Mind maps are useful for visualizing ideas and problem solving. Professionally, I have occasionally had to produce mind maps for clients and stakeholders while working as a desktop publisher and later as a production specialist at a consulting firm. I wouldn’t say that I find the task fun, exactly, but it is a nice break from the usual drudgery of PowerPoint presentations and meeting agendas. MatchWare‘s third installment of MindView makes the process of producing mind maps much less painful, with a significant redesign and some great new features.
First, let me clarify that I’m looking at the Windows version for the purposes of this post. For more info on the Mac version, check out this post over at TheAppleBlog by Matthew Bookspan.
The first thing I noticed about MindView 3 is the redesigned user interface. Like a lot of software that’s designed to be used alongside Microsoft Office, the new look resembles Office 2007′s UI, right down to the ribbon-style menu, the location of common commands, and the use of the “Start” button to access advanced options. People who don’t like Office 2007, or those still using older versions, might not be comfortable with the new interface, but in my opinion, it’s a great improvement.
Another improvement comes by way of the great collection of built-in templates, which can take a lot of the grunt work out of setting up a mind map. I used a basic web site template for the purposes of this review, since I actually have to set one up anyway for a friend’s new small press publishing venture.
Using MindView is incredibly easy. You can add notes in the bottom frame for any item, and you can switch views in the main pane from Mind Map to Top Down, or select from a number of other choices. Each branch you add to the root can be customized with a picture of your choosing, and you can add a built-in or custom icon to any item in your map. All of these options can be found in the ribbon, pretty much exactly where you’d expect to find it if you’re familiar with Office 2007.
You can also quickly reformat your entire map with pre-set styles, in much the same way that you can in Word and PowerPoint 2007. Files and hyperlinks can be attached to any and all items, and you can even package attachments with your mind map so that they’ll be available to others you may want to share your file with. And if they don’t have MindView, you can export to a variety of formats, including PowerPoint, Word, and HTML.
Any web worker would probably benefit from getting to know mind maps and how to use them, and MindView 3 is a great tool for doing this. It’s easy to learn, especially if you’re already comfortable with using Microsoft Office 2007, and its templates provide great starting points for novice users, while its customizability ensures that experienced mappers won’t feel limited.
However, while it does offer a 20-day free trial to download, the cost of the full version is a fairly hefty $279 for a single user license, so I’d only recommend a purchase if you’re a heavy user of mind maps or if you know you will be able to use this tool for revenue generation.
What tools do you use for mind mapping?