Are you looking for an effective way to collaborate and organize ideas with other people? If you're still into voice and text chat, you might want to give mind mapping a try. Mind mapping is a cool way to share your ideas in total freedom, without the need to follow a structured approach, but just shooting your best thoughts as they come out of your head. And the good news is that there are many tools online that let you draw your own mindmaps. Today, I scouted the Web to suggest you the best ones.
A MindMap created with MindMeister
Since Robin Good introduced me to mindmaps a few months ago, I don't grab a piece of paper or open a text document anymore to plan what I need to do. I just open my favorite mindmap tool and start scattering ideas around.
What I like best about mindmaps are the ease and freedom with which you can visualize your ideas, and clearly understand the relationships between them. You set a core idea, which could be expressed by a sentence, a word, or an image, and then you start adding other ideas around this core concept. You can then see all your ideas at once and re-arrange them visually creating links between ideas and concepts that may be / appear initially unrelated.
Curious? Do you want to know more about mindmaps and how to organize your ideas more effectively?
In this new Sharewood Guide I have collected the best services out there on the Web to draw a mindmap.
Here below the set of key basic characteristics that I have utilized to compare these selection tools to draw your own mindmaps, so that you can easily find the best fit for your needs:
*Please refer to individual vendors sites for additional pricing solutions.
MindMeister is a free web-based tool to draw mindmpas and share them with your team. Instead of taking advantage of fancy animations, MeindMeister provides a clean working environment: the interface is very simple, and it's easy to add nodes to your core idea. Mindmeister is Ajax-based, so the service doesn't require any third-party player to run inside your browser, resulting to be very light and fast to utilize. Interesting feature is the possibility to export your mindmpas in a number of file formats, including .rtf, .pdf, and .jpg. Free to use up to six mindmaps, MindMeister offers different pricing solutions.
Mindomo is perhaps one of the best free web-based mind mapping applications. Mindomo comes with a very elegant interface which mimics Microsoft Office. Flash-based, the service offers many different export options and formats, alongside a rich choice of layouts to arrange your ideas. Mindomo supports multimedia files and image uploading, as well as organic style maps. The free version is ad-supported but you can switch to one of the available pricing solutions.
MindManager is one of the best mind mapping software on the market. Easy to use and fully-featured, this tool is a must-have for enterprise and personal use of mindmaps. Mindmanager allows you and your team to collaborate on the same mindmap making it easy and fast to have a brainstorming session over the Web. MindManager works on both Pc and Mac platforms, and it is priced at $299 for Pc users and $129 for Mac users. You can try and evaluate the service for 30 days (Pc version) or 21 days (Mac solution).
iMindMap is the "official mindmap software", created under the guidance of Tony Buzan, mindmap evangelist. Available for both Windows and Mac machines, iMindMap lets you draw rich and full-featured mindmaps, adding nodes and arranging them in a very natural way. Collaboration with other users is not allowed. Starting price is set at $99. iMindMap offers a seven-day trial period to test out the service before buying it.
Bubbl.us offers a simple, efficient way to draw a mindmap. Still at an early stage of its development, bubbl.us is a free flash-based online tool that works directly in your browser, so you don't need to install any additional software to your computer. Enhanced with animated effects, unlike other solutions bubbl.us does support collaborative working for sharing a brainstorming session with your team.
FreeMind is an open source, free mind-mapping software written in Java. The service offers a minimalist interface and covers the basics of mindmaps drawing like hyperlinking and retractable branches. Perhaps the most popular solution on the Web, FreeMind takes advantage from being a cross-platform solution that works seamlessly on your machine independently of which operating system it runs. FreeMind does not support collaborative creation of mindmaps.
Topicscape is an information organizer complementing Mindmanager by taking mindmaps to a 3D landscape. The application uses a three-dimensional interface to help you draw 3D mindmaps for better organization and planning procedures. Topicscape requires a bit of practice to use, but is definitely worth taking the effort because of its stunning mind mapping approach. Topiscape offers different pricing solutions starting at $69, and you can test the software with no charge for 30 days.
PersonalBrain is a cross-platform solution to draw mindmaps. PersonalBrain goes beyond the traditional concept of organizing ideas by adding a built-in calendar feature for events you add to your mindmap. Enriched by other features like zoomable image icons, transparencies, and integration with Microsoft Outlook, PersonalBrain is tailored to professionals who wants to get the best out of mind mapping possibilities. Free to use in its light edition, the tool provides different commercial solutions. Collaborative working on mindmaps is not supported.
Mind42 is a free web-based mind mapping application that runs inside your browser. Very user-friendly, the tool lets you share your mindmaps with your teammates or publish your mindmaps on the Web. The interface is very simple and you can add images to your nodes, as well as hyperlinking them. Export to .rtf files is allowed. Mind42 offers also different commercial solutions to access more possibilities to create your projects.
Mapul is a simple, web-based solution that lets you draw your own mindmaps. Based on Microsoft Silverlight technology, Mapul offers many different features like image-adding, and an efficient arrangement of branches, tailored to a better mindmap handling. Unlike other similar tools, Mapul has support for Russian and Arabic languages. The service is offered at $7 / month, and offers the possibility for a free trial before buying it.
Kidspiration is a mind mapping software tailored for Educators and students. Tailored for K-5 learners, Kidspiration enhances thinking, literacy and numeracy skills using visual learning principles. In reading and writing, Kidspiration strengthens word recognition, vocabulary, comprehension and written expression. Not suitable for real-time collaboration with other users, Kidspiration is available for Windows and Mac platforms,with a starting price of $69. You can try the software for 30 days before buying it.
Gliffy is a free web-based solution to draw diagrams and flowcharts. It is not specifically designed to create mindmaps but the style of arranging ideas and organizing branches is just the same. Gliffy does not allow real-time collaboration, but the service keeps tracks of all the changing made by collaborators, just like a wiki. The free version has limited features, but iyou can upgrade to the Premium account for a monthly fee of $5 which is intended to last at least three months.
Originally prepared by Stefanos Karagos and Daniele Bazzano for MasterNewMedia and first published on December 17th 2008 as "Mind Mapping: Best Tools To Draw Your Own MindMaps - Sharewood Guide".