Top Picks (formerly Vic’s Picks) is here!

[Updated: September 1 2013 when Roy Grubb took over this site from Vic Gee]

Mind-Mapping.Org is the unchallenged leader in completeness of information on software for mind mapping, visual information management and other forms of mapping on the Web.

But the amount of information there may be overwhelming: 97 pages of current products, 3 per page, and 29 pages of historical ones.

So in August 2010, Mind-Mapping.Org introduced a major enhancement: Vic’s Picks.  When Roy Grubb took over, he renamed it: Top Picks. To avoid breaking any links, bookmarks, favorites or shortcuts that users may have saved, the web address has been preserved.

Top Picks is really two things: A place for readers to quickly find what’s significant, and a place for crowdsourcing: Here you can mark your favourite software and comment about your own experience of it in use.

You can browse the screenshots, click the red tab (top right) to see the name and beginning of the description, or click a button to read the remainder.

Rate the software with stars, and make comments about your personal experience with the various applications.

To see the list filtered down to show only one of the broad categories, choose from the red menu bar.

For more detail, pick from the categories drop-down on the right hand side.  They are organized like this:

There’s an added category, Faves, which tells you what Vic uses and likes most.

Please join in, Speak out! and rate your favourite software. Check out Top Picks now.

Vic (updated by Roy)

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The Mind-Mapping Wiki

In a post some months ago, I promised to tell you more about WikIT, the mind mapping wiki but kept getting distracted.  Now I have found a few minutes to keep my word.

WikIT is a facinating resource.  It takes the line that different uses of ‘information maps’ (I’m planning a post about that phrase!) are best served by different map types and different rules.  And it goes right ahead and supports this line with examples and advice.

This wiki covers the many types of maps – mind maps, concept maps, argument maps and others.  It explains the variations and how you might choose one type if you’re learning something, another type if you’re planning a new project, and something else again if you’re doing some deep analysis.  The main map types are introduced in a summary article here that branches out to many other pages.

WikIT's mind mapping wiki

Although it looks a lot like Wikipedia, and has the same types of search facilities, WikIT often uses mind maps for navigation – that must be a boon – and takes advantage of MindManager 8’s ability to deliver Flash and PDF mind maps that work, as well as looking pretty.  You can click a link that will open a map from WikIT in your browser and start exploring.

The best place to start is the list of all the subjects covered by the wiki.  Visit that and, if you’re like me, it will set you off on clicking trail from subject to subject.  Not all articles are complete, but the planning has been pretty comprehensive (I detect planning by mind map!)

Information Tamers, who put this wiki together, have also remedied a hole in my site by adding a list of free mapping software on one of its pages.  Price is a selection criterion that I didn’t think to include when I was deciding on the controls in the ‘Refine software list’ tab, and when I was approached for permission to use all the information I was happy to see it drawn on and filtered in this way.  I always am, provided the source is acknowledged and linked to with a “follow” link.  “Free” is the price that people are most often seeking for software, as well!

The master list of mind mapping &
information management software


The laws of simplicity – John Maeda

I’m browsing “Designing Universal Knowledge” by Gerlinder Schuller at present, and came across a thought-provoking guide to simplicity (‘laws’ is OTT, but that’s how they are described).  I like this list a lot.

The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction.

Organization makes a system of many appear fewer.

Savings in time feel like simplicity.

Knowledge makes everything simpler.

Simplicity and complexity need each other.

What lies in the periphery of simplicity is definitely not peripheral.

More emotions are better than fewer.

In simplicity we trust.

Some things can never be made simple.

The One
Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.

The master list of mind mapping &
information management software


TreeSheets – fast, visual organisation for notes

Did you notice that my last post about new items in mentioned eight items but there were actually more in the database?  . . . . oh never mind.

That’s because I was playing with a new entry that fitted a need I had, and chatting back and forth with its very capable developer, Wouter van Oortmerssen, as he tweaked it and even kindly met a few of my requests.

This is an outliner . .  umm . . no, it’s a treemap . . . or maybe a spreadsheet.  Well, none of them and a little bit of all of them.  It’s TreeSheets, and I can only describe it as a new paradigm in capturing and organizing notes.  More visual and flexible than outlines, less diagrammatic than mind maps and much more interesting than spreadsheets.  And fast.  Did I mention fast?

Some background on why I like this little application.

I use MindManager for mind mapping, Topicscape for organizing very large globs of information and Notepad++ for capturing those thought, ideas and tasks that pop into the mind from time to time, ready to be dropped somewhere else later.

