Mind Mapping Software Blog http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com The best mind mapping tools and strategies for business success Fri, 16 Mar 2018 21:50:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 New: TheBrain 9 Pro looks smarter and faster than ever http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/new-thebrain-9-pro/ http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/new-thebrain-9-pro/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 21:37:52 +0000 http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/?p=9621 Last month, TheBrain Technologies launched TheBrain 9, which has been re-created from the ground up for improved performance and stability. In addition, it features numerous usability enhancements that make it worth a fresh look.

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Last month, TheBrain Technologies launched TheBrain 9, which has been re-created from the ground up for improved performance and stability. In addition, it features numerous usability enhancements that make it worth a fresh look.

For most of its 20-year life, TheBrain was powered by Java, Sun Microsystem’s powerful but sometimes wonky programming language. The engine behind TheBrain 9 is a new, proprietary brew of state-of-the-art software technologies, which make the new program significantly faster and more reliable than its predecessors. For the first time, TheBrain is a true native application on Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android, optimized for the OS-specific features of each platform.

TheBrain 9

Here’s what’s new, improved and notable in TheBrain 9 Pro:

New tabs speed access to multiple brains: The biggest and most visible user interface upgrade is a new tab interface at the top of the program’s workspace, which enables you to quickly move from one brain to another. You can even use it to drag nodes from one brain to another, or view different parts of the same brain simultaneously in two different tabs.

New import option: In TheBrain 9, you can now import visual maps from a variety of formats, including MindManager and Freemind. This enables knowledge workers with collections of mind maps to easily import them with a minimum of hassle. I tried it with a MindManager mind map that summarizes the top 10 TED Talks.

TheBrain 9

It loaded in normal view for TheBrain (sort of an org-chart like appearance, with the central topic on top and the 10 first-level topics branching out beneath it in two groups of five). I was easily able to use the View button on the program’s sparse toolbar to switch to mind map view; plus and minus icons on either side of this button enable you to open and close all branches – one layer per click – nice and intuitive!

Mind map view: One of the recent trends in business use of software is that more knowledge workers are utilizing large, high-resolution monitors. Accordingly, the developer has redesigned the program’s expanded view to provide a cleaner layout on large screens. In the past, switching to expanded view yielded a visual map where some topics overlapped each other. In version 9, this is no longer the case. Expanded view now looks very much like a mind map, which should make it appeal to current users of mind mapping software.

TheBrain 9 mind map view

New pin customization options: In previous versions of TheBrain, pins only had on and off states. In the new version, you can add multiple categories to pins without increasing visual clutter. You can also access more detailed settings for pins that control whether icons are turned on or off, or appear when hovering over the pin. Another set of controls gives you similar options over tag text.

In addition, you can customize icons to give you a greater level of control over their visual context. In other words, you can set up an icon scheme that is most meaningful and relevant to you.

TheBrain 9 Enhanced note formatting: The notes pane of TheBrain 9 has been upgraded to support numerous types of rich formatting. You can also embed images, videos, links and more in the integrated notes window. It now appears to the right of the workspace, and performs double duty as a browser/viewer for web pages and other linked or attached files.


Clicking the plus (+) icon to open a new tab opens a dialog box that lets you do numerous things:

  • Open a web page URL
  • Link to a file
  • Open folder
  • Create image
  • Capture image
  • Add event (Events can now be synced both to and from Google Calendar as part of TheBrain 9’s sync services)

TheBrain 9 This same tabbed toolbar at the top of the viewer pane contains a “Notes” tab as well. So no matter what you’re working on, you can add information and context to a node in your brain. Nicely integrated.

Embedded web browser: Web attachments appear right inside TheBrain 9, letting you access web information without even having to open it in a separate browser.

I’ve said it before with several mind mapping programs that have implemented this functionality – it’s actually more valuable than it appears to be at first glance. There’s something to be said for staying focused on one software application, instead of bouncing around from one to another. When you’re trying to maintain mental focus, this is critically important.


TheBrain 9 represents the biggest leap forward in performance and usability in quite a few years. If you work with large bodies of knowledge and information that has many deep connections, you’ll want to take a look at this latest iteration of TheBrain. My favorite updates and new features include the mind map import, clean interface with a minimum of distracting buttons and tabs and the multi-functional notes/browser/file viewer pane.

Upgrades to TheBrain 9 are free if you have an active services plan or if you purchased a new license of TheBrain after November 1, 2015. When you login using TheBrain 9, your existing license will be automatically recognized.

If you haven’t previously used TheBrain, a one-time license for version 9 is US$219. Perpetual and monthly license arrangements are also available, and are described in detail on TheBrain’s Store web page.

A 30-day trial version of TheBrain 9 Pro is available for download for Windows and Mac. After 30 days, it reverts to a free version with limited functionality.

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Mind Map AR: The world’s first augmented reality visual mapping tool http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/mind-map-ar-augmented-reality/ http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/mind-map-ar-augmented-reality/#respond Mon, 12 Feb 2018 18:49:38 +0000 http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/?p=9602 Mind Map AR is a new augmented reality (AR) mind mapping application, available for Android smart phones and iPhones in the near future. It displays topics and their connections in 3D, displayed over the top of your camera's view. I recently interviewed the developer to learn more about this fascinating new smartphone application.

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Mind Map AR

Mind Map AR is a new augmented reality (AR) mind mapping application, available for Android smart phones and iPhones in the near future. It displays topics and their connections in 3D, displayed over the top of your camera’s view. The controls are easy and intuitive.

While it’s not yet a full-featured business mapping tool, Mind Map AR does a tantalizing job of showcasing what’s possible. I recently had an opportunity to interview Dante Martin, the founder of ScapeHop – the developer of Mind Map AR – to learn about the thinking behind it, the promise and limitations of augmented reality and what the future looks like for 3D mind mapping.

Chuck Frey: What’s the backstory of Mind Map AR? What made you decide to create this application?

Mind Map ARDante Martin: I’ve always felt mind mapping is an incredibly effective strategy for learning and brain storming. When I first learned about Augmented Reality, I was intrigued by its implications for learning and productivity. Mashing up mind maps and AR felt like a natural next step.

I became obsessed with the vision of building seemingly physical idea structures that I could walk through and around. The decision to launch this app stems from my desire to have an app that can do 3D Augmented Reality mind maps. It’s more of a Field of Dreams approach: “If you build it, they will come.” I hope others are like me and will enjoy this experience too.

Frey: What needs is it designed to fill?

Martin: Everyone has eureka moments, and we’d all be better off with more. That’s the need Mind Map AR is designed to fill – more eureka moments. Mind Map AR is designed to do this by getting your blood flowing in your brain better as you move around your thoughts.

The AR experience also engages your brain by better tapping into your powerful hippocampus as you work with color, imagery, and 3D structures. The structure of the mind map directly corresponds to the way that our own brains link information together, store it and retrieve it. The colors and images act as mental triggers which help your brain link the items together.

Having voice input also makes for more conductive thinking since you can effortlessly grow your mind map on pace with the flow of your thoughts. You’ll be able to let your thoughts flow freely and come up with new ideas.

Frey: Is this a business tool or more of something to play around with on your smartphone?

Martin: Mind Map AR is a personal tool that helps you generate insight and build knowledge in any setting including a professional one. Most business tools have an inflexible format, and you must force your thinking to conform to it. A predefined format can be useful for organizational consistency, but it comes at the cost of personal creativity. You also risk losing non-conforming approaches that might actually be better.

Mind Map AR overcomes these shortcomings. Its flexibility helps you develop break-out thinking. So, in a professional setting, whether you are planning a big presentation, preparing for an interview, or generating bright new insight for an analysis, Mind Map AR can make you better at work.

However, Mind Map AR can also be used in many other settings, such as studying, planning travel, writing, problem solving and many other extracurricular projects. Anytime you want to brainstorm ideas or organize information, this app will allow you to look at things in a new way.

