Guest Writer Grigor Ćorić of Behind the Glasses
If you are looking for mind mapping software it is a chance that you’ve already stumbled upon FreeMind, GPL-licensed software, a collaborate project on SourceForge. I did it more than 6 months ago.
FreeMind is written in Java and therefore is cross-platform. Once installed, it runs smoothly and without any hiccups. Although the low version number (0.8) would suggest that this is an incomplete product, it is not. It has everything someone would expect from a serious mind mapping application.
FreeMind is best used in applications where you draw maps quickly and for limited purposes, such as brainstorming, keeping meeting notes or jotting ideas for an article. Not that it is completely impossible to add more attractive visual elements, but the visual elements are limited to basics, such as inserted pictures.
This is a screenshot of a mind map that I drew to organize ideas for a post on my blog:
As you can see in the picture, you can
- use different styling elements (typeface, font size and color),
- group nodes into so called clouds, to emphasize their relations,
- add basic visual elements such as icons,
- even link nodes in distant branches.
Basic functions are performed quickly and easily. You can use both keyboard and a mouse. Keys are assigned to functions in a sensible way, so the most used keys are those that insert, enter, or delete a subtopic (child node). There is one small annoyance to get use to: a topic (or node) is not selected by a mouse click but when the mouse pointer is placed over it. Therefore nodes can become selected inadvertently. Be careful!
After a period of extensive usage, I can highly recommend FreeMind as a great alternative to more highly priced software. A hard-core mindmapper might miss some features, but then again, there is always a sheet of paper and a couple of pens.
Thanks, Grigor, for offering this alternative for folks who want something smaller to try their mindmapping skills.
–ME “Liz” Strauss