NovaMind Software released NovaMind 5 for Mac last week, which has been rebuilt from the ground up with many innovative new features that no one else on this platform offers. This new version represents the most significant upgrade to NovaMind for Mac in its history.
Here’s what’s new in this innovative mind mapping program:
Because a lot of the changes have to do with map design flexibility, we’re going to take a closer look at those new capabilities in particular:
New layout engine: NovaMind 5 for Mac has been rebuilt with the same layout engine as the Windows version of the program, which makes very efficient use space and automatically repositions topics to minimize wasted space. NovaMind goes further than this, and allows you to arrange the subtopics of any topic either linearly or radially, at any angle – all while keeping the mind map automatically in the most compact format possible. In addition, NovaMind allows you to move any topic to where you want it, while still ensuring that topics don’t overlap each other and maintaining the compact layout.
Automatic design support: Many users of mind mapping software don’t want to mess with styling and coloring topics. They just want to be able to capture and organize their ideas quickly, and create a beautiful-looking mind map with a minumum of hassle. NovaMind 5 for Mac enables with a number of design support systems that operate quietly in the background as you build and edit your mind map. In other words, apart from setting things up the way you want them to start with, the colors and shapes and layout of the topics is automatic.
The first tier of this system is themes. Themes provide an overall design for the mind maps, and are made up of a series of settings that apply to topics, callouts, floating topics, and shapes. The theme system allows you to change the overall look and feel of your mind map in a single operation, while keeping any custom settings you have added. And any new topics you add to your map adhere to the theme settings.
Each theme comes with a color set, which defines a set of colors that are designed to go well together. These color set colors allow you to create great looking mind maps even if you don’t have an artistic bone in your body. If you want to experiment with a different look, you can just change the color set that you are using, and all the colors change to their equivalent colors in the new color set. The same applies for font sets, so with a couple of simple changes in settings, you can update the look of your mind map, while maintaining design consistency.
The next level of automatic design support is automatic coloring, which includes theme-based coloring, as well as “rainbow coloring” and a completely new concept, called array coloring – where you set up an array of colors, and NovaMind cycles through them for the children topics. This means you can do things like having subtopics colored in alternating colors, or cycle through three or more topic colors automatically. I’ve used the rainbow coloring in NovaMind 5 for Windows, and really like it a lot. I’m pleased to see that the developer has taken this idea one step further with array coloring (also available in the latest version of NovaMind 5 for Windows) – which gives you much greater control over the appearance of your mind maps.
NovaMind 5 for Mac also allows you to design a topic the way you want it to look, and selectively get the subtopics to inherit the shape, fill, or line settings, to again automatically set the design of the topics you have added. It even automatically colors the text so that it uses light colored text if the background it is drawn on is dark, and dark text if it is on a light background. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve recolored topics in other mind mapping programs, and then have had to recolor the text because it blended in too much with the topic’s color. It’s great to see that NovaMind’s development team has this handled!
Redesigned topics: NovaMind has redesigned everything about topics, too, in version 5 to give you another level of freedom in customizing the look of your mind maps. For example, you can now have up to 4 images on each topic (which are positioned using a very clever quadrant indicator), multiple hyperlinks and attachments per topic, 10 different topic types plus custom topics where you can change the shape of your topic to create something completely unique. And you can make it more interesting by using the gradient fills, shadows, reflections, glassy look, texture images and more.
You can attach free floating shapes, images and text to topics. There is no need for the topic to finish at the topic boundary – you can enhance the topic with as many shapes as you like. They can be in front of or behind the topics, and can either push other topics out of the way or float behind or in front of the other topics. All the shapes can have text and images on them, allowing you an incredible amount of flexibility to enhance your topics.
iCal integration: NovaMind 5 for Mac now enables you to synchronize checkboxes in your mind map with to-do items in iCal and tasks with events in iCal. It allows you to use the full features of iCal, such as setting alarms, and sharing calendars in order to keep up to date with tasks, which can be particularly useful for businesses using NovaMind.
Cross platform support: The Windows and Mac versions of NovaMind 5 use the same file format, and same license keys, but the programs themselves are developed using native technologies on each operating system, to provide the best user experience. For instance, the Windows version uses the Ribbon bar, which is familiar to Windows users, while the Mac version uses inspectors and toolbars which are familiar to Mac users.
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion support: While NovaMind 5 will run on MacOS X 10.5 and 10.6, they have come right out of the blocks with full Mac OS X 10.7 Lion support, with built in support for Resume, Autosave, Autosave in place, Versions, and Full Screen mode. In addition, NovaMind plays nicely with other applications, importing images from iPhoto, Aperture, and Lightroom, contacts from Address Book and links to Mail messages.
There are three editions of NovaMind: Express, Pro, and Platinum, designed to suit the needs of customers from individuals and schools, through small and medium sized business right up to large businesses.
NovaMind 4 users have been waiting for NovaMind 5 for quite some time, but the wait appears to have been worth it. NovaMind 5 for Mac (and Windows) are light years ahead of version 4. The development team continues to show a lot of innovative thinking that is reflected in practical, time-saving features and intuitive operation. Specifically, the program is designed to look after the layout and graphical design of your mind maps automatically – so you can concentrate on the content.
For more information about NovaMind 5 for Mac, please visit the developer’s website.