Mind Mapping – The guru fights the web

Welcome back to all my readers and I that hope 2010 proves to be as good as you expect it to be!

I first came across mind mapping when I read, “The principles of success”. Mind mapping as we know it today has been developed by Tony Buzan. I consider Tony Buzan to be the guru of mind mapping as he has been the main proponent and driver behind mind mapping. Obviously, there will always be the debate that Tony Buzan did not invent mind mapping. I became aware of mind mapping a few years ago. Coincidentally, around the same time, one day, I was sat with my daughter and she appeared to be drawing a diagram. Initially, I did not pay much attention but as I continued to peer over my shoulder, it increasingly looked like a mind map. As I curiously asked her whether she was drawing a mind map, she confirmed that she was (She was 13). So, schools have started to teach mind mapping and people of my age (early 40s) have only just started to learn it! Another reason for this post – To build awareness of this wonderful tool.

Anyway, during the Christmas break as I was researching ways of utilising social media to find myself an appropriate position that could utilise my CIO, programme management, leadership and commercial skills, I found myself facing the predicament that I had so many thoughts, articles and action items based on my research that I was starting to drown. I must admit, I don’t use mind mapping regularly (although I should) and I find it the best tool to organise my thoughts, especially when I suffer from information overload. Mind mapping software became the obvious choice as I also wanted to share the mind map with my job search coach.

As is often the case with me and my blogging, I am usually looking for ideas for my next blog posting. The kind of ideas that I look for my blogging posts are usually areas of IT and sometimes even business that I feel would help others by applying my twist of IT knowledge and knowledge gained through research across the Net. Regular readers of my blog know that I tend to shy away from reviewing software myself as that kind of research has usually been conducted elsewhere and all I have to do is provide references to these articles etc.

As I am a fan of Tony Buzan and consider him the guru of mind mapping, naturally I downloaded the trial version of his iMindMap software, even though there is a huge variety of free and subscription based mind mapping software available at the moment. The main reason, I like his software is that I believe that as he is behind mind mapping as we know it today, his software would reflect that. Now you may ask yourself, well, how do I create a mind map – Click here for the answer?

Mind mapping software saves time and there are many reasons why mind mapping software should be utilised including increasing productivity. There are features to look for when purchasing mind mapping software and it can even help with project management. As I had created my mind map, I decided that it made sense to do a post on mind mapping.

The problem, I face now is that even though iMindmap and Mindjet MindManager seem to lead in the reviews, I am not entirely sure that in today’s, Cloud Computing, web connected world these software packages are the correct choice. I would love to use iMindMap as it has been created with Tony Buzan’s involvement but in today’s connected world, it has no application for iPhones/smartphones. Mindjet MindManager is similar, no iPhone/smartphone application either. As I researched, I found mindmeister that was not only web based, had an iPhone application and was considered to be quite an innovative business. This is a real predicament for my choice, as I want Tony Buzan’s iMindMap software but I want it in the cloud so that I don’t have to worry about saving files on my laptop. I want the freedom to access it from anywhere in the world as I now have the fast connectivity available globally, albeit a few places (an minor inconvenience where I can resort to saving files on my laptop).

Now, we move to question time:

Which software would you have opted for and why? (To help you, I have a list of reviews at the end of the post)

Further resources:

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About mubbisherahmed
I am passionate about IT and its ability to deliver cost effective, value for money solutions that can enhance performance and in many cases provide competitive advantage by using a range of solutions and approaches in innovative ways.

28 Responses to Mind Mapping – The guru fights the web

  1. Michael says:

    (Michael works for Mindmeister) Excellent post, Ahmed, and thanks for mentioning MindMeister. Hope you like the service, we’re constantly trying to improve it. iMindMap is truer to the original mind mapping technique but we’ve tried to make it as simple as possible for everyday mind mappers.

