A call to mind mapping software publishers [Updated]

Mar 30th, 2011 | By | Category: Mindmapping software, Project management

Many users of mind mapping software use it for project management (amongst other things).

Some mind mapping software has the ability to record task information, like start date, due date, estimated working time to complete, dependencies and percent complete.

In addition, some packages can give alerts on approaching or past due dates, make Gantt charts, and export data to Microsoft Project and Outlook.

Gantt chart for project planning and management

These are the mind mapping applications (and add-ins) I know of  that support Gantt charts:

  1. ConceptDraw MINDMAPS (Project version) and Office,
  2. DropMind (task info, no Gantt charts, but can export to MS Project).
  3. FreeMind (attributes can hold task info, no Gantt charts, but can export to TaskJuggler). [Update 28 Aug 2011]
  4. Freeplane (attributes can hold task info, no Gantt charts, but can export to TaskJuggler). [Update 28 Aug 2011]
  5. iMindMap4,
  6. MindGenius,
  7. MindManager,
  8. mind2chart (with MindManager),
  9. MindMapper,
  10. MindPlan (with Lotus Notes),
  11. Xmind Pro,
  12. MindView,

I have six questions to the publishers of mind mapping software (please reply in comments here or email from the “Send us an Email” link on the right):

  1. Can any software that stores task data, export it in a form that can be read by OpenProj? OpenProj is an open source package claiming to be a substitute for MS Project.
  2. Is there any software, other than those I have mentioned, that allows task data to be stored?
    I am aware that FreeMind and Freeplane can store attributes of the user’s choosing against a node, and could be adapted to do this, but for the purpose of this exercise, I am looking for software that is specifically designed to store project task information immediately on installation.
  3. If so, can it make Gantt charts?
  4. Can it export to Microsoft Project?
  5. Can it export to Outlook?
  6. Are there any errors in the list above?

[Update 1.  1 April 2011 (not an April Fool's update)
Andrew Wilcox has pointed out that iMindMap4 has task info and a Gantt chart view.  Thanks Andrew.  I should have caught that, as my image above includes iMindMap5.  Now I've added it to the list.]
[Update 2.  1 April 2011   Questions extended.]
[Update 3.  28 August 2011   FreeMind and Freeplane export to TaskJuggler added.]

Vic

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19 Comments to “A call to mind mapping software publishers [Updated]”

  1. iMindMap 4 has a gantt chart view.

  2. Daniel Sima says:

    You forgot about http://www.mindomo.com :)

    • Vic says:

      Thanks Daniel.

      I see it can store task information.
      So on the original question, can it export to OpenProj?
      Can it make Gantt charts?
      Can it export to Outlook tasks and Calendar entries?

      Vic

  3. Hi Vic,

    To answer question 1, we don’t have a specific export to OpenProj but MindGenius will Export an MS Project .MPP file which can be opened directly by OpenProj.

    Thanks,

    Simon

  4. GBKS says:

    Hi Vic,

    I’m currently developing a web-based mind-mapping tool and doing research on typical features of various existing software. I’m a bit confused when I see the screenshots above, since they are so form-based and rigid. The beauty of mind mapping for me is that those rigid structures are not used and everything is very free-form and “organic”. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Is mind mapping really just a starting point for project management and at a certain point those rigid grids and charts and forms become necessary instead of the organic visualization?

    Thanks,
    Christoph

  5. Vic says:

    Hi Christoph,

    This post is specifically about task/project management information in mind mapping software and does not show any mind maps. It’s taken for granted that all of these can make mind maps (other than the MindManager add-on). If you want to see screenshots of the maps they make, you can click on the name of each of the 10 products listed above.

    Project management is just one of the many uses of mind maps, though a very valuable one, and this post does not address all the others. Having free-form and organic maps is very useful at the ideation, thinking and early planning stages of a project and each node in the mind map is typically used to represent one of the tasks at a high level or a low, detailed level.

