[Updated thanks to Tony Linde (@tonylinde on Twitter) 17 April 2011 – Now defunct]
New on the scene and in mind-mapping.org is MindMapPaper, a free, Windows-only offering from Lex River. It is desktop software and needs .Net to run.
MindMapPaper is an original approach to mind mapping with advantages and disadvantages.
In its favour are these benefits:
- Simplicity. It takes just a few minutes to learn all you need to use the software.
- The appearance is clear and simple.
- It gives you complete control over layout. Drag any node anywhere and it stays there. If you are tired of your mind mapping software organizing your maps’ layout for you, or resisting a layout change you would like to make, you might want to play with MindMapPaper for that reason alone.
- A rigid tree-structure hierarchy is not enforced. Really, MindMapPaper is a network drawer rather than a mind mapper, because any node can be connected to any other. If only it supported relationship descriptions across the linking lines, it would be a true concept mapper. [Update: Now it does] If you want a dominant central topic, you can organize the map and format the node that way as Lex has done in the sample above, but MindMapPaper is not built around this as a starting point.
- Node to node connections have an arrow indicating in which direction they were drawn, so you can indicate hierarchy if you want to, but by dragging connections both ways, double arrows can be shown to indicate a relationship that is not parent to child.
- Images, files and hyperlinks can be attached to nodes, and there is a simple comments box as well.
- The mind map file is an XML file and is not proprietary, so can be exchanged (import and export) with other software, but the software would have to know the format, or you would need a suitable XSLT file.
I have not used the software for long, but the disadvantages I noticed are:
- While the appearance is clear and simple, it is rather plain, and requires node-by-node work by the user to make it more interesting or eye-catching. The fact that you can, one-by-one, select multiple nodes, and then apply a format change to all at once, makes this easier. There are a copy-style and paste-style keyboard shortcuts to support style changes as well.
- There are no themes or inherited-style capabilities. [Update: This is improved, with [Ctrl]+[RightMouseDrag] – to create child node with the same style as parent node.]
- If you like your mind maps to have curved and tapering connecting lines, you won’t like MindMapPaper’s straight, thin, unchangeable lines. The appearance is much closer to a spider diagram than a mind map, even if you have made the formatting changes to show a strong central topic. For business maps, this will be fine, IMO.
- Attachments are separate files in the mind map file’s directory, not embedded in a compressed file with the XML file, the technique used by many other mind mapping software packages. This could easily result in broken maps.
- There is no real zoom, just two viewing sizes ‘Schematic view’ which is very small and ‘Normal view’. So if the map grows beyond the screen, dragging around is the only possibility.
- No node folding. This must be software’s the greatest weakness as a mind mapper at present. As you can draw networks with it, it’s not immediately obvious how you would fold nodes in all cases. Fold if everything under the node is a tree, and decline to fold if not, I suppose.
Lex has released a new version with many improvements, including those mentioned above. MindMapPaper can make true concept maps now.
You can download it from here: http://mindmappaper.com/
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