Frey: Who do you view as the primary audience or audiences for it?

Martin: Our primary users are knowledge workers and students spanning business and academia. Our initial users found Mind Map AR despite it still being in beta. They wanted a tool that helped them better tap into the creative power of their minds. Their success depends on building knowledge, insights, and ideas. So far our user base includes disproportionate segments of business leaders, consultants, instructors, corporate trainers, and students.

Frey: Are there some shortcomings to traditional 2D mind mapping that you were aiming to overcome with Mind Map AR?

Mind Map ARMartin: I’ve tried nearly all the mobile mind mapping apps. 2D Mind Mapping has worked in the past, but now that we have the technology to create 3D AR mind maps I believe that it’s time for the process of mind mapping to evolve.

Traditional 2D mind mapping works on a desktop or laptop with keyboard shortcuts, but it gets tedious on a smartphone or tablet. Mind Map AR overcomes this issue. It provides a new approach for mobile devices. Adding the third dimension eliminates the space constraint and Augmented Reality delivers an experience that’s bigger than your smartphone’s screen. We designed Mind Map AR to be an evolution of mind mapping, and I doubt users will go back to 2D after trying it. There’s nothing quite like the experience of being able to move around within your ideas and see them from all angles.

Frey: What specific advantages do users get from working in 3D with the mind map versus a traditional 2D mind map environment?

Martin: Mind Mapping in 3D feels natural and intuitive. 3D lends itself well to the branched structure of mind maps. But 3D mind maps get even better when you can actively experience them in augmented reality. Mind mapping in AR is more mentally engaging which amplifies the core value of what makes mind mapping great.

Our brains have evolved to excel in a 3D world. We have a knack for orientation and relative positioning. This inherent ability is both powerful and effortless. For example, once you’ve seen where the bathroom is in an unfamiliar building you don’t need help getting there again. You effortlessly capture the information. This natural aptitude is what you harness with Mind Map AR. You develop a relative sense of where information is and capture it in the process.

Frey: How much of a learning curve is required to adopt this software?

Martin: Mind Map AR is designed to be simple and intuitive. If you follow your instinct to tap on what you want to interact with you will have 80% of what you need to be productive. For example, if you want to edit a node or add to it you just tap on it.

You can get another 10% proficiency by following your instinct to move. For example, if you want a different view of your mind map you move to get that view just as you might move around an apple tree for a better look at an apple you want to pick. The last 10% of the learning curve is getting acquainted with advanced features like filtering the view of your mind map with node tags. Mind mappers will have no problem with our app and once they have figured out the basics they will be able to use it with ease.

Frey: How easy is it to add content to a 3D mind map in Mind Map AR?

Martin: Adding content is simple. You touch a node, and a menu appears with all the options you need to add or edit content. You can type or talk for text input, so you have the choice of whatever is most convenient for you at that moment. You also can change colors, add images, hyperlinks, cloud storage file link attachments, etc.

Frey: How easy is it to manipulate the nodes within the map once you’ve created them – to rearrange them, join them to each other, etc.?

Mind Map ARMartin: Connecting and manipulating nodes in Mind Map AR is straightforward and flexible. The basics actions like cut, copy, and paste are all there. Also, visual directional and bi-directional arrow links can be used to link nodes that are not parent/child related. You can also manually move nodes. However, by default, the nodes are auto-arranged for simplicity.

Lastly, there is a Node Jump feature which lets you define a related node to jump to which will enable you to make associations that may not justify a visual link. Overall, Mind Map AR provides a rich set of options to manipulate 3D mind maps. This tool is designed to be as intuitive as possible, so that it won’t take users long to figure it out.

Frey: Is there some way to turn off the camera? In the demo, I found the constantly moving background of the tables and chairs to be very distracting.

Martin: Yes, it can be disabled. However, when you are experiencing it in the first person, you’ll find the background to be a natural fit. That said, not all environments are suitable for AR so you can disable the Augmented Reality mode and enable the VR Canvas which is a simple 360-degree virtual background that replaces your environment as the background. You can also lock motion sensing if you are in a situation where it does not make sense to be moving around. In this case, you can use pinch to zoom and the rotation joystick to navigate.

Frey: Your website talks about the idea that Mind Map AR “harnesses your best ideas.” How, exactly does it do that?

Martin: Mind Map AR preserves the best of what traditional mind maps offer but enhances your engagement. So the benefits mind mapping brings to ideation remain, but you now have a more active and engaging experience that helps you tap into more of your potential. This ties back to the earlier point about how our brains evolved to excel in a 3D world. The ease of use and 3D perspective Mind Map AR provides allows you to capture and expand on fleeting thoughts and ideas.As you develop them, these ideas can lead to insights which might have otherwise gone unexplored.

Frey: It also talks about using Mind Map AR to “effortlessly explore inspired ideas with family, friends, and coworkers.” Is this a tool that enables multiple people to work on a mind map at the same time?

Martin: Sharing is possible a couple of different ways. You can do file sharing where other Mind Map AR users can experience the mind maps you’ve built. And there is outline text export where users can transfer the ideas from their mind maps into other deliverables like presentations, emails, notes, etc. We are also working on a live sharing mode for instructors, but I’ll hold the details on that until we are closer to launching it.

Frey: You say that “Mind Map AR helps you interact with innovative ideas without constraints.” What types of tools tend to constrain the thinking of business people and why? How does Mind Map AR solve these limitations?

Martin: Conventional business tools force conformity to linear formats. They work for communication since serial information is easily consumable by others, but they are deficient for what should come before communication; thinking, ideation, and creativity.

One of the reasons mind maps are great is because it’s OK to go down rabbit holes. You can develop and build on a stream of thought without worrying if you are straying off course. Those mental paths often lead to a place that enhances your original thinking. Even if you decide you missed something, there’s no harm done. You can always get back to a previous idea and build another branch without compromising your original thinking. This is powerful because you formalize your thoughts with the benefit of a broader perspective that produces better results.

All mind maps share this quality, but Mind Map AR delivers the third dimension which gives you a lot more flexibility. Once you have built your mind map out, you can see it all at once and look at it from many different angles. You can then harness that knowledge structure and leverage it anywhere. Your mind will be more free to let the ideas flow, rather than being constrained by any limitations.

Frey: In the FAQs, it says “Many starting points allow you to get even closer to the way your mind works.” So isn’t Mind Map AR more like a concept mapping tool than a mind mapping app?

Martin: It can be a powerful tool for concept mapping as well, but our approach is an evolution of mind mapping. In Mind Map AR many roots allow users to have related, but distinct mind maps in the same file. This allows users more flexibility. We’ve worked hard to eliminate any friction between a user’s ideas and the capabilities of the app. We’ve also added features to help users who want to work this way. For example, you can create arrow links and jump links between the mind maps. They are not limited to their own structures. The same applies to essential features like cut, copy, and paste.

Frey: Is any special equipment like VR glasses required (headset) in order to use Mind Map AR?

Martin: Mind Map AR runs on ARCore, Google’s Augmented Reality platform. It runs on any Android smartphone supporting ARCore. At the time of this interview, ARCore is still in developer preview, so it is not generally available yet. However, there are some high-end Android devices that can run it for users willing to install the ARCore developer preview app. The smartphone models Google currently supports ARCore on are the Samsung Galaxy S7s, S8s, Note 8, the Google Pixel models, and the Pixel 2 models. Google has announced they will expand support to more smartphone models in the future.

Frey: What kind of early feedback have you received from alpha or beta users?

Martin: The most common initial response is “Wow, this is cool!” We’ve received a lot of enthusiastic feedback from early users and testers. Everyone loves the magic of walking around and through their thoughts as if their ideas are physically present. Users also like adding images on the fly with pictures taken from their phone’s camera or any image in their gallery or on the web. The main message we have received from our feedback has been: ‘Mind Map AR makes thinking, brainstorming, and studying fun.’

