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Mapping out your mind

Apr 07, 20032 mins
AndroidEnterprise Applications

* Graphical representations of your thoughts

Have you ever heard of mind mapping? It is a technique developed in the 1960s for organizing your thoughts in a hierarchical manner. You start by writing down your central idea. From that you draw lines that connect to related ideas and from there you draw lines to other ideas – see Buzan Centres for more information (links below).

I just discovered a couple of tools for mind mapping that also produce Web outputs that could be very useful in developing Web applications for collaboration, documentation and architecting Web content.

The first product is Mindgenius from Gaal. Mindgenius allows you to develop mind maps that can be formatted in many different ways including choosing the style of lines that connect ideas or nodes, colors for nodes, pictures associated with nodes and so on. In the area of mind mapping, Mindgenius is very cool but not as integrated with the Web as it could be.

You can export Mindgenius mind maps to HTML and all the map’s attributes (layout, colors, etc.,) are faithfully reproduced in either a frames or nonframes layout.

You can link Mindgenius maps nodes to URLs but it isn’t very elegant – you have to specify links as “attachments” and when you export to HTML the links become URLs – it is not particularly obvious but it seems to work.

Exported maps can also become cluttered very easily and the actual map diagram is static – it is a just graphic with lots of hotspots but it is all wrapped up in a set of frames that lead you through the map’s contents.

The other product that caught my eye was Visual Mind from Norcan Data. While Visual Mind isn’t as graphically polished as Mindgenius it is much more suitable for Web use.

Visual Mind allows you to specifically insert URLs as well as other contents such as e-mail addresses into mind maps and the HTML output uses an applet to render the map. The applet allows branches to be expanded and collapsed which is very useful for large maps.

Both these products are very interesting tools for content presentation as well as development.

Mindgenius costs $159 per seat and Visual Mind is $129 per seat.


Mark Gibbs is an author, journalist, and man of mystery. His writing for Network World is widely considered to be vastly underpaid. For more than 30 years, Gibbs has consulted, lectured, and authored numerous articles and books about networking, information technology, and the social and political issues surrounding them. His complete bio can be found at

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