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MindJet's MindManager, Part 1

James and I talked with MindJet today about their mind mapping software, MindManager, specifically, the new OS X version. We’ll be talking with them again about more general things — who’s buying MindManager, how are companies using it, what are their future plans — but in the meantime they were kind enough to send me over a copy of MindManager for OS X. The list price is $229…so I’m glad I got a free copy.

So Far, So Good

I’ve tried several mind mapping applications — all the free ones I could find that would run on OS X — and haven’t quite gotten into them yet. I’ve always thought of mind mapping as a sort of info-cult (along with GTD, Edward de Bono, and the old cyberpunk/fringeware crew), but the utility of the tool is alluring.

So far, I’m liking MindManager, but I haven’t really fully road-tested it by using it to take notes during briefings, plan out blog posts, brain-storm speaking topics, or tracking work items. The interface is snappy enough, being a desktop application, that it should be quick enough to take realtime notes. Additionally, of course, there are many keyboard items. I’ll be trying those out over the next few days and write a followup post.

I’ve been having fun using Mind Manager today, which is the key thing for the first day of a product. In fact, I’ve been trying to cook up things to map. Part of this enjoyable first experience comes from MindManager for OS X being a native OS X application: for example, it doesn’t have that wonky, cross-platform UI that you’d find in a Java application. While the feature port isn’t 1:1 to the Windows version, I haven’t used the Windows version so I don’t know what I’m missing. When we spoke with Mindjet this morning they laid out the reason for the partial port: they wanted to get the OS X version out there quickly. I’m certainly a big fan of that, so I’m completely understanding of “missing” features.

Holding Out for Better Exporting

That said, so far the biggest problems are the lack of an XML export (OPML preferably), of some sort an outline view, and the lack of an HTML export. As always, when it comes to me pouring in a lot of content, I want to make sure the application I’m using isn’t a roach motel. So, if I’m going to take notes in MindManager, I want to be able to save out everything into a format that I can salvage my content from should MindManager get too pricey, go out of business, or otherwise become unavailable.

While there are RTF and plain-text exports, they don’t quite capture the structure and richness of the native format. Ideally, I could export very clean, yet very rich XHTML. And even more ideally, it’d be microformatted in some manner that captured the meta-data.

In addition to RTF and plain-text, MindManager exports to PNG, JPEG, TIFF, and PDF.

Mind Map Review

In the meantime, here’s a mind map of my experience and thoughts so far:

Current Review of MindManager 6 for Mac

There’s quite a bit of gratuitous futzing around with icons, styles, and whatnot: I’m sure a sparser application of wing-dings would look nicer, but I wanted to test out as many things as possible.

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Categories: The Analyst Life.