Using MindManager 2012 at Autodesk University 2011

Using MindManager 2012 at Autodesk University 2011 mm12 heroAutodesk University has long been the unequaled destination to learn from some of the top presenters in the industry today. While such presentations are still a mainstay of the conference, Autodesk introduced a revolutionary new type of presentation to the roster several years ago. The folks at Autodesk like to call this special subset of classes AU Unplugged.

AU Unplugged is celebrated as being an un-conference, or put another way it’s the anthesis of your stereotypical lecture session. Instead of a ninety-minute lecture, AU Unplugged sessions are ninety minutes of thought-provoking conversation. This year I hosted an AU Unplugged session to discuss AutoCAD Plotting. The exact title of my session was “Minute To Plot It: Blueprint to Simple AutoCAD Plotting”. Being a conversation, not a lecture with prewritten a handout, I needed a way to capture the swarm of ideas discussed during my session.

The Solution

To help capture the great ideas stemming from my AU Unplugged session, I chose to use a tool that’s proven to be one of the most versatile applications on my laptop - MindManager. For me its versatility never ceases to amaze me; from managing tasks, BIM documentation, and managing Civil 3D style libraries to name a few applications. Having used MindManager in lieu of PowerPoint for several recent presentations, I began considering it for my AU Unplugged session. My challenge was that it was a conversation I was moderating, not presentation I was delivering. So the question remained - was MindManager up for the challenge?

Session Preparation

When planing my session, I wanted to structure it in a way that would inspire meaningful conversation. Consequently, I knew I needed two things if I was to come anywhere close to achieving that objective; simple and intuitive organization, and thought-provoking questions. To me the primary purpose of mind mapping is to organize ideas, so I knew the first component was easily addressed, but what about the questions?

Using MindManager 2012 at Autodesk University 2011 MapOverview
Mindmap displaying a complete overview of the conversation.

I decided to structure my session into three categories, Challenges, Opportunities, and Timeframe. I was pretty confident we wouldn’t have any trouble identifying challenges surrounding plotting, but what about some of the key opportunities to address those challenges? This is where one of my favorite new features within Mindjet’s newly released MindManager 2012 product.

MindManager 2012 was, in my opinion, one of the most substantial upgrades since I started using MindManager several years ago. For my AU Unplugged session, the new Brainstorming feature was precisely what I needed to help facilitate my Opportunities discussion.

Using MindManager 2012 at Autodesk University 2011 Brainstorm Idea Cards
New Brainstorm Idea Cards

MindManager has included a basic brainstorming feature for some time, but it was really just a tool to gather ideas. On the contrary, the brainstorming feature within MindManager 2012 helps both inciting ideas, as well as capturing them. Instead of simply prompting you for ideas, it also presents you with idea or challenge cards. Several very well written cards are included out of the box, but you can also define your own. These cards help inspire the questions I presented during the opportunities discussion of my AU Unplugged session.

The Presentation

After using MindManager to help plan and organize my session, it only seemed natural to also use it to facilitate it as well. Since this was a conversation, not presentation, I wasn’t completely sure MindManager was up for the task. In addition to walking through my map, I also needed to add things to it based on the conversational topics that came up.

Using MindManager 2012 at Autodesk University 2011 Presentation Walk Through
Using MindManager Presentation Walk Through Feature.

Despite not being a presentation, I actually found the Walk Through Presentation tool to be the perfect fit. Since attendees had a consistent snapshot of where we were in the conversation, the mind map actually helped keep the conversation on topic. Similarly, since even in the presentation view, I could append the map, it also served as the perfect canvas to capture the wonderful ideas shared by the audience.


New features such as the Brainstorming tool only extends the versatility of a platform I already considered among the most versatile on my desktop. After seeing how well the Brainstorming tool helped me facilitate conversation during my recent AU Unplugged session, I’ve already begun to find plenty of applications for it as well as the other equally impressive enhancements introduced to Mindjet’s MindManager 2012.

A First Look at Mindjet MindManager 9

mm9-logo 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.

Visual Project Dashboards with MindManager

Over the last several months much of my time has gone into writing my first book; tentatively titled AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT: No Experience Required. You can look for it in bookstores in June of this year (2010). Those who follow me on twitter have heard me talk about what it’s like to write a book. While I’ve never climbed Everest, I’d compare writing a book to climbing Everest. It’s an experience fellow authors (climbers) will tell you is incredibly tough, but just how tough isn’t truly known until you begin writing (or climbing in the case of Everest). Of course getting to the summit makes the entire journey worth it in the end.

Project Dashboard Overview
Project Dashboard Map inside MindManager
Changing the status of an editorial phase

Before becoming an author I certainly knew books went through an editorial process, what I didn’t know was how extensive that process was. To summarize, there are five stages to every chapter I write; initial manuscript submission, developmental and technical edit, a copyedit, and then first and second proofs. Oftentimes I’m writing one chapter, reviewing the comments from a copyedit of one chapter, and reviewing comments from the developmental and technical edit for another chapter. Needless to say, keeping track of which chapters need my attention can get a little confusing at times.