Frey: What’s your timetable for releasing the full release of Mind Map AR?

Martin: The official release of Mind Map AR will be when Google announces the general availability of ARCore which is expected to happen before the spring. Mind Map AR will be among the first productivity apps on the Google ARCore platform. However, it is currently available as a pre-release beta app from the Google Play Store.

So users with a compatible smartphone willing to install the developer preview version of ARCore can download and use it today. We encourage Mind Mapping Software Blog readers to try it and send us your thoughts. You can reach us with the contact form at the Scapehop website. That form feeds straight into my inbox and I read every message.

Frey: Is the app available for iPhone yet?

Martin: Mind Map AR will be released on Android first. We started development last year before Apple’s augmented reality platform (ARKit) was announced, so it wasn’t an option then, there was only Google. That platform evolved into Google’s ARCore solution which is what Mind Map AR will be launching on. We will work on an Apple version as soon as we have the ARCore version launched.

Frey: Let’s say you’re talking to a business user of traditional mind mapping software. How do you convince him to make the move to 3-D? Why would he want to do so? What would the benefits be?

Martin: Mind Map AR is designed to help you creatively develop and grow your thinking, so you produce more impactful results. It helps you access your untapped genius to stand out from the crowd. You can take your mind mapping advantage to a new level with an app designed to deliver the core value of mind mapping better with an experience that utilizes our brain’s inherent knack for working in 3D.

Frey: What are your future plans for expanding Mind Map AR’s capabilities?

Martin: We are looking at new platforms to make the Mind Map AR experience accessible to as many users as possible. We also will keep fine-tuning Mind Map AR to ensure it is enabling users to achieve what they are setting out to with their mind mapping efforts. User feedback will guide many of our next steps, so we’d love to hear from anyone who tries it.

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How to transform unstructured text data into gold – with MindManager 2018 http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/transform-unstructured-text-data/ http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/transform-unstructured-text-data/#respond Fri, 26 Jan 2018 21:51:39 +0000 http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/?p=9590 When you're faced with a significant volume of unstructured text data, how do you discern patterns within it? How do you make sense of it? Not surprisingly, mind mapping software can help you transform it into valuable insights that are worth their weight in gold.

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How to transform unstructured text data into gold

When you’re faced with a significant volume of unstructured text data, how do you discern patterns within it? How do you make sense of it? Not surprisingly, mind mapping software can help you transform it into valuable insights that are worth their weight in gold.

I was recently faced with this challenge when I reviewed the verbatim responses from the 2017 Mind Mapping Software Trends Survey. Each time I conduct this survey, I download these comments to review them. But it’s hard to see patterns when you’re staring at a spreadsheet with over 100 entries. The bottom line is that I didn’t use this valuable reader input as much as I should have, because it was simply too hard to do.

This time around, I wanted to change that. I got to thinking about ways to move this data into a more flexible format so I could see patterns and group bits of feedback into meaningful collections. So I experimented:

Step 1: Copy all of the comments and paste them into MindManager

I opened the CSV file containing the survey comments, and copied all 108 rows. I then switched to MindManager. In the file menu, create a new flowchart. That will enable you to manipulate all of your responses as floating topics. If you try this in a new mind map, all of your topics will be connected to the central topic.

Step 2: Clean up the topics

As soon as I pasted all of the data into MindManager, I immediately discovered three challenges:

  • First, it pasted everything into a vertical column of topics, one per comment, down the middle of the workspace. In other words, instead of spreading them out across the workspace, all 100+ of them were piled on top of each other. Drag and drop them into approximate columns.
  • Some of the comments were very LONG. That created very lengthy map topics in MindManager. If you have any topics like this, edit and summarize them into a more concise format.
  • Other topics combined several suggestions into a single map object. I used MindManager’s copy and paste tool to remove text from one topic. When I selected the Windows paste command, MindManager automatically created a new topic containing that text. Nice!

In retrospect, I should have done some of the topic shortening and division in Excel. It would have saved me a lot of work. Yes, this step is time consuming, if you have a lot of data. But trust me – it will all be worth it later!

Step 3: Move related topics into proximity to each other

At this point, if you’re working with a lot of data, you may find that many topics are in your way. Create some open space and move related topics at least into proximity with each other. Take your time, and don’t be afraid to experiment with moving topics around. Not all of them will be a good fit with each other. That’s OK. That’s the beauty of this software – you can arrange and rearrange topics at will.

One nice feature of MindManager 2018’s diagram view is the way in which you can place topics immediately next to each other, with a few pixels between them. Simply drag one topic until its edge slightly overlaps the one you want to position it next to. The program won’t let them overlap. It will reposition the topic you moved just a few pixels away from the other one. Perfect!

Step 4: Use MindManager’s Power Filter to find related topics

At one point in this grouping process, I realized I had seen several topics that referred to mind mapping “use cases.” But scrolling around my massive cloud of topics, I couldn’t find them. So I turned to MindManager’s Power Filter to do a keyword search on the word “use.” This made all the other topics disappear; only ones that contained the word or text string of “use” appeared. This made it very easy to find those elusive topics and group them together. I highly recommend it as a tool to reduce the amount of visual clutter you’re seeing. It really does help you focus!

To show all of the topics, use the “remove filter” command in the toolbar. If you’re not sure if you’re looking at a filtered view, look in the lower left corner of the workspace. You’ll see a message within a pink rectangular box that states “map is filtered.” You can also right-click on this status box and select “remove filter” from the context-sensitive menu that pops up.

Step 5: Create borders to group topics

Ideally, you should be able to do this with map boundaries. When I tried to use a boundary to group four topics together, it created boundaries around each individual topic – not what I was going for. Fortunately, MindManager 2018 now enables you to place a variety of shapes onto the workspace, useful for creating business canvases and for other creative map backgrounds.

So I drew a rectangle around four related topics to enclose them; shapes are located in the Insert tab of the ribbon toolbar. Once I did that, I was able to give it a style. Switch to the Design tab and look for line styles and fill colors.

Step 6: Embellish your groups

If you’re so inclined, you can use the Insert/Text Box command to add titles to your topic groups. I experimented to see if I could get a bit more creative. For example, I wanted to create a text box next to one of my topic groups and then use a relationship line to point to it. Unfortunately, that’s not supported.

You can also add icons to individual topics (but not to your topic groupings).

How to assess your topic groupings

The number of topics in each group is an excellent measure of the level of interest in it. For example, I can see from this visual analysis that mind mapping use cases and examples are a major area of interest for my readers. I can add this to my content goals for 2018, to make sure I address it.

You can make decisions based on the verbatim responses. But don’t forget you can also use them to make additional inferences about the data you’ve collected and organized. Add those inferences to your groups – just make sure to format those topics differently so you can tell them apart from the survey responses.

Finally, you can use this type of exercise to precisely zero in the needs of people you’re trying to influence – ideal if you’re writing a blog or other types of content. Here’s how it works:

  1. Ask an open-ended question to collect verbatim responses
  2. Analyze and group them
  3. Launch a separate one-question survey that lists these meta-topics and asks respondents to rate them on a scale of 1-5.

The result is an ordered list of the topics that are most important to them.

This is an awesome way to get people engaged with your blog or website. You’ve given them a blank slate to tell you what they want or need. You’ve then parroted that back to them, within a survey tool that enables them to tell you what THEY think is most important. Finally, simply address these topics in your blog or website in the order your readers ranked them. I did this for a new e-magazine I was launching for my InnovationTools.com website, and the results were phenomenal!

Turns out people LOVE it when you listen to them, and then deliver what they told you they wanted!

The value of this visual sense-making exercise

Why is this data now so valuable? Because I was able to move it from a linear format where it was difficult to discern patterns into a flexible visual format where I could manipulate and group it in ways that made sense to me. Now I’m in a better position to take action on the reader needs that emerged from it.

