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


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


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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