XMind Ltd. recently launched version 7.5 of its popular mind mapping software program and a companion web-based tool called XMind Cloud. XMind 7.5 enables you to save mind maps directly to XMind Cloud and to open maps from your online account. It also features new social media integration, integration with IconFinder and new vector markers.
In this review, we will take a closer look at XMind 7.5 and XMind Cloud to learn what’s new and improved, and its applicability to business users.
Despite the fact that this is not a full version upgrade (version 7.5 versus 7.8), its developer has made numerous enhancements and improvements to this easy-to-use mind mapping software program. Here’s a rundown of what’s new and significant, and my impressions of using these tools:
XMind Cloud integration: XMind 7.5 now integrates with XMind Cloud, so you can save mind maps to the cloud as well as open them from your online file repository. Setting up the integration was easy and quick, and my directory of maps in the cloud opened fast, too – almost as if I was accessing local files.
I’m a big believer in tight desktop/cloud integration. In other words, whatever I add, edit or delete in one should be reflected in the other. I discovered that topic enhancements created on the desktop that aren’t yet supported in the cloud version, such as task data, are still displayed, but in a read-only mode. The real test was to make some changes to this map and then sync it and re-open it in the desktop mind mapping program, to see if all of the map data and functionality was preserved. It was. Nice!
New map sharing dialogue: XMind 7.5 now enables you to share your mind maps directly on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can also embed them into a blog or web page or post them to the XMind map gallery. I tried the latter, which exported it as a PNG image and uploaded it the public area of my Cloud account. I did the same with Facebook, and it behaved exactly as I expected it to. It worked very nicely!
Integration with IconFinder: XMind 7.5 now enables you to search the IconFinder library of 60,000 icons and use them your mind maps. When you open the IconFinder dialog box, it contains a search field at the top. In the search results view, each icon, when left tapped, displays the collection of which it is a part. This is a potentially valuable way to find related concepts.
The integration of IconFinder should be useful to many business people. That’s because the built-in icon libraries of mind mapping software programs often don’t include every design you could possibly want. This web-based icon repository can help you find exactly the icon you need. One thing to keep in mind, however: The icons from this website are bitmapped graphics, which means they won’t hold up well if you try to resize them. XMind’s native graphics, on the other hand, are SVG, which means you can resize them at will with no loss in sharpness.
Save to Evernote: I’m a big user of Evernote, so I was intrigued when I saw that XMind 7.5 can save mind maps to this popular personal information manager. I saved one of my mind maps to my Evernote account, and was very pleased with the result. You can select a map image, a native XMind file or both. So I selected both. An image of my mind map appeared in Evernote, with a button to open the .xmind map file itself, all neatly arranged. Nice!
The first thing you notice when you open XMind Cloud is a very spartan layout. Almost the entire browser window is dedicated to displaying your mind map. A toolbar at the top of the work area contains undo and redo commands, as well as an “add topic” button and a layer control.
I created a new map, and was able to quickly figure out that there are two ways to add topics to a map:
- By right-clicking on the currently-selected topic and choosing the “add subtopic” command.
- By clicking on the plus sign (+) in the application’s minimalist toolbar and selecting “add subtopic”
I created a simple mind map with 4 topics. One nice feature is the “add after” command, which enables you to enter multiple topics at the same level of your mind map. Clicking the enter key after adding a new topic does the same thing. Why is this a big deal? Because at times, you need to be able to add a succession of topics quickly, and you want to be able to do so with a minimum of clicks or keystrokes. I tried using the INSERT key, which on Windows-based computers is the de facto “add a new topic” key, but that didn’t work. Perhaps it will be supported in a future version of XMind Cloud.
The plus sign in the toolbar also gives you access to buttons for adding topic boundaries, relationship lines and summary topics. Next to it is an icon that looks like a stack of paper. It’s for adding multiple sheets to the same mind map.
The only other tool adjoining the workspace is a zoom slider in the lower right corner.
Moving topics is a simple matter of dragging and dropping them to their new locations. XMind Cloud gives you excellent visual feedback, in the form of a ghosted red line and rectangle, which appear whenever you’re close to another topic. When you drop it, the other topics move to accommodate it.
One of the things that XMind Cloud now makes possible is the ability to access your mind maps from anywhere. When you’re done working on a map in the desktop version of XMind, simply save it to the cloud and you can then access it on any other device from the web browser. Nice! A more common scenario may see you capturing the basics of an idea – quickly – in XMind Cloud, and then continue building it out on the desktop at a later date. In any case, it works very well.
As we’ve already seen, this desktop/cloud combo appears to support true round-trip functionality – which is really just a fancy way of saying that the data stored in your mind map won’t get compromised as you pass it back and forth.
At this early stage, the functionality of XMind Cloud is rudimentary. But like the desktop program, I expect the cloud version to improve steadily over time.