The developers at CS Odessa were kind enough to give me a preview of the newest version of their mind mapping software program to play with. ConceptDraw MINDMAP 5 for Windows will be officially launched on April 10th, with the Mac OS X version to follow in early May. According to Alexander Tyagulsky, the marketing director for ConceptDraw MINDMAP 5, the developer’s primary goal for this new version of the program was to improve its look and feel, and the overall user experience.
One of the biggest changes in version 5 is the overall look and feel of the user interface. Toolbar buttons are more colorful than in previous versions of ConceptDraw MINDMAP. This may not seem like that much of an update, but when you’re trying to decipher the meaning of small buttons, a dash of color can definitely increase their usability. Under the hood, the program has been completely rewritten to improve its performance.
ConceptDraw MINDMAP 5 also features a much-improved brainstorming mode. Version 4’s brainstorming mode was heavily based on the program’s outline view, which was somewhat limiting. In this new version, new ideas are entered as free-floating topics. When you click the "finish brainstorming" button, you are returned to the program’s map view, where you can then drag and drop your ideas to connect them to appropriate parent topics. This grouping process is much like a brainstorming team writing their ideas on Post-It notes, and then grouping them into logical collections of ideas. In other words, the program now acts more like an actual brainstorming session.
Also new in version 5: you can simultaneously view and make edits in a side-by-side map/outline view. Changes in one view are immediately reflected in the other one (see image, above right).
In addition, CS Odessa has done away with the simple, clipart-like image library from version 4, and has replaced it with higher quality bitmapped images, which should lend a more professional appearance to maps that incorporate them.
ConceptDraw MINDMAP continues to draw upon the strength of the ConceptDraw family of graphic design programs, which means you can add freeform drawings to your maps – one area where this mind mapping program is unique among its peers.
While not a revolutionary update of this popular program, version 5 does offer some solid improvements to ConceptDraw MINDMAP. Watch the developer’s website for more details next week, when version 5 is officially launched.