Mind Mapping Software Review

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Mind Mapping Software Review

Professional Mind Mapping Software Review

A review conducted by Andrew Makar of TacticalProjectManagement.com

Objectives of this mind mapping review

In this mind mapping review, we evaluated professional desktop applications that tend to be more productive because of their MS Office integration and Project Management features. We have selected MindJet (formerly Mind Manager), MindView 5 Business, and MindGenius Business 4 to review, as they seem to stand out, but users may also consider iMindMap and MindMapper. With all of these applications, the process of creating mind maps is far simpler than drawing mind maps on paper and all of these mind mapping software tools allow users to create mind maps easily. Professional mind mapping software is often used for project management, knowledge management, running meetings more effectively, and enhancing team collaboration. Therefore, the review is focused on features important to these areas.

Both Mindjet and MindView are available for the PC and as a limited Mac version. MindGenius is only available as a PC version. Mindjet includes a very light iPad version, whereas, MindGenius and MindView work on the iPad through the integration with iThoughts. MindJet is also available as a web-based solution, though it is limited compared to the desktop application.

Go to Mind Mapping Review Table

Different views

Mind mapping is a non-linear way of brainstorming. The mind mapping software programs reviewed all allow for the maps created to be changes into different views. It is often beneficial to review the information captured in various views, depending on the audience and purpose. A common view among the reviewed mind mapping software is the Gantt chart. MindView contains 6 interchangeable views including the comprehensive Gantt chart, outline, and timeline view. All three mind mapping tools allows you to view the ideas in different directions such as right, left or as an organizational chart.

6 different views
Sample views available in MindView Mind Mapping Software

Mind Mapping and MS Office

A very important factor in mind mapping software is what you can do with your mind map once it is complete. For instance, the ability to turn your mind map into an outline in Word or to export it to PowerPoint is a tremendous advantage. This allows you to save time, gain productivity, and most importantly, obtain ROI on your mind mapping software.

Mind Map export to Microsoft Word

MS Word

When compared to the others, MindView had a more professional Word document export utilizing a polished, template driven Word integration. When importing from Word, both MindView and MindJet did well when importing Word documents as mind map. As for MindGenius, the import into Word did not retain a clean style like the other 2 programs.

MS PowerPoint

When it came to exporting a mind map to PowerPoint, MindView and MindGenius exported the branch structure to PowerPoint automatically, whereas, Mindjet forces you to select the branches you want to export as slides. Once again, MindView proved to have the most polished integration when it came to both the export and import to PowerPoint.

MS Excel

MindView's export to Excel combined with the programs calculation module proved advantageous. Although MindGenius had a nice Excel export, the branch calculation feature of MindView is what made it the most impressive. MindJet now includes a calculation module similar to MindView's and they have improved their export to Excel, however MindView has a unique feature called "Constants" which proved to make their calculation module and Excel export more effective.

MS Outlook

The Outlook integration offered by Mindjet allows users to show Tasks and Calendar meetings as branch data or as branches of the mind map. Mindjet is also more integrated with SharePoint than the other 2, but that is outside the scope of this review. MindView provides Outlook integration that allows users to distribute tasks and synchronize completion levels via Outlook.

MS Visio and MS Project

For those interested in flowcharts, MindGenius offers integration to Visio. In terms of MS Project integration all three programs transferred information (WBS) over fine. However, MindGenius and MindView were able to transfer more detailed task information.

Using Mind Mapping for Project Management

Mind mapping is often used by project managers for creating work breakdown structures and transferring such information to MS Project or to a built-in Gantt chart, which is one of the primary focuses of this mind mapping software review. All three applications, MindView, Mindjet and Mind Genius allow users to attach task information to the mind map branches and allocate resources respectively. MindView now supports individual resource calendars as well as project calendars, which made scheduling more accurate. When transferring the information into the built-in Gantt chart, both MindGenius and MindView swap over to a full view of the Gantt chart. This is important for project managers that need to see a full overview of the project at hand. Although MindJet offers a split view that lets you work in the mind map and Gantt chart at the same time, it proved difficult to get a project overview. The Gantt charts in MindView and MindGenius can be compared to a cut-down version of MS Project, offering the majority of most frequently used MS Project features. MindJet's Gantt chart lacks constraints and was not up to par with the other two reviewed mind mapping software. In all 3 reviewed programs, there are limitations with these built-in Gantt charts when it comes to resource leveling and base lining, which is why the integration to MS Project is so beneficial. MindView offered promising alternatives by creating comprehensive Project Reports with various dashboards and allowing users to convert the Gantt chart to a project timeline as an alternative view of the project plan.

