ConceptDraw MindMap 7 - An Organizer for the Brain

Need a new way to organize thoughts and manage data streams? Enter MindMap 7 from ConceptDraw, one of the leading software vendors in the mind mapping space. By James E. Gaskin

While it may be a clichéd first world problem, “Information Overload” drives executives to hire consultants and coaches to help them handle the data deluge. What these executives really need is a new way to organize their thoughts and manage their data streams. Enter MindMap 7 from ConceptDraw, one of the leading software vendors in the mind mapping space.

As ConceptDraw says, the software “allows the user to create complex visual interpretations of ideas or plans quickly and easily.” When an outline in a document or a column in a spreadsheet doesn’t spur creative thinking, rearranging the information around a central idea, with branches for subtopics, can spark insights. Afterwards, MindMap also provides a wealth of presentation options to help convince others (such as customers or prospective clients) that your plan has value.

Setup

We downloaded MindMap from ConceptDraw’s website, where a 21 day trial version is available, along with their other programs Pro 9 (diagramming and presentations) and Project 6 (project management). They can be purchased as a bundled ConcepDraw Office suite for a discount.

Installation includes no surprises, and the MindMap icon appeared on our Windows 8 tile page as expected. There was a batch of updates to grab, a little surprising since this trial wasn’t boxed software.

Using MindMap 7

The opening screen of MindMap 7 is, cleverly, a mind map. If a mind map opening is too literal, you can disable this opening (see cursor at the checkbox).

Since one of the most common uses for mind mapping software is brainstorming, either individually or with a group, we started there. MindMap includes a special brainstorm screen that simplifies the process. In the screen capture, we’re outlining the topics to cover in this review.

Once the title of the MindMap project is given (here called the Theme of Brainstorm), that becomes the unifying topic for brainstorming. Our theme is “ConceptDraw MindMap review” which isn’t genius, but is our theme.

Each idea is typed into a field just under the title (where the cursor is pointing). Once the idea is complete, you press enter, and it becomes one of many ideas listed onscreen. The ideas appear in the order typed, with no emphasis on any idea. That’s the next step.

When time to organize your ideas, you drag and drop ideas onto the main theme bubble and each other. Connect the most important ideas to the main theme bubble first, then connect lesser ideas where they best fit. In no time, you’ll have a typical mind map underway.

On the side of idea bubbles is a circle with either a plus or minus inside used to expand or contract the ideas connected to the bubble. In the screen capture above, all have been expanded. Notice the cursor pointing to the small circle on the main theme bubble. It tells us if we click the circle, it will contract all the ideas connected to it. Doing so makes it easier to focus on one large idea without growing the map so large it becomes unwieldy. If it does get out of hand, you can navigate up around your map, or create additional pages, which works great for presentations. It’s a snap to copy and paste idea bubbles to their own page to make it easier to expand the details.

Worried about interminable brainstorm meetings? MindMap has a brainstorm timer you can set to avoid the planning meeting death-march syndrome.

Want photos and clipart, and more, on your map to make it more engaging? After all, visual thinkers work better with more images. Simply right-click on an idea and insert photos or clipart in your map. You can see a photo on the lower right, and clipart from a decent-sized set of included items on the lower left.

Like a different look? MindMap 7 calls itself “Mind Mapping 2.0” with a focus on presentation to help spread your ideas. Changing the visual theme is a one-click option. Here in this screen capture we see the exact same information transformed into a new theme. Looking at data new ways is the goal of mind mapping, and one click makes it happen.

You can also, for the traditionalists, view your information in an outline, either full-screen or half. Changes made to the outline appear in the map and vice versa.

When ready to make a Death by PowerPoint presentation with a mind mapping twist, one click on the Presentation tab brings up multiple options for exporting your map for presentation. You can create a PPT slideshow or a series of pictures, or use MindMap 7 as the presentation software.

In the Output section, you can export your themes and ideas using different management and planning tools, including SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) Analysis format. Word Exchange spits out your map as a Microsoft Word-friendly outline in various colors and fonts. Project management users will find a wealth of PM output options here as well as a variety of input options from popular PM formats and applications.

Conclusion

So much work is done in online apps these days we forget the snappy performance and depth of product boxed software running on your personal computer privides. And ConceptDraw has some interesting and surprising treats inside MindMap 7 for those both new and familiar with mind mapping.

Pricing: $199 direct, available through multiple online sources besides ConceptDraw. Volume and academic discounts are available. Resellers should contact Lifeboat Distribution (http://www.lifeboatdistribution.com/

More reviews from the ConceptDraw Suite! See ConceptDraw Pro 9 Review | ConceptDraw Project 6 Review

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