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.
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 mind-mapping.org 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 🙁
eyePlorer for visual exploration of the sematic net
A very interesting tool, still in its infancy, this is very cool. Many terms that you might enter yield a blank circle, but when you hit one for which they have analyzed content, it can be fascinating. Then it will provide a view of the topic that would be hard (impossible?) to find elsewhere. I look forward to seeing this mature. More instructions and information about how it works would be good too.
It’s not a mind or concept mapping tool, nor is it a search engine, but it has a hint of each of these. (click to see a large image)
Yet another mind mapper for the iPhone. There is a free version (search for SimpleMindX at the App Store) and another for $6.99.
This is an add on for MS Excel that can draw flowcharts and swim-lane diagrams from text.
Keep an eye on eyePlorer – definitely one to watch. That’s it for now. Soon I’ll be blogging about WikIT the mind mapping wiki – I’ve mentioned it in passing before, but it deserves a deeper look.
It’s been a month since the last update to mind-mapping.org, and the list of items to add has built up more sharply than usual so I decided it was time to clear the decks. Apart from anything else, iPhone is keeping mindmappers busy with low-cost software to play with and there’s a new and imaginative application appearing every few days it seems.
Cohere Cohere is a browser based collaborative visual thinking tool that allows many users to develop discussions and arguments on line and has more than a hint of concept maps about it.
Headspace This iPhone application occupies the space partway between a 3D outliner and a mind mapper.
iThoughts This is an impressive attempt to bring mind mapping to the screen of the iPhone.
I have successfully imported large FreeMind maps to iThoughts. With such a tiny screen, a large map is hard to make use of, but that can’t be blamed on iThoughts.
Jambalaya Jambalaya is a plug-in for Protégé that allows domain experts to building knowledge-based systems to visualize ontologies.
Lovely Charts A free basic diagrammer that works in your browser and has subscription-based collaboration options.
ThinkDigits This is a fascinating fusion of information mapping and calculation. Numbers in a calculator are normally pure abstraction, and this gives them real world context. True creativity.
TPAssist TPassist is an add on for MindManager aimed at enhancing time, task and project management using mind maps.
Webspiration This web based version of Inspiration is now in public Beta, and free for now.
Five visual mapping tools have just been added to mind-mapping.org.
Not so much a mind mapping application as a visual way of expressing your goals, Aspire looks like a flexible new approach. I’m hoping to get some better screenshots for the author. There are videos at the Aspire site.
Another iPhone application to join the happy band of those supporting visual thinkers. I make it six seven at present – iBluesky, Mindmaker, Zeptopad, Instaviz [and iThoughts], plus – via Safari – Ideatree, and Loosestich. [Updated 22 Jan 09 – thanks Karen] Any hints for more? This one, unlike Zepropad, tidies up your finger-drawn lines for you.
An open source, Java application for displaying all sorts of fascinatingly-named visual maps: Hyperbolic trees, circular treemaps, rectangular treemaps, sunburst trees, icicle trees, sunray trees and iceray trees.
A free browser-based whiteboard application.
Another free to-do-list-come-outliner web application.
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 mind-mapping.org. 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: http://sourceforge.net/forum/message.php?msg_id=5847653 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).
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. XMind.net is our umbrella for doing that.
So there it is, apparently.
The master list of mind mapping &
information management software
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.
I’ve been writing about the future of mindmapping recently, and decided I’d better mention updates to the Master List of mind mapping software. Three new packages have appeared recently, all of them free, and their records are now in the mind-mapping.org database.
CoFFEE has concept mapping as a minor capability in its function as a groupware application for digital discussions in live classrooms.
Hypergraph specialises in making hyperbolic maps and is already a capable and interesting piece of open source software.
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 mind-mapping.org 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.
Chuck Frey, over at his blog, asks what future mind mapping software should look look like. He predicts that:
– Connectivity with Web 2.0 applications will play a growing role
– Connectivity with corporate data sources will be essential
– A more unified approach to searching and displaying rich content within a mind map is inevitable
– Mind mapping software will increasingly enable users to manage their attention more productively, acting as a “digital assistant” to help them zero in on the most important information faster
I have a free license for Buzan’s iMindmap* to give away for the best answer to a competition. This is it:
Many, many people have never heard of mind mapping. Others have heard of it but have no idea what it is or how it might help them.
Write a comment to this post (and/or send a mind map!) suggesting how to achieve exponential growth in the numbers of people doing mind mapping. This needs an idea that will motivate committed visual information mappers and at the same time can leverage the whole mind mapping community to get the word out, explain, demonstrate, tell stories, show all different styles of maps, all uses.
I shall judge the winning suggestion (my decision will be final!) and pass (only) the winner’s name and email address to Buzan Online so that they can deliver the license. Judgement will be based on originality, practicality and opportunities to obtain best leverage of existing mappers’ contacts. If you decide to send a mind map to illustrate your ideas or thinking, please send a png or jpg image to vic [at] mind-mapping [dot] org. I will arrange for it to be embedded in comments (max width 540 pixels).
This competition will run from 4th October to 3rd [updated] November December inclusive.
PS You probably know that some people know about mind mapping or other visual information mapping techniques and do not like them, and will not use them because they have their own thinking style. They find that visual representation gets in the way and they don’t need introducing to it. I’m sure we all respect that and got over it long ago.
These are not the people this competition aims to find ways to reach out to. VG