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Home > About Our Software Tools

About Our Software Tools

This section tells you all about out the software involved in the production and viewing of our wonderful knowledge maps.

Information ("Mind") Mapping Software

MindManager By Mindjet - The Market Leader


MindManager Add-Ins

Adobe Acrobat - Map Sharing Platform


Other Information ("Mind") Mapping Software Programs

Geographic Information Digital Mapping Tools

 

 

Information ("Mind") Mapping Software

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The information mapping software we use to create our maps is fundamentally grounded in the technique of "mindmapping". If you are unfamiliar with the term then it it is helpul to understand a bit more about it before you can appreciate anything else, but it is not essential. It is absolutely not essential that you are a "Mind Mapper", or embrace the official rules of the "Mind Mapping" technique (our captals), in order to work with our maps or extract any benefit from them.

 

  The "MindMapping" Technique

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The technique of "Mindmapping", originally pioneered by Tony Buzan in the 1970s, is a manual, graphical way of capturing, storing and working with information, and the thoughts, ideas and connections that it generates once it's in your head, that works in harmony with the way your brain actually processes and stores it - that is in "branching" chains of associated concepts (literally 'chains of thought'). In a "mind map" information is not stored in traditional "linear" lines, paragraphs and pages of text, but instead in discrete 'chunks', arranged around the central topic, connected together by lines that show the (often hierarchical) inter-relationships between them. This forms a branching structure, radiating out from the centre, which is why they are also known as "tree diagrams". Text is minimal, a few words only that encapsulate the concep t or idea, but this is supplemented by the use of different colours, pictures, shapes and symbols so that the mindmap engages the whole brain, both in creating it and reading it.

The power of the mindmapping process is that, because your brain can literally see your thoughts and the relationships between them in front it as a picture, it can't help but think of other thoughts and connections, which once added to the map, spark yet more thoughts and so on in a positive feedback loop. Thus a mind map is both a fundamental ingredient in the mental thought process, as well as a physical, tangible by-product of it.

 

  MindMapping Software

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Given the popularity of mindmapping, and the physical limitations placed on it through using a sheet of paper and pens, it was only a matter of time before somebody wrote a software program to create mindmaps on computer. MindManager was one of the first (version 1 was released in 1994 under the name "MindMan").

Now we don't care a jot about the arguments around whether or not mindmaps created by compter software are "real mindmaps" according to the rules of Tony Buzan. What we do care about is the power of the mindmap form - the tree diagram - as a visual knowledge framework for super efficiently recording, sharing and retrieving any sort of digital information (ie. not just thoughts and ideas generated inside your brain but also existing, published information about any subject), in way that works in harmony with the human brain.

Software adds several fundamental features to the information mapping process that are not described in the original scope and design of mind mapping:-

  • Unlimited editing & rearrangement - Maps can be endlessly amended, edited and rearranged within the software. In other words digital maps can be changed "at the speed of thought".

  • Infinite canvas - Unlike a sheet of paper, the canvas in mindmap software has no edge. Thus it is possible to literally follow and record a complete "chain of thought" without the mental disruption of worrying about running out of space.

  • Infinite visual hierarchy - Likewise there is no limit to the number of levels of sub-branches that can be added to the map. At any level in the hierarchy however, the software allows you to collapse the sub-branches below so you can't see them, and then expand them out again so you can. Thus it is possible to record effectively unlimited amounts of information down to the finest level of detail, but to hide the detail from view until required so that just the upper branches, which outline the "big picture" about the central topic in question, can still be seen in one view.

  • Digital integration with information sources - in the modern knowledge society information is digital and available on the internet, so by using software to map it there is the opportunity to connect the map with the information in ways not possible if the map is only on a physical sheet of paper. As you will see from the next point, the map can contain all the information about a subject (as is the case for traditional paper "mind maps"), or it can be a summary index that links to the actual content elsewhere. The analogy is with the table of contents at the start of a reference e-book, with the chapter / section headings linking through to the relevant content (which can be anywhere else and in any digital form). Because it is arranged in a tree diagram however, it forms a visual knowledge framework that can put information in context depending on where it is placed on the map. As with all maps that show the spatial relationships between things, this is in itself useful and valuable information.