Why use MindManager for this project? Because it was able to handle a large number of topics without slowing down. Also, it didn’t force me to connect these topics; I was able to arrange and rearrange 100+ floating topics any way I wanted. If I tried this in a dedicated diagramming software program, I’m sure it would have really slowed it down.

Was this sense-making exercise a success? Absolutely!

I will definitely use this data mapping technique after my next mind mapping user survey. I will also be looking for other ways to use it. It’s quite valuable!

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How to revolutionize project planning with mind maps and facilitated discussions http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/project-planning-mind-maps/ http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/project-planning-mind-maps/#respond Fri, 26 Jan 2018 20:14:40 +0000 http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/?p=9576 Conventional approaches to project planning are usually time-consuming and inefficient in the use of the limited resources. Here's how facilitated discussions with mind mapping software can help.

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Facilitated Project Planning with Mind Maps

Conventional approaches to project planning are usually time-consuming and inefficient in the use of the limited resources. Here’s how mind mapping software can help.

Project leaders are provided direct resources and access to business subject matter experts (SMEs) with the expectations of timely results being delivered to the client. With these resources, the leader has the collective knowledge, understandings, skills, and abilities often referred to as capabilities. The challenge is effectively tapping into those capabilities to effectively deliver the project objectives and timelines.

The conventional approach: Project planning is managed by a business analyst

The typical approach is to use a cycle of an interview, analyze, question, re-interview, elaborate, document, review, refine, approve, and then start development or re-engineering. Under this approach, the test is how quickly the business analyst can connect with, understand, document and confirm the business SME’s insights and prepare a conceptual business solution.

Once the solution is approved, each individual involved in the project must read the plan and try to establish a shared understanding of the concepts. Typically, clarity and accuracy is lost in translation.

A more effective project planning model: The engagement approach

Project leaders can utilize collaboration techniques to access these capabilities and ensure that they are shared amongst the team and SMEs. With the use of visual tools and facilitated discussions, it is quite possible to shorten the development cycles, reduce administrative overhead, and improve results by having group sessions where understandings of context, capturing of needs, identification of wants, and discovery of possible options can be realized in weeks not months.

When we use this collaborative approach, we develop a clearer understanding of what is the actual challenge or opportunity as well as viable solutions. This can be achieved more quickly than a single business analyst conducting weeks of interviews, analysis, and review work of report assets.

Visual facilitation enables the teams to capture and refine project requirements in real time for all attendees. All participants hear the topic and/or question to be addressed, hear the same emerging answers, have the opportunity to question perspectives, clarify expectations, and refine the language of the plan. This approach promotes shared understanding, as well as a clearer picture of each person’s role in the project.

All of this project data is captured in a visual one-page model that elegantly and concisely captures this shared understanding and can and be used to communicate with stakeholders. This puts the project team in an excellent position to focus all their efforts on the same challenge and its targeted solution.

Unpacking what must be done

During a series of articles I will present approaches that can be used to unpack the needs, project plan and the outcomes required, and will demonstrate how visual tools cane help power these facilitated planning sessions:

  1. Initiative Definition Workshop – define the need, strategy, resourcing, expectations, and objectives to address the need,
  2. Context and Value Proposition Workshop – clarify the parameters to be applied to the operational solution and the value proposition,
  3. Solution Definition Workshop – discover the solution that will meet the need, and
  4. Initiative Progress Meeting – monitor and report the project activities towards realizing the project goals.

Each of these sessions can be addressed using structured visual tools that produce a single-page summary of the findings, which can be efficiently verified and shared with others. This approach ultimately speeds up the timeframe from information discovery through project implementation..

Facilitating the conversation

To kick off this series of articles, let’s outline a common approach for the facilitated sessions which applies the following steps:

Facilitation Workshop Process

To define the facilitation we use the “Workshop Canvas” which articulates the considerations for the workshop and is used by the team to prepare and conduct the session. The model outlines the activities, key considerations, and approximate timings for the steps listed above. During this article series we will be utilizing a fictional project with the following characteristics:

Workshop Canvas

To see an example of the Workshop Canvas, please use this link. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Rogers produced this canvas in MindManager. Watch for a blog post that explains, step-by-step, how to do it!)

The next installment of this series will outline the Initiative Definition Workshop and what is needed to prepare an Initiative Overview Canvas.

This article is presented by John Rogers Results Coach, Facilitator, Project Manager and business architect with Map For Results. John has over 45 years of project experience and has lead many large-scale business process re-engineering projects. Visual Engagement has been a focus as a method to improve the effectiveness of team operations and improving project results. He has taught project management practices at both the college and university level and has been using mind mapping over 15 years actively in his project management and consulting practice.

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New XMind ZEN debuts vector-based graphics engine http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/xmind-zen/ http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/xmind-zen/#respond Mon, 04 Dec 2017 18:31:37 +0000 http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/?p=9526 One of the big challenges nearly every developer of mind mapping software has faced during the last decade is selecting a unified platform that enable it to create one set of code that can be deployed across all computing platforms – desktop, mobile and web. Most recently, XMind has reached this plateau. Its answer to […]

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XMind Zen mind mapping software

Stephen Zhu - XMindOne of the big challenges nearly every developer of mind mapping software has faced during the last decade is selecting a unified platform that enable it to create one set of code that can be deployed across all computing platforms – desktop, mobile and web. Most recently, XMind has reached this plateau. Its answer to the challenge is XMIND Zen, a new mind mapping platform that’s based on SVG, a scalable vector graphics format.

I recently talked with XMind cofounder and senior vice president Stephen Zhu to learn more about XMIND ZEN and the future of this popular mind mapping program.

Chuck Frey: Where did the idea for XMind ZEN come from?

Stephen Zhu: In the past few years, the framework of XMind has been based on Eclipse, which in turn is based on Java. Java has some inherent limitations in terms of memory management. Also, it’s not designed to support mobile computing platforms. This framework did help us to build XMind into the successful program it is today. But we were starting to run into its limitations. We also discovered that some users encountered instability with Java. So we decided to replace it with something more stable and scalable.

We’ve invested the last 3 years rewriting the XMind engine in SVG technic, a vector-based graphics rendering technology that enables you to enlarge the mind map freely without any loss in quality. We call this new mind mapping engine “Snowbrush.”

Compared with other programming languages used to build mind mapping software, this platform has fewer limitations and gives us more flexibility to expand from here. Our team believes it’s a superior foundation for the future of XMind.

We believe XMind ZEN has many other shining points as well: The map themes have a fresh look. The program includes 89 new stickers and a user-friendly design. Even a first-time user can operate it easily.

ZEN refers to your ability to deeply concentrate. Our XMind team has focused only on mind mapping software for 12 years now. We want to bring users a more concentrated or focused feeling when they’re creating mind maps.

Frey: Your XMind ZEN web page talks about focusing on “future ‘black’ technologies.” What do you mean by this? Can you give me an example of a black technology that is incorporated into XMind ZEN?

snowbrush - XMind ZENZhu: Snowbrush is an all-new graphics engine that gives XMind Zen a lot of power and flexibility. Its graphics performance is outstanding. Also, it is compatible with all devices, whether in iOS or web, all SVG. That’s what we intended when we created it.

By rendering mind maps using SVG, all the elements in a mind map display perfectly at every resolution, including lines, themes, diagrams and other visual elements. SVG opens up many more possibilities in graphics and animations, which we haven’t even begun to explore.

We believe SVG is one of the “black” technologies the will drive mind mapping into some exciting new areas in the future. It’s an exciting time for XMind.

Frey: Will you offer XMind in both the regular and ZEN versions? In other words, two mind mapping programs? Or will it eventually replace XMind 8 PRO?

