Monday, 21 February 2005

Mind mapping with FreeMind

From time to time, when I have a problem to solve I like to get out pen and paper and start drawing out ideas and thoughts and connecting them together. Using some random variation on mind mapping and Goldratt’s “Current Reality Trees”, I try to make order out of some disparate thoughts and often find the whole processes extremely helpful.

It’s hard to tell whether it’s the process or the product that matters, perhaps it’s both. Anyway, pen and paper and getting hard to use nowadays so from time-to-time I try to find a more appropriate tool to aid the process.

In the last few days I’ve taken another look at the free open-source application FreeMind. It’s a Java application so it works across platforms, and it currently has a new version 8 pre-release tucked away which takes away a number of the serious issues with the current full-release and makes this a real appealing application.

It’s a simple tool for ‘mind mapping’, designed to allow large mind maps to be created and navigated with minimal fuss. It has a ‘fairly’ intuitive interface and shortcuts that make the building process sufficiently quick to be really useful. Some serious bonuses include the ability to export to a nice selection of formats including PDF, and the fact that the underlying file format is XML, so there are endless ways by which the resulting maps can be repurposed, or by which other things can be converted into mind maps.

I will try it out some more and see how it stands the test of time.

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