After reading Richard Murphy’s feature on Mind Mapping which demonstrated the technique using a software tool, Nigel Harris, writing for our sister site, AccountingWEB.co.uk, decided to take a look at software tools that are available to aid the Mind Mapping process.
Richard Murphy uses MindGenius Business - $91 (there are Home and Education versions too). It looks easy to use and manipulate data, with Microsoft Office integration so you can incorporate Web links and direct links to Word documents or spreadsheets into your Mind Map, but it does look a lot like bullet lists with tree-like lines connecting them!
Another product mentioned by commentators on Richard’s article was MindManager - $399. This has more emphasis on color and shapes than the more basic products. There is an online collaboration tool that you can add to this software.
Matchware’s MindView3 – $389 – is specifically a business graphics program and is perhaps the most powerful Mind Mapping application I have found with accountants in mind. The Web site has lots of examples of business and finance Mind Maps – strategic planning and business plans for example. One very powerful aspect is the ability to export Mind Map data into Microsoft Word or PowerPoint to produce fully formatted documents or presentations of the same data.
Inspiration9 - $69 - is targeted at children, teachers and students, and is unusual in that it offers both Mind Map and simple text list views of your data, and you can switch between the two – ideal if, like me, you like the idea of Mind Maps but would sometimes just like to see a simple bullet list! It is very strong on graphics and the use of color, which makes it closer to Tony Buzan’s original style than some of the others. There is also a Palm OS version for handhelds.
MindMapper 2009 – versions $124.95-$249.95 - is another product that has strong graphics features and looks more like a hand-drawn Mind Map, although once again it also offers Office integration. For $179.95 they have an unusual USB version that runs entirely from a gold-plated looking 4GB USB flash drive, enabling you to take your Mind Maps anywhere without the need for your own computer. Top marks for bling value!
Of course, you can get pretty close to a Mind Map with any word processing or graphics program, but it’s just a bit fiddly, which is likely to stem the flow of creative ideas. You could however tidy up a paper Mind Map using Word or Excel if you wanted to distribute it to others afterwards. A free trial of Mind Mapping software ($197) is offered by graphics software SmartDraw.
For those who like to work online, Bubbl.us is a simple, no-frills free online Mind Mapping application. It is a handy tool to take quick notes which you can later retrieve anywhere where you can get onto the Internet.
For freeware fans, FreeMind is a free open source Mind Mapping application written in Java.
Tony Buzan’s own iMindMap software – contact his company for U.S. pricing – is of course the real thing. It reproduces paper Mind Maps as far as possible, so there’s plenty of color, shape and pictures. However, it also includes some very powerful tools, such as the ability to integrate Microsoft Office and OpenOffice documents (and to link with MS Project from the Ultimate version). Clearly a lot of work has gone into developing an IT product that replicates as much of paper Mind Maps as possible while also adding the integration and data handling facilities that software opens up. This is definitely the one to look at first.
However, I would still encourage anyone interested in Mind Maps to have a go on paper first. There is something about the physical process of drawing a Mind Map that is part of the creative process itself. OK, so you then have an issue with how you’re going to store or distribute it (scan and save it as a PDF?) but I think that’s a separate issue.
Mind Maps® is a registered trademark of the The Buzan Organisation Ltd