For the past several weeks, a select group of MindManager users (including yours truly) got to participate in the first phase of a private beta program for Mindjet Connect, a new online collaboration tool that will allow MindManager 7.2 users to create secure workspaces and share their maps and attached files with others. Mindjet just announced that the non-disclosure period for Mindjet Connect has just been lifted, so I can finally tell you about this exciting new tool.
You start by downloading a MindManager 7.2 update, which installs a Mindjet Connect sign-in button at the bottom of the program's workspace. You can use this button to login and create a new workspace, invite others and set several levels of access control for them. When you're connected to the Mindjet Connect server, a new Mindjet Connect tabbed window appears; you can easily toggle between the Mindjet Connect window for workspaces and MindManager for mapping.
The Mindjet Connect window contains a ribbon toolbar similar to MindManager 7, which provides a convenient set of tools for creating new workspaces, adding users, and managing documents and maps. Users can be invited to participate in a shared workspace via e-mail. You can designate users as owners, who have full rights for access management and adding and editing content; authors, who can only add and edit content; and readers, who can only view content. The toolbar also offers two online meeting tools: an instant meeting that is similar to a WebEx or GoToMeeting session, and online chat.
You can easily create new documents using the Mindjet Connect window, or import them from your PC. MindManager maps, Microsoft Office documents and other files that have been created or uploaded to a workspace are displayed in a clean, easy to understand tabular format.
MindManager maps created using Mindjet Connect or imported to a workspace are shared maps; that is, multiple members can edit the same map at the same time - in other words, real-time collaboration - cool! When you're "co-mapping" a map, Mindjet Connect gives you a visual indication of the other members who are viewing or editing the map.
The chat function of Mindjet Connect functions very similar to other instant messaging applications, appearing in a separate window. The Instant Meeting application enables you to share your screen with other members of your workspace. Within this collaboration tool, you can communicate with each other via text chat, voice or video transmission. It also provides whiteboarding tools, which you can use to mark up the map that is shared on the screen.
The bottom line is that this new collaboration tool significantly extends MindManager's capabilities into some exciting new areas. The Mindjet Connect workspace appears to be robust, well designed and fairly easy to use.
Users of mind mapping software have been asking for years for more tools that will enable them to share their maps with others and collaborate more easily. In the last year or so, developers of web-based mind mapping tools have answered this call, but we haven't seen much movement from the major developers of desktop mind mapping software. It's great to see that Mindjet has decided to move aggressively into the world of online collaboration!
Mindjet hasn't announced a release date or pricing for Mindjet Connect; the next step is for the developer to expand its beta program to additional MindManager users. It will be interesting watching this new tool evolve into its final form!