In a recent blog post, Brett Bumeter took Mindjet, the developer or MindManager 7, to task for not keeping pace with users’ changing needs. That, however, is not the focus of this post. Rather, what I’d like to do here is take some of Brett’s key points and issue a challenge to all developers of mind mapping software. I believe that he has identified some real needs here that ought to be addressed by them. Here are some examples:
Web 2.0 awareness: Recent developments in what is popularly called Web 2.0 (social networking, blogging and user generated video) are not yet reflected in today's mind mapping software. Mind mapping software needs to be able to interact with a variety of popular tools, including Digg, Linkedin, blogs and YouTube. Improved RSS support would be a big plus, too. Brett points out that MindManager’s RSS capability doesn't interface with FeedBurner, the largest and most dominant feed management system on the Internet.
Improved Office integration: Integration with Microsoft Office applications is sometimes troublesome; most recently, several bloggers have reported that Microsoft's most recent update to Outlook has broken MindManager's Outlook linker.
Integration with corporate databases: Integration with databases has remained at rudimentary levels. With much of today's corporate data residing in ERP systems, CRM and other high-end databases, it is impossible to connect this data into visual maps today. Imagine if you could query your corporate database from within your favorite mind mapping program, add the resulting data set into your map and then maintain a live connection to it. This would take the idea of mind map "dashboards" to the next level!
Improved collaboration: In the last year or so, a whole new genre of web-based mind mapping tools has emerged, which make it much easier for users to collaborate on visual maps. Other than Mind Technologies adding a client/server version to Visual Mind 9, very little has been done by software developers to enable real-time collaboration on mind maps. According to the surveys I have done, collaboration is of great interest to users of mind mapping software. Clearly this is a need that should be addressed by developers.
More innovation: Innovations in the world of mind mapping software need to move beyond the realm of cosmetic changes, such as adoption of Microsoft's fluent UI (the love-it-or-hate it ribbon toolbar).
Help in managing large maps: Brett also points out that users need a more effective way of managing large, complex maps. Perhaps developers need to consider rendering maps in 3-D, or some other tech make could be developed that would help users to work with complex maps more effectively.
I think there's still plenty of room for innovation in the world of mind mapping software. What do you think?