  2. mubbisherahmed says:

    Michael, you are welcome and thanks for the comment and for enjoying the post . I maintain that the best businesses are those that are constantly in touch with what people and users want. Mindmeister seems to be doing that and further proof of staying in touch with potential customers is that you have promptly responded to this post.

    I don’t currently use, Mindmeister or any mind mapping software as I am still undecided on which one to use. People response should help me decide though.

  3. mubbisherahmed says:

    Cindy Cicero Owner/Operator at Mindful Life By Design commented on a social media site
    Hum — took a look at iMindMap ,,, it’s about time! Great tool for my business. Thank you.

    I replied:

    I am glad that you found my article on mindmapping useful. It’s good to get comments as it encourages me.

  4. mubbisherahmed says:

    11/1/10 – Bernard Peek Information Technology and Services Consultant and Professional commented on a social media site, as follows:

    I’ve been using mind-mapping for twenty years. I still haven’t found software that’s any better than a flip-chart pad and a handful of coloured pens. The closest I’ve got was using a drawing program running on an interactive whiteboard.

    I replied:

    I’ve been using mind-mapping for twenty years. I still haven’t found software that’s any better than a flip-chart pad and a handful of coloured pens. The closest I’ve got was using a drawing program running on an interactive whiteboard.

    12/1/10 – Philip Gee Chairman Fiscal Reps Limited, added:

    Have also been a mind mapper for many years and totally agree with Bernard. For Projects I would reduce the map to A5 and put it in my Time System. To transmit you can scan the map in and send electronically. A mind map is very personal; although I have Open Mind Software it far less creative than sitting with blank paper and building my own picture. If you put a mind map on a white board take a photograph and transpose it.

    I could go on but you get the drift. There must be a system where you can draw on a tablet which is then stored, however, colours are hard to incorporate.

    Keep up the good work and stick to a winning formula.

    Bernard replied:

    A few years ago I worked for the UK distributor of Smart interactive whiteboards. For those who haven’t come across the technology, these consist of a large touch-sensitive surface on to which a video image is projected. Touching the surface sends signals to a PC which then uses the video projector to simulate the action of a pen or other drawing tool. These systems are usually networked so users in different locations can share a drawing surface. In the UK you will find one of these in most school classrooms, but they aren’t used much in industry. If you need to share mind-mapping between users in different locations I suggest that you take a look at the technology. I hasten to add that I have no financial interest in this.

    12/1/10 I added on:

    Philip/Bernard,

    Both good suggestions and the I enjoyed the fact that Bernard, didn’t want me thinking he was selling on behalf of someone 8-).

    It is as Philip has said that Mind maps are personal and software at the moment is quite restrictive and far less creative than having the ability to whiteboard/draw on paper.

    We also agree that the main predicament is one of sharing the mind maps. Easy, if you have networked systems that Bernard alluded to but I think, this debate has been interesting from my point of view. Interesting because it highlights the fact that no mind mapping software is as easy, creative and functional as drawing with the hand and cost effective. Even with Mindmeister, the only people that get access to a team interface are the one’s that pay business membership @ $9 per user that want the ability to share and work collaboratively (unless they export them/share them across a network/email etc, I suppose).

    13/1/10 Kevin J Poulton MBA Managing Director, 1 B4 All said:

    I have used Mind Maps for year, my Heaven was a Tablet PC that I acquired a few years ago. I can draw to my hearts content with a Pen, and change colours etc, just like a piece of paper. BUT I get then save it as an image, and back it up, distribute etc as needed.

    I replied:

    Which package do you use Kevin and how good do you find it?

    14/1/10 Kevin J Poulton MBA Managing Director, 1 B4 All said:

    I draw straight into MS One-Note, but the tablet would let me draw into any number of applications.

    I replied:

    Thanks, Kevin for sharing that with us.

  5. mubbisherahmed says:

    Martin Williamson Owner, Toliman Ltd and Information Technology and Services Consultant said the following on a social media site:

    Have a look at Freemind ( http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page ).

    I’ve been using it for years now.