Zhu: So far, we believe XMind 8 won’t be replaced by XMind ZEN. The users of XMind 8 and XMind ZEN have different use habits and different needs in their mind mapping software. XMind 8 is designed for heavy use by business people. They demand more professional features, like project management.

We believe XMind ZEN users’ needs are more basic. But they are still business people who need to be able to gather, organize, distill and share their ideas.

Comparing to XMind 8, XMind ZEN does not contain some professional features like audio notes, GANTT chart, slide-based presentation and brainstorming. However, these features will eventually be added to XMind Zen, built using the Snowbrush engine.

Frey: The pictures you’re showing in the blog post to announce that XMind ZEN is now in private beta testing show some unusual and beautiful diagram designs? What are they, and how are they to be used?

Zhu: Xmind ZEN contains not only the structures (fishbone, matrix, logic charts, etc.) we originally provided in Xmind, but also its free drawing capability enables you to create some unique and beautiful diagrams. You can also use floating topics and relationship lines to create some unique effects.

XMind ZEN example map

Actually, these maps came from users of Xmind ZEN. They have fully unleashed their imagination and productivity to create these beautiful mind maps using floating topics and relationship lines in some unique ways. Our users use their talent and practice to prove XMind not just for mind mapping.

In addition to the beautiful new map views in XMind ZEN, what else is new in this new program?

XMind ZEN has:

  • 30 all-new themes, which are designed to help users with many different types of scenarios no matter you are a student or a businessman,
  • 89 original stickers
  • Export to .md (markdown) format, which is a powerful plain text formatting syntax, and
  • ZEN mode.

This last new feature is perfect for organizing your ideas. When you’re operating in ZEN mode, all the extras panels surround the workspace will automatically hide. That can help you to concentrate on your mind map.

XMind ZEN example map

Frey: Let’s say I’m a business user of XMind PRO. Why should I invest in XMind ZEN?

Zhu: Comparing to XMind 8, XMind ZEN does not contain some professional features like audio notes, Gantt Chart, slide-based presentation and brainstorming. If you are a heavy user of these features, then XMind 8 is all you need.

If not, and you have a passion to make beautiful mind maps, then we strongly recommend XMind ZEN. With a more powerful graphics engine, the program’s performance is greatly enhanced. Also, with the same powerful engine, you can enjoy the same mind map experience on your iPhone/iPad.

Frey: What’s the timetable for the launch of XMind ZEN?

Zhu: We launched the public beta in the middle of November, and final release the official version will be coming soon. Watch our Facebook or Twitter feeds for details!

Frey: What else should readers of the Mind Mapping Software Blog know about XMind ZEN?

Zhu: Both XMind 8 and XMind ZEN formats are completely compatible. All the graphical features in XMind 8 are perfectly consummated in XMind ZEN. Furthermore, XMind ZEN also supports to export files from Mindmanager, Novamind, Freemind and Lighten.

XMind for iOS is coming soon as well. The iOS version uses the same Snowbrush engine as XMind ZEN. It provides a seamless experience on all your devices.

XMind ZEN can export your mind maps to PDF and Evernote formats. Saving your mind maps as vector PDF files enables you to enlarge them as needed and print them clearly. Evernote fans will be delighted to find that XMind ZEN supports sharing their mind maps to Evernote directly with just a few clicks.

Finally, if you have any questions about Xmind ZEN, please contact us!

To download XMind ZEN Beta for Windows 7 64-bit and newer, please click here.

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Mind mapping software powers career-boosting gains in productivity, creativity and problem solving: survey http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/2017-mind-mapping-software-survey-results/ http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/2017-mind-mapping-software-survey-results/#respond Wed, 29 Nov 2017 06:02:52 +0000 http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/?p=9510 Creativity, productivity and making sense of complex business issues get a significant boost from visual mapping. It also gives its users a remarkable competitive edge, according to the results of the 2017 Mind Mapping Software Trends Survey. Here are just a few highlights of the survey’s key findings: Productivity increase from mind mapping software: On […]

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2017 Mind Mapping Software Survey results

Creativity, productivity and making sense of complex business issues get a significant boost from visual mapping. It also gives its users a remarkable competitive edge, according to the results of the 2017 Mind Mapping Software Trends Survey.

2017 Mind Mapping Software Trends Survey reportHere are just a few highlights of the survey’s key findings:

Productivity increase from mind mapping software: On average, mind mapping software helps busy executives to be 20-30% more productive in their work. That has held consistent through three surveys over a period of 8 years. It is now widely quoted by developers of mind mapping software.

Creativity increase from mind mapping software: The largest percentage of respondents said it increases their creativity by 30%. A related question asked about divergent thinking; almost half of the respondents (46.5%) said that mind mapping software helps them “to a large” extent to think divergently.

Major time savings for mind mapping experts: Expert users of mind mapping software say it saves them an average of 7 hours per week – the equivalent of almost a full day of work.

Presenting ideas to others: Over 78% of survey participants said that mind mapping software helps them present their ideas with impact to a moderate, significant or essential degree.

Download your free copy of the full survey report now!

2017 Mind Mapping Software Trends Survey results

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Visualize your way to peak success (personal development with mind mapping software) http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/personal-development-report/ http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/personal-development-report/#respond Tue, 21 Nov 2017 06:38:02 +0000 http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/?p=9495 Why not make 2018 the year you accelerate your personal development? Take a visual approach to your goals and plans with my new eGuide.

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peak success with mind mapping software

We all get tired of being stuck. Being overlooked for our exceptional skills, training and productivity. Seeing little or no success, year after year. Yeah, I hate it, too! Why not make 2018 the year you kick up your personal development several notches? How? By taking a different – visual – approach to your goals and plans. Thinking and planning with a mind map ALWAYS leads to new ideas, insights and connections that weren’t visible before.

personal development book covrerI believe in using mind mapping for personal development so strongly that I’ve assembled a new Peak Performance Personal Development eGuide that explains how to use it to differentiate your work, stand out from your peers and become indispensable to your organization. This special report will teach you how to:

  • How to set up and manage your goals within a software-produced mind map
  • The audacious technique to envision your ideal future – and then “time travel” back to the present to make it happen!
  • Become a linchpin – indispensable to your organization, looked to for your keen insights and powerful ideas. * How mind mapping can help you to reach “escape velocity” on your dreams
  • How to think and plan with mind mapping software to keep you several steps ahead of the pack (like it or not, advancing in nearly any organization IS a zero-sum game. Only a handful can win. The rest of you are stuck in career purgatory until you burn out or bail out for a new opportunity).
  • How to use mind mapping to think divergently – considering more possibilities and opportunities that weren’t visible to you before. (BTW, ideas are the ROCKET FUEL for your personal and professional advancement!)
  • How to use a visual map to help you get unstuck – and get going on the vital goals and dreams that mean the most to you.
  • How to use a personal dashboard map to stay organized, focused and ridiculously effective.
  • And much more!

The time to start accelerating life and career for 2018 is NOW!

Now is the time to start thinking and planning for 2018. The new year is now only 6 weeks away!

P.S. You’re protected by my 100% no excuses, no exceptions money-back guarantee. That means NO RISK to you!

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Mind Doodle live maps powerful ideas from TEDxBristol event http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/mind-doodle-tedxbristol-mind-maps/ http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/mind-doodle-tedxbristol-mind-maps/#respond Wed, 08 Nov 2017 03:04:45 +0000 http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/?p=9480 Mind maps recently added an intriguing new element to the TEDxBristol event in the UK, thanks to Mind Doodle, a web-based mind mapping tool.

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Mind Doodle at TEDxBristol

Mind maps recently added an intriguing new element to the TEDxBristol event in the UK, thanks to Mind Doodle, a web-based mind mapping tool. As Mind Doodle staff translated each speaker’s presentations into visual notes, on-site and remote attendees could watch the maps grow in real time. They can also access an archive of mind maps from this important regional conference, held in Bristol, UK.

