Year for Productivity: Session 16: Mindmapping Revisited


Elisabeth did a wonderful job introducing mindmapping and concept mapping in her post on January 14, 2013: .  I will not reinvent that wheel and suggest that everyone takes a second look at her article to supplement this entry.  Instead, I will offer limited comments and place most of my efforts into providing an extensive bibliography that will point readers to books, articles, blogs and websites that focus exclusively on mindmapping and the various software options out there on the web today.

My personal mindmapping experience is limited to one software program at the moment, though I hope to explore alternatives in the not too distant future.  I first tried mindmapping several years ago with the application called SciPlore.  I liked SciPlore because it was targeted to the science community and was an open environment that asked individuals to join them in offering enhancements.  SciPlore is no more; it transformed itself into Docear. Docear is still academically focused, currently being enhanced significantly by several German academics who have grant funding for their work.  I’m impressed by the comprehensive plans they have to make Docear a one-stop shop for supporting the academic research process.

The more I create mindmaps in my work, the more frequently that I see further applications where mindmapping would help me.  I have used them to organize the recruitment process for graduate students for our library board, to capture the brainstorming comments from a meeting, and to compare the benefits and limitations of several different software options that another committee was investigating.  All I needed to understand was how a parent node, sibling node and child node all related to one another and I was able to create a simple map within minutes.  But there is much more power in mindmapping that what I am using with my simple maps.

Power mappers tend to map practically everything in their paths.  They have several techniques that are useful to keep in mind when we begin creating mindmaps for our projects and tasks.  One helpful tip that I’ve seen in several collections of mindmaps is to create one master mindmap that can act as an index to all your other maps.  This can take care of the problem where you can’t quite remember the name of the mindmap you are trying to locate.  Along the same lines, mindmaps can be used to index all the other files and links you have for a particular project.  Take a look at the mindmapping software you have chosen to verify which types of files can be linked to nodes as software capabilities do vary. The more powerful products will allow you to create a project index map and then link your spreadsheets, word documents, articles, images, web links, emails and meeting notes to it for an easy, organized overview of the project.

For Further Exploration and Insight:

  1.  As you go through this week, be aware of opportunities where mindmapping might be used.  Make a note of the situation.  At the end of the week, review your list.  What kinds of features would you need of a software application in order to successfully create maps for your tasks of the week past?
  2. Investigate one or more of the mind mapping applications listed in the Selected Readings.  Does it offer the features that you needed to complete question #1?  Install one application and create a mindmap.


Selected Resources:

Concept Mapping:

The Concept Mapping Homepage

Concept Mapping Resource Guide (doesn’t appear to be updated since 2006)

Concept Mapping Bibliography. (2005)

Novak, Joseph D. and Alberto J. Canas. “The Origins of the Concept Mapping Tool and the Continuing Evolution of the Tool.” Information Visualization (2006) 5, 175-184.

Novak, Joseph D. The Theory Underlying Concept Maps and How To Construct Them.

MindMap Libraries:

Biggerplate: is a free library of mindmaps uploaded by mindmap creators in business and education.  With registration, any mindmap can be downloaded and your mindmaps can be uploaded for others.  This is a great resource and a great place to start getting an idea of all the ways mindmaps can be used.

Mind Map Inspiration

Mind Map Art

Mappio: Mind Map Library

Topicscape Mind Maps Directory


Eppler, Martin J. “A comparison between concept maps, mind maps, conceptual diagrams, and visual metaphors as complementary tools for knowledge construction and sharing.” Information Visualization (2006) 5, 202—210.

Okada, Alexandra, Simon Buckingham and Tony Sherborne. Knowledge Cartography: Software Tools and Mapping Techniques. Springer, 2008.

WikIT: An excellent source of information on all types of maps

Best Tools:

Five Best Mindmapping Tools, Lifehacker,  April 21, 2013.

The Mindmapping Software Blog:  Frequently updated reviews of mindmapping software and great blog entries that discuss some of the best ways to maximize their usefulness:

MindMapping Software Reviews

Free/Low Cost Software Options include:

  • FreeMind :  Free Mind Mapping software (writtten in JAVA) for PC or MAC.
    Can only be used by one person at a time. (no simultaneous collaborative work)
  • MindMeister:  Limited free version. Complete version for Academic use only $18/yr.
  • :  A free web application to use for brainstorming with mindmaps
  • Exploratree:   A free web resource where you can access a library of ready-made interactive thinking guides, print them, edit them or make your own. You can share them and work on them in groups too. [beta site]
  • Webspiration :  The online visual thinking, learning and collaboration tool for students, teachers, and thinkers everywhere. [beta site]
  • XMind : Free Open Source mind-mapping tool.
  • Mind42 :  A collaborative browser-based online mind mapping tool.
    ” No installation; Accessible everywhere; Intuitive interface;
    Many node attributes (icons, colors, images, text styles, links);  Collaboration (simultaneous editing);  Easy publishing and distribution of maps”
  • DRichard’s Mindmaps (HTML5 beta) : “This is a prototype of an HTML5 based mind mapping application. It lets you create neat looking mind maps in the browser. Be aware that it is under development and does still lack some essential features. ” (
  • MindManager :  One of the most powerful options, this professional grade product is on the pricey side but has a 30 day free trial.
  • Mindjet Connect : Free, web-based product from the makers or MindManger.
    Allows hyperlinks & fairly extensive notes to be added to nodes.  An export to EverNote is also a nice feature, and a community forum is available.
  • Personal Brain :  The free version provides pretty extensive mindmapping.
  • Visual Understanding Environment  :  Open source from Tufts. ” The VUE project is focused on creating flexible tools for managing and integrating digital resources in support of teaching, learning and research. VUE provides a flexible visual environment for structuring, presenting, and sharing digital information.” (per site)
  • MindNode Pro (for MAC):  Apps available for purchase for iOS and MAC with sync through iCLOUD
  • Mindomo: Tool for both ipad and android.

MindMapping Communities:


Calendar Image courtesy of ammer/

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