During 2009, a number of developers of mind mapping software have made major commitments to improving their products to meet the needs of today’s executives and knowledge workers. I’d like to recognize their investment in these productivity tools, which are the right solutions for many of today’s business needs.
Therefore, I have decided to launch a contest, in which you – the readers of this blog – will help me to identify the most improved mind mapping software of 2009.
As part of this contest, I first need to summarize what each developer has accomplished in 2009 to improve its product. After you’ve read that, you can then proceed to a very brief online survey to tell me which program should be the winner of this new award.
Here’s a brief synopsis of how each of the major mind mapping programs has been improved during 2009, in alphabetical order:
During 2009, developer CS Odessa launched a new version of their flagship mind mapping program called ConceptDraw MINDMAP for Projects. ConceptDraw MINDMAP 6 offers an impressive set of expanded tools for exporting your maps to PowerPoint, including a choice of numerous PowerPoint templates and several options for parsing the contents of your mind map into slides, how to handle floating topics, notes and slide numbering. Click here for my review of ConceptDraw MINDMAP 6.
Seavus, an enterprise software developer based in Sweden, simultaneously launched a new mind mapping program that is available in desktop and web-based versions in April, 2009. Called DropMind, these programs are well-designed and easy to use. Significant features include the ability to conduct Google and Delicious searches from within DropMind; you can also search Flickr and Live to locate images to add to your mind maps. In addition, DropMind offers seamless integration between the desktop and web-based versions of its application; all that’s required is a single click on a “synchronize” button and the program does the rest. In early December, Seavus launched version 1.1 of DropMind, with additional business features, including support for task information, map parts and an Application Programming Interface (API), which will make it possible for other developers to add functionality to DropMind. Click here to read my review of DropMind.
In May, Buzan Online launched version 4.0 of iMindMap, which featured a powerful new presentation mode, which incorporates a two-screen setup (as presenter, you see the slide and your notes; your audience sees only the current slide), audio notes, floating topics, enhanced support for importing Word documents into mind maps, and printing improvements for large maps. In October, the developer released iMindMap version 4.1, with 21 new map templates, and support for importing and exporting OPML files (a form of XML used for outlining documents that contain hierarchical data, such as web feeds and text outlines). In general, iMindMap became more business focused in its features and functionality during 2009. Click here for my review of iMindMap version 4.
MindGenius version 3.0 debuted in October, and features a new ribbon-style toolbar (a la Microsoft Office 2007 applications), advanced map filtering, improved task handling, categories for “tagging” content within your maps, sophisticated options for exporting map data to Excel (including support for expandable/contractible “groups” and the ability to selectively decide which elements of your maps to export). In addition, MindGenius now offers “question sets,” which are included with each template to prompt you with questions that need to be answered in order to create a complete map of that type. Best of all, you can create your own templates and question sets, which make it much easier to roll out MindGenius to a department or team of “newbies” who have had little or no exposure to mind mapping. Click here for my blog post about MindGenius 3.
Several years ago, MindManager developer Mindjet introduced its first attempt at creating a collaborative workspace for visual mappers. Called Mindjet Connect, it wasn’t very well integrated into the MindManager program, and as a result only enjoyed limited use by the MindManager user community. In early October, Mindjet released Catalyst, a completely new collaboration tool that integrates an all-new set of secure online workspaces with web conferencing, real-time co-editing of maps in Mindjet’s web-based mind mapping application, and a set of highly flexible map sharing tools to take small-team collaboration and map sharing to a whole new level. You can now easily use Catalyst to share your maps via e-mail, Twitter, Linkedin, Blogger, Typepad, Facebook, WordPress, Y! Bookmarks and over 150 other web-based tools and services. Click here to read my review of Catalyst.