    It saves its Mindmap files as XML so the options for further rendering / manipulation are superb!

    I replied:

    Martin, thanks for your thumbs up on Freemind. It’s always great to get feedback from someone who has used the software. Saving files in XML as you said, is superb! Thanks for the valuable information.

  6. Roy Grubb says:

    Have you looked at the 3D evolution of mind mapping for organizing information?

    There’s free software for this here:
    http://www.topicscape.com/student-edition.php

    Roy
    (Disclosure, I’m project manager for Topicscape)

  7. mubbisherahmed says:

    Hi Roy,

    I won’t leave any comments on your software and let readers make their own decision. I hope some will return after trying/using it to provide constructive feedback to both you and me.

  8. Alan says:

    Hi There-
    I suggest you take another look at Mindjet. It doesnt sound like you have seen Mindjet Catalyst, their cloud based mindmapping and collaboration platform? It is by far the most functional collaboration and co-mapping solution available. It really does take mindmapping and informaiton sharing to the next level.

    Also, Mindjet does have an iPhone application that can be purchased. See http://mindjet.com/products/add-ons/mindjet/overview

    I hope that helps you.

    Alan

    • mubbisherahmed says:

      Thank you Alan for your advice and for pointing me to Mindjet’s cloud based collaboration platform and for Mindjet’s iPhone application. This is where I have incomplete information now. It would be great if I could get some feedback from actual users of Mindmeister and Mindjet on how easy, intuitive, cost effective (Licence subscription models etc) and good the collaboration aspects of these two product leaders are, i.e, does each user need a licence, even for viewing files etc.

      • Garrett says:

        (Garrett works for Mindjet) First off let me thank you for this post, as well as Alan for the comment about Mindjet. Back to your questions about the collaborative solution, Catalyst, offered by Mindjet. Every user does need a license to use the product however, you do not need a license to view the content that is created using our sharing capabilities. This also applies to the built in web conferencing of Catalyst, only the host of the meeting needs a license and can invite up to 14 other people into the meeting to view the shared screen.

        I would also love to hear the feedback and comments from your readers about our product offerings.

  9. mubbisherahmed says:

    Hi Garret,

    Many thanks for your reply and your comments. This debate is turning out to be a great one as the consensus so far is that mind mapping software is still not as easy to use as pen/paper/whiteboard and an addition by Alan and yourself that Mindjet can be web based with collobarative features.

    All we need now is feedback from actual users of Mindmeister and Mindjet on why they use these products and any further thoughts by by Micheal (Mindmeister) .

    I am enjoying all this activity as it will help mind mapping software providers better at what they do, and that was one of the aims of my blogging activities, to help people.

  10. Odo Blue says:

    thanks for mentioning MindMeister.

  11. (Emily works for Buzan Online, the creators of iMindMap)

    Hi Mubbisher

    It is great to hear the positive comments regarding iMindMap….

    Writing from Buzan Online, I just wanted to put forward a couple of points:

    Firstly good news – the iMindMap iPhone app is about to be released, and 2010 is also bringing lots of other impressive technological advancements for the iMindMap tool…. Exciting times!

    Onto one of the other points that your readers mentioned: hand drawn vs computer Mind Mapping. iMindMap has been developed and designed very specifically to replicate the hand-drawn process of Mind Mapping. Tony Buzan, the brains behind iMindMap, strongly believes that effective Mind Mapping is about the process and not the technology that surrounds it. Therefore we have tried not to let technology obstruct the Mind Mapping process, ensuring a clean, easy to use interface that leads users through the same process as when hand creating Mind Maps. The software includes a comprehensive list of business tools such as Project Management features and Presentation View as well so it lends itself to day to day tasks, but these are not obtrusive and don’t get in the way if users just want to draw maps.

    Emily

    • mubbisherahmed says:

      Hi Emily,

      I appreciate your feedback and it’s great that the iphone application will be arriving soon!