Tess Coughlan-Allen - Mind DoodleI recently talked to Tess Coughlan-Allen, Mind Doodle’s marketing manager, to learn more about the genesis of this great idea, how they did it and the benefits to attendees.

Chuck Frey: Where did the idea to live map these presentations first come from? Mind Doodle or TEDxBristol?

Tess Coughlan-Allen: When we heard that TEDx was coming to Bristol, our first thought was that we wanted to attend, because TED and TEDx events have an incredible reputation for fascinating and stimulating talks. Shortly after this, one of our contacts from the Bristol community got in touch to tell us she was a part of the TEDxBristol organising team.

We started discussing the options for getting more heavily involved with the TEDx organisers and quickly realised that we share the same key values and beliefs: that powerful ideas should be shared by, and accessible to, everyone.

We decided that TEDxBristol was an opportunity we couldn’t refuse, and agreed that we could support in two ways:

Firstly, by live mind mapping the talks, we were able to enhance the audience experience for both direct attendees and for those following the TEDx event online globally.

Secondly, we supported the Community Partnership Programme by contributing towards providing 15% of seats to people from Bristol and the West’s diverse community groups for free.

Chuck: What is TEDxBristol’s Community Partnership Programme? What are its objectives and how does live mapping its presentations fit into its mission?

Tess: The Community Partnership Programme was a fantastic initiative by TEDxBristol to help make the event accessible to diverse community groups in Bristol, therefore sharing the ideas with more than just the people who can afford to buy a ticket.

Mind Doodle contributed to the Community Partnership Programme, along with other sponsors, to provide free tickets for individuals from around Bristol and the South West.

There were a total of 260 people who managed to attend the event through the programme, who could not have attended the event otherwise. We interviewed two attendees who benefited from free tickets, which you can read here.

By live mind mapping the event, we were able to further amplify the cutting-edge ideas that were explored in the talks to an audience who are outside of the local community.

Chuck: What are the advantages of capturing the essence of a talk in a mind map as opposed to other visual or written format?

Tess: Thinking is not necessarily a linear process. Similarly, the way that we absorb information varies and traditional methods of planning, thinking and working are out of date.

TEDxBristol mind map - made with Mind Doodle

By capturing the essence of the TEDx talks through mind mapping, we helped to widen the appeal and understanding of the talks.

Mind mapping is a reasonably well-understood concept now. It is not alien to most people, and the benefits of mind mapping are evident.

We’ve embraced the simple and powerful idea of mind mapping, but taken things a step further. Our software moves forward from the basic concept of mind mapping to build a collaborative thinking environment.

It is easy to use, communication between team members is instantaneous and most importantly, it enables both a holistic view of the ‘bigger picture’ and the ability to focus closely on each individual idea.

Chuck: Are there some challenges, too?

Tess: There are always challenges when introducing a new and innovative software product. With such a flexible tool, the biggest obstacle is explaining how all of the different features can be best utilised.

There is potential for new digital tools to generate a fear factor for new users, but Mind Doodle is so natural that you can easily transfer your ideas from your consciousness and allow your thoughts to flow freely. We have found that once people have seen Mind Doodle in action, its advantages and the scope of possibility it affords the user becomes self-evident.

TEDxBristol mind map - made with Mind Doodle

We noticed there is usually a lot of friction when you move from creating an idea to sharing an idea, for example when you write things up, email, attach files and discuss. Equally, when you go from the concept through to planning, again, you are normally forced to use a new planning tool. We saw that there was a need for a streamlined process from initial idea creation right through to execution.

You can use Mind Doodle to create an idea and then transition the idea from something only you have into something tangible that can be expanded upon by other colleagues and contributors. What we’ve done is pull together what are currently discreet processes into one seamless tool.

Chuck: Does it take a special skill set to capture the essence of a speaker’s presentation, live. in a mind map?

Tess: Absolutely not, Mind Doodle is for everyone and is simple and intuitive to use, and anyone can live mind map speaker presentations.

However, as live mind mapping is time sensitive, it works best if the mind mapper is someone who has standard computer skills, who can touch type and has the capability to understand what is being presented quickly, but anyone can do it.

You can also prepare for events like these. For example, we met all of the speakers before the event and showed them what we planned to do. They briefed us on their talks and were really excited about having their thoughts mapped out visually. The mind maps became a resource that the speakers wanted to share in the future, too!

Chuck: Your news release said that attendees, visitors and the global audience were able to watch these mind maps develop in real time. What platform did you use for live sharing?

Tess: That’s right, anyone could watch the mind maps develop in real time. It all happened within Mind Doodle and it was as simple as typing in the URL and choosing the mind map from the list.

We also posted across social media with links to the mind maps that we were creating live, so anyone could access the latest mind maps as we were creating them.

Chuck: It sounds like there were hundreds of remote locations watching the speakers live. Did they also see your mind maps?

Tess: Yes, they just needed to visit https://tedxbristol.minddoodle.com to have access to the mind maps. Alongside the organisers of TEDxBristol, we promoted the idea of the live mind mapping to increase awareness and widen the TEDx audience as much as possible.

We had thousands of visitors to Mind Doodle who watched the mind maps as they developed and we were pleased to be able to provide so many people with visual access to the talks in real time.

Chuck: How will this use of online mind mapping help to “ignite new ideas and inspire new conversations,” as your news release says?

Tess: Seeing something demonstrated in the live environment is inspirational, it makes ideas spread and almost feels contagious.

Live mapping with Mind Doodle allowed people to see what modern tools can do for them to help with the core process of thinking. The way in which we think is something that we need to improve across the world. Core thinking can be difficult to do, which is why there was a need for a software tool to simplify and enable it.

For inspiring new conversations, that’s where our chat tool came in. Within each idea in our mind maps, there is a live chat, allowing people to discuss, share and comment immediately. This meant online viewers and attendees could further explore the ideas that the TEDxBristol speakers presented.

Chuck: How have you determined if the live mapping experiment was successful or not?

Tess: Fundamentally, it was down to the feedback from remote users, audience members and speakers so we judged it by how useful it was based on user feedback.

We wanted to know if the live mind mapping helped people to understand concepts and interpret key facts from the presentations more quickly and evaluate whether anything got in the way, weighing up how much value was added by the live mind mapping.

We’ve had overwhelmingly positive feedback so far, particularly from attendees at the event. The speakers also gave us extremely positive feedback, saying the mind maps helped them to communicate their ideas effectively. Many of them wanted to share the mind maps further within their own networks.

Overall, our main aim was to amplify the powerful messages from TEDx to a wider audience. The talks covered a range of topics from science to business, technology and global issues and we helped to widen the access and improve the audience experience for these talks, so we consider it a success.

Chuck: Live mapping presentations looks like the type of enhancement that other TEDx events could easily replicate. Do you plan to share the backstory of it with the TEDx network, to amplify this innovative approach to knowledge sharing?

Tess: Yes, definitely. Mind Doodle enhanced the experience of both the attendees and those following TEDx worldwide and looking at the data, the positive reaction to the mind maps shows us that this is a natural progression. Of course, anyone is welcome to use our tool, even if we don’t do the mind mapping ourselves.

TEDxBristol - Mind DoodleChuck: Where can readers of the Mind Mapping Software Blog view these mind maps, live and in archived format?

Tess: The mind maps are available at https://tedxbristol.minddoodle.com and will remain here as a resource for anyone to access key ideas and quotes. This means that the ideas from the event are contained in a digital archive and free to access in the future.

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Mind maps bring clarity to AI-powered semantic analysis http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/watson-ai-mind-mapping/ http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/watson-ai-mind-mapping/#respond Fri, 20 Oct 2017 18:45:54 +0000 http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/?p=9464 InfoSeg S.A. is using IBM Watson NLU, a powerful AI engine, to semantically analyze large amounts of text and parse it into mind maps. This application shows what's possible by combining data with mind maps.

