MindMapper from SimTech Systems is one of those visual mapping programs that has been around for years, but has never attracted a lot of attention. All the while, its developer has been steadily adding features and functionality to it. The latest version, MindMapper 2008, is currently in beta testing; I recently got a chance to test drive it. What I discovered is an application that has many new capabilities that extend it well beyond traditional mind mapping - and provides some innovative new features that should meet the needs of today's knowledge worker.
A major theme of this new release is what its developer calls "personal knowledge management" - the ability to move beyond visual mapping and idea creation to the creation of knowledge. To that end, it incorporates some amazing functionality:
- In addition to standard radial maps, MindMapper 2008 supports the creation of flow charts and concept maps.
- It enables you to visually diagram your computer's folder and file structures.
- An auto-paste feature which, when turned on, automatically pastes any text you highlight in another application into your current map. This could be a boon for users who are conducting research, trying to gather bits and pieces of information and knowledge from various sources.
- You can conduct a web search from within your MindMapper map. You simply create a new topic or highlight an existing one in your map, then click the "PKMS" icon in the toolbar and select "search." MindMapper inserts the topic name into the search engine, and the results are quickly displayed in your browser. I experimented with this feature, and thought it was very cool!Combined with the auto-paste feature, I can see how this could really be used to streamline information gathering! From within your map, you can invoke your favorite search engine to find pertinent information, and add it to your map just by dragging your mouse over it. Nice!
- You can extract specific themes and subjects from your map and view the results in a hyperlinked document. You can search other maps for specific contents, and extract them to the current map.
- You can sort your map via wide range of conditions and rules - even text colors and schedule!
- MindMapper 2008 makes it easy to add project task, scheduling and resource info to your map topics. It includes summary pane with customizable columns and a Gantt chart view for visualizing your tasks (see picture, above right).
- A new auto-focus feature keeps the current topic in the center of the screen to let you move more efficiently, without constantly having to reposition the map in the workspace.
- You can send the current map to Microsoft OneNote via MindMapper 2008's expanded export capabilities. With more and more knowledge workers using OneNote as a personal knowledge repository, I think this is an important feature!
- MindMapper 2008 offers some nice map navigation functionality. For example, you can select an area of your map with your mouse, which zooms in on that region of your map. But right clicking that map selection gives you access to additional options, such as saving that section of your map as an image file - nice!
MindMapper 2008 is quite possibly one of the most improved mind mapping programs I have seen this year. Its new feature set is really quite impressive. According to my contact at Simtech Systems, this new version should be available in mid-September - which means any day now. Please watch this blog, and I'll let you know when it's officially launched!