    But then the project manager has to get down to deciding how the project will progress. For small to medium-sized projects, mind mapping software that also stores task information may be all the manager needs, especially if it is capable of making a Gantt chart.

    That kind of chart, illustrated at the start of the post, tells the project manager and team members what is due to be done when and by whom. You can imagine, I’m sure, how useful this information is in running a well-managed project.

    The lower screenshots show the task information that can, if the mapper wishes, be stored against each node in the mind map.

    If you are looking to develop an on-line mind mapper, I guess you will already have reviewed your competition. There are 25 listed here plus a few on my to-do list, waiting to be added to mind-mapping.org, so you are wise to research typical features, to determine what you will add to make yours stand out.

    Vic

  6. GBKS says:

    Wow, thanks for the extensive reply and clarification. So it sounds like the mind map is mostly a top-level planning tool for project management that makes it easy to keep the overview and quickly dive into the details.

    My personal use case for mind mapping is definitely different, more for brainstorming, creative thinking, etc, without the need for adding additional structures or complex information.

    I built a mind mapping app in Flash in 2003 for my seniors thesis, which I discontinued in 2005 due to lack of time. I have kept observing the industry since then and picking the project up again now. The core idea was to connect all the public mind maps, analyze the connections and use them to make recommendations and learn about how people connect things. I didn’t see this feature in any of the mind mapping tools I looked at and I am still intrigued by the idea. So I am definitely not trying to compete on features, but more looking to explore what we can gain from putting mind mapping online.

    • Vic says:

      Hi Cristoph,

      “… sounds like the mind map is mostly a top-level planning tool for project management”, yes in this context, but this only. I, and many others, use mind maps for all sorts of things where thinking, getting ideas and understanding are concerned, not just project management.

      Your thought to have an app that learns from published mind maps sounds very original, interesting . . . and challenging. I wonder if it would be easier to start with concept maps? Novak’s specification of concept / linking phrase / concept would be easier to analyse and make sense of because it has a formal definition. There are public concept maps at the CMAP site that might offer a testing ground for proof of concept. The way that mind maps are used makes them much more variable and personal and, I would guess, sometimes harder for a third party (especially an automated one) to make sense of.

      Please keep us up to date on progress.

      What was the Flash app you built in 2003? Did you make it public? I’m wondering if it made its way into mind-mapping.org.

      Vic

  7. GBKS says:

    Do you think the general public knows the difference between concept maps and mind maps? I’m looking to create something that is very easily accessible for a casual audience.

    The site was called Mayomi (mayomi.com). Since I stopped working on it it had been taking over by various domain squaders and now somebody else put up a splash page that hasn’t been updated for at least a year. There are some old reviews of Mayomi around. Here’s one I found after a quick Google search http://www.solutionwatch.com/245/mayomi-map-your-mind/

    • Vic says:

      General public? Most don’t even know what mind maps are. It’s still a long way from going mainstream in the way that spreadsheets have, say. Amongst those who do know there is a moderately good awareness of some of the differences. And of course, specialists in the field are very aware.

      I have some seminal papers here and a Knol about each here: On concept maps; and
      & on mind maps.

      And there is a very good article specifically about the differences in the wiki about mind mapping.

      I remember Mayomi – and I used it, but with some difficulty in saving changes. I suspect you were close to abandoning it at that stage. It still has an entry on Mind-mapping.org (in the defunct/historical section)

  8. GBKS says:

    This is interesting. Mind mapping is such a natural-feeling tool, I wonder why it hasn’t become more widely adopted yet. Have you seen any change in adoption over the last years?

    So great that you remember Mayomi, and sorry that you had those problems. I had a lot of scaling issues and no prior experience in database optimization, caching and other techniques to solve those problems. How did you like it overall? Anything that stood out positively or negatively?

