Earlier this week, Mindjet announced the launch of version 1.2 of Catalyst, its slick web-based mind mapping and collaboration application. This release offers a number of new capabilities that may be quite useful to business users. They include:
File conversions: Catalyst makes it easy to convert your favorite Mindjet maps to Word, PowerPoint, Pages and Keynote files; you can also convert Word and Pages documents to mind maps. I tried a Mindjet to PowerPoint conversion with one of the mind maps I had stored in my Catalyst workspace, and it worked flawlessly. You use a File/Convert command to invoke this. You first get to select the file type. Next, a dialog box pops up with options that are specific to that file type. For PowerPoint, for example, Catalyst gives you an opportunity to give your presentation a file name, control how many topic levels it should convert, a checkbox to use topic notes and speaker notes, show or hide topic callouts and a number of slide formatting options. The conversion was completed almost instantly; a new PPTX file appeared in the list of documents in my Catalyst workspace and I was able to open it with PowerPoint, just as if the file was local on my PC.
I also tried a mind map to Word conversion. In this case, Catalyst gives you the ability to name your document, decide which map items (icon markers, topic notes, callouts, text markers and review comments) should be exported. You can also export task details, such as start and due dates, priority, resources and percentage complete. Finally, the last section of the dialog box lets you decide what to do with links and attachments. You can actually customize the labels applied to these assets. For example, a hyperlink by default is notated with “see also,” but you can easily change that wording to whatever makes the most sense to you. Likewise, attachments get the prefix “see attachment” or you can edit that to suit your tastes. This document was created with very professional-looking formatting, including a nice-looking table of contents. Map markers and task data is presented nicely as well. Very impressive!
Improvements to web conferencing: Catalyst web conferencing now includes support for up to 25 simultaneous participants in a meeting. In addition, you no longer need to download any software to join a Catalyst conference; it’s all handled completely using your computer’s native Flash capabilities. For people working within corporate networks where downloads to the desktop are severely restricted, this should be welcome news!
Faster switching between maps and workspaces: The developers at Mindjet have made it faster and easier to move from one map and workspace to another, with minimal lag time. I tried switching back and forth between several maps; the transitions between the maps and the list of files in my workspace happened very quickly, and maps opened within a second or two. I almost felt like I was working on a desktop program, not a sophisticated web application hosted “in the cloud.”
Simplified file copying: The developers have made it easier to copy a topic or topics from one map and paste them into another. This makes it easier to re-use assets or to start new maps based upon an existing one. I grabbed one branch of an existing map in Catalyst, right-clicked and selected the copy command. Then I opened a new map and used the Ctrl-V (paste) command to attach that topic and its subtopics to the central topic of my new map. Again, the experience of performing this task was very much like working on a desktop program.
Improved drag and drop: You can now drag and drop map markers onto maps created in Catalyst.
Image editing: You can now easily resize embedded images within your mind maps. When you insert an image into a topic, it now has a bounding box around it, with drag handles at the corners. You simply drag and drop the image to the size you want to make it. Very simple.