      Thanks for your feedback on hand drawn vs compute mind mapping. I am sure this comment is a valuable addition as it explains iMindMap’s USP very well.

  12. mubbisherahmed says:

    Kevin M. Kelly, PMP Strategic, dynamic business technology executive ● CIO at BuzzBack Market Research said on a social media site:

    I’m a big proponent of mind mapping, as are many of the people in my company. After using MindManager for many years, my colleagues at BuzzBack have won me over to CoMapping.com. This site has a low cost per user, has much of the same functionality (and feel) of MindManager, and is 100% cloud-based. You can share your maps with others who do not have accounts, and export content to many desktop programs, such as Word.

    I replied:

    Kevin, you have done a lot of people reading my blog a great favour! I was hoping that I could get some feedback from actual users of mind mapping software. I now have comments from the makers of Mindmeister, Mindjet and iMindMap and strangely enough, I don’t recall any reviews of comapping.com and your positive review is a great addition to the rest of the comments as it also tells everyone the functionality that the software is capable of as well, costs etc. Comments such as yours are what makes social media and blogging so worthwhile as we all contribute towards helping each other in some way.

  13. mubbisherahmed says:

    Ian Londesbrough Consultancy Partner at TCL wrote the following on a social media site:

    I love mindmaps and I am a furious scribbler of mind maps in my “day book” during meetings and the working day. I currently use FreeMind when I want a “soft” mind map – it is very simple, free and does the job well. At TCL, an independent and objective Testing Consultancy, we encourage out Testing Professionals to use Mind Maps in Exploratory Testing & QA – to map the areas of a system they have “explored” and annotate it with any defects they find.

    I replied:

    Interesting that you should mention, Freeminds, as you are the second person to do so. In another group (comment can be found in the comments section on my blog posting), Freemind was recommended as well. It is good to see people like yourself who are actual users of the software, submitting comments as these will help people decide which mindmapping software to use. That is the beauty of Mindmaps that you can just about use them for anything where you would use notes. The difference being that as they are based on how our brain works, I find them a lot better than taking notes where I would have to spend a considerable amount of time, exploring the relationships between them etc.

    15/10/10 – Nick Gale IT Project Manager, Consultant and Business Analyst, added:

    Within our organisation we use Mindjet MindManager. Also, you can get an add on product (JCV Gantt Pro) which allows you to take mindmaps into a project plan format and synchronise between the two very nicely.
    You can also do other clever things such as exporting to word and creating websites, I have in the past written training document and turned it into word and web resources, also proposals – in mindmanager it’s so much more visual…I love it!
    Our clients are also taken by mind maps I find, we quite often go into meetings with agenda’s in mindmap format – really helps to focus people.

    I replied:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Mindjet Mindmanager and the add on product for Projects. That is useful as there would be many readers who would like to use Mind Map products for managing projects.

    That’s interesting that your clients have started to enjoy the benefits of mind mapping and are adopting their usage. I haven’t seen mind maps being used in many meetings, so that is a welcome addition.

    The more people that we can teach on mind maps and their virtues, the more beneficial people will find them and at the end of the day, that’s what it is all about, disseminating knowledge for the wider good of humanity.

  14. Tim Fulford says:

    iMindMap is simply the best software for real Buzan Mind Mapping, nothing else comes near it! And as Emily says its going to be on the iPhone soon.
    I am a lifelong Mind Mapper, so much so that I quit a full time teaching job to become a full time Mind Map trainer.
    Yes children learn to Mind Map at school so its about time the our business leaders grasped something that would really help them be more creative, think, plan and organise more efficiently. Mind Mapping is great and Tony is the guru as you say.

    • mubbisherahmed says:

      Finally, a review of iMindMap from someone who has used it extensively! I thought that was the case that iMindMap would be the real deal but without anyone coming forward to say so, I wasn’t entirely sure. Your comment is, therefore, very much appreciated and gives this debate some more food for thought!