  • Multiple information recording "channels" - You will have choice of ways for recording information in a digital map. As well as text and images visible on the branches of the map, mindmapping software allows you to record information as:-

    - branch notes attached to the branch, which are visible in a side panel in the software. In Mindmanager notes are mini documents in their own right so can be formatted and stylised and contain tables and images.

    - files "attached" to branches, which can be opened up by clicking on the icon on the branch. The appropriate software will then be fired up and the file opened within it (obviously the appropriate software must be installed on the device on which it it to be viewed).

    - hyperlinks"attached" to branches to either files stored elsewhere or pages on the internet. Two of the unique features of MindManager in this respect are the ability to have multiple links stored on the one branch, and the built-in browser which allows you to view webpages in a panel beside the map without leaving the MindManager software environment.

    - data tables and charts, just as you would have in ann excel spreadsheet (this ability is unique to MindManager).

  • Built in templates, icons and graphic images - MindManager especially comes with a large number of template maps already installed. These templates allow users to be guided through a process to create maps to fulfil particular purposes quickly and efficiently, even if they have never done it before. For example undertaking a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) analysis of their business / project.

  • Sharing The Map - It is much easier to share a digital file than a static image on a sheet of paper. At the very least digital maps can be shared with other users that have the same software that was used to create it. Most software will allow maps to be saved as a static image, but another of MindManagers unique features is the ability to save maps as interactive Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) files, which can be viewed by anybody using the freely available Acrobat Reader. Though not editable, users can still drill down through the visual hierarchy of information by expanding and collapsing branches. This is done through a built-in feature of the Adobe Acrobat Reader so the end user does not need to install an additional plug-in or anything like that.

  • From initial thoughts & ideas, through plan of action to completed deliverable - Again in todays "information-age society" almost everything we do in terms of work is digital, especially if we are "knowledge workers" who must create / use / share a lot of information on a daily basis in order to do whatever is we want to do. Mindmapping software is an ideal digital tool to take you from defining the problem / project, through brainstorming a solution (how the problem will be solved / deciding on the project content), to a plan of action to deliver it (who is doing what, by when, with the resources available), to a dashboard that is visually telling you if everything is going according to plan! The key thing to note - and this is one of the "killer apps" of mindmapping software that saves you time and makes business processes so much more efficient - is that the final map produced by the end of each stage, is re-purposed as the starting point of the next one. The following examples illustrate this key point:-

    - Authoring Digital Documents - If you need to produce some sort of digital information document, like a report or a presentation, plan out the broad structure as a map. Then flesh out the branches of the map with the content, the words and images, perhaps as notes. Mindmanager is especially good at enabling maps to be exported to other "linear" file types, like Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. However not only is the content exported, all the styling and formatting to make it look right can be too. Thus you can end up with a more or less finished file by doing all the work in MindManager, the same enviromnment in which the content was created.

    - Better Meetings - Plan the meeting - the purpose, the venue & related logistics, the invitees etc, - using one of the built-in template maps. Spin off a comprehensive agenda map from this, complete with links to the relevant files and web pages (or embed the files within the map so that they are always avaiable, even offline). Send it to all the attendees beforehand and they will be much more engaged when they turn up. Have this agenda map on display friom the start and use it like a digital whiteboard to run your meeting. If you add to the map as you are going along, recording the key thoughts, ideas, proposals and responses, it will be the focal point around which everybody engages. Quickly move from planning to execution by assigning tasks, priorities, and deadlines right in the meeting map. Comments and decisions can be documented so everyone is prepared for next steps, and participants leave the meeting knowing what’s happening, who’s assigned to each task, and when action items are due.  This final meeting map can be swiftly sent out as the post-meeting minutes. A link to this map can be added to your digital calendar as part of your digital archive. Ideally your calendar should also be a map so that it can serve both as a rolling archive of past activities as well as a diary planner of future ones.

