A few months ago, NovaMind Software Pty. announced that it will launch version 5 of its flagship NovaMind mind mapping software. I recently got an exclusive preview of an alpha version of the new program from NovaMind founder Gideon King. He and his team have always been innovators in this software genre, but they’ve outdone themselves this time, incorporating many new features and enhancements that are like nothing you’ve ever seen in mind mapping software before.
I can’t go into much detail because I am under a non-disclosure agreement with the developer, but I can give you a few high-level details about what will be included in this impressive program:
A new map layout engine: Other mind mapping applications tend to waste a lot of screen real estate as you add topics. For example, creating two adjacent topics and then populating one with numerous subtopics tends to push the other out of the way, leaving big areas of white space. NovaMind’s map layout engine has been completely rewritten in version 5 to maintain a compact map layout. Gideon walked me through several usage scenarios, and I must say, it was quite efficient, maintaining a clean map layout while preventing topic overlaps and eliminating much wasted space. If one topic threatens to intrude on another, the first topic moves out of the way just enough to accommodate it. This applies not only to topics and subtopics that are attached to the mind map, but also floating topics and callouts. Click here to view a video that Gideon recently posted to the NovaMind blog that shows this new layout engine in action.
Improved map layout system: Most mind mapping programs limit where you can place topics. Some enable you to drag and drop them within certain prescribed limits, while others are more rigid and don’t enable you to move topics around the workspace at all. In contrast, you can move topics wherever you want in NovaMind 5, and the program will honor where you place them. The new program will also include a tool that enables you to manipulate map layouts to easily convert them to right, left, up or down facing topics, as well as any angle in between, using a circular slider control (see image above for an example of an “angled” map created in NovaMind 5). What’s especially cool is that you can invoke this control not only on the central map topic, but any topic in your mind maps. So if you want to change the direction of one set of topics to something different than the overall map layout, you’ll be able to do that.
Topic images: NovaMind 5 will allow you to add up to 4 images per topic, and to control them in some very sophisticated ways, including scaling and stretching them at will.
Shapes – a new concept: NovaMind 5 enables you to add geometric shapes – such as rectangles and ovals, or images – to your map, and to have them behave either as free-floating objects or as topics themselves. This will enable you to add some unique visual enhancements to your maps.
New plug-in architecture: NovaMind 5 will include a new plug-in system that will enable users to extend its capabilities with third-party plug-ins. Gideon and his team are already working with several plug-in developers to create compatible apps that will extend its functionality in areas such as project management. I saw some of the plugins they had developed in-house, and the communication between the plugins and the application. Gideon said that one of the plugin developers they are working with previously developed a plugin for another Mind Mapping program, and said that developing for NovaMind was a breeze by comparison.
There’s much more that I saw in Gideon’s NovaMind 5 demonstration. But you’ll have to wait until next month for more details. The company hopes to roll out a beta version of NovaMind Express 5 for Windows version in October, with the Mac version to follow soon after. Pro and Platinum versions should follow a few weeks after that.
I appreciate the innovation and passion that Gideon and his team have poured into NovaMind during the last few years. The results are quite impressive, and continue to push the envelope as far as what’s possible with mind mapping software!
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