  15. Tim Fulford says:

    You will find a number of examples of iMindmap on my website http://www.destech.wordpress.com as well as the ability to download a free 7 day trial. iMindmap is available in three different versions depending on your needs, it is possible to upgrade from one to another easily. This quality product is both suitable for home and business use. I have taught many business people to use this product for improving their presentations, creative thinking and development. It is also a great organisational tool. I have just upload a summary of how you can use Mind Mapping to improve the way in which you manage information. http://destech.wordpress.com/2010/01/14/10-ways-to-improve-how-you-manage-information/

  16. Tim Fulford says:

    This book has just been published by Tony Buzan and Chris Griffiths: http://www.imindmap.com/email2010/January/mmfbT.html this is one of the very best books available that covers Mind Mapping and iMindMap. Well worth getting a copy. I have some of my work on page 14!

    • mubbisherahmed says:

      Tim, Many thanks for taking the time to post your additional comments and the priceless links that I am sure be very useful to all the readers.

      So, as you have an inclusion on page 14, should we be addressing you as, Guru? 8-)

  17. mubbisherahmed says:

    Andrew Kris Senior Executive Recruiter for the Chemicals and Life Sciences sector, Commentator and author on business transformation made the following contribution on a social media site:

    There are three or four excellent web-based system – partly free or a small monthly subscription and they work well – I use http://www.Mindomo.com – works well. Hope this helps. Andrew Kris, Borderless Executive Search

    I replied:

    Yes, it’s good to get recommendations by people who have used the products. On my blogpost, there are quite a few recommendations on good software and like you said, some are free. Do visit, the blog as it has turned out to be quite a lively discussion including comments from some software producers and even from Tim Fulford, a contributor in Tony Buzan’s new book, “Mind Maps for business”.

  18. Michael says:

    (Michael from MindMeister again here) Nice discussion! I’d of course be interested to hear what people miss in our product, and where they think the (online) mind mapping market is headed. What about other mobile clients, for instance (not only iPhone). We’re working on some interesting updates re formatting options in MindMeister which should make our tool much more appealing even to hardcore mind mappers who currently work with desktop tools.

    • mubbisherahmed says:

      Michael, thanks for your thoughts. It’s good to receive your thoughts and I like your request for feedback. My thoughts on apps for other mobile clients is that, yes, MindMeister should be available for Windows Mobile, Symbian and Android (Have I missed anyone?) but even before you release it, that should be reflected on your website asap to let people know that it’s in the pipeline. It’s all about competitive advantage, something you applied quite quickly for the iPhone. That needs to be replicated again.

      Again, as you can see from the feedback, the beauty is in making mind mapping so easy that people who don’t like software and find it easier to draw by hand/whiteboard etc, are convinced that if they do mind maps using software, it would be just as easy not just online, on the desktop but even on the mobile. For MindMeister, or any Mind mapping software producer, surely that should be the holy grail!

  19. Eloy says:

    I think Inspiration Software package deserves a nod here. It’s been around many years (I first started using on a Mac). It’s unique claim to fame (as far as I know) is that you can switch between the mind map view and a traditional outline view. Often I’d find my self stuck looking at the visual map but could easily think of new items to add looking at the outline view (and visa versa).

    Having multiple tools is great. I use iMindMap, Inspiration and FreeMind.

    I like that the current mind mapping tools can handle links, making them a useful repository for objects related to your mind map topic.

    • mubbisherahmed says:

      Hi Eloy,

      Many thanks for taking the time to submit your thoughts on Inspiration software. I am glad you did, as when I originally researched mind mapping, I did not come across this product. I have taken a look and it deserves a nod, as you said. It’s capabilities transcend mind mapping and go into the realms of process, workflow design, presentations and much more!

      Yes, I agree that its good to see current software handling objects so well. It was needed and most mind mapping software producers, haven’t disappointed. I am disappointed though that not many mind mapping software producers are offering cloud based (online versions), just yet though, as I think Cloud Computing should be taken very seriously now!

      Mubbisher Ahmed

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