New open-source mind mapping program Freeplane off to a promising start

freeplane, freemind, mindmap, mind map, visual mapFreeplane is a new open-source mind mapping software program that is an offshoot of the popular Freemind program.  About two years ago, a group of developers contributing to Freemind had some different ideas about its future development, and so they split off or “forked” away from its codebase. The result is a program that is already superior in many ways to Freemind.

The development team has made impressive progress since breaking off from the Freemind code base almost two years ago. They have refactored the code to create a highly modular, clear and logical design, to ease entrance into development and to provide a solid foundation for long term development. In addition, the small but ambitious open-source development team has already made numerous improvements to the program, including:

  • A spell checker
  • Improved filtering functionality, which now includes the addition of a filter menu and icons, a filter history (“Now how did I find that topic the last time I looked at this map?”) and a date-based filter.
  • You can configure the program to load the last-viewed map on startup – ideal if you use a master map as your personal “operations center.”
  • Easily customizable hot keys for faster operation.
  • The note editor can be positioned to the left, right, top or bottom of the screen.
  • The menu bar can be turned on and off using the right click menu.
  • A new Freeplane viewer applet, which means you can make your Freeplane-produced maps more widely accessible to your colleagues or visitors to your website.

Many more improvements are detailed on the Freeplane web page. In addition, there is a very active wiki where you can find out more details about the team’s vision for Freeplane and its development progress. The group admits in the wiki that much more work needs to be done to define the future roadmap for Freeplane. One of their goals is to develop an open and extensible mind mapping file format that will be aligned with the Open Document Format, an XML-based file format for representing electronic documents such as spreadsheets, charts, presentations and word processing documents. This would make it easy to export the contents of your Freemind maps to other applications, such as text documents or spreadsheets.

Freeplane is a new open-source mind mapping software program that is an offshoot of the popular Freemind program. A group of developers from the Freemind team had some different ideas about its future development, and so they split off or “forked” away from Freemind’s codebase. The result is a program that is superior in many ways to Freemind.

One thing that you notice almost immediately when you open Freeplane is the clean interface, large workspace and the thoughtful inclusion of F-key commands (called the “F-bar”) just below the toolbar that provides new users with guidance on how to perform some common tasks. For example, F3 is used to select a topic, F4 to select a subtopic, F10 a note, and so on. While that’s somewhat useful, I was confused at first – I thought F3 could be used to ADD a topic, F4 to add a subtopic and so forth. This can be turned off in the program’s “view” menu. In addition, a secondary toolbar, which contains icons and symbols, can also be turned on or off, depending upon how clean of an interface you prefer.

The development team has made impressive progress since breaking off from the Freemind code base almost two years ago. They have refactored the code to create a highly modular, clear and logical design, to ease entrance into development and to provide a solid foundation for long term development. In addition, the small but ambitious open-source development team has already made numerous improvements to the program, including:

A spell checker

Improved filtering functionality, which now includes the addition of a filter menu and icons, a filter history (“Now how did I find that topic the last time I looked at this map?”) and a date-based filter.

You can configure the program to load the last-viewed map on startup – ideal if you use a master map as your personal “operations center.”

Easily customizable hot keys for faster operation.

The note editor can be positioned to the left, right, top or bottom of the screen.

The menu bar can be turned on and off using the right click menu.

A new Freeplane viewer applet, which means you can make your Freeplane-produced maps more widely accessible to your colleagues or visitors to your website.

Many more improvements are detailed on the Freeplane web page (http://freeplane.sourceforge.net/). In addition, there is a very active wiki where you can find out more details about the team’s vision for Freeplane and its development progress. (http://sourceforge.net/apps/mediawiki/freeplane/index.php?title=Main_Page)

The group admits in its wiki that much more work needs to be done to define the future roadmap for Freeplane. According to the Freeplane wiki, the group hopes to develop an open and extensible mind mapping file format that will be aligned with the Open Document Format, an XML-based file format for representing electronic documents such as spreadsheets, charts, presentations and word processing documents. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_document_format)

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Comments

  1. Leif says

    Still have this. Downloaded just now:

    On doubleclick: The setup files are corrupted. Please obtain a new copy of the program.

