Monday, February 02, 2009

Thoughts to paper or to computer?

All of us have created a new, blank document or doodled on a pad staring at the vast empty space wondering what to do next. Well there are a number of tools out there to help handle that situation or brainstroming meetings etc, it is call "Mind Mapping". Mind mapping uses a process that gets the ideas out quickly, without needless organizational burdens.

In my ongoing quest of finding new tools, I have come across a couple in this category that are interesting. A commercial program that I have used previously is the MindJet MindManager product. It costs money (but does have a free trial), but it is out of consideration. Two others that are fairly prominent in the open source world are FreeMind and XMind.(note that XMind is a relative new comer to the open source world)

I have installed both and am trying them out. So far they are both AWESOME. I will update this post with which one is my favorite and why in a few days. In the mean time check out an example or two or three.

Update: 3 Feb - Uploaded a basic XMind map to Xmind seems to work real well. Unfortunately, the ability to share mind maps between FreeMind and XMind is very limited. Heres to hoping for an open standard.

Update: 6 Feb - After using both for a few days, there are some great advantages to both. I really like the XMind layout options and floating nodes. I really like the copy and paste of text into FreeMind and its speed. I dislike the fact that interoperability between the two is so limited...please come up with a open standard format for mind maps. FreeMind has never crashed on me. XMind locked up one and blanked out my diagram (I had to close and reopen to get the graphics to redisplay.).
All in all if I was to tally points for features, etc, I think they would be in a dead tie. I will keep both installed for now. I find myself using XMind a little more because I can change the layout and look a little easier. Try them both you will win either way! :)

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