    - Problem Solving - define the problem in map form, capturing all the thoughts and ideas about it. Use the unrestricted map canvas to follow chains of thought as far as you want, then backtrack up your branches as far as you need and branch off in another direction. Or just put things anywhere on the canvas as discrete, as-yet unrelated elements. Whatever. The idea is just to record thoughts and any connections as fast as they are articulated. When the time comes, move into consolidation mode. Review what's there, the overall structure, the substructure of the individual branches and chains. edit and re-arrange as necessary. Move the discrete elements into the map structure, even if it's just in a "parked for now" branch. Organize and prioritize elements in a relevant way that boosts everybodys understanding and buy-in and gets you towards your solution. MindManager for example has a Guided Brainstorming feature to inspire new ways of thinking that drive you and your team to consider alternative approaches and solutions. Choose from predefined challenges and questions cards that help you categorize ideas and work through hurdles when you hit a mental roadblock.

    - Project Planning - What is project management if not an exercise in anticipating a series of inter-related problems, resolving them and documenting the solution in the form of a plan that all particpants have "bought into"? Thus the next stage to transform a problem solving map into a project plan map is to assign tasks, resources and timeframes. Or again simply start with one of the many project management template maps included with the software. Visualize goals, validate requirements, intelligently manage resources and identify dependencies. Create and manage budgets in the project map alongside priorities and schedules (again MindManager has this ability built in to the map). If kept up to date in near real time, the map becomes a live project dashboard, where progress on individual tasks can be visualiy tracked against the deadlines that have been set, whilst not losing sight of the "big picture". Quickly make adjustments when schedules and resources change. The task roll-up feature in MindManager shows the overall impact of changes to assignments and dependencies so that everyone can understand (and respond to) the implications of schedules and budgets. Integrated Gantt charts provide a timeline view of your schedule. Another essential feature of MindManager is the ability to export maps straight to Microsoft Project if that is what is required.

    - Program Planning - More than one project to keep track of? A Project Program is a series of related projects that may be running in series or parallel. Again it is a logical extension of the previous 2 points (and a very straightforward process) to create a program dashboard map that links to all the individual project plan maps. Again MindManager has the ability to update this dashboard map in real time from the other maps.

  • Filtering the map based on content and properties of the content - Most business orientated mindmapping software allows you to use your map like a visual database by enabling you to query the map (technically known as "filtering") on text string values and / or formatting elements (such as colour) and / or text or icon tags associated with the topic. This hides all the map content that doesn't fit the selected criteria, leaving only the content that does. However because of the visual branching hierarchy the query results are instantly placed in a wider context. Also the filtered map can then be saved as a new map that can be used elsewhere. The queries can also be saved in the software to be repeated at any time in the future.

  • Other diagram types - "Mindmapping" software has gone beyond the simple tree diagram and most have the ability to create other visual diagram structures as well. For example Mindmanager allows users to create organisational diagrams, process maps, concept maps, swim lanes etc. The key thing with mindmapping software over other drawing software that could also be used to create such diagrams, is that they retain all the other advantages of digital mindmaps, especially the multiple channels for recording information. Thus information elements within these other diagrams can still have associated notes, multiple hyperlinks and attached files!

Anyway as you can see "mindmapping" software goes way beyond the technique of mindmapping as envisaged by Tony Buzan. It is a hugely vsersatile digital tool that enables you to do a lot of the everyday digital stuff you have to do anyway, but much quicker, easier and efficiently, allowing you to stay more in control of the whole information capture, understand and share process.

So much so in fact that we don't like to call MindManager "mindmapping" software. We produce maps of information and information sources so it is "information mapping" software as far as we are concerned!