Mind Mapping for Enhanced Collaboration

It is now possible for teams to collaborate on mind maps online from different locations, for use in brainstorming meetings, project updates or even to share information with clients. Previously, this technique was only available through online mind mapping tools; however through the creation of online workspaces, this is now available through desktop mind mapping software.

Using MindJet for web and MindView's Shared Workspace, users can save a mind map online and work online or directly from their desktop application. Multi-user editing in real time is made possible through the online workspace. MindJet for web offers a smaller online mind map application and allows you to work on maps when you are away from your desk. MindView's Share Workspace offers task distribution to resources and back reporting without an email system needed. In order to safe guard areas that should not be changed, MindView allows users to lock branches from other users so they can't be edited. MindGenius does not offer a collaborative tool at this time.

Conclusion

The conclusion on this professional mind mapping review is that all three applications offer impressive mind mapping and project management features. MindView scored highest in this review due to its seamless MS Office integration and comprehensive views. We found that MindView was also very easy to use which allowed users to work faster and more efficiently. MindJet ranked 2nd, and does offer advanced features such as database connectivity and SharePoint integration, however, these advanced features may not apply to the average business user. MindJet is sold as a suite including the desktop versions, mobile app and web version in 1 package; however it is sold on a subscription only platform. MindGenius ranked the lowest among its competitors, but it is also the least expensive. MindGenius can be purchased for $235, whereas MindView 5 Business costs $379 and Mindjet rings up at $30 per month (on a subscription platform only). Considering which product will offer the most value for the money, we feel that MindView is the best choice when it comes to mind mapping software.

Mind Mapping Review Table

Category Ratings:

0 - Not Available / 1 - Worst in Class / 2 - Below Average / 3 - Average / 4 - Above Average / 5 - Best in Class


  MindView 5
MindView 5 Business
MindJet
MindJet
MindGenius
MindGenius 4
Platform
PC Yes   Yes Yes
Mac Yes Yes No
iPad No No No
Web No Yes -
Map Formats
Left/Right 4 4 3
Right/Left 4 3 3
Top Down (WBS) 5 5 3
Organizational Chart 4 5 3
Outline 5 3 0
Gantt 5 3 4
Timeline 5 0 0
Microsoft Integration
MS Word      
    Export 5 2 2
    Import 4 4 1
MS PowerPoint      
    Export 4 2 3
    Import 4 0 0
MS Excel      
    Export 5 3 4
    Import 3 0 0
MS Visio      
    Export 0 0 3
    Import 0 0 0
MS Outlook      
    Export 4 5 4
    Import 4 5 2
MS Project      
    Export 5 3 4
    Import 4 3 4
Additional Exports
PDF 3 5 3
RTF 5 3 3
HTML 5 1 4
Mind Map Features
Attach Notes 5 5 3
Attachments/Hyperlinks 4 5 4
Visual Customization 4 5 3
Multi-Mapping 3 5 3
Relationship Lines 4 4 4
Filter 5 5 4
Presentation Mode 3 4 0
Focus View / Branch Focus 5 5 3
Legend 4 2 -
Project Management Features
Allocate Task Information In Map Views 4 4 4
Gantt Chart Functionality 5 3 5
Allocate Resources 4 3 4
Effort Driven Tasks 3 3 -
Set Milestones 5 5 5
Set Constraint Types 5 2 5
Set Dependency Types 5 4 5
Priority Levels 4 3 4
Project Calendars 4 2 -
Project Reports 5 3 0
Indicators 1 4 -
Collaboration
Online Environment / Workspace 3 5 0
Online Task Management 4 4 0
Free Viewer 3 5 2
SharePoint Integration 1 5 0
Multi-User Editing 3 4 0
Branch Locking 3 0 0
Task Distribution 3 5 3
Other Features
Database Integration 0 5 0
Branch Calculation 5 5 0
TOTAL 194 173 114
  MindView 5
MindView 5 Business
MindJet
MindJet
MindGeniusMindGenius 4