Offer to join a Beta test of a MindManager 8 add in

Craig Mecham of upcoming has put out an invitation for a limited number of Beta testers for the company’s “personal development and team-building” add-in for MindManager 8.

He did this in the form of a comment on my most recent post.  Blog comments are rather hidden unless you’re looking for them, so this post is to make it more visible and provide you with a link.

For participation, Craig promises “a free download of the software add-in along with the best selling book ‘Strengths Based Management'”.

To know more, see the full comment here.

If you join up, after your participation, why not come back and tell fellow subscribers to the blog what you thought?

The master list of mind mapping &
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Welcome Topicscape Pro 2.0 – tags, swinging panels, Oh My!

There is a new version of Topicscape Pro out now – version 2.0 and it’s a major upgrade. 

Long-time followers of this blog will know that I was one of the early beta testers when Topicscape first went public.  I’ve used it ever since as an information organiser and even occasionally for mind mapping. planning

I tried out their new offering and was delighted to find that it has tags.  I’ve long wanted to gather stuff in my Topicscapes in ways that relate to what I’m doing at the time, not only based on how the items are related to one another.  Now, I can have the material I’m collecting for organised according to the type of map they make, and tag them in ways like “Next update”, “Waiting for screenshots”, or “Revised entry”.  Great.  Makes it much easier.

There are panels at the side that swing out now, when the cursor passes over them.  A much more direct way of getting at the controls than menus.  And there’s a slightly weird “Halo” menu.  I don’t think I shall be using that – though new users will probably like it.

The price has gone up though – $110.  And all previous updates, from 1.0 to 1.6 have been free, but this one has to be paid for – $30 – unless you bought it since October last year, which I didn’t   🙁


The master list of mind mapping &
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Goin’ mainstream?

Chuck Frey, over at the MindMappingSoftware Blog has a piece predicting that 2009 will be the year when mind mapping goes mainstream.

As readers who followed my competition here at the end of last year will know, I sure hope he’s right. But I do think it’s going to take effort from the community.

What’s great is that there are activities going on that might be taking us in the right direction:

Gideon King of NovaMind has been posting helpful videos on explaining the use of mind mapping

informationtamers has launched WikIT, a really useful wiki devoted to how to make and use mind maps and similar diagrams

Paul Foreman of mindmapinspiration has launched an attractive series of eBooks on mind mapping and creativity, as well as a Try Mindmapping pack

and, of course the competitors in the competition came up with some great ideas.  I hope to be acting on some of those soon.

If you have ideas or are already taking action to help make Chuck’s prediction come true, please add your comments here and let readers of this blog know.

The master list of mind mapping &
information management software


XMind mind mapping software went open … what’s really behind it?

I was intrigued when XMind announced that they were going to release their software to open source recently. What was up?  Running out of money and looking for a way to keep the product live? Seeing more income from subscriptions rather than selling individual packages once, with occasional upgrades? Aiming at ad-income? Was the free version a ‘come-on’ for the full XMind Pro? Could this be the start of a trend with other mind mapping software?

All interesting issues for those who like and use mind mapping software, so I contacted them and asked if I could interview them about this for Here’s what they had to say:

Vic: What motivated you to change your business model from selling software to making it available free under an open source license?

XMind: We decided it was time to shake things up in this space. Mind mapping is still a niche category of software. We believe it can become an all-purpose productivity tool for content authoring, brainstorming and collaboration, but it has not yet crossed the chasm into mainstream usage. Providing a full-featured version of XMind that is both royalty-free and open source makes mind mapping more accessible to 2 principal groups of people: knowledge workers who want to create, organize and deliver content visually, and developers who want to incorporate and further extend mind mapping functionality. We also believe that having a vibrant developer community around XMind can take it in new and interesting directions, and make it an even stronger product.

Vic: I certainly believe that mind mapping needs to become as normal as spreadsheets or presentations myself, as those who followed my recent competition will know. So who will maintain and develop the software now?

