graphical representation of a question. You can use it for any kind of question and you have a short exploration of a topic. It is of interest for all those that prefer a graphical representation instead of a textual description.

The concept of the IBIS notation are deliberately kept simple to make it useful for many use cases. The only so-to-say “complication” is that you can attach a question to any other item. As such you can:

  • question a question (“Shouldn’t we rather discuss X?” or “What are the assumptions behind this question?”), or you can
  • question an answer (“To follow this idea, what would we need to take into consideration?”, “What proof do we have for this statement?”), or you can
  • question a pro or con (“What could we do to overcome this disadvantage?”).

Each of these questions would then have it’s own structure with answers/ideas and pros&cons. And of course can these have further questions attached. Nothing restricts how big the IBIS diagram might become. You as the creator decide how many questions you want to include asks and how “deep” you want to go with your diagram in order to analyse the topic at hand.

Have a look at the annotated Screenshot above. I used my tool to describe itself.

And why would you use IBIS?

Again, I use the tool to describe itself.

Why using IBIS Notation

What can you do with the Editor?

Vithanco IBIS supports the creation of IBIS graphs in the following ways.

Change your IBIS Notation graph with the editor

I will go into more details over time.

Helpfile for IBIS Editor

You can simply use the help function within the application. But you can as well access the content here: IBISHelp.pdf

22 thoughts on “Vithanco IBIS – An Editor for the IBIS Notation”

    1. Hi Hans,
      thanks for reaching out and my apologies for the inconvenience. This is clearly not acceptable for me. Please help me and ensure that you report the crash to Apple. There should be a dialogue offering the possibility to send the report to Apple (see this dialogue as an example: I will then get a chance to debug the problem and will fix it as quick as possible. If I am allowed will I sent you a version for testing in between.

      Kind regards,

      PS: I was hoping for a different first comment, but I am happy that you try my software and would love to hear how you found it. 🙂
      PPS: Sorry for answering in English instead of German. Der Rest der Seite ist auf englisch. Du hast jetzt meine Emailadresse ich hoffe auf Antwort.

  1. I recently purchased both “Visual thinking with IBIS” and “Visual thinking with Concept Maps”. Both look very promising. A nice feature for future updates might an export to PDF function. Otherwise I look forward to using them.

    1. Hi Michelle,
      Thanks for the positive feedback – much appreciated.
      I just uploaded new versions for both programs. I believe you will like them.
      With regards to PDF export: good idea. That will come soon.
      Kind regards, Klaus

    2. Hi Michelle,

      Thanks (again) for the kind words. I was looking into this and realised that you already can do this. Did you try printing to PDF? Is that not already what you are looking for? What would you like in addition/different to the printing to PDF option – that is already available?

      Kind regards,

  2. Hello,

    It appears that TwoDollarTuesday deal price is not getting reflected in the app store.. Can you please check?

  3. Hi Klaus! Great site! I was doing some research on IBIS (which led me to your site). Not sure if you can answer the following question: is the Compendium software product dead/discontinued?

    Your software (looks nice) is listed as an alternative at

    Any info would be greatly appreciated!


    1. Hi Bart, thanks for passing by and for commenting. I believe that Compendium is not (yet) dead. Have a look here: Last update happened about a year ago. It means that not a lot is happening (unlike for my software where I work on the next release) but most likely is the software simply stable and does what is expected of it. Actually, the central (?) web site of Compendium was even updated 3 months ago ( So no, not dead. Try it out. It’s a good software. It’s simply not “designed” for the Mac.:-)

  4. Wow! This could be one particular of the most helpful blogs We’ve ever arrive across on this subject. Basically Excellent. I’m also an expert in this topic therefore I can understand your effort.

    1. Thanks, Burt. This is indeed close to my heart. I am preparing a big update for the editor to be published within the next weeks. I added decision nodes on request and keyboard controls. I hope you will like it.

    1. Generally, this is not possible based on App Store rules. But I will change the paying model soon. Just wait a bit.

  5. thanks for reply
    I am confused why just not to make one software with all features?
    I want to know which one will work for me.

    1. Ahmed, good thinking. Yes, I am working on it. Please give me a bit of time and I will switch from dedicated App for specific use case to one app with in-app-purchases for all use cases.

      Regarding what will work for you…. what are you trying to do? What are you using so far? What is your angle to look at the world? Mine at the moment is benefits. I have an article on it somewhere.

  6. I currently use

    I am interested in clear simple diagrams

    1. Nice. Then I have good news for you. This software is different in 2 ways. 1) is uses structured data and by default ensures that you stick to the structure. But can be overridden. 2) one cannot fiddle with the layout. All settings are based on the NodeTypes or on the canvas. But you cannot freely move nodes. I am a big fan of such as I just keep fine tuning the looks instead of focusing on the data. The full version will allow to create your own graphical languages, I.e. your own node types.

  7. waiting for the universal app, or at least provide now trial versions of all three apps will help me to decide which app to buy
    thank you

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