Hortus – training in Second Life, and XMind goes open

The latest update on mind.mapping.org brings a new entry, Hortus, and a significant change to XMind.


After my previous post about a nascent mind mapper for Second Life, there’s another Second Life story.  It is Hortus, part of the ICTS immersive training suite.  It is a graphical story planner.


A few days ago, XMind went to an open source model.  So XMind can be used on your own desktop, free.  They also have a web-based server and you can upload your mind maps for all to see.  If you would like to control who sees your mind maps, you can subscribe to a ‘Pro’ version at US$6/month that allows this.

There’s an on-line example here:

click to open



The master list of mind mapping &
information management software


6 Replies to “Hortus – training in Second Life, and XMind goes open”

  1. Vic,
    can you publish your favorite top 5 software list and reasons for that? I am new to mind mapping. I have red few articles from your web and did some mind maping. I am becoming a great fan of mind mapping and I am deciding which software to use and don’t like to learn too many softwares. I would appreciate your point of view very much. Pavel

  2. Hi Pavel,

    The first thing I wish I could ask is how you expect to use mind maps, but I know I can’t: If you’re just starting out, I’m sure you don’t have a feel for that yet.

    You’re right to worry about the time spent learning a package. There are plenty of free mind mapping packages around: They’re free when considering money, but not if you consider the investment of time and the risk of finding you don’t like them later.

    My favourite mind mappers may not help you make the right choice, but I’ll tell you what they are and how I use them:
    1. One of my biggest needs is sorting and finding my way through loads of information, and I like Topicscape a lot for that. I was one of the first beta testers and have used it almost every day since. If I could only keep one, and I’d hate to be so limited, this would be it.
    2. I like MindManager as well. I still use Enterprise Edition 2002, but I should really upgrade myself to v.8. I use it for planning projects mainly, though when they get big I move on to number one on my list. I’ve been using one version or another of MindManager for many years. It is powerful, pretty easy to use, but expensive. If you’re working on small to medium-sized projects, it is very helpful.
    3. FreeMind is pretty good so long as you’re a bit of a tech-head. It’s powerful and flexible, though not so easy to make attractive maps as other software if you need to share them. Good for all sorts
    4. Bubbl.us is stunningly easy to use – I really admire their user-friendly design and the fact that you can build webs, not just pure hierachical relationships, is useful. You don’t have much to lose in learning-time invested, because it is so easy to pick up. The only thing is that, being free and web based, if they decide to pull the server off line, all your work would be gone. It’s browser based, so if you are not on the web, you’re not mind mapping.
    5. And I like iBlueSky for the iPhone or iPod Touch. I haven’t used it much yet, but it’s cheap (if you have the hardware!), attractive and very portable.
    6. Yes, I’ll add a sixth – paper and coloured markers, or pencil. Sometimes these are just what you need.

    But this is a personal list. It reflects what I happen to have used, not what you will necessarily find best.

    The master list of mind mapping &
    information management software

  3. Hi Vic,

    Actually I already know roughly for what I am going to use mind maping.

    1 – First of all brainstorming in relation to plot development. I am writing from time to time short novels and I have found mind mapping with coloured markers very inspiring and maybe the best because I can make mind maps in this way very quickly. But then I want to store the mind map in the computer for further development or just for remebering myself. And here I am not sure where to go.

    2 – Brainstorming about myself. Plans in certain areas of my life etc. Again I am starting on paper and then a used one time VUE. Very easy mind mapping software but doesnt allow you to write parallely abobe the line (just in the boxes or across the line).

    3 – Knowledge sorting and development of mathematical ideas. I am in the midst of doing my PhD from mathematics. So it means working on a project that would last three or four years(Iam in the third month) I am reading a bunch of scientific articles and should write also my own. Again I am constructing mind maps on paper when I am reading certain articles. Here I am convinced that rather sofisticated mind maping and probably also database program would be appropriate.

    So let me say that this is what I am expecting to do with mind mapping. Can you advise me now more precisely? 🙂


  4. Hi Vic,

    One more time. I have installed Freemind – seems to me too complicated with very small amount for design possibilities and i don’t mean only graphical but also sructural (important for me in math).

    XMind seems to me as a favorite. Why it is not in your top five list? 🙂

    Still with relation to my PhD maybe not appropriate software….


  5. Hi Pavel,

    You asked for my top five favourites. XMind is not on that list because the list reflects, as I mentioned, “what I happen to have used, not what you will necessarily find best”!

    The only XMind chart I have ever made is the one in this post. It seems OK, but without experience of using it for real projects, I certainly can’t put it in a ‘top five’ list or even say that I know it.

    If you follow Buzan’s rules when making your coloured-markers maps, maybe you’d find that iMindmap carries on the inspiration you find in your hand-drawn maps.

    For your PhD research I would have thought Topicscape deserves a look – it has a relational database behind it and you could have all your thesis reference material stored and organised in one Topicscape.

    Freemind is rigidly tree structured, so if you’re looking for more of a net than a tree diagram, it’s not so good, and you need a concept mapper. VUE is more of a concept mapper, isn’t it?

    As I’m sure you know, in academia concept maps are favoured as having more rigour, but they are most unsuitable for writing novels, I suspect. For that, I wonder if you’ve looked at Liquid Story Binder XE – not a mapping product but very much designed for tracking storeyboards, timelines, characters and settings.

    The master list of mind mapping &
    information management software

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