Inspiration Software recently announced that it will launch version 9 of its flagship mind mapping software in January 2010. This program is still primarily focused upon and sold into the education market, but also offers some valuable functionality that business people will appreciate. Inspiration 9 will offer these new features:
New presentation manager: For students who need to present their ideas in class, Inspiration 9 adds a new presentation manager, which will help them to quickly and easily create slide shows from their maps. The program will give students the freedom to add, duplicate, reorder and delete slides and talking points, as select from a library of attractive slide templates. The Inspiration website shows a screen shot that depicts a four-pane layout , with a vertical panel of slides on the left, the main slide work area in the center of the screen and a narrow pane on the right that will display the part of your map from which the current sequence of slides was created. Finally, a small horizontal pane below the workspace will enable students to capture talking points for each slide.
I think this presentation view is an important addition to Inspiration, because it will give students another way to output their work – and to do so within the Inspiration environment.
Inspiration Presenter: A free presentation player application will be included on the program’s installation CD and in downloadable form on the Inspiration website, which will enablepresentations to be played directly from Inspiration 9. Interestingly, this app will enable you to present using a single screen or take advantage of speaker monitor support that shows speaker notes and other presenter information separate from the slides that the audience sees.
More curriculum-focused symbol images: Inspiration has always contained an impressive library of symbols, shapes and images that can be used for map topics. Version 9 expands it by adding numerous new images that are focused on school topics, such as literature, math, history and geography. Sounds like a smart move to support students who are the primary users of Inspiration.
Lockable symbols in templates: Teachers will be able to lock symbols when developing templates – so once they distribute those map templates to students, they can’t inadvertently delete those symbols.
Linking phrases: For many years, Inspiration has enabled users to place words on topic connector lines, enabling you to create concept maps that denote the relationships between topics. Inspiration 9 adds a right-click command that enables you to choose from a library of relationship-based words and phrases, such as “generates.” “implies” and “results in.” Nice!
Mind map view: Inspiration has always enabled you to create mind maps – a central topic with sub-topics radiating from it – but version 9 adds a map view that looks more organic, with tapered and curved connector lines. In addition, you can add new topic and subtopic branches with one click, drag and drop ideas from one topic to another and add notes to topics.
Improved outline view: Inspiration 9 will add more organizing, outlining and writing capabilities to the program’s outline view. Specifically, you will be able to show symbols and linking phrases to help you to make visual connections between topics while working in outline view. You will be able to combine topics, as well as take longer single ideas and break them into multiple topics.
I look forward to playing with Inspiration 9 in the near future. It sounds like a worthwhile upgrade to one of the oldest and best respected mind mapping programs around – especially the presentation view.