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Jose Guerrero Infoseg IBM Watson and mind maps

Mind maps are powerful tools for gathering and organizing large amounts of information and knowledge. But they can also be used to output structured data from a variety of sources. When I last talked to Jose Guerrero, the managing director of InfoSeg S.A. in 2013, his team had created a tool that worked with MindManager to import your LinkedIn data in a variety of formats. What he’s doing now is another order of magnitude more amazing: Using IBM’s Watson Natural Language Understanding (NLU) AI engine to semantically analyze large amount of text and parse it into a mind map, with 8 areas of reporting.

I recently interviewed Jose about this exciting, cutting-edge project and why mind maps are still his preferred format for outputting data from this powerful cloud-based tool:

Chuck Frey: How is this an extension of the past work you did with mind mapping – such as parsing LinkedIn profiles and making mind maps out of them?

Jose GuerreroJose Guerrero: Only the idea of visualizing complex information as mind maps is similar. In this case, IBM Watson™ NLU processes text and web pages and generates a full semantic analysis of categories, concepts, emotion, entities, keywords, metadata, relations, semantic roles and sentiment. The result of this semantic analysis is a series of lists containing very complex information. It would be very difficult to understand these results if the user receives them as linear text or web pages. It would be almost impossible to see the “whole picture”. Mind mapping helps the user to see the “whole picture” and work on the results in an efficient way.

Frey: Why did you select IBM Watson versus another AI platform?

Guererro: I selected IBM Watson™ NLU because it is a very solid and well tested solution, IBM is going to use it in the long term, IBM is going to improve it and there is no danger that they change it for something different in the near future.

A further reason is that developers can adapt IBM Watson NLU to specific environments like healthcare, insurance, banking, marketing, engineering and others by using custom models created with Watson Knowledge Studio. Watson, as a cognitive system, has some capabilities that are not found in traditional programmed computing systems, including:

  • It understands like humans do, processing natural language and other unstructured data.
  • It learns, getting more valuable with time.
  • It reasons. It understands underlying ideas and concepts, form hypothesis, infers and extracts concepts.
  • It interacts. It has abilities to see, talk and hear. It can interact with humans in a natural way.

Natural Language Understanding uses natural language processing to analyze semantic features of any text in the form of plain text, HTML, or a public URL.

Jose Guerrero Infoseg IBM Watson and mind maps

Frey: What is Natural Language Understanding (NLU) and how does that work?

Guerrero: The main features of IBM Watson NLU are:

  • Uncover insights from structured and unstructured data. Analyze text to extract meta-data from content such as concepts, entities, keywords, categories, relations and semantic roles.
  • Understand sentiment and emotion. It returns both overall sentiment and emotion for a document, and targeted sentiment and emotion
    towards keywords in the text for deeper analysis.
  • NLU understands text in nine languages, including English, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Italian and Arabic.

Frey: How do you foresee a business executive using NLU-MAP? What are the use cases?

Guerrero: The sources of text to analyze are:

  • Social media and blogs
  • Articles
  • Research reports
  • Enterprise mail and e-mail
  • Surveys
  • Documents
  • Voice transcriptions
  • Chat
  • News
  • Knowledge bases

The most important types of use are:

  • Social media monitoring
  • Content recommendation
  • Opinion mining
  • Content profiling
  • Add placement
  • Buyer intent analysis
  • Churn prevention
  • Financial prediction
  • Brand and product intelligence

Jose Guerrero Infoseg IBM Watson and mind maps

Frey: The IBM Watson web page describes NLU as being able to work with both structured and unstructured data. Why is that significant?

Guerrero: Most of the information we have nowadays (80%) is unstructured. In the future, in fields like healthcare, insurance and banking, this is going to be our main problem.

Frey: What’s next for NLU-MAP?

Guerrero: I would like to work in a version of this program to analyze technical papers in healthcare, insurance, banking, engineering, etc. so that the productivity of experts could be improved substantially. For example clinical or research teams of physicians have to read thousands of academic papers every year. They suffer from information overload.

The possibility of improving their productivity by 30 or 40% would be an enormous achievement.

This will be all as far as NLU-MAP is concerned. However, we have plans for other developments related to the IBM Watson™ environment:

  • Tone Analyzer. This will be an add-in for Outlook so that users can see the tone of the messages they are going to send. In this way users will be confident that their messages do not contain improper content.
  • Chatbots. Create a summary of conversations that can be analyzed later.
  • Personality insights. Obtain a psychological portrait of a person as a mind map.
  • Discovery. Visualize the result of searches in collections of documents.

Frey: You told me in an email that short texts work best for now. When will it be able to handle longer texts?

Guerrero: Well, you can work with very long texts right now. The only problem was that without mind mapping the amount of information generated by IBM Watson NLU was enormous and very difficult to analyze. Now, our product NLU-MAP is going to make this less of a problem. However the idea is not to use NLU-MAP for very long texts like books, for example.

Click here to view Jose Guerrero’s presentation about NLU-MAPs on Slideshare

Jose Guerrero Infoseg IBM Watson and mind maps

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MindManager 2018: A tantalizing leap into the future of visual thinking [REVIEW] http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/mindmanager-2018-windows-review/ http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/mindmanager-2018-windows-review/#respond Wed, 27 Sep 2017 18:04:16 +0000 http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/?p=9443 MindManager 2018 for Windows, released this week by Corel, is the biggest leap forward in features and functionality for this mind mapping, diagramming and project management program in many years.

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MindManager 2018 review

MindManager 2018 for Windows, released this week by Corel, is the biggest leap forward in features and functionality for this mind mapping, diagramming and project management program in many years.

Corel has increased the size of the MindManager development team by 50%, giving the program new momentum. It’s awesome to see Corel making a significant investment in this enterprise mind mapping and visual thinking tool, to make it all it can be.

A brave new role for map topics

Ever since the dawn of computer-based mind mapping, topics have been best understood in relation to each other by way of connector lines. With the exception of the occasional floating topic, these atomic building blocks of mind maps almost always appeared in a hierarchy, joined by connectors that gave them context and defined their relationships with each other.

Over time, topics morphed into powerful containers, able to carry with them hypertext links, attachments, notes and, eventually, all manner of metadata. This was one of the fundamental inflection points that made mind maps the powerful business tools they are today. Even when MindManager’s capabilities were expanded to include concept mapping and diagramming, topics were still connected to one another, albeit in different contexts.

MindManager 2018 represents a re-thinking of the role of the lowly topic. Corel has liberated it, enabling it to become much more, a building block for other types of diagrams and data visualizations that aren’t focused on processes and relationships. As we’ll see, the topic is now a powerful player in SWOT diagrams, business model canvas diagrams and other types of visualizations. Its function as a container continues to grow, as we will see in this review. In short, I’m excited by the revitalized direction MindManager has taken with this release.

Here are the most notable new and enhanced features in MindManager 2018:

Digital architect

This is Corel’s term for the ability to add shapes, dividers, images and text boxes wherever you want them within the MindManager workspace. A companion design menu gives you a great deal of creative freedom in customizing these elements to your needs. As you add new elements, the program automatically remembers the settings you applied to the last one, and produces a copy with the same properties. This is a real time saver compared to having to place and format individual objects.

Another welcome feature of the digital architect is the ability to designate specific objects as editable or not editable. So what, you’re probably saying to yourself? It’s actually very important, because it enables you to create templates or frameworks that are non-editable, to which you can add topics, images and other elements that are editable.

Think of a SWOT diagram or a business model canvas, where the diagram itself is non-editable but the information you place within it is. The net effect is as if MindManager had an editable layer of objects and a non-editable layer beneath it. You can set these editing properties on a element-by-element basis. Watch for users to do some really exciting things with this!

