One of the wonderful things about a web-based application is that when you roll out new capabilities, all of the users of it benefit from it immediately. There is no software to distribute. MindMeister, the developer of what I consider to be the most innovative web-based mind mapping tool available on the web, recently announced some impressive new features and functionality in its latest newsletter:
Support for multiple languages: With this latest build, MindMeister has been fully internationalized for German and Japanese languages, and more translations are on the way; next up are French, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese.
In-line images: Map topics can now include in-line images, selected from mind meisters a library of images, from your computer or from the Web – via a direct web URL or through an integrated Google image search. I love this type of integrated image search capability, because it opens up your map to a whole world of potential images that can help you to convey key messages or knowledge with greater impact.
Wunder Bild: This capability is actually part of MindMeister’s image search capability. If you click the image button itself, you can automatically add an image that the application selects for you, based upon the text of the currently-selected topic. Think of it as the image equivalent of Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” button, which takes you to the first page that appears in the search results for any given term.
History view player/time machine improvements: MindMeister has offered a “history view” for some time now. It utilizes a slider and a “play” button to enable you to play back the edits and additions you made to your map, as if it’s a stop-action movie. It’s a neat rethinking of the “undo” feature of conventional software. The latest update to MindMeister adds some new functionality. It now includes controls that enable you to quickly jump to the start of the change history and stop/start the replay. You can also change the replay speed and color highlight changes by who made them. An advanced dialogue enables you to filter the entire history by user and idea. The speed feature should be nice; in its earlier iteration, it only played back at one speed. If you’re trying to review a map that contains many changes, it could take several minutes to reach the stage of the map’s development that you really want to work with. The speed feature enables you to reach that point faster. If you use MindMeister to create collaborative mind maps, you should really like the ability to highlight changes by user.
Additional icons: MindMeister now includes 200 additional icons, based on those that were most requested by users. Recently-used icons are saved for quicker access. If you are like most users, there is a certain set of icons that you tend to use over and over in every map you create; making these easily accessible should be a major usability improvement!
New embed widget: Before now, it was possible to embed MindMeister maps in blogs and web pages. This latest update it enhances that capability with an improved appearance, plus buttons to forward and bookmark your map.
Line colors: One capability frequently requested by MindMeister users was to render topic connection lines in different colors; six line colors are now supported.
Also coming soon from MindMesister: An iPhone application, based upon the recently-acquired MindMaker application, and a MindMeister Enterprise edition that is self-contained and can be deployed behind corporate firewalls, for those companies that have tight security and cannot embrace web-based “software as a service” applications.