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Mindmapper 2.5 Project Brainstorming Made Easy Print
Have you ever gone to a project planning or scheduling meeting where you discuss the new upcoming project and are confronted with page after filled page of one of those giant notepads propped precariously on a stilt-like easel?

The ideas are presented in those various coloured felt-tipped markers supposedly written to help you and your fellow project managers and planners follow along with this deadline, that schedule, and those budgets. The guy stood at the front talking to you enthusiastically might just as well be talking in Swahili for all the sense he is making. Everyone is scribbling notes furiously, and when they review those notes later, will try, but fail to make sense of what was planned, scheduled, or decided upon.

Sound all too familiar? We thought so, too. We often leave our meetings with notes scrawled in our own brands of chicken scratch, only to realise we skipped that point or didn't totally quite catch that idea. Our information is a series of lists scattered with ideas, concepts, dates, costs, staffing concerns, and whatever other information we need for the project at hand.

Despite best efforts, these lists of information aren't working because they're too linear, and unable to link ideas together. Critical information becomes lost in a sea of inconsequential data, destined never to be found until the day we no longer need it. We very well could end up wasting valuable project time trying to decipher and organise our data.

Enter The Bosley Group's MindMapper 2.5. This ingenious software program uses the mind-mapping philosophy developed by Tony Buzan in the 1970's to organise your project or meeting information and put it into a branch-like map. Picture a large tree with its main trunk and many branches jutting outward. Your main project becomes the trunk of the tree, and its various components - project schedules, deadlines, activities, direct costs, hours, units - form the numerous branches off that tree. You will be able to organise your information into a series of branch-by-branch progressions, moving from the major, overall project to the tiniest of details.

We decided to give MindMapper a go to see if it was all that was expected. It was installed on an Intel Celeron Pentium 466MHz system with 64MB of RAM. Installation took a mere few minutes, and was a breeze. It opens to an Untitled main node, the trunk of the tree. It has a strong Windows looks and feel, so it was only a matter of getting acquainted with the various buttons on the rather extensive tool bar at the top of the screen. A colour bar for designating various node colours is located along the left edge of the screen. The name of the main idea or root node is changed by double clicking on the Untitled node, then typing in the name in the Title window of the pop-up Edit Root Node dialog box, then clicking OK. To add a single node or branch to your tree, you simply click on the existing node, press the space bar, type in the title of the new branch, then click OK. Alternatively, you can select the Node option from the Insert menu, then proceed as described. Multiple nodes are added by pressing the space bar and clicking the Multiple Node button. In either case, you can also take advantage of right clicking on any node to bring up a pop-up menu box, and then selecting Add or Edit.

MindMapper 2.5 comes with several new features. It now allows for default node styles and node spacing on the fly. Whatever node style you create now follows parent style by default, carrying with it the same colours and fonts you define. You can also take advantage of adjusting the vertical and horizontal margins on the fly. This feature is found on a new set of buttons located at the upper left-hand corner nearest the screen and the colour bar. The margins can be adjusted through a series of continuous clicks; you determine how wide or narrow you want your branches to be.

MindMapper has a wide range of features, formats, font styles, icons, and colours to make your map your very own. If you need to add graphics or sound files, this too can be done quickly and easily. You're not confined to working in MindMapper either. You can create your maps in nearly any of today's most popular software programs, including Microsoft Word, Power Point, Excel, and Lotus Notes, to name a few. We were able to work on our mind maps in Lotus Word Pro, Adobe PageMaker 6.5, Corel Draw, and Microsoft Publisher. It was as simple as inserting any other object into those programs by merely clicking on Object from the Insert pull down menu and proceeding as you normally would for inserting an object. MindMapper supports OLE function as we saw in PageMaker and Corel Draw.

For even greater mapping, you can take advantage of MindMapper's ability to link multiple files to a single node. You can also link multiple URLs to a single node as well. Once your map is complete, you have a variety of saving and exporting options to choose from. MindMapper supports RTF, HTML, EMF, and MAP file formats. When it is saved as an EMF file, it can be opened and read in your word processing or drawing program even if MindMapper isn't installed. What's more, should you want to send the map to one of your project staff members across the hall or across the world, it can quickly be e-mailed to that person right from the program, automatically going as an attachment without the need for you to actually make the attachment.

Another clever feature of MindMapper is its conferencing capability. You won't need to sit through notepad meetings any longer. You and your project members or clients can get together in real time through your LAN PCs. You must have the mutually agreed upon information of a Moderator, Conferencing Name, Password, day, and time for the meeting. With the Moderator logging on first with his MindMapper acting as the server program, other participants will then log on by entering the Conferencing Name, Password, and Moderator's network IP address or Host Name. Your meeting can then begin.

It's a well-known fact that we only retain about 10% of the information we read. When we have the opportunity to convert that same information into pictorial form, our retention increases. If we combine those pictures with abbreviated text as in our meeting notes, then some real organisation, analyses, presentation, and productivity can take place. Mind Mapping works because it takes advantage of the brain's best features, and allows you to use both halves of the brain. It supports your natural train of thought, and as graphical presentations are always the first thing your brain remembers, almost anyone can understand and more importantly remember what your mind map is trying to say.

MindMapper's price won't break your company's bank budget either. A single user license retails for $89.95, so just about anyone can take advantage of all MindMapper has to offer. There is even a Junior "Just for Kids" version as well as a bundle deal for those two versions and upgrade pricing from their 1.5 and 2.2 versions.

MindMapper is a well thought out, solid program. It's easy to install and use, so your valuable time won't be wasted on wrestling with configurations and infamous user manuals. You'll find it a great tool for organising all of your project management details, from scheduling to showing what staff members are on particular tasks to what deadlines are coming up. This program is so useful that you might even find yourself taking it home to bone up on those domestic tasks, plot out the family genealogy you and cousin Andrew have been working on, or let the kids use it for studying and exam revision. The program has a lot of features that could clearly benefit a whole range of people. The program's developers, The Bosley Group of Brookings, Oregon, USA, have intended the program for multiple uses like these. With an 18- year-old track record in producing mind mapping and simulation software for technical, engineering, educational, student, and individual uses, they've got mind mapping down pat.

System Specs:

Alternatively try

  • 486 class Processor or higher
  • 5MB hard disk space, 15MB recommended
  • 8MB RAM, 16MB recommended
  • * Windows 95/98/2000 NT4
  • 256-colour VGA monitor (SVGA recommended)
  • Mouse or other pointing device
  • Video card
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.01 +
  • Optionals:16-bit sound board, speakers and modem
  • MindJET LLC eMindMaps
  • MindMan MindManager
  • Norcan Data AS Visual Mind

MindMapper 2.5 from The Bosley Group
receives a PROJECTmagazine rating of

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2000 © Lee and James Appleyard

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