New diagram types

MindManager 2018 also supports several new diagram types, including Venn diagrams, onion diagrams (concentric circles), SWOT diagrams and the Business Model Canvas. What makes MindManager unique compared to dedicated diagramming programs is you can add meta-data to any object, including links, attachments, notes, data and more.

Prioritization view

Another innovation in MindManager 2018, which works hand in glove with the new diagram types, is a prioritization view. It is best explained by example: Let’s say you created a SWOT diagram and populated each quadrant with a number of topics. They are not all equally weighted in importance, however. To prioritize them, you switch to the new prioritization view, which displays all of your topics in a vertical column at the left side of the screen. To the right of your topics are columns that correspond to priority 1-2-3 and more if you want to create additional columns.

MindManager 2018 - priority view

To prioritize your topics, you drag and drop them to the appropriate column. When you do so, a corresponding priority icon is automatically added to each topic you’ve moved. You can also group select and drag topics to their proper locations, and can open a dialog box to adjust their other properties. Any changes you make in this you will also be reflected in the map view and in GANTT view. Compared to adding priority icons to individual topics in the map view, this is fast and intuitive. I love it!

When you return to the map or diagram view, your topics are still in the same locations they were in within the diagram, but they now have priority numbers associated with them. Nice!

Map filter enhanced with “smart fade”

In the past, you could use MindManager’s filter or power filter capabilities to hide or unhide topics; those were the only two possible states. In this new version, there is also a “smart fade.” When applied, it causes selected topics to appear grayed out, but they’re still visible. For example, if you had created a SWOT chart with 25 topics within it and five were priority one, you could set a smart filter to apply smart fade to topics that are priorities two and three. This would instantly cause any topics containing this icon to be grayed out, while only the priority one topics would appear as is.

MindManager 2018 - smart fade

Why is this useful? Because with the old filter, sometimes when you hid topics, the context disappeared along with it. Smart fade makes it possible to still see the overall structure of your mind map, while bringing only those topics you want to focus on to the forefront. I really like this “smart” new feature!

Scheduling view

The developers at Corel realize that most people using MindManager are not professional project managers. That’s why they created a new scheduling view, which behaves much like the priority view. In other words, all of your topic tasks are listed in a vertical column on the left side of the screen, and date bands appear in columns across the rest of the workspace. To schedule tasks, you simply drag and drop them to the appropriate week, day, month or year. Once again, you can group select tasks, which enables you to quickly schedule large quantities of them.

Like priority view, you can open a dialog box to manage other task properties within the scheduling view, including marking them complete. Any changes you make here will also be reflected in program’s other views.

Enhanced conditional formatting

This powerful feature, which was rolled out in last year’s version of MindManager in rudimentary form, has now been significantly enhanced in the 2018 version. You can create rules and apply them to any object in your workspace.When you set up rules for conditional formatting, you can tell the program to adjust multiple properties that match the rules’ conditions, including:

  • Topic shape,
  • Topic color,
  • Line color,
  • Font and
  • Font color.

MindManager 2018 enables you to store these conditional formatting rules so you can reuse them with your other mind maps. The program ships with five rule examples that you can use to understand how this new functionality works.Conditional formatting even works with SharePoint data that you import into your MindManager workspace. As new data is added to your SharePoint space, it automatically propagates to MindManager.

You can easily edit rules in the additional formatting dialog box, and turn them on and off at will. For example, you could use this functionality to set up rules for displaying tasks that are completed, late, due today and “someday” items. This helps you to focus on what you need to accomplish now, while keeping the rest of your map data from cluttering your mental RAM.

Where conditional formatting becomes really useful is in a dashboard view. If you set up the rules properly, it will display exceptions so you can easily pay attention to them within a map of hundreds of topics. It also works in real time. In other words, if you make a change on a topic that forces it out of compliance with the rules, the alternate formatting will immediately be applied – nice!

Collaboration and sharing enhancements

In past versions of MindManager, external places to store your maps were treated in a less than intuitive way. I’m pleased to say that in the 2018 version, the process is now seamless. It works exactly the same way if you save your map locally, or to an online file repository like Box or SharePoint. New in this version: GoogleDrive, OneDrive and Dropbox are now supported.

When your mind map is saved to a remote location, a small rectangular indicator appears in the upper left corner of the workspace to let you know it was successfully saved.

Interactive mind map viewer – enhanced usability

One of the challenges that the Corel development team realized with the map viewer is that not everyone who gets a link to view a map understands how to read it. That’s why they modified the behavior of the viewer so that it now displays mind maps in presentation view. Not only that, but it utilizes the type of presentation behavior that displays one active branch at a time with the rest grayed out; the map zooms and pans to display each one in succession.

This is a departure from Mindjet’s previous evolution of presentation view, which moved toward a slide-based approach that I didn’t particularly like. This method of map navigation is much more intuitive for people who aren’t used to viewing mind maps.

MindManager 2018 - map publisher

Notes, links and attachments are all viewable within the HTML 5 viewer. The mind map behaves the same whether it’s stored on SharePoint, on a remote file storage service or if you’re viewing it on your local desktop.

New map publishing capability

MindManager 2018 adds a new publish capability, which enables you to share maps with colleagues via email, on favorite social media channels or embedded on websites and blog posts. In addition, the new map viewer gives you the ability to publish your map privately (where only people who receive the URL can view it) or any password-protected view. These new capabilities show a nice evolution of the new file viewer that make it much more useful for business applications.

Using this new set of options, you can publish or unpublish maps, email a link or embed them in a web page or blog post. It’s nice to see MindManager finally offering the kind of social aware capability that other applications have had for several years.

One the most amazing aspects of the new publish option is that if you make a manual update to your local copy of the map, it is propagated to remote locations word exists.

I asked product manager Michael Deutsch if it is possible to publish a filtered view of your mind map. Why would this be desirable? Because sometimes you create mind maps where some of the topics are background information or describe the process of your thinking. They are not part of what you want to show to your team, client or other constituents. Michael checked on this for me and confirmed that some time just after product launch, this capability will be addressed, and it will be possible to do this. Excellent!

MindManager finally gets a significant SharePoint upgrade

Enterprise users of MindManager will be happy to know that version 2018 has gotten quite a boost in the SharePoint department. You can now store mind maps in SharePoint directories in a read-only format, check them out and edit them, and then check them back in, just like you can any Microsoft Office file.

In the past, you had to be at least a SharePoint semi-wizard to formulate queries of your company’s databases. With the 2018 Enterprise Edition, this has now been simplified using a step-by-step wizard. You can query all views within SharePoint, select the fields you want included within the query and have the data returned as properties within MindManager topics. Once this data is contained within a mind map, you can leverage the program’s full power upon this data, performing calculations on it and even doing conditional formatting.

Each topic that contains SharePoint data also has an icon. When you click on it, it opens the SharePoint data in MindManager’s integrated browser window, not in a new browser. This may sound like a minor improvement, but it does enable you to view your data within its context, not in a completely separate browser environment. That’s actually pretty important!


We’re all benefiting from the fact that Corel came along and was able to look at MindManager from a fresh perspective – and to devote more resources to it – to realize some of the advances that weren’t possible before. The direction in which this powerful mind mapping program is headed is refreshing and exciting.

As we’ve seen, topics – the atomic building block of mind maps – now take on a bigger role, from appearing as free-floating elements in new types of diagrams, having smart fades and powerful conditional formatting applied to them, and becoming even more powerful containers for SharePoint data than ever.

I’m also a fan of the new prioritization and scheduling views, which will enable busy executives to get these mundane tasks more quickly, and the enhanced file management design, which treats local and remote files the same, no matter where they reside.

In addition, Corel has expanded the integration between MindManager and SharePoint to be much more useful to enterprise clients. I believe they have a real winner on their hands!

For more information about MindManager’s new and enhanced features, please visit the what’s new page on the Mindjet website.

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