In September, I told you about Bookvar, a new mind mapping software program being developed by a team of Bulgarian students. Earlier this week, they unveiled the first public release of Bookvar. By their own admission, this is an alpha release, with some bugs and areas of instability, but they are now working on a more stable, feature-rich version. You can download the program for free from the Bookvar website. It requires Microsoft's .NET Framework 3.5 and Silverlight (Microsoft's competitor to Flash).
I downloaded and installed Bookvar, and found it to be very easy to use. The interface is colorful yet uncluttered. The program utilizes a toolbar based on the Microsoft Office Fluent UI, which appears to be well organized. A semi-transparent slider tool is located in the lower right corner of the workspace, which you can use to resize your map.
You can easily add images, notes, links and multimedia files to your map topics. You can search for images from within Bookvar; a slider is used to adjust the size of the images in the results window, which causes some cool animation to take place as individual images move out of the way of each other and rearrange themselves into neat rows. You can then drag and drop the image you want into your map. This caused an error message to appear when I tried it, but I'm sure the developers will solve this as Bookvar moves closer to a 1.0 release.
Bookvar is designed to be extensible; the developers have already announced a number of add-ins to enhance its functionality, including undo/redo capabilities, "skins" to change the appearance of the workspace and maps, a brainstorming mode and more. Click here to learn more about Bookvar's add-ins.
The Bookvar development team is hungry for feedback to improve the program. So why not download it and give it a try? I think you'll be impressed! Just remember: Bookvar isn't even at a beta test stage yet - it's still very much a work in progress, and should only get better as the team gets feedback from actual users like you!