With the advent of new tools for developing rich, web-based applications (such as Ajax, Flex and Microsoft’s new Silverlight platform), web-based mind mapping tools seem to be proliferating like crazy lately. The newest one, now in beta testing, is Mapul. Created by a developer in Russia, it is powered by Silverlight, which is Microsoft’s answer to Adobe’s ubiquitous Flash environment. Mapul looks like it has some promise, but right now it’s still a bit rough around the edges.
Functionally, Mapul resembles iMindMap, in that you use the mouse to “draw” new lines outward to add sub-topics to your map, in organic fashion. On his website, the developer says he has tried to adhere to the Tony Buzan method of mind mapping.
You can add images to map branches, or make them free-floating. One thing that I found initially confusing was how to add an image to my map. It turns out that Mapul only displays a list of images after you do a keyword search. But I suppose it’s designed this way so that it loads quickly in your web browser. Once I figured that out, it appears that Mapul does contain a fairly extensive collection of images and artwork.
You can also add free-floating text to your map, and notes to the branches of your map. Using the scroll wheel of your mouse, you can easily zoom in and out. But I couldn’t figure out how to move the map around the workspace, until I accidentally double-clicked on it. Mapul really needs a help screen! I talked to the developer about this, and he says he’s going to create one to help new users get acclimated to the application’s slightly unconventional interface. He also indicated that Mapul isn’t “done” yet, so we may expect to see many improvements to it in the weeks and months ahead.
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