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Mind Mapping - FreeMind

Barry Gaunt
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Joined: Aug 03, 2002
Posts: 7729
Does anybody have any experience with mind-mapping, in particular with FrreMind? It looks cool, but I must admit I have never used it nor have any experience with mind-mapping techniques.

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Bert Bates

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8801
Well I'm a huge fan of mind mapping. It's kind of like error-free outlining for both sides of your brain. not just the left side. It's how I do most of my outlining-like tasks. I'm not sure what software would do, I guess it could help, but pencil and paper work great too!
[ January 28, 2004: Message edited by: Bert Bates ]

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Frank Carver

Joined: Jan 07, 1999
Posts: 6920
I, too, have used mind mapping on occasion, and I have just downloaded and quickly tried this software.
I must say I find the user-interface quite baffling. It doesn't work at all like a pencil and paper, or even like a typical drawing program. Obvious operations like click-dragging to draw a line or an object have no effect; there is no "toolbox" of objects to pick and place on the page. It all seems to rely on a complex right-click menu.
As for the long list of strange icons down the left hand side - clicking one seems to add it to the current object, but I can discern no obvious meaning or effect to them, or indeed any way of removing one once applied.
In short, it doesn't seem (at the moment, at least) to work the way my mind does, and I'm worried that struggling with an impenetrable UI may be the complete antithesis of the creative freedom offered by a "manual" mind map.
Anyone else tried it?

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Kathy Sierra
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Joined: Oct 10, 2002
Posts: 1572
I haven't tried it. I've worked a little with "Inspiration", but I use it more for turning my previously hand-drawn mind maps into something I can present to people, like a handout. I used to give out mind maps instead of a course outline/overview at the beginning of some of my courses.
Anyway, since the key of Mind Mapping is to do it *quickly* before your logical left-brain can kick in and wreck things, any software that gets in the way would hurt the process (unless you learned it so well that it became natural and fast).
For me, paper and pen are the only way to go, or a whiteboard that you can then take a picture of.
Mind mapping rocks
Pauline McNamara

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 4012
Hey Barry. I'm not a mind mapper myself (my mind remains uncharted territory ) but just a little while ago some colleagues collected a few links to mind mapping tools. Aside from FreeMind and Inspiration, here's a couple more names:

CMap Tools, a free web-based tool
Concept Draw Mindmap
and Concept Draw
and a link to
(apparently being used at the ETH and Uni Genf; on older versions, 5.x und 6.x, the quality of gif and jpeg images supposedly isn't so great).

I'd be interested to hear your impressions.
[ January 29, 2004: Message edited by: Pauline McNamara ]
Barry Gaunt
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 03, 2002
Posts: 7729
Thanks for the replies everybody.
I'm getting the hang of using FreeMind but as Frank said it is hardly intuitive. However, I am getting a simple diagram drawn. I reckon now that it's useful for getting existing MindMaps (those on scraps of paper or a whiteboard) into a presentable form. Or for those slower thinking types like me.
Frank: The icons on the LHS are only decorators and they can be removed. And there is a sample diagram under Help/Documentation which describes (when the nodes are expanded) how to do things.
For something costing $0 I can't grumble - the source is available too.
Pauline McNamara

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 4012
As someone who got hierarchical outlining pounded in at an early age, mind maps kind of scare me. When I'm planning something for myself, "old-fashioned" outlines pretty much work fine so far.
There is that problem, though, of taking notes from a meeting or a talk that doesn't have a discernible structure (like most of the time!) - my outlining brain can only come up with a list of unrelated points, all at the same level. The only structure is chronological: first they said this then they said that then they jumped to thingy x, and so on. A list of points and that's it.
But then when I think I'd fill in a page with notes and connect them where connections seem to happen, well that's the scary part. There's no starting and no ending point. There's no sub-points and sub-sub-points and no categories A, B and C.
Or is there?
Now I'm tempted to try it out in a rambling meeting where a strict outline is hopeless anyway.
How do you guys use mind maps (i.e. for what situations)? Barry, are you starting mind mapping? What prompted you to? Does it do the trick?
Pauline McNamara

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 4012
I'm resurrecting this old thread to see if anyone has used Vue. Apparently it's a kind of mind map with links to content...

Balaji Loganathan
author and deputy

Joined: Jul 13, 2001
Posts: 3150
Originally posted by Pauline McNamara:
How do you guys use mind maps (i.e. for what situations)? Barry, are you starting mind mapping? What prompted you to? Does it do the trick?

I am also interested in knowing that.
[ June 01, 2005: Message edited by: Balaji Loganathan ]

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ankur rathi
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 11, 2004
Posts: 3830
What is mind mapping?

Pauline McNamara

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 4012
Bumping up an old thread, I know, but this just in from the Web Too Point Oh! desk...

nicely simple online mind mapping: http://www.bubbl.us/

and while we're at it: mind mapping
Ilja Preuss

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
I learned about Mind Mapping at the XP2006 conference, and since then I'm using it extensively: for a personal wrap-up of the conference, when facilitating meetings, for preparation of my annual personnel talk etc. pp.

I've never used mind mapping software, though. I can see how software might help to organize existing thoughts, but that's not what I see mind maps being for - they are especially good at generating new thoughts and insights, and for that I prefer the freedom pen and paper (or a whiteboard) give me.

The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny - it is the light that guides your way. - Heraclitus
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subject: Mind Mapping - FreeMind
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