XMind: XMind Ltd will continue to maintain and develop XMind 3. We welcome other developers to contribute to and extend XMind functionality by building additional plugins for XMind, of course provided that they respect the terms of the open source licenses we’ve chosen for XMind 3 (EPL v1.0 and LGPL v3).

Vic: How will you control the feature set and quality if anyone can jump in and submit code? You presumably have an acceptance process, do you?

XMind: For modifications to our source code, we are developing a process for reviewing and accepting these types of contributions similar to other popular open source projects like Eclipse. For developers who write their own plugins, it’s more straightforward because they can create a separate module that’s distinct from the base code.

Vic: Are any developers outside XMind Ltd. working on the open source version already? If not will you let them? (Of course, anyone can fork XMind and rename it so long as they keep the resulting project open, I’m referring to XMind itself.)

XMind: We’ve had some companies and individual developers express interest in writing some plugins for XMind, and we think this is the most likely scenario for how developers will work with the open source version. As mentioned above, the only limitations imposed on developers who want to work with XMind open source is that they comply with the open source licenses that we’ve specified.

Vic: How do you control the fork between the open source XMind and XMind Pro 3?

XMind: Basically we will control the XMind 3 code base that we distribute and make sure that XMind Pro 3 is based on that code base. The advanced features of XMind Pro 3 are in a separate plugin, so we can clearly differentiate between the 2 products while keeping Pro based on the same XMind open source code base. That’s the beauty of a plugin architecture like Eclipse. If there is a fork, it will be between our XMind 3 and other versions with modifications that we do not accept for whatever reason.

Vic: It looks as if your business model is moving towards ad-supported from those occasions when users place mind maps online, plus subscription from users who need privacy. At the same time, XMind Pro 3 will no doubt go on selling, so when I try to work out your approach, I wonder if …
– sales may drop as people choose the free open source version, or
– the free distribution may expand the user base and users will then choose to pay to upgrade.
What is your expectation? And what did you see as the advantage when you risk giving up income from sales of the software?

XMind: As stated earlier, we want to make mind mapping software a mainstream office productivity tool, and the prior offerings in the market, including our own, weren’t getting that done. Providing a full-featured, high-quality, royalty-free XMind will introduce mind mapping to many who have not yet adopted it. Also, with the popularity of Web 2.0 style content sharing websites ala YouTube and Flickr, we think XMind Share will further stimulate the adoption of mind mapping and of course XMind. If you think about it, mind mapping software is just another form of digital content delivery, and has its own unique characteristics like idea visualization that make it appealing. We’ve already seen some great examples of bloggers using our embedded viewer from XMind Share to capture the big picture of their ideas through a mind map right within their blog posts.We also believe we’ve got the best mind mapping product out there, and once people see how useful and cool it is, many will choose to upgrade to XMind Pro, especially knowledge workers and companies needing advanced features like Presentation mode, Audio Notes, Task Info, Gantt View, and private sharing. Put that all together, and our expectation is that Pro sales will grow rapidly along with the overall adoption of mind mapping and XMind.

Vic: Collaborative mind mapping, not just sharing, is widely available from most of the browser-based applications now. Do you plan to move in that direction in the near future?

XMind: If you’re talking about web-based mind mapping, we think it’s got limitations in terms of the richness of functionality you can provide through the browser. Online collaboration is definitely an important trend. We are planning an online collaboration solution for business work groups, and it will be broader than just mind mapping. Stay tuned!

Vic: I participate in the FreeMind forum and watch what’s going on there.  There has been a discussion going on there about whether FreeMind should be abandoned, whether they should keep on developing FreeMind as now or whether some XMind code should be meged into FreeMind (I don’t think it could as FreeMind is GPL2 or later, not LGPL).  This was kicked off by this post:  You’ve probably seen it. What is XMind’s view about this?

