Review: DropMind makes impressive debut on the iPadMar 11th, 2011 | By Chuck Frey | Category: Mobile Mapping Tools
Seavus, the developers of DropMind mind mapping software and a corresponding web application, recently expanded its family of mind mapping applications with the launch of a DropMind app for the Apple iPad.
Here’s what’s notable about this new app:
Seamless synchronization: As you would expect, this new app syncs seamlessly with your online repository of DropMind maps. I love to see this kind of integration, because realistically, a mind map you create on the iPad will be developed further elsewhere. DropMind for iPad enables you to view the maps you have stored locally as well as those in your web account, and to work with them regardless of their location. That’s the way it should be!
There is no doubt in my mind that mind mapping apps that synchronize files to a corresponding web app or the cloud (a file storage and backup service like Dropbox) are going to have a big advantage in the years ahead versus those that only allow you to e-mail files to yourself and others.
Properties inspector: Like other well-designed mind mapping apps for the iPad, DropMind utilizes a property inspector – accessible from the app’s toolbar – to enable you to change topic shape, font, and add icons, notes and links.
Nice use of pop-over menus: When you select a topic in your map, DropMind automatically displays a pop-over menu that gives you the option of copying the current topic, creating a sub-topic or deleting the current topic. This is quite convenient for creating new sub-topics, because you can do so right in the workspace. There’s also a toolbar icon that you can use to do this, but I’m a big fan of contextual commands that you can invoke right in your mind map, without having to rely on a toolbar. If a topic you select contains a hypertext link, this pop-over menu will also contain a “go to link” command.
Clever display of topic notes: If you select a topic that contains a note, the contents of it are displayed in a translcuent window at the bottom of the screen. Nice!
Support for floating topics: If you want to create a floating topic, you simply double-click in a blank area of the canvas.
Feedback on moving topics: Some of the iPad mind mapping apps don’t make it very clear what’s happening when you attempt to move a topic. I’m pleased to see that the developers of the DropMind app have paid close attention to making this intuitive. When you select a topic, a red “shadow” of it appears just below it. As you drag your finger to move the topic, it follows along, and places a red box around nearby topics as you pass by them. This shows you where your topic will “land” if you release your finger from the screen. It’s simple and very intuitive. Love it!
Conflict resolution: This is something I haven’t seen in an iPad mind mapping app before. Let’s say you made some changes to a DropMind map using the developer’s web-based mapping tool. Soon after, you modified the version of it that’s stored on your iPad, but didn’t have access to an Internet connection to grab the latest version. Now you have 2 copies of the same mind map, with slight differences. Which one is the right map? This tool enables you to tell DropMind which version should survive and be sync’d across both devices.
Anticipating user needs: Seavus assumes when someone downloads the DropMind iPad app, they may not have an online account. So the app gives you the opportunity to create one. Very smart! Even if you don’t actually use the web-based version of DropMind, this service is still useful as an online backup to the maps that are stored on your iPad.
I am somewhat particular in my expectations of mind mapping apps for the iPad and iPhone. They must have a certain minimum set of capabilities in order for me to take them seriously, namely:
- The ability to capture topic notes
- Support for hyperlinks
- Support for floating topics
- The ability to display icons and symbols
- Common-sense map management tools – how can I export a map, and how easy is the process?
- Undo and redo (these devices have small screens; you need to be able to easily recover from a mistake)
DropMind for the iPad shines on all counts. A great user interface design, combined with easy synchronization with DropMind’s “cloud” application help to make this app one of the best for the iPad.