One of the things that has persistently bugged me about many mind mapping software programs is that they restrict your ability to shape and move relationship lines between topics.
In some cases, these lines go behind existing topics, which is really a pain in the butt. It just looks dumb. Several programs provide one or more drag handles that you can use to change the curvature of these lines, but you’re limited in how much you can reshape them. Why can’t you draw more complex lines, like you can in a vector drawing program like Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw?
Finally, one developer has done just that. NovaMind Pty. Ltd. recently launched an update to NovaMind 5 for Windows that enables you to draw more complex relationship lines, and does so in a very intelligent manner (click on the map image above right to view a larger version). The NovaMind Blog also contains a video where Gideon King shows what the new link lines feature can do.
You know me: I can’t just take a developer’s word for it. I’ve gotta download the update and play around with it, so I can tell you if it’s everything the developer says it is. I’m quite impressed with NovaMind’s new “link lines.” Here’s what I like about them:
- You simple draw a path that you want the line to follow, and the program smooths it out. Nice!
- Multiple control points along the line give you a finer level of control over the line’s shape; you can easily delete control points to further smooth its curvature.
- Adding a new control point is as simple has hovering the cursor over the line; a hollow circle appears on the line and you simply left click your mouse to insert a new control point at that location.
- When you select a control point, a faint line appears that extends to either side of it and it has a pair of handles, one at each end, which you can drag in or out, or rotate it to further shape the line (see close-up image at right).
- Right-clicking the link line gives you access to a properties palette that gives you further options for tweaking the appearance of it.
In short, this new feature is easy and intuitive to use, and is ideal when you want to show a relationship between two widely separated topics in a larger mind map.
If you already own NovaMind 5 for Windows, this is a free update. If you don’t, then I strongly urge you to check it out. The program’s development team is committed to ongoing innovation, and they continue to gain ground as one of the key players in the mind mapping software market. Keep up the great work, guys!
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