I used MindJet’s desktop application my last year of law school to map out a lengthy paper. I was impressed at how well it helped me visualize the relationships between my ideas in less linear fashion than OneNote’s workman-like bulleted lists. I’ve since become a fan of MindMeister’s free, web-based clone, using it to map out an org chart and a procedure document.
The mind map editing interface itself works well and smoothly, and allows simultaneous editing by multiple users. One nice feature is automatic notifications; if someone edits a node that’s open on your screen, you’ll see a little tip with that information. You can also hover over any node to see who created it and who last modified it. In addition to attractively-styled topics and subtopics, MindManager Web supports callouts, attachments, hyperlinks, images, and notes; it has a respectable subset of the capabilities of the desktop versions (though it lacks many of the advanced features of the desktop client). Unfortunately you cannot export or print mind maps from the web interface, which limits its utility if you’re not completely committed to online use.
Mindjet is also promoting chat and instant meeting functionality in connect, but they’re not available in the current MindManager Web release, so I didn’t try them. The pricing for the product is tiered, starting at $8.99 per user per month for Mindjet Connect Standard (with the web client, workspaces, map editing, and chat) and moving up to $22.49 per user per month for Mindjet Connect Pro (which includes integration with Microsoft products, instant meetings, offline mapping, and version control).
It sure is pretty, but I’m skeptical whether all that shiny functionality is worth the relatively high price. Mindmeister, by way of comparison, offers users a free basic version that includes exporting to PDF and print capabilities. Who needs a flash GUI when the simple AJAX version is actually portable?
Frankly, I’m not sure what’s so difficult about mind-maps that the basic functionality couldn’t be included in OneNote or Evernote. Most mind-maps are just nested bulleted or tabbed lists in graphic form. Seems like a sophisticated note-taking app would let you switch between modes, depending upon which structure suited your subject. One new web app, Text2MindMap, is built entirely on that premise. Sadly the transfer is only one way (as the name implies).