Review: ConceptDraw MINDMAP 4

Make sense out of that jumble of gray matter ideas (November 18th, 2005)

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Product Manufacturer: CS Odessa

Price: MSRP $199 US

The Good

  • Relatively easy to learn. You do need to do the quick start and read the manual The documents you make are easy to understand Lots of symbols and icons included. Helps to make you more organized.

The Bad

  • This is a specialty program with a limited spectrum of use. Full of bells and whistles you may never need

Mind mapping is a business process in which people organize their thoughts. Much as a tree is one object with many branches growing off the main trunk, a mind map also has a main object and many sub topics. The mind map helps to organize your ideas, procedures, and notes, so that a cohesive whole process is drawn out.

Ideas on the Run

For example, let's say you are eating dinner and come up with a great idea. Out comes a napkin and you start drawing. You put your main idea in the center like a trunk of a tree. Next you add branches. If a new product is the main focus, you need to add a branch for advertising, suppliers, materials, research, finance, and expenses. On the advertising branch you would add branches for magazines, TV, radio, tradeshows, the Internet and word of mouth. You might put a star in front of the magazines because they are a great source of product recognition. You list a few major magazines that are appropriate for your product. You put a dollar sign in front of TV because advertising is expensive. Along the Internet branch, you list a number of web sites.

The following day, you take your napkin to the office and show it to your coworkers. They add additional ideas, which become new branches. Someone adds a cash register next to the Internet branch indicating that it could be a moneymaker. The next thing you know, there are five people in your office expanding on your idea. You now have arrows and circled words and a jumble of branches on the back side of your napkin too. If you try to pitch your idea to the big boss, there is no way he will cipher through all the squiggles on your napkin. This type of idea creation doesn't lend itself well to outlines or PowerPoint presentations either. So, how do you organize it all?

Charting Your Ideas

Mind mapping is the solution. With ConceptDraw MINDMAP, you can open a new document, type in your main topic and create branches. You can add branches to the branches and put icons and artwork on the branches to remind you of their importance or relationship to each other. You attach a text documents to branches to list resources such as phone numbers or names. Hyperlinks can be added to web sites that may have additional information or even make hyperlinks to different pages of your map. You can even create colored text and circles or put text into a balloon and attach it to a branch. If you need to move your branch or several branches, all the attachments follow along.

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When you open a new document, you can choose a library of images most useful for the type of map you want. Your own images can be added to the libraries, or you can create a new set based on your topic. Initial topics are added into a simple topic list dialog with an add or delete topic button. Next you choose the basic graphic representation for your ideas. The basic diagram looks like an octopus, in which you choose what the arms look like.

MINDMAP looks a little overwhelming when your document first opens due to the myriad of options, but never fear, each icon includes popup text to explain its function. You can sort branches by priority, name or number, view an outline instead of the graphic, float topics, and do a variety of formatting by menu or button.

This software is also helpful to create web sites with fifty or more pages. You use the index page as your starting point and add branches for each page on the site. The branches can include text and graphic notes and hyperlink notations from branch to branch. If later you need to add pages, it is easy to do. If you delete a page, you quickly see if any other pages or links are effected.

Computer network managers can use ConceptDraw MINDMAP to map out where the wires go to from your server and how machines are connected throughout the office. You could do electrical circuits and phone lines the same way. It makes it so easy for people to see the connections.

The convenience of viewing maps doesn't require multiple copies of the program either. ConceptDraw Viewer, available for free on the web site, allows others to view and print your mind maps.

What else can MINDMAP do?
  1. You can create a map in both branches and outline formats.
  2. You can use an original document as a master and create a template.
  3. Import or export your map to a Power Point presentation. ConceptDraw Presenter can also be used to create attractive presentations.
  4. Export to PDF format. (Professional version)
  5. Export to MS Project and ConceptDraw Projects as well as many Mac and Windows graphic formats.
  6. Make or modify MINDMAP libraries. (Professional version)
  7. Use color to outline and fill graphics to make your idea pop out
  8. Select fonts, color and styles.
  9. Use the timer to limit discussion time for each item in a barnstorming session.
  10. Add a start and due date for tasks.
  11. Add notes to branch items. Click on the note icon and your text note appears. This is great for lists, instructions, contact information, reminders, and URLs.
  12. Sort your branches by priorities or alphabetically.
  13. Create multiple pages with hyperlink connections. Export your map to html for viewing in a web browser or placement on a web page.
  14. Use the drawing tools for charts and diagrams.


Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Rick Curran


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