The initiative to facilitate exchange of mindmaps and concept maps

In the spirit of the well-established move towards open or semi-open file formats, at I recently began a new initiative.

This is to collect information about the format of mind- and concept map files, or the format of exported structured files.  The intent is to make public those formats for which the software publishers give permission.  Over time, I hope that there will not only be file format descriptions, but instructions for conversion and descriptions of limitations.  I am willing to co-ordinate the gathering of this information.

There are benefits to users, spelled out below, and I believe these benefits will bring benefits to software publishers and vendors for reasons explained here.

User benefits:

  1. Keen mindmappers are starting to work with both desktop products and web-based ones, according to the circumstances around a specific mapping task.  They use different platforms and want the ability to interchange freely;
  2. users want to be able to interchange maps made in different products;
  3. users will be more temped to try out products if they can use their own material without the need to recreate from scratch.
  4. users contemplating trying a new product will have the confidence of knowing that they can revert without needing to redo all work done during the trial period, thus increasing the likelyhood that they will commit to the trial.

Some products offer limited interchange.  The fact that these actions are not freely possible with a wide range of products is a limit to growth on the whole field of mindmapping and concept mapping and therefore a limit to growth on the mapping software market.

I’ve written to all publishers of mind mapping and concept mapping software for whom I can find a contact email.  I asked if they are willing to make public either the format of map files produced by their product or of any exported files.  I hope to be able to show this information by links to an appropriate page on their site or by locating the material at  In either case, I hope to have a copy of the material at to ensure continuity of the link.

Naturally, I shall honour any future request from the software publisher to remove these materials.

I have already received many favorable responses, some with immediate information, others with promises to gather the material or supply it later.  There’s been only one outright rejection so far, so it seems that the general view is, like mine, that expanding interoperability will expand the market, and that’s as good for the mind mapping software publishers as it is for the users.

I’ll be reporting progress here.

The master list of mind mapping &
information management software


5 Replies to “The initiative to facilitate exchange of mindmaps and concept maps”

  1. Vic,

    I was wondering what is the current status of this initiative of yours and what is your next step?

    I think the whole MindMapping industry would benefit if there is a standard open format for importing/exporting mind maps.

    I am envisioning some XML-based structure, similar to OpenDoc. I would expect that we need to start a discussion between software makers so the new born format addresses everyone’s needs. After few weeks/months of discussion we should have draft v1. Then somebody would create a MindManager -> NewFormat converter and we will be in business. Refining could take more time, but it is important to start.

    If this new format gets enough support from developers we can push mind mapping to the next level. Look at RSS and what it did to content aggregation. It should be able to do the same for mind mapping.

    I think you are the right person to “lead” this step. Let me know your thoughts and please keep us posted on your progress.


  2. Alexander,

    Thanks for your support. I am waiting in the expectation of getting more replies — I have summarized those so far. I will send an email to all the software publishers and blog on the current status soon.


  3. Vic,

    As far as I know you havent contacted us. I would be interested to talk to you about this.

    Best regards,



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