 

MindManager By Mindjet - The Market Leader

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We use MindManager from Mindjet to create our multi-level, multi-purpose, digital knowledge maps. First created in 1994 and now with over 2 million users worldwide, including over half of the Global 2000 and Fortune 500 Corporations' such as Boeing, BMW, Ford, Hewlett Packard, KPMG, Microsoft, Motorola, Rolls Royce, & Siemens, Mindjet MindManager is the worlds leading information ("mind") mapping software. We have been users since version 4 (MindManager 2002). 15 years later we are now up to version 16 (MindManager 2016)!

There are plenty of free software tools out there if all you want to do is "mindmapping" on computer. However we haven't found any other software to match the versatility of MindManager for the sheer range of easy-to-use (and often unique) optons and tools for:-

  • capturing information digitally "on the hoof", either through manual, keyboard entry during solo / group brainstorming sessions, or by simple on-screen "drag and drop" with a mouse.
  • importing existing information from other "standard" digital sources such as Microsoft Outlook, Excel and, for coporate IT setups, SharePoint.

  • organising it into a visual framework, in other words a map or diagram. Not just a traditional "mindmap" ie. a radial branching tree, but organisations structure maps, right/left-only maps, flow charts, concept maps etc. 

  • combining ("mashing up") information about the same subject from (sometimes radically) different sources into the one document that is effectively infinite in capacity but more compact and intuitive to navigate than traditional "linear" documents - "drill down, not scroll down!". For example our biggest map to date, which maps all the pages in the websites of over 60 European Union bodies, has over 17,000 hyperlinks in over 18,000 branches - try getting that amount of information in a single, usable Word document ;-)

  • re-organising the map content quickly, intuitively, flexibly, organically, responsively, as you want so you stay in control.

  • formatting the map with great information cartography tools to get the look and feel that you want eg. the ability to use your own, customisable image libraries.

  • visualising information in different ways within the map eg. as embedded spreadsheets, charts etc.

  • creating new information from existing information within the map using formulas and auto-calculation features that incorporate data from sub-branches (branches can also be formatted according to the value of the newly calculated data to aid visualisation).

  • tagging map branches using your own or imported tags and groups of tags.

  • querying your information like a visual database by filtering the map on text string values and/or formatting element and/or tag. Query results can then be saved instantly as a new map.

  • re-purposing existing map elements to quickly use in other maps, either by simple copying and pasting, or as map parts which can be made available to all users in a library.
  • hyper-linking to online resources, with multiple hyperlinks on a single branch and a built-in web browser so you never have to leave the MindManager environment to view the resources (one of our personal favourites :-)

  • exporting information to other "standard" formats such as Acrobat pdf, Word, PowerPoint, Excel etc.

  • sharing your map so that others also have the benefit of discovering / accessing a huge amount of information in a more compact and intuitive to navigate - "drill down, not scroll down!".

  • presenting /publishing your map to make it easier to transfer knowledge and experience in a form that makes it easier for others to act upon it.

  • adapting & extending the softwares capabilities via the API (Application Programming Interface) and macro writer to create  bespoke solutions.

  • enabling people and organisations to not just collect and organise information from a huge range of different sources into the one environment, but to assimilate it and act upon the inights it provides them to get the stuff done that they need to do, in a more productive way. For example the great project / task management tools and templates are used by project managers controlling multi-million dollar projects and project programmes around the world.

In addition there is a community of official Mindjet partners (such as ourselves) offering a range of value-added services and add-ons / plug-ins that greatly extend the functionality of Mindmanager, which is already pretty awsome anyway!

All of these mean MindManager is a hugely flexible, digital information tool that provides practical, focused, low-cost solutions to help people and organisations stay on top of their information and ideas, and get a lot more done with a lot less stress... :-)

Further information and lots and lots of MindManager resources can be found in our MindManager Resources pages:-

Go to our Why We Use Mindjet MindManager page
Go to our Mindmanager Features page
Go to our MindManager Applications page
Go to our MindManager Try / Buy / Upgrade page
Go to our MindManager Websites page
Go to our Knowledge Mappers MindManager Resources page
Go to our Mindjet International Value Added Partner (MIVAP) network page
Go to our MindManager Add-Ins page

 

TRY / BUY / UPGRADE to the latest versions of Mindjet MindManager at our discounted partner rate.

