In the spirit of the well-established move towards open or semi-open file formats, at Mind-Mapping.org 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.
- 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;
- users want to be able to interchange maps made in different products;
- users will be more temped to try out products if they can use their own material without the need to recreate from scratch.
- 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 Mind-mapping.org. In either case, I hope to have a copy of the material at mind-mapping.org 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