Mind Mapping, Part VI: What makes a good Mind Mapping program

Believe it or not, this is where I started writing about Mind Mapping. This was going to be a single post about a few programs that I tried out. Turned into a series. I did use a mind map in planning parts of this! I hope it worked!

The reason I started here was because I am in the market for a new and improved Mind Mapping program. I have used the very expensive Mindjet MindManager for several years. Beyond the expense, it has flaws. And, now it is not letting me access saved maps. So, I’m forced to move on. I originally chose it because it seemed to be one of only a few programs that ran on a mac. But it is full of stuff I don’t need and never printed right. No matter how big a map, I couldn’t figure any way to print it in more than one page. It get’s really, really tiny!

In the past I have also tried FreeMind. (I think that’s what it’s called.) It is free, but was so basic as to not be so useful. This time around, I figured there should be more options. As it turns out there are. I decided to start by taking a look at programs which were available as extensions for the Chrome browser, which I use as my default on my mac and love. But I don’t see why they wouldn’t work on on any system as long as you install Chrome (free!)

There appear to be 5 options. I tried all of them and evaluated them based on what I think makes them worth it or not. Because the bottom line is that it has to be easier and/or more functional than a pen and paper Mind Map would be. If it is frustrating or lacks functionality, what good is it? Of course, I filter my likes/dislikes through my knowing of what works for our ADHD brains and with years of experience using mind maps. My criteria are as follows:

  1. Ease of use. It has to be easy to get your ideas out of your head and captured. Too much effort imputing ideas is a no go.
  2. Workability of blank template. Many programs come with elaborate templates designed for project management of some sort. I’m just concerned with the blank template’s usefulness.
  3. Cleanliness of design & readability: The mind map is supped to organize. If it is cluttered, chunky, or distracting (or if it takes lots of work to make it not that way) it’s of no use to me.
  4. Directionality/Movability: Can I make a map that flows in the direction my mind wants it to go?
  5. How customizable is it? While I want the default to be nice and clean, I also want to change sizes, shapes, colors etc. as needed.
  6. Can I add a floating topic? I think this is very important. As I noted in the last post, I sometimes like to start my map with no connection lines at all. You need floating topics to do that.  

As a caveat, these are for the free versions. As some point I’ll evaluate Pricing of the full versions of the programs I recommend. Ultimately, I’ll give another review of the paid version of whatever I choose to buy.

Finally… My evaluations begin in my next post.!

My Blog Disclaimer: As a way to encourage myself to actually post entries, I have made a conscious decision not to go back and edit much, if at all. I do not apologize for any typos, grammatical errors, or things that could be better! Done & posted is always better than not done perfectly.

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