Varatek Software recently released MindApp version 4.0, which boasts some intriguing new features. Here are some highlights:
Task tracking: The new version of MindApp includes a new project management feature called the CenterFlow Task Tracker. When you turn on this mode, any new topics you add to your map contain a set of project management icons. Clicking on the circle icon causes a drop-down list of project completion percentages to appear. If you select 50%, the circle is now half filled, to reflect the task’s current status. A calendar icon enables you to select a completion date from a monthly calendar pop-up, while a clock icon enables you to enter the duration of that task, in number of hours. I really like the way this is designed, because you can enter this data without moving your mouse out of the program’s workspace. You can also enter your task data using a "tracker" tab that slides out to display all of your project tasks and metadata in a tabular format. One minor complaint: The terminology that Varatek has come up with to describe all of this gets a little confusing ("leaf" vs. "non-leaf" tasks, for example).
Export to Microsoft Word: You can now export your maps to the Microsoft Word outline format – an important capability if you plan to utilize MindApp for business applications or writing.
Variable widths on first-level topics: You can now select line weight, which apparently wasn’t possible in the last version of MindApp.
MindApp also has some other cool features – which may not be new in version 4.0, but are still worthy of mention:
- A set of toolbar icons which enable you to quickly select all of the topics in your map, only the current topic’s siblings (at the same level of the map) or descendents (sub-topics of that topic).
- A pop-up map overview window, which makes it easier to navigate your way around large, complex maps.
- Tabs at the right side of the workspace expand into palettes (for icons, task tracking, topic properties, map layout/style and topic notes) just by hovering over them. It’s a nice implementation, because when they’re minimized, they maximize the workspace for your map – yet they’re not even one click away. These panels can also be "pinned" open if you want them to always be displayed.
- Currently-selected topics have an asterisk displayed next to them. If you click on this symbol, a new sub-topic is created. It’s easy, quick and intuitive.
- I’m a big fan of right-click commands, because they enable you to keep the mouse focused on your map, and not on running back and forth to the program’s toolbar. MindApp’s right-click menu is very extensive and well organized. Nice!
- If you want to collapse a set of sub-topics, you click on a minus icon next to the currently-selected topic. Pretty standard. But what’s cool is that as your mouse reaches the minus icon, a target appears around it, so you know that you can click accurately on it. This could be a real advantage on smaller computer screens or when working with large maps at a fairly low level of magnification. It’s a nice touch!
MindApp is another one of those up-and-coming mind mapping programs that you ought to keep your eye on. Varatek has added some great usability enhancements to it, and it already contains a substantial number of business-friendly features!
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