Several years ago I stumbled upon this concept of “mind mapping”. Frankly I really didn’t see the point of mind mapping when I first discovered it. After all it reminded me of those brainstorming maps my English teacher made me create in the 3rd grade. Not exactly the type of thing you expect someone in a business setting to create. Nonetheless, I started using it for managing simple tasks, which compounded into more complex tasks, and before I knew it I was mapping everything from major business projects to my packing list for vacation.
Although the basic concept of mind mapping is very simple (create hierarchal classifications of data), for mind mapping to be harnessed as a beneficial business practice, one really must have tools to effectively analyze that data. To me, this is what’s always separated Mindjet’s MindManager product from many other mind mapping solutions. Not only can I quickly create and capture data, I can also quickly classify, track, analyze, and even present that data. Although MindManager already did an excellent job at each of these, the just-released MindManager 9 has somehow managed to take each of these concepts even further.
As I shared here on The CAD Geek back in February, MindManager proved an invaluable resource for managing and tracking the five editorial stages each of the 17 chapters in my recently-released book AutoCAD 2011 and AutoCAD LT 2011: No Experience Required. In the context of using MindManager as a true project classification, tracking, and management tool; here’s some of my favorite features inside MindManager 9:
Integrated Gantt Project View
Although Gantt timelines have been available in MindManager with the external application JCVGantt, Gantt timelines have never been a native feature within MindManager. As someone who regularly uses MindManager to track projects, and more importantly how the tasks that define that project are progressing, this is probably my favorite new feature.
Interactive Slide Shows
If you’ve seen me present, there’s a good chance you’ve also seen me use MindManager in lieu of an often painful PowerPoint presentation. The slide show tool from MindManager 8 and earlier has been renamed to a more descript Walk Through, and a completely new Slides feature has been added. With Slides you can create a view of a branch within your map, and recall it later (say when you’re making the presentation).
Enhanced PowerPoint Export
This actually ties into the Slide Show feature mentioned above. MindManager has included an export to PowerPoint feature for some time now, but MindManager 9 truly raises the bar. To be honest, while helpful, I found the Export to PowerPoint feature in earlier versions to be a little clunky. Again, it worked, but I still found myself investing a good amount of time formatting things inside PowerPoint to make things presentation worthy.
Using the new Slides feature, I can essentially layout my PowerPoint presentation inside MindManager, and expect a pretty decent result when I open the exported presentation in PowerPoint. Here’s a look at the Slide Show I created in the Interactive Slide Shows example above.
Some features that are equally noteworthy is the updated user interface. MindManager 9 matches the user interface found inside the Office 2010 products. Likewise, there have been several enhancements with MindManager’s integration with Microsoft Outlook. Overall I have to say this is another very solid release from the folks at Mindjet. Once again, it’s certainly not hard to find a wide range of mind mapping applications out there; including several that shares many of the same features found inside MindManager. Still, what sets MindManager apart from the other applications I’ve looked at over the years is its near flawless integration with the applications I already use. It quite simply feels like the missing application within the MS Office Suite.