During the last month or two, the new class of web-based mind mapping applications have generated a lot of excitement. But no one has done a side-by-side comparison of their features and functionality. So I decided to take on that challenge. The chart below is based on what the developers have published on their websites, as of today:
|Topic text styles|
|Free positioning of topics|
|Task info on topics|
|Support for keyboard shortcuts|
|Filter topics by level|
|Types of map layouts supported||
|Collaboration - real time|
|Collaboration - non-real time|
|Export to MindManager|
|Export to FreeMind|
|Export to Word/RTF|
|Export to image file|
|Publish map to web/blog|
|Import maps from MindManager|
|Import maps from FreeMind|
A solid green circle means a feature is currently implemented; a hollow blue circle indicates a feature is planned (only Bubbl.us has indicated which features it plans to introduce in the future).
After viewing these features side-by-side, several patterns emerge, at least in my mind:
- Mindomo has the most well-developed user interface and the greatest number of features, but real-time collaboration has taken a back seat, at least for now. Also, it doesn't offer as many import and export options as MindMeister.
- MindMeister's initial focus has been on enabling real-time collaboration, but it's now catching up in the area of features by adding new ones every week or two. It has also taken a remarkable early lead in the area of enabling import from and export to desktop-based mind mapping software (MindManager and FreeMind). If you want to be able to begin work on a map on your desktop, then transfer it to a virtual workspace for further development and collaboration with your team, MindMeister is the only application that can currently do that.
- Thinkature seems to be far behind the other three applications, but the developer actually has a different philosophy: I don't believe, based upon what I can see on their website, that they ever intended to create a fully-functional web-based mind mapping tool. Rather, their organizational metaphor is virtual "note cards," which can be moved around a workspace and connected to each other to show simple relationships.
I welcome your thoughts and observations on this comparison. Please post your comments!