    XP SP3
    java build 1.6.0_13-b0

  2. John Harvey says

    The Freeplane development team is rapidly approaching a stable release. As of Nov 7, Freeplane-Setup-1.0.34 beta.exe is the current Windows binary. I’ve been using Freeplane since v.1.0.28 alpha in August. When I reported a filtering bug in v.1.0.33 beta on Oct 31, it was corrected and test version 1.0.34-03 was available by Nov 4.

    Lief: I haven’t ever had any installation problems on Vista. I’ve searched the Freeplane forum for install problems and found questions about linuxmint install, Italian spellcheck, etc. But I didn’t find any problems reported about installing the Windows binary. Since you aren’t getting any response here, I suggest you ask the experts on SourceForge.

    I hope this suggestion is helpful.

    Regards, John Harvey

  3. John Bullard says

    Hi, I installed Freeplane 1.0.37 beta yesterday, it didn’t run. Tried to uninstall it, but it won’t uninstall correctly.

    There are a number of folders remaining, but worst of all, there is a large ‘freeplane’ logo fixed to the desktop, which I cannot remove.

    Can you please tell me how to get rid of it.

    Thanks

  4. says

    For those reporting that it doesn’t run after installing. Are you using Windows 7? Maybe you have to run it as an Administrator. I have the same problem. I have to right-click the Freeplane icon, and select “Run as administrator”, in order for the program to launch. I think it’s a common problem with Java programs on Windows 7.

  5. John Iglar says

    I am using this program with my high school classes – the best feature is the outline view.

    We use it on multiple platforms. Colin, I use it on my Macintosh – it opens through the terminal. Control-click on the freeplane.sh icon and open with terminal. Not beautiful in a Macintosh way, but it gets you into the program just fine.

  6. Shazam says

    Problem with notes.
    As in Freemind, notes do not appear in some export formats. It would be nice to have the Word export to keep the notes…. Writing an essay using Freemind should be a breeze compared to lots of Mindmap software….but NOTES are fundamental…
    Thanks to think about it

  7. Jay says

    I stumbled upon this after days of looking for a better mindmapper/notetaker for the Mac OS-X. My work forced me to shift from a PC to a Mac, and I wanted to get apps that worked as closely as possible to what I was used to. But while I really liked Freemind, I wanted it to have the notetaking functionality of the outliner Keynote NF which to date is only for the PC (not to be confused with Apple iWork's Keynote presentation software).

    I couldn't find any satisfactory open source alternative for the Mac for the Freemind/Keynote NF combo, until I found this. I've downloaded and tested the Mac version, and it fits the bill perfectly! Thanks to the developers, it really is excellent, and I am looking forward to any further versions/improvements!

  8. jokro says

    If you are using Freemind or Freeplane 1.1, visit freeplane.org and download Freeplane 1.2 beta to get a new user experience in mind mapping. Freeplane 1.2 has outgrown these previous programs to a large extent. Freeplane 1.2 is much more versatile, has many new and improved functions and a revised menu structure which is more intuitive for the beginner. The documentation has been improved and consists of a Quick reference and Documentation as part of the program and a wiki Tutorial Freeplane with didactic examples, computer based instruction and a growing number of examples in the mind map gallery. Freeplane 1.2 is going to be the heart of an academic literature suite. Besides Freeplane 1.2 fully supports Groovy scripting, so you could extend the program yourself if the abundant functionality should not fit your needs already. read more on http://www.freeplane.org.

  9. jonathanG says

    i love freeplane, it's much better than freemind, in literally every aspect (faster, more features, more responsive developers) :-)

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