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May 08, 2008


Garry Robbins

I used PersonalBrain and it's enterprise big brother BrainEKP for over 5 years. PB was my first exposure to the mind-mapping concept, and it didn't take me long to develop some pretty sophisticated "brains".
In PB, each thought can have multiple parent, child and peer links. This allows one to link (cross-file) concepts very easily.
Most mind-mapping tools I've seen are two-dimensional with pretty graphics. TheBrain's visual interface is the closest you can get to multi-dimensional navigation without 3-D goggles.
I've looked at other mm tools and still benchmark them against TheBrain products. Thought types, link rules, concept catehorization ... there's a lot more than just pretty pictures inside.


I have used MindManager extensively for the past couple of years, and it's been extremely helpful. However, I recently tried out PersonalBrain and I have to agree with Shelly Hayduk. My biggest struggle with MindManager is that each topic can only be a child of one other topic (relationship are visually cumbersome at best). If the PersonBrain gets more polished (the user interface feels pretty cludgy right now) then I would be hard pressed not to switch over. The ability to navigate nodes and see the relationships to other concepts is extremely powerful.


I probably have less experience with mindmaping than the others here (eventhough I do have some!).

I did try the PB, but I haven't been able to really grasp how to make it work! And the interface is really not easy to get accustomed to ...

But never say never again ... I think I will have to have another look at it!


I totally agree, I find the radial tree structure of mind mapping very limiting.
It works ok for representing a restricted set of knowledge, but if you need to dissect a large problem it fails as you cannot "rotate" the problem around (you are always in the pathway of a set hierarchy). That means that your limited in your problem solving or analytical approach by the way you structure your tree.


Absolutelly agree. I'm still trying to use traditional mindmaping, becouse I find it just a nicer outliner, and for my taste very unidimensional, some softwares like resultsmanager for mindmanager leave to reorganice info in other ways. To represent complex relationships, something that cmaps can do in a limited way is the way of living in personalbrain. Is the way to go. Still needs some tweakings in the organization and diferentiation of the "thoughts", and interconection with other softwares. Still is the best!. Is not even in the category of mindmaping. IS really mindmaping.

Ron C. de Weijze

Hierarchies are the oldest way to organize databases. Relational databases followed them in the 80s. Instead of linking record files by their unique keys in a tree-like manner, they could now be linked in a fishnet kind of way. Mindmaps seems to follow this rout. Most of them are hierarchical or limitedly relational. However, I believe we should take the next step and link any record to any other record in whichever table. Then the notes in the mindmaps can truly be object-oriented and the mindmaps be multiple perspectives. The re-use of the objects in different mindmaps can potentially synthesize them and solve the problems described and argued in them for then the black holes and white sparks automatically show up.

TJ McCue

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I agree wholeheartedly with Shelley. That's why Personal Brain is the only mindmapper, apart from Compendium, that I will use. It many depend on one's purposes in using a mindmap; I'm a librarian, and I have lots of stuff that is linked to multiple parents and siblings. This is crucial to my use of a mindmapping tool.

Lee Gilbert

If this is the beginning of a trend in MM software, it's good news!

I imagine "picking up" a semantic network by the node I'm interested in, "shaking it out" so the links cascade down, studying it, then selecting a new node and repeating the above process.

As the node I'm most interested in depends on what I'm doing at the moment, this would aid my research, which at the moment focuses on the evolution of business models in high-tech startups.

Rod King

One of the advantages of mind mapping is that its technique is relatively simple to learn and use. The hierarchical structure of a mind map is intuitive and visual. TheBrain software is certainly more sophisticated and versatile. I like its concept of a network of objects. However, theBrain's learning curve is steeper.

For an approach that combines the simplicity of mind mapping software with the power of total information management (which is reflected in theBrain), explore the Galaxy It software at
http://search.galaxyit.com .
The Galaxy It software has a unique visual interface called the fractal grid that allows the software to function like a visual search engine, visual notemaking software, visual social networking application, and visual collaboration software. The current focus is on visual Internet search. Galaxy It takes a unique approach to visual information management and is certainly worth checking out.


