Do you use mind maps to outline your writing? Do you wish there was a mind mapping program that was purpose-built to support your writing process? There is. WriteMapper, now in its third iteration, continues to add features and functionality to help writers capture and organize their ideas and turn them into writing with a minimum of friction.
Here’s a brief overview of how WriteMapper works, followed by a review of the most notable new and improved features in WriteMapper 3.
How does WriteMapper work?
Like most other mind mapping programs, WriteMapper makes it easy to build a visual hierarchy of topics and subtopics. Using only the keyboard, you can quickly capture a large number of ideas without losing your creative flow and then rearrange them in ways that make the most sense to you.
On the Windows version of WriteMapper, the mind map fills the screen, with only a small rectangular menu icon in the upper left corner of the screen that gives you access to common tasks. There are no toolbars or other interface elements to distract you from capturing and refining your ideas. Context-focused tasks can be accessed using right-click commands.
Adding details to the nodes of your mind map is where the WriteMapper experience diverges from typical mind mapping applications. Double-clicking on a topic opens a full-screen, distraction-free editor that enables you to capture your extended thoughts in sentences and paragraphs – like a topic note on steroids. Once again, the only interface element is the menu button in the upper left corner of the screen. There’s nothing else to distract you from your writing.
This is actually a pretty big deal for writers: An entire cottage industry of minimalist writing tools has emerged during the last decade that provides distraction-free environments that are designed to keep the application out of the way of the writing. WriteMapper is the only mind mapping tool that provides such a Spartan note-taking tool.
The editor enables you to apply a wide variety of formatting to your writing, including lists, links, block quotes and even images. It also includes a search function and spellcheck – everything you’d expect to find in a fully-featured writing tool.
If you prefer to write using markdown syntax, WriteMapper’s editor supports that. It enables you to style your writing with snippets of punctuation (e.g., a dash represents a bullet point and **double asterisks** denote bold text), which is automatically converted into formatted text as you type. This capability is popular with a growing number of writers, who utilize it to quickly format their writing AND stay in creative flow.
The developer of WriteMapper is completely committed to meeting the needs of writers. As it has evolved, it has added some truly unique functionality that you won’t find in any other mind mapping tool. For example, you can convert a list of items in the editor into sub-topics in the map view or vice-versa.
Regardless of whether you’re working in the mind map or notes view, WriteMapper provides you with a rich set of keyboard shortcuts that are designed to enhance your productivity and enable you to work at the speed of thought. There’s also the aforementioned, unobtrusive menu button and right-click commands to help you get things done quickly and easily.
There’s more to WriteMapper. But this overview yes you a decent idea of its functionality and how it’s designed with writers in mind.
What’s new in WriteMapper 3.0?
Live document preview: While you’re capturing, expanding and refining your writing, you can easily toggle to a preview window that joins all of your ideas together into a document view, complete with endings, subheadings, notes and formatting. Displayed side-by-side with it is a linear outline view, which is useful for quickly navigating to specific sections of larger documents. You can even open the preview in a separate window so you can view the document preview and your mind map side-by-side.
Direct PDF export: In previous versions of WriteMapper, you had to first export your writing to a document creation platform like Microsoft Word or Google Docs. From there, you could export it to PDF. In WriteMapper 3, you can export directly to the popular PDF format. This saves you an extra step.
Code block syntax setting: Some users of WriteMapper utilize it to store box of code for application development. Code blocks within the content editor, starting with WriteMapper 3, can be configured to format its contents with code syntax. The app will detect which coding language the code block contains, and display its contents accordingly.
Quick Search functionality is now more complete, allowing searching of text within the content editor as well as your mind map nodes.
Delete this node only: Here’s a first: WriteMapper 3 now enables you to delete a topic, while keeping its child topics. When you do this, it places any remaining child nodes to where the original parent was attached to its parent topic.Delete a node while keeping its child nodes. I’m not exactly sure how often you would need to do this, but it’s comforting to know that it’s possible.
In 2018, I interviewed the developer of WriteMapper, who declared that his goal was to create a truly unique visual thinking platform that is ideally suited to the needs of writers. He’s definitely made good on this premise, delivering an average of one major update per year, plus numerous smaller bug fixes and improvements.
If you’re a writer and are looking for a better way to outline and develop books, articles and other writing projects, I recommend that you give WriteMapper 3 a try. A 7-day trial version is available, so you can experiment with it and determine if it fits in with your workflow and writing style. A solo license is US$49.95.