In Febraury, SimTech launched MindMapper 2009, which now incorporates a ribbon toolbar for faster access to common tasks. MindMapper 2009 also includes new ideation meeting templates to support help support the generation of ideas by small teams. These new templates include radiant association, brainstorming, attribute listing, process planning, cause and effect (fishbone) diagrams, backward thinking (start with a goal and work backward toward the present) and SWOT (strengths/weaknesses/opportunities/threats) analysis. What’s nice about these templates is that they include empty topics to prime your brain to fill them – a solid way to leverage the power of your subconscious mind. MindMapper 2009 also includes Post-It style notes that you can use to add visual emphasis to your maps, improved task handling with dependency scheduling and color theme palettes. For more information about what’s new in MindMapper 2009, please visit the application’s what’s new web page.
In October, NovaMind announced that it is developing a version 5 of its innovative NovaMind mind mapping program, which it hopes to release in early 2010. A technology preview was launched in early November, with a beta test program to follow early next year. Based upon a “sneak peek” that I received from NovaMind founder Gideon King, plus what the developer has announced in its blog, NovaMind 5 will feature a new layout engine that will make very efficient use of screen real estate, sophisticated controls for customizing topic images, a new type of map objects called “shapes” that can be used as design embellishments, floating or conventional topics and a new plug-in architecture, which will enable other developers to write plug-in applications to work with NovaMind 5. Click here to read more details about this forthcoming version of NovaMind.
MindView (formerly Open Mind)
In the first quarter of 2009, MatchWare launched version 3 of its MindView mind mapping software (formerly known as Open Mind). This new version includes numerous enhancements and new features that are designed to increase your productivity, while preserving excellent ease of use. In the process, MatchWare pioneers some neat new features that haven’t been seen before in desktop mind mapping software. Version 3 adds a ribbon toolbar, “live preview” of map style changes, a new Work Breakdown Structure format this is highly useful for project management, focus in/out capabilities and some very sophisticated branch calculation tools. Advanced Word and Excel export tools give you an unprecedented level of control over what you want to export and how you want it to appear when you open it in Microsoft’s Office productivity programs. Click here to read my review of MindView 3 Business Edition.
This unique visual mapping and knowledge management tool from TheBrain Technologies received a major upgrade in the third quarter of 2009. PersonalBrain 5.5 enables you to generate report from your map data faster and easier. Map display has been enhanced to improve usability in several areas. Also, PersonalBrain’s integrated calendar now supports recurring appointments and enables users to capture more meta data about events and appointments. You can now easily add content from other documents or web pages to your PersonalBrain maps using an integrated screen capture utility. Simply use the tool to select what you want to capture, and PersonalBrain attaches it to the currently-selected map topic. Finally, PersonalBrain 5.5 now includes a spell checker. For more details on this upgrade, please read my blog post here.
Mind Technologies launched version 11 of Visual Mind in February, 2009. In this version, the developer has streamlined the process for adding new topics to maps, and the program incorporates a floating toolbar that enables you to format topics in place – at the location of the topic, rather than mousing over to the program’s toolbar. Visual Mind 11 now supports floating topics, images, relationship lines, topic borders and callouts, which give you more options for enhancing your mind maps. For more details about Visual Mind 11, please read my review here.
In 2008, XMind stunned the world by offering a free, open-source version of its mind mapping software program. Since then, this program has enjoyed surprising popularity as an alternative to the moribund FreeMind, which is only developing very slowly these days. In addition, an XMind Pro version offers a fuller feature set for those people who need it. In March of 2009, XMind introduced version 3.0.3, which includes a number of enhancements, including crash recovery (an auto-save feature that helps to prevent data loss if the program should crash), export to the FreeMind map format, enhanced map zooming, a sophisticated find-and-replace tool and an enhanced spell checker, which now checks topic notes, in addition to the topics themselves. Click here to read my analysis of XMind version 3.0.3.
And finally, the link to the survey…
All you evangelists out there, now is the time to get out the vote for your favorite program. Please spread the word wherever possible, including online support forums, Twitter, your blog or e-newsletter (if you publish one) and your colleagues who utilize mind mapping software to improve their efficiency, productivity and creativity. During the next few days, I will be contacting the software vendors highlighted above to ask them to spread the word about this contest, too!
Thanks in advance for your participation in this contest, which I hope will help to highlight the impressive growth of this unique category of productivity software.