XMind: In our team, we think this discussion is good for FreeMind, XMind, and even all the mind map developers and companies; and all mind mapping fans.  And XMind will still follow its own plan. XMind Open Source will grow everyday with new powerful features, performance improvement, bugs fixed.

Freemind is a good software too. It has done many things to let more people know and use mind mapping software.  There are no contradictions between us. Because both XMind and FreeMind want to create a great and powerful productivity tool for the whole human! Of course, this tool is open source.

XMind has its licenses. And we think, if Freemind’s developers think it is necessary, XMind team is glad to talk with them about what’s the future of mind mapping software, and what should it be.

More important, we think there are too many file formats now. We don’t think this is useful for all. There should be one or two main and major file formats. From my personal opinion, XMind and FreeMind may be two good choices. So it will be better to see that FreeMind can read XMind files. (XMind can read FreeMind files now).

Vic: As most mind map software developers know, because I’ve been communicating with them (including XMind) for more than a year, I’m very much in favour of  interchange capabilities between different software packages.  A large part of is devoted to acting as a clearing house for information supporting interoperability.

Click image to see's software interoperability resource
(Click image to see's software interoperability resource)

A final question: Changing from .org to .net (or any domain name change) places a lot of past work at risk. What inspired that move?

XMind: We thought it was an appropriate change given our move into online sharing, and our offering of both open source and commercial editions of XMind. We of course want to continue to foster a community around XMind, but we also want to shake things up and try different approaches to driving adoption of mind mapping and XMind. is our umbrella for doing that.

So there it is, apparently.

The master list of mind mapping &
information management software


Expand mind mapping – competition result

Here at last are the results of the competition to come up with an idea for expanding the world of mind mapping.

John Taylor‘s map suggests:

  1. Provide more integration of mind mapping software with common business software
  2. Practitioners to use it visibly and extol it – empowers fluid thought
  3. Thought leaders to work together, to bring mind mapping in from the fringes
  4. Analyse the barriers: thought patterns; software cost; market limitations

Here is John’s map “Envision” (click for a full-sized view):

Chance Brown, author of the submitted a map that gave an analysis of mind mapping’s visual impact on the understanding and management of information, as well as describing maps and defining the components.  This is a map that manages to be at the same time comprehensive and yet economically expressed.

Here is Chance’s map “Mindmapping can help you” (click for a full-sized view):

Paul Foreman, mindmapper-extraordinary and publisher of sent me a mind map bursting with ideas.  Let me list the ones that stood out for me:

  1. Distribution of a calendar with a mind map for each month.
  2. An annual competition involving mind maps (there’s already something like this that the Buzan Organization runs, but not sure if it’s annual).
  3. TV documentary or YouTube video series celebrating lives of achievers,
  4. Mentoring with mind maps,
  5. Exposure on breakfast cereal packets,  [lovely! but how? – Vic]
  6. Tell one mapper to tell five other non-mappers about the benefits and methods.

Here is Paul’s map “Exponential growth” (click for a full-sized view):

@mdalves proposed “What about Dr. Gregory House mind-mapping their brainstorms instead of writing boring lines of text? People would talk, ask about it, discuss in the forum, imitate him and start mind mapping on their own.”  Terrific leverage here, if it could be done.

Matthew Lang, who has a journal on mind mapping, visual thinking and ruby development suggests that mind mappers with their own sites and blogs should work together to spread the word.  His suggestion of how they should do this has four key elements:

  1. They contribute their favourite mind map to an e-book, with a description and their thoughts about benefits.
  2. This to be highlighted on each contributor’s web site.
  3. It would be promoted in all our emails and other forms of communication like Twitter, Pownce and other social networking sites.
  4. A very simple website should be setup where people can read about mind mapping and download the e-book.