John Burik

I like Shelly's comments AND the software Personal Brain. In fact, PB works pretty much the way I do--which may NOT be the most efficient way to do so. Sometimes my mind races to many, many connections which make sense, BUT when I'm constructing an academic paper I need to FOCUS and ignore many tangential items.

I recently returned to OmniOutliner because I need to put all my many, many ideas into hierarchical order. So . . . I'm using tools such as PB for idea generation, lots and lots of them, but go back to the more traditional outliner to achieve a final product.

I recommend folks reading Tony Buzan's work on mindmapping, THE original source as far as I'm concerned. I think you'll find most of the nominal "mindmapping" software isn't, and why I've avoided spending any money on any of them.

Try the free version of PB for idea generation and use a traditional outline to put together final projects.

John A. Taylor

I'm in Shelley's corner.

As an avid user of both Mindjet MindManager and PersonalBrain. I believe that both have their place.

However, I think that in order to effectively deal with the glut of information we receive daily, we need to organize beyond simple hierarchical systems, and work in conjunction with our brains.

Traditional mind mapping still has a tendency to be bound by hierarchical categories.

I use PersonalBrain as my main interface, storage system, information management tool, creativity laboratory, presentation system, etc. Everything else links to it and through it including MindManager, Outlook, Word, Excel, etc.

I currently have nearly 14,000 thoughts in my Brain, and am able to see connections beyond the normal hierarchical view.

When I want to present information to others, I generally turn to MindManager. It's a little more static, doesn't overwhelm them, yet enables them to see ideas in a new way.

Tony Garland

I agree with John Taylor, both MindManager and PB have their place. I use PB to collect amd link information. I'm just starting with this and gradually building. I think its a great progeam for this. I foresee that it will almost replace Windows Explorer.
However, for outlining papers and getting things down in to a format I can visualize I use Mind Manager still and think I will continue to do so (I'm experimenting with iMindMaps also). For this type of work I prefer to be able to see the bigger picture while I'm working and to be able to format the topics in the way I want to see them.
My project list is also developed in Mind Manager and linked to Explorer folders to hold the project data. I have found that setting up a virtual folder in PB from a server froze the progam as it re-links every time you bring the virtual folder up - I may not have this quite right but it was such a problem I gave up trying.
That's the only concern I have though - both great programs.


Like another commenter, I use Compendium-free (but am far from learning how to best exploit it) and have tried Personal Brain (which for me would be what I'd prefer to use most often, but I think it's expensive for just personal use). Why isn't there much about Compendium on this site or elsewhere? Also, where can a newbie to MM software, but not at all to software or complex organization, find simply, straight-forward training on such software? Also, are there any "best" MM software comparisons,not just comparison lists anywhere?

Guido Gaudlitz

I've been trying nearly all mind mapping software, so as Personal Brain and Mind Manager. Actually I use a combination of imindmap and MindManager.

Most mindmappers think that a Mind Map is a visual attractive outline. It is not ( only ) that but even more. A Mind Map itself has not to be hierarchical. The opposition made by Shelly Haiduk is misleading as Mind Maps can be hierarchical ( which may be useful sometimes ) but are above all a reflect of our natural thinking process.

The big big big disadvantage of Personal Brain is that the thoughts are not fixed in space, they are floating which leads to negative mnemonic results. Furthermore, we should never forget that Mind Map should enhance our own personal thinking and are only the starting point for the thinking process in our heads. Excessive visual / hyper - linking is exciting and appealing for the first weeks but leads very often to chaotic thinking and a lack of consistency in the thinking process.

Every word can be the center of a Mind Map because we associate to every word we know a ( ore more )given information chunk (s). The actual Mind Map we create in front of us is a very small window to this association process but there are good reasons that this small window should have one parent per child. Two parents per child lead to a new Mind Map with the child in the middle and the parents around it.

Burton Everist

Cayra allows for rotating branches so that they become the center of a map It even allows branches to float free and become their own centers. In some ways it is so rich that it is intimidating, but well worth exploring in depth.

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