For those who haven’t used it, Notepad++ is a fast, free application that’s quick and simple, like Windows’ own Notepad, but more capable and useful.  I have a text file on the shared desktop of my main PC and a Quick Launch link to it on all the PCs in my office that I use.  So that tool beloved of practitioners of GTD – the single collection bucket – is quickly to hand wherever I am.  Well, almost single, there are the notes in my iPhone too.

But being a mind mapper, the last thing I really want from an ideas and notes dump is a long, linear list.  And that’s where TreeSheets comes in.  It has structure, it can express hierarchy and it has, to some extent, visual layout.  It can even store images.  Try that with Notepad++.

It is a kind of outliner in the sense that items are indented according to their level.  It’s a species of treemap in the sense that it displays a hierarchy as nested rectangles, making each level smaller to occupy a fixed space: It has notes inside notes down to… well I have no idea. I took it to 20 levels, it showed no sign of flagging but I got bored.  It has a touch of the spreadsheet because it starts as a plain, empty grid of cells, but then gets interesting.

TreeSheets overcomes the problem of deep nesting by continually reducing font size as the nested cells go deeper, all the way to 1 pixel (or less, for all I know).  Ridiculous, you think?  So did I, till I discovered that a simple swoosh of the mousewheel lets you zoom in and focus on a grid that, moments before, was all but invisible.

So now I have TreeSheets on all the PCs I use, and a link to my master sheet has replaced the link to the text file in the Quick Launch toolbars.

You’re probably wondering about the price.  Is Vic in on the affiliate selling schemes now then, with all this praise?  Is this going to link to one of those endless pages with yellow highlighting where you have to give your email address and pay $100 to get this exciting new product?

Well no actually, it’s free.  And Wouter doesn’t even ask for your email.

It’s still in development and there’s a new version every few days – just today I had an email from Wouter to say it can now print a sheet “with page setup, preview.. the works. Even does decent PDFs..”

I hope you like it as much as I do.

The master list of mind mapping &
information management software


The initiative on mind & concept mapping software interoperability

It’s here at last!  The first publication of‘s information for mindmappers who want to interchange information between one mind mapping software package and another.

After several months of (spare-time) work I’ve finished putting all the information I’ve been ferreting out and begging for into a usable form, and in one place.



The hardest part was deciding how to present it.  What I decided on was to show what can talk to the two most widespread packages, FreeMind and MindManager, as the strongest part of the visualization.  I did something similar with the web-based software import / export picture, but this new one has additional information buttons that lead you separate pages all about the specific packages.  contentpage.jpg


Also included is interchange information about software that doesn’t talk to the two top packages, with downloadable files in some cases and links to authoritative information in all cases.  These are the separated boxes out on the right.  All have some useful interchange information available, and that (plus letting me know about it) is the only qualification for a mindmapping or concept mapping package to appear on this list.

The future

If you know of any similar information that I don’t have, if you make an XSLT for a pair not covered here, or if you can report specific problems with interchange routes, please let me know and I’ll publish updates and feedback.

Software authors and publishers – thanks for your help so far.  If you think that interchange between maps is desired by users and will help the mind mapping market to grow, help me keep this reference site up to date.

That “standard mind map file” proposal

In case you’re wondering: Two people I contacted at the start of this mini-project thought I was proposing to develop a standard schema for mind map files.  I could see big problems in getting agreement on this, but volunteered to give it a go if there was enough support.  Having been heavily involved in formal data modelling for 7 years, I’m familiar with the techniques – and with the difficulty of satisfying all parties.  Several people responded with scepticism, and a couple said ‘good’.  I decided I needed much more support if it was to fly, so that’s why I went with the information repository approach.



What’s all this about “fully instrumented”?

Past versions of were limited and made users search for what they wanted from the “all products” list.

Some users asked if I could add a search function so that they could check if a specific product was there.  Others want to to look at, for example, all mind mapping software that ran on a Mac, or all concept mapping and mind mapping products that could be used from a browser, from the Web, with no software to install.  Many wanted to know the cost of software and one person wanted to be able to check all items added after a specific date so that when they call back from time to time, they can see what’s new.

So I’ve added the selection and filtering in a tab at the top-right of each software list page, and each entry shows what I know about price (it’s not always clear on the publishers’ web sites), and when I added the item to my local database – which is always within a week if the information appearing on line.  I decided to cut out the historical records by default, but you can tick a checkbox to see them as well.

Controls in

So that’s what I was vain enough to call “fully instrumented”.  I’ve no doubt someone will soon point out an essential missing item and I shall slap my forehead and have to add more.

I did have a request to add reviews for all products.  Hmmm . . . I reckon a very minimal review would take a couple of full-time days, and with, right now, 162 current products, I could say goodbye to a year of my life.  Jus’ ain’t practical, I’m sorry.  But I’m thinking about how to get user reviews on-line without inviting the spammers in.


See also The Master List