Brian P. Donnelly of took a very different approach – folding the ideas behind the Semantic Web into mind mapping software.  This would be an amazingly useful capability if he can achieve it in his company’s software, which he offered to do.  Certainly, if mind mapping software becomes much more useful, and in different ways, its use will spread.  Keep us posted on progress Brian, I’m sure there are many who would be willing to try this out.  Brian’s software has a demo page.

Darina Stoyanova squeeked in with a last minute entry of a map made with iMindmap itself following the always-reliable Where? What? Who? Why? How? theme.  This analyzed potential areas to explore and gave a clear view of the potential and benefits of mind mapping.

Here is Darina’s map “Mind Mapping Exponential growth” (click for a full-sized view):


My own thoughts are that to achieve a real effect, mind mapping must be ‘normalized’ – be shown to be something that people do routinely.

I liked the suggestion very much from @mdalves that an example of mind mapping coming up on a TV program would have the greatest impact.  The leverage would come from mind mapping being seen as a part of popular culture and has the potential to be the approach that provides exponential growth. But … and it’s  big ‘but’, the barrier at present is that I don’t have the contacts in the industry to put it into effect and no one has volunteered any information on how communications might be opened.  Anyone in California have friends in the TV or movie industries?

I agree with one of the points on John’s mind map that software integration can be a barrier to some uses of mind maps.  That was the thinking behind a past project of the assembly of an extensive reference source about the interoperability of mind mapping software (recently updated).


For the immediate practicality of his suggestion, and the detailed thought about the method that he put into it, Matthew Lang suggestion comes out on top, for me.  The results of this competition have shown that we can gather the community of bloggers and mind map commentators together, so I believe we can build this e-book, publicise it and promote it in a co-ordinated effort.  And perhaps we can roll a pdf calendar into that, using some of the same material, and bring one of Paul’s suggestions to life that way.

So I declare the winner of the competition to be Matthew Lang.  Let us hope that the winners overall turn out to be the people who could benefit from mind mapping if only they knew about it.  I shall notify the iMindmap people shortly, and Matthew should receive his iMindmap Ultimate licence soon afterwards.

Next Actions

I now need to do a mind map plan on how to put this into effect.  It’s a busy time of year, so it will probably take a week or so to set time aside for this.  Anyone who wants to volunteer to get involved, please drop me an email at vic {at} mind-mapping {dot} org.

Thanks for all those who contributed ideas or commented, and to those who linked to the original competition post, to help get the word out about this.


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Hortus – training in Second Life, and XMind goes open

The latest update on 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 &
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Hints of a new 3D mind mapping tool

Jeff Lowe of the ThinkBalm Innovation community posted recently about on-line brainstorming session using a 3D mind mapper that he had developed.  Naturally, I wrote off to find out about it and he quickly gave me a couple of links.

These are early times – I can’t even point to the site for the software itself, so it doesn’t earn a place in the database yet, but it’s newsworthy and something to watch out for.  There are not many 3D mind mappers out there, just Conspicio, MindScene, Morsego, Nelements and Topicscape (the last of which I use daily).

This so-far-unamed software operates in Second Life.   Here’s what it looks like:

Click the picture to see the largest size

Being in Second Life, it looks as if this could shape up to be the first collaborative 3D mind mapper. 


Vic Gee
The master list of mind mapping &
information management software


The competition: Where we are now?

I thought a review of comments and communications would be good at this half-way point of the competition, after I followed the suggestion to extend it.

The response is encouraging and some good ideas are coming out.  This is how the suggestions have built up so far, most recent first:

Chance Brown has posted a comment about his map setting out the advantages and nature of mind mapping called “How Mindmapping Can Help You.”  If potential mind map users don’t see what’s in it for them, they won’t try mind mapping, so this map is important.  Can you add to it, dear reader?

Paul Foreman emailed me another entry called “EG” for “Exponential Growth“.  This aims directly at ideas for expanding the numbers of people who know about mindmapping – a key need.  Please look at this in detail and see if it sparks further ideas.

