Mindmeister, map your thoughts

February 24th, 2007 at 12:00 am

Mind mapping has become a very rigid process. My ideas of brainstorming were always on a couch with a beer and pizza around a coffee. When I saw the sites like Gliffy and Bubbl.us, I realized that a lot of people do take it far more seriously than I have.

According to Wikipedia, a Mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea. It is used to generate, visualize, structure and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, and decision making.

With its apparent popularity, mind maps have become their own niche in cyberspace, somewhere in between organization and collaboration. Mindmeister is obviously in this niche and compared to Gliffy, its user interface (UI) is much better. First off, the UI is built in Ajax. This allows the right click to function and basically, the graphics just look crisp. Secondly, the UI of Mindmeister is clean and straightforward. There is one toolbar with only the necessary functions like Add and Delete nodes as well as, Copy, Paste, Cut, Undo and Redo. The only problem I see with the UI is the enclosure of the nodes, personally I prefer bubbles instead of underlined text only. Anyway, the UI of Mindmeister is clear and clean cut making it look less cluttered.

Sharing mind maps is easy too. Mind maps from Mindmeister can be exported as a document outline or an image file. This of course can be used to be shared offline. Moreover, sharing mind maps online can be done through email. The author sends invites to collaborators who will receive a URL leading them to the mind map on the site. This is possible since all mind maps are stored in Mindmeister's servers.

That being mentioned, collaborators can also interact in real time online whenever they are at least both online. The mind map becomes a whiteboard where revisions can be made. Changes are shown in real time hence making the interaction a lot more comfortable and faster.

In conclusion, Mindmeister is a great application. Being web based, all collaborators need is a browser to utilize all the features of Mindmeister. Although Mindmeister starts free, their paid service allows users more options like the privilege of working on more than one mind map at a time and being able to have more than 5 mind maps. Personally, I don't think my minds works the way Mindmeister was deisgned to note my thoughts down so I guess its stickiness will be the users' preferenes.