    • Vic says:

      > Have you seen any change in adoption over the last years?
      Yes, mind mapping is certainly more used and more recognised than it was five years ago when I founded mind-mapping.org. I judge this based on public mentions in blogs and social media and people I run into. It just hasn’t reached the level where, IMO, it can be called “mainstream”. I ran a competition a while back to gather ideas that would help to make it a mainstream activity, and though there were some good ideas, we were unable to leverage them.

      So a small group of enthusiasts just keep on trying to give it publicity and encourage its use. I could mention Wallace Tait (@visualmapper), Paul Foreman (@mindmapdrawer), Roy Grubb (@roygrubb), Adam Sicinski (@iqmatrix), Chuck Frey (@chuckfrey) and Andrew Wilcox (@ajwilcox) but there are many more.

      One of the problems is that many former users associate it with reluctant revision for exams, others are put off by the exagerated claims of some boosters, and I think a big problem is how many think of it as just a memory tool.

      Talking of memory, I can’t recall much about Mayomi other than the difficulty I had in making it accept changes and save, so I can’t give any useful comments on that after the three or four years that have elapsed since I tried it.

      Vic

  9. Dan Atanasov says:

    Hi everyone,

    We just had a major release of DropMind Desktop v3.0 which now also includes fully functional Gantt Chart and Task Management properties.

    Our purpose was to build not only a mind mapping tool, but be able to include more of the PM side of it.

    Why wait? Go ahead and download the latest version and start mind mapping.

    If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact us at www,dropmind.com

    Regards,
    Dan Atanasov

    Product Sales Manager
    da@seavus.com

    • Vic Gee says:

      Thanks Dan. I’ve noted the new Gantt chart capability in Vic’s Picks and that shows already. I have updated the database but the new information won’t appear in the main Mind-mapping.org listing until the next site update (soon).

      You haven’t addressed all the queries in the above post though:
      Can Dropmind export task data in a form that can be read by OpenProj?.
      Can it export to Microsoft Project?
      Can it export to Outlook?

      Can I assume it does not yet?

      Regards
      Vic (@VicGee on Twitter)
      http://www.mind-mapping.org/
      The master list of mind mapping &
      information management software

  10. Fred says:

    Hi Vic,

    So you let JBKS overtake this thread for abandonware touting reasons, in order to make it almost unreadable for people wishing to have additional info on Mind Map softwares coming with or allowing for Gantt charts.

    As for me, I’d like to add Visual Mind to this list here, with the third part Mind2Chart add-in at 79$ that can also be bought for Mind Manager.

    And to finish, your site is great by comparison – just the reviews stay often at the very surface of the products in question, so finally, people get a very good overview but then have to delve into the products they might be interested in, hours and hours, every one by himself ; in fact there is NOT A SINGLE ONE site out there that offers REAL mind map softwares reviews you could rely upon ; with outliners, it’s the same problem, and with many more software categories. off topic topic off

    • Vic Gee says:

      @Fred, can Visual Mind make Gantt Charts without the add on, as MindManager can? If it can, I’ll add that as well, if not I’ll mention it against the Mind2Chart entry.

      If you think about the work required to have in depth reviews (in your own words “hours and hours” for each one) you’ll realise why my observations (I don’t call them reviews) about the hundreds of programs on mind-mapping.org stay at the very surface. Then factor in reviewing again each time there’s an update. But if you’d like to volunteer my salary, I might be able to resign from my day job!

      Vic

  11. Eloi George says:

    I’m still researching Linux-based mind mappers, so I haven’t used this yet, but the docs for the new version of FreeMind refer to an integration between it and TaskJuggler (a project management application).

    http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/FreeMind_0.9.0:_The_New_Features#TaskJuggler_integration

    • Vic Gee says:

      Thanks Eloi, that’s a useful observation. Prompted by that, I looked at Freeplane and it seems that it should also be able to integrate with TaskJuggler. I’ve updated the post.

      Regards
      Vic (@VicGee on Twitter)
      http://www.mind-mapping.org/
      The master list of mind mapping &
      information management software

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