Matthew Lang wrote that mind mappers with their own sites and blogs should work together to get the word out, contribute their favourite mind map to an e-book, with a description and their thoughts about benefits.  This would be highlighted on each contributor’s web site and be promoted in all our emails and other forms of communication like Twitter, Pownce and other social networking sites. A very simple website should be setup where people can read about mind mapping and download the e-book.  I believe this is a good idea because it is very do-able.  Would it work for you?  Comments please!

@mdalves saw a picture of Dr. Gregory House writing linear notes on a flip-chart and thought “this is the answer to Vic’s question!”  Send a direct message to the general public, he says.  “What about Dr. Gregory House mind-mapping their brainstorms instead of writing boring lines of text? People would talk, ask about it, discuss in the forum, imitate him and start mind mapping on their own.”  Whilst this would not be easy to put into practice, if we could achieve it, it would have the greatest leverage and effect I believe.  Any ideas on how we might get the message over to a TV producer, and how we could motivate them?

John Taylor emailed this mind map with the modest comment “My small attempt.”  John proposes tighter integration between mind mapping and other types of software; mind mappers openly using the technique and describing its benefits as a matter of routine; thought leaders in the field making a collective effort; and an analysis of barriers to expansion with a response.

Oprah has written about mindmapping, and apparently Al Gore does it.  Any leverage there folks??



Extension of competition date

I’ve had off-line suggestions that the objective of the “expand mind mapping” competition is so great that a month is not much time to pull it all together.  We’ve had some good ideas already, which may set us on the right track, but I haven’t seen what I feel is that “killer idea” yet.

I’m more interested in getting a result than closing off the competition, so I hope those who have already submitted ideas won’t mind, but I am now extending the deadline to 3rd December.

The master list of mind mapping &
information management software


Normalizing mind mapping

A few days ago, I blogged about my competition for suggestions to expand the population of mind mappers exponentially.  It’s time to give my thoughts, though I’m not an entrant in the competition.

We have to ‘normalize’ mind mapping; make it seem like something that people do as a matter of course.

When Tom Cruise controlled a computer screen by waving his hands in front of a computer-generated image in Minority Report it made a strong impact.  Many people remember that.  There was no such technology at the time, but with the iPhone, iPod Touch and MS Surface, the capability is coming closer.  I’ve seen news very recently of a working gesture-in-the-air interface though the display is not the floating-in-air style to match.  That movie scene changed how people thought about interacting with a computer.  But I mention that, not because I think we need spectacular technology, but because it stuck in the mind and has really changed things.

mdalves, in a comment on my original post wrote “What about Dr. Gregory House mind-mapping their brainstorms instead of writing boring lines of text?”.  This is an example of the approach that may give a way forward, in my view.  The TV program makers have to see something in it for them though – something to attract viewers’ attention, make them remember their show and watch again next week.  But first we would have to get the message out to them.  Ideas for that welcome!

The leverage will come from mind mapping being seen as a part of popular culture.  Oprah (well, the O magazine) had something about this, I saw here

Mindmap analyses of the Presidential Candidate debates may have some effect.  I wish I knew how many people watch at those.  Not mind mappers, people who have never seen mind mapping before.  What did they make of it?  Did you watch any?

Having mindmapping and concept mapping in an educational setting seems good at first sight.  It can’t do any harm, because we would expect students to appreciate it (if it fits their thinking style) and go on to use it in the adult world.  But that that’s where mind mapping (and concept mapping) were first introduced more than 30 years ago and it hasn’t proved to be enough.  Some students don’t like it, but are forced to hand in concept maps or mind maps as homework.  Others think it’s OK but see it as something to be left behind when they leave school or college.  Some take it on into adult life and never stop.

Let’s have your ideas – comment here, or on the original post, both count towards the competition for that free iMindMap Ultimate license. 

Vic Gee
The master list of mind mapping &
information management software