 

 

MindManager Add-ins

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MindManager is already a great digital information mapping software tool “out of the box”, and has been since it first appeared in 1994, but it is also currently the only one of its type that has a rich, well documented API (Application Programming Interface). This has allowed 3rd parties (such as those in the Mindmanager International Value Added Partner (MIVAP) network) a long time over which to have developed "off the shelf" add-ins that greatly extend the capabilities and of MindManager. It is often also possible to develop bespoke solutions for individual customers to help them get the most out of their particular MindManager setup.

All the currently available "off-the-shelf" add-ins we could find are listed on our MindManager Resources page along with links to download free trial versions from the developers websites (some of the add-ins are free). However we wish to give special mention to the following as without them we would not be able to create the sort of maps we do here at Knowledge Mappers.

We need to acknowledge the fact that we couldn’t produce many of our maps without the MAP for Mindmanager add-in created by the good people at Olympic Limited, one of our fellow Mindjet Value Added Partners that have been developing value add solutions for over 14 years!

Further information on add-ins can be found in our MindManager Resources pages:-

Go to our MindManager Add-Ins page

 

 

Adobe Acrobat As A Map Sharing Platform

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MindManager has the unique capability to save maps in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format. Furthermore the freely available Adobe Acrobat Reader software now has the in-built ability to interactively view the maps with many of the original featrures still available:-

  • collapse / expand branches

  • branch images & styling (within limits)

  • branch notes (although if the original note contains an image the entire note is not rendered in the Acrobat version)

  • hyperlinks (web pages will open in the users default browser, as unlike MindManager, Adobe Acrobat software does not have an in-built browser)

Thus we have made Adobe Acrobat versions of our maps available through our store where possible. Obviously however there are limitations. The map is still a static, read-only file which the user cannot ammend or add to. Also not all MindManager map structures and formatting is supported and sometimes this means it is not possible to offer an Acrobat version of a particular map. That said it's still a tremendous thing that greatly improves the sharing of information in MindManager map format.

Download the latest version of the FREE Adobe Acrobat Reader from the Adobe website

 

 

Other Information ("Mind") Mapping Software Programs

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Since we began there has been an explosion in "mindmapping / information mapping" software. Many of these other software packages may be able to view maps in MindManager (.mmap) format, so it is possible that other map  formats may be added to the Knowledge Mappers store in the future.

However...... this will depend on the compatibility of the other mindmapping software with the features of our MindManager maps. For example:-

  • Number of branches - Some of our maps contain a very large number of branches (the largest map we have so far created has over 17000 branches). In our experience maps of this size cannot be handled by other software.

  • Varieties of Structure - Traditionally mindmaps have a radial structure - a central idea with branches and sub-branches radiating out in all directions. However many of of our maps utilise the many non-traditional maps structures on offer from Mindjet such as right-only, tree map, organisation map etc. and so again this cannot be handled by other software.

That said we are happy to talk to software manufacturers and explore the possibilities of offering maps in other formats.

Download the 2016 Annual Mind Map Report
from the BiggerPlate website

 

 

Geographic Information Digital Mapping Tools

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Our original background is in digital geographic mapping and analysis of spatially referenced information so we have over 25 years extensive experience working with geographic information mapping tools. From simple mapping tools like Google Maps and Google Earth, to full blown analysis software like ESRI and MapInfo (known collectively as Geographic Information Systems, or GIS for short).

Through utilising all these tools in the correct way and combining the results with more mainstream visualisation tools like Google Charts, geographic information can be easily shared with non-experts using interactive, map-enabled, interactive data portals, such as the one below, which we have created for our School Travel Health Check service.

At Knowledge Mappers we don't regard recording information and knowledge on geographic maps as anything fundamentally different to using knowledge mapping software like MindManager. Indeed it is our aim as a company to increasingly build upon the synergy between the two information mapping processes.

 

TRY / BUY / UPGRADE to the latest versions of Mindjet MindManager at our discounted partner rate.