My solution has been to develop a project dashboard using MindManager. A colored icon represents each editorial phase; M for manuscript submission, D for Technical/Developmental edit, C for Copyedit, and 1 and 2 for first and second page proofs. Gray means not started, yellow in progress and/or pending, and red for overdue. I’ve certainly used my share of project dashboards created in products such as Microsoft Excel, but for me the visual nature of MindManager makes it easy to know what’s happening with every one of my chapters in a single glance. Likewise, using a series of custom icons, updating the status of an editorial process is as simple as clicking on the icon, and just like that the status changes.

Using MindManager for CAD/BIM Documentation

image My sincere apologies to the faithful followers of The CAD Geek Blog.  As you probably gathered from my last post (way back on May 30th), I have been focusing just about all of my energy on finding a new job.  Thankfully it seems all of that hard work has paid off, and just today I accepted a position with Education Reseller, Ronald A Williams, Ltd.  So with that weight off my shoulders I can begin catching up on all sorts of things like blogging, and reading my favorite blogs.

Robin Capper’s latest post at RobiNZ CAD blog did catch my attention. Documenting technical processes can be a challenging task, but Robin shares how he makes the task a little less tedious by using MindManager in his latest blog post:

Rapid and flexible CAD/BIM documentation using MindManager Map Parts

A MindManager user myself, I was intrigued by the way Robin uses the program to document and present various processes within his company.  Over the last several years I have become a HUGE fan of MindManager, especially as a technical documentation tool.  Back in November I made a post discussing how to use MindManager to Track and Document Civil 3D Styles.  If you’re not already a MindManager user, you can learn more by visiting the Mindjet website.

Special Thanks

 image With my 3-week vacation over, this week has been all about returning to reality.  As with almost any vacation, this week has mostly been about getting caught up on everything I missed while on vacation.  Thankfully it seems many of my coworkers took some vacation time as well, so my return hasn’t been as daunting as one may imagine. Among the things I have been meaning to do is offer a special thanks to a few incredibly generous companies who recently supported my Local User Group’s (Richmond AutoCAD Manifest) end-of-year dinner.

As we planned this years dinner among our goals was to gather some door prizes which our members could actually use. Yes we know every office worker needs a special coffee mug, and even red stapler, but we wanted something a little more useful than that.  We were incredibly fortunate to have the following companies support our LUG Dinner.

Using MindManager to Track and Document Civil 3D Styles

image Back in May I made a post titled “Some Nifty Tools” where I mentioned a very handy tool from Mindjet called MindManager.  Since then the tool has become an absolutely indispensible part of my daily workflow.  The power of all mind mapping software, MindManager included, is it’s versatility. Frankly there’s no wrong way to use the software, making it’s potential uses almost endless.

Some of my favorite applications of MindManager have included note taking in meetings to on-screen presentations, and even strategic planning.  Of course one area which has proven especially helpful for is is tracking and documenting my companies Civil 3D Styles.

MindManager 8 Released

image Back in May I happened to mention Mindjet’s MindManager product in a post titled Some Nifty Tools.  Back then I was relatively new to the product, but it has quickly become an indispensible part of my daily workflow.  These days I use MindManager for everything from mapping (planning) out my day, planning and documenting my Civil 3D projects (data shortcuts), even down to documenting my Civil 3D Style library.

Some Nifty Tools

A while back I made a post titled 'Free Tools for the CAD Manager/User'.  In it I outlined a number of nifty tools I knew about and/or used in the past.  Over the last several months I have come across a few other tools that I personally find helpful.

Task & Project Organization: Mindjet MindManager ($)

Admittedly the influx of mind mapping software isn't for everyone.  I personally have found it to be quite beneficial for me as I embark on a quest to see a snapshot of a project at a glance.  I keep track of who is working on, and who has access to projects, who I have chatted to, what I need to do on the project and more.  I have also found it to be a stellar tool for taking notes in meetings.

Instant Messaging: Digsby (FREE)

No Digsby isn't a new instant messaging platform, instead it's a single application for all of your instant messaging needs.  Most of my friends are on AIM, and so I have an AIM account to keep in touch with them.  Additionally I have a personal Google Talk account, and a business one as well.  I also use Twitter to make notes to myself, and track what I have done all day (so I can fill out my timesheet).

Digsby does more than instant messaging though, it also can also integrate into your e-mail inbox, alerting you of new messages.  MySpace and Facebook are also integrated, making Digsby your one stop shop for communication.

Application Launching: Launchy (FREE)

Personally, I try to limit the number of icons on my desktop (sometimes I'm not incredibly successful, but I try).  From just an AutoCAD perspective, I have icons for Map 3D, Land Desktop, Civil 3D, Civil 3D as AutoCAD, Raster Design on LDT, Raster Design on Map, Raster Design on Civil 3D, etc.  Point is AutoCAD alone inundates me with icons. Launchy on the other hand makes it so I can keep a clean desktop, and when I want to open Civil 3D, I just type 'Civil 3D', and it launches.  If you're not a keyboard warrior, than this application is not for you, but if you're quick at the keyboard than you will want this little program!