I do much of my mind-mapping using paper and pen but there’s no question that mind mapping software can be extremely useful, especially if you want to incorporate your mind maps into Power Point or Keynote presentations or include them in books, handouts, etc. Here is a quick overview of some of the best mind mapping software available:
FreeMind – PC, Mac, Linux. Somewhat barebones, but it’s free. Good if you need a minimum of hand-holding. See www.freemind.sourceforge.net
Sort of free
TheBrain –PC, Mac, Linux. TheBrain technology can be utilized on corporate intranets, desktops, and the Internet. Some applications include: customer care, project management, dynamic mind mapping, IT management and helpdesks, impact assessment, competitive intelligence, marketing and sales support, and personal information management. TheBrain has two primary products: PersonalBrain for individual users and BrainEKP, an enterprise knowledge platform for group collaboration. The interface is unusual in that it’s a dynamic “floating” image and when you click on any of the links you have created, that one moves to the center and you see the relationship of it to all the other elements. You can try the latest version for 30 days; after that you can pay ($259) to keep this version or revert to a free version with fewer features. See www.thebrain.com.
Novamind – PC, Mac – This is one of the best-established mind-mapping programmes and it comes in several editions: NovaMind Express for schools, primary school pupils and beginning Mind Mappers; NovaMind Pro for advanced Mind Mappers, senior school and university students, coaches and general business use; NovaMind Platinum for power Mind Mappers who want to make compelling presentations and also for screenwriters, project planners and business people. They offer a 30-day free trial. After that, The NovaMind Pro costs $149 or £99.18, and the Platinum version is $249 or £165.75 (the UK prices will fluctuate depending on the exchange rate at the time you order).
Inspiration – PC, Mac, Palm. This is the first mind mapping software I used and I still like it even though it doesn’t have as many fancy features as some others. Its integrated Diagram and Outline Views work together to help you organize concepts and information from your desktop or laptop. Using highly effective graphic organizers, Inspiration gives you a mental model to assist with analysis, comparison, classification and evaluation of information. They also have a version for kids. There’s a free 30 day trial, then the basic version costs $69 in download format. The US site is www.inspiration.com and they have a list of dealers in other countries—at the UK dealer the price is £59.
iMindmap – PC, Mac, Linux. This software comes from the mind-mapping guru himself, Tony Buzan, and it supports the guidelines he advocates, like putting no more than one word or very short phrase on each branch, using colors and images. There are four versions: elements, professional, ultimate, and ultimate plus, and most of the features a personal user would want are in the two lower-price levels. This includes editable text mode, the ability to attach data, and a sketch tool, as well as exporting your maps in PDF. You can download a free trial version. One license for the basic (elements) version is £49, one for the pro is £99.
Smartdraw – Windows only. The USP of this software is its large selection of templates, including flowcharts, organisation charts, project charts, timelines, floor plans, landscape plans, maps, presentations—70 different kinds of visuals. Using these can save you a lot of time and would be very handy if you are preparing visuals for presentations. The interface looks very easy to use. You can try it with a trial download. The price of the personal version is $197 at the US site, £149 on a UK distributor site.
Omnigraffle – Mac only (OSX 10.5). It features attractive charts and diagrams. MacWorld said this about the Pro edition: While OmniGraffle Professional 4.0 is probably overkill for simple diagrams, this fantastic program is a revelation for anyone who needs to explain processes and concepts visually. A newer edition has just been released. There is a free trial, then the standard edition costs $99.95, the professional costs $199.95.
There are many
more that you can check out, by Googling them, including:
The bottom line