Mindmapping

I was going to write another article of mindmapping resources but meh, too much work. But here’s the short of it:

I’ve demoed a LOT of mindmap programs and some are super simple to the point of being painful and others are super shiny to the point of being ghastly expensive. I’ll put linkages at the bottom of this. Currently, I have a subscription for Novamind (which I will cancel) and I have a paid version of SimpleMind (which I will keep). But what I am falling in love with and wish I could justify the cost of is TheBrain. So very, very shiny.

I’ve cleaned up my Writing Brain and will share the link to it. The software syncs between the desktop, the app, and the web version. You can mark the entire brain as ‘private’ which means no one but you and whoever you choose has access to it. You can mark the entire brain as ‘public’ which means anyone with the URL can access it. And you can mark certain parts of the brain as private and other parts public. Which is what I have done with my Writing Brain.

The biggest drawback to the software, other than the price, is the help options. They only have videos for the latest version. There is a forum you can go to for assistance. And they are super duper fast to answer questions via email. But I’d really like a manual of some sort so I can play with it on my own. Like, there’s some cool shortcuts and “cheats” that you only find out about from others on the forum or if you glean it from a video. (NovaMind’s help is even worse)

I wish SimpleMind (SM) and NovaMind (NM) would merge into one software, though. Like, SM is complicated to use, sorta. And so is NM. But NM has a better set of map styles. NM lets you move a topic and all its “child topics” move with it. But while you can move them around, there is no preset layout to choose from. Sometimes I want it to go from top-down and other times to the side. All of which SM does. See? Merge them.

TheBrain (TB) is limited in layouts. You can choose normal (default), mindmap, or outline. But it makes up for it with a lot of customization of the background, color, and font. The biggest difference between TB and the others is whatever is in focus, whatever topic (they call them ‘thoughts’) is active, it is front and center. Even if you expand it out to a mindmap layout. You can do a lot with it from attach files both internal (the file is saved to the cloud, too, so is accessible from anywhere) or just a local link (only the source where the file is can the file be accessed). You can make tags and type then sort by those. You can link various topics/thoughts together all throughout the brain. For example, I have a huge fantasy project called Castenea Chronicles. The books within the series share a lot of the same research. Normally, I have a single worldbuild file for each project, even within a series. If there are similarities, I copy/paste. Which means if I add one to one, I gotta remember to add it to the other. I have started to have one main worldbuild file if it seems as though it is needed just because I got tired of referencing. But with TheBrain, I can link research from one project to another project and access that material (URLs, files, notes) from either project.

I’m have a ton of fun with this. But I don’t think I can justify the cost for several months. The free version is limited but usable.

So here are the linkages. Let me know if you use mindmapping and what software you use.

NovaMind – subscription based ($6 month); some links inside software are broken after their move to subscription; their website has limited help (as in none); Windows and Mac; no iOS or Android apps
SimpleMind – free, limited version and paid (fee is in Euros – 24.99eu for single); lots of help inside software and online; Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
FreeMind – opensource, free; donations; help in software and in a wiki; Java based; Windows, Mac, Linux
Freeplane – opensource, free, donations; help in software and in a wiki; Java based; Windows, Mac, Linux
XMind and XMind Zen (some company, slightly different UI); fee but free trial (Xmind, $129, Zen, $9.99 to 29.99); good help; great website; Windows, Mac, Linux
TheBrain – fee with free time trial then free with limits ($219, $299, $180); meh help (video based only); Windows, Mac, iOS, Android

Mindmapping – source of information and reviews
Wikipedia – Mind Map

My Writing Brain – https://bra.in/9pWZYv
If parts are empty, it is because either nothing is there yet or I have it locked. You can access almost all of Elements I believe. If you find yourself with a topic/thought with no upward link, you’ve gotten trapped (mwahaha). Just click on one of the “pins” at the top of the screen.

2 thoughts on “Mindmapping

  1. A fellow mindmapper!

    The only software I’ve really connected with is Mindly. Unfortunately, it is only available as an Android App. But the developers say they are just starting to work up a model for PC. Here’s the link: http://www.mindlyapp.com/

    Right now I’m using FreeMind
    http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page#Download_and_install
    It’s free software, which is good for me, since I have almost no disposable income. When it first opens it seems a little cluttered, and is a little more than what a beginning mindmapper would need, but it serves well for me.

    So I use Mindly for short stories and FreeMind for novel-length work.

    I really love mindmapping. It’s as close as I can stand to get to an outline. And it’s easy to change!

    Cheers for now!

  2. Yeah, I don’t outline either but I do a lot of worldbuilding. And I do a lot of thinking. I’m visual to a fault so mind maps allow me to really see my thought process. It gets it out of my head and where I can see it.

    I’ve used FreeMind and kinda like it. But my keyboard doesn’t have a true insert key. I have to hold the Fn button at the same time. Pain in the ass. I need to get a 10 key. So creating a child topic is harder than it should be. I like those that use the TAB for child and Enter for sibling. I’ve not looked to see if the key bindings can be changed.

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