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Looking for the Best Mind Mapping Tools

Filed under: Knowledge Management,Reviews — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

I’m a very recent convert to the belief that mind mapping tools can be valuable. After years of sneering at them as vague and superflous (without ever really trying them) I did a one hour consulting gig with the folks over at Imindi a week or so ago.

Now I am hesitant to think about anything without the ability to “write it down” in a mind map. The ability to document the free flow of connected thoughts is just too seductive to pass up when thinking through complex proccesses.

I could use some help figuring out what the best mind mapping service is, though. Here’s my criteria so far – above in an image from MindMeister (which is AWESOME so far). Can you suggest anything I’m missing or favorite tools I should evaluate?

Imindi isn’t doing it for me yet. It’s an alpha level service that should be substantially improved when the team is able to make some updates, but for now I want to find something that works better for me. Imindi is cool because it’s going to be really social, it publishes RSS feeds, supports OpenID and includes Del.icio.us integration. The ability to embed a live map in an iframe is neat but it would be nice if it were a Flash widget that scaled or if I could scroll in this iframe (can’t figure that out). There’s a whole lot more that they are working on as well, the back end is striking, it’s largely the front end that’s not usable enough for me right now.

It doesn’t allow for data export, though. That’s a deal breaker. Navigation and color differentiation between levels and types of relationships is weak, I want some AJAX where there isn’t any yet, the pagination for nodes with more than 6 connections is annoying, etc. Also, just in order to make a more informed decision (and to make a blog post about it on Read/WriteWeb) I want to evaluate some other mind mapping tools. First stop, http://del.icio.us/popular/mindmap

If you’d like to make any suggestions for important criteria or mind mapping tools that might meet these criteria – I’ll follow up here on what I figure out.

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