I Mindmap all the time! I use it for brainstorming, for outlining presentations and for structuring the complex clouds of knowledge swirling around in my messy head. Sometimes I do it the old school way, markers on paper, but I also like to do it on computer.
Changing my computer platform to a MAC has rendered my existing license on Mindjets Mind Manager software useless (UPDATE: Mindjet wrote to me yesterday and told me that they actualy would let customers switch from Windows to MAC for free!). Instead, I have been trying out some free online mindmapping tools, and the one that has caught attention is a cute little one called bubbl.us.
Nice graphics and Super Fast
The cute thing about Bubbl.us is of course the graphics. I love cute, simple, “hug me” graphics, with low level of complexity in the user interface. And Bubbl.us certainly delivers on this.
Every idea has it’s own little cute glassy round-edged box. If you delete one it dissappears with a little animated explosion and a pow-sound. That’s the sort of thing that makes smiley wrinkles around my eyes.
It’s very simple to drag and drop to reposition ideas, and you can change the color of boxes.
Making new idea bubbles is very fast. As you type you just hist ENTER or TAB to start typing in a new box. This can be quite confusing, but it certainly lets you produce a lot of idea-nodes in a short time. Great for brainstorming.
I get a lot Ideas into Bubbl.us quite fast, but the result tend be a bit messy. But you can rearrange them later.
They should though consider supporting a wider range of keyboard shorts. Navigating around your mindmap with the arrows and being able to delete nodes would be nice.
I use the mouse a lot when I use Bubbl.us.
Save mindmaps online and share
You save your maps online. This means you can reach them from any computer, and you can share them with friend to do collaborative maps. You can also get a piece of code to embed it in your blog.
This is standard web2.0 features, but I haven’t really found much use for it. My mindmaps tend to be pretty personal and not very easy to share.
Compared to Applications
Compared to an application like Mindjet Mindmanager, there’s a lot of features Bubbl.us doesn’t provide.
This isn’t necessarily a big problem. A lot of features can really be a mixed blessing for an app, but there’s range of tasks that Mind Manager does that won’t be effective with Bubbl.us.
- Outlining and exporting to Word
- Handling tasks
- Very big and complex maps. Bubbl.us has a limitation in the screen-real estate. Also hierarchies between things tend to be les easy to visually comprehend
And then there’s the keyboard interface. The basic keyboard navigation is much better in a rich application.
Great for Outlining & Brainstorming
What Bubbl.us is really suited for is brainstorming and outlining.
An this is probably why I like it so much. It’s the way I start almost any creative project.
Just get a load of ideas of your mind into bubbl.us, sort them, and then switch to another app, and start producing your content.
PNG - export
One thing I really love about Bubbl.us is the export feature. You’ll find It in the lower right corner under the “menu”.
The specific feature I use is the “export to PNG file” feature. Why?
Well first of all… It’s just really convinient also to have an offline copy lying on your desktop to instantly check out.
But on top of this Bubbl.us exports your map as a beautiful PNG with a transparent background. This means, that you can use it on top of other pictures.
If I need to make an illustration for Powerpoint or Keynote, this feature will let me put a mindmap on top of the background image or other images without. This is really cool. Check it out here:
So all in all I’ll really recommend Bubbl-us as an online mindmapping tool for fast creative brainstormy mindmapping.
It’s not the most tooled-up mindmapper out there. My old favourite Mindmanager from Mindjet.com certainly has a lot more bells and whistles.
But the point is… most of the time these features aren’t really needed, and then they just get in the way.
- Jens Poder
- Mindmeister.com - another online mindmapper. Resembles Mind Manager from Mindjet a lot. Has a couple of cool dashboard widget you can download.
- Mindomo.com - Also a Mind Manager wannabee like Mindmeister.
- How to make a mindmap - Introduction to the technique by mindmap-inventor Tony Buzan
- Mindmap Ressources Compiled - By Diyplanner; a long list of mindmapping ressources.