The last couple of months have seen the launch of several new Web-based mind mapping software tools. Chuck Frey predicted that we would see more this year. The recent launch of the beta version of Mindomo from EXswap is a new and welcome addition to the world of mind mapping software, raising the bar significantly for both Web- based and desktop software providers.
Mindomo is a Web-based mind mapping software tool that runs in your browser, with the maps being stored on their server. But what distinguishes Mindomo in this growing field is genuine desktop-quality functionality. Pretty much everything you need from basic desktop software is there - rich formatting, curved lines, images and symbols, relationships, notes fields, task data, drag and drop editing, Web hyperlinks, and import from Mindjet MindManager. Clearly a lot of thought and work has gone into it. But rather magically, you don't need to download or install anything. You only need a Web browser with a Flash player. If you are a corporate user with a locked-down desktop and an active IT police force, this is a highly attractive proposition - especially with the elimination of issues such as upgrades, service packs, multiple location licensing, platform locking, and synchronising files between your desktop and laptop. All these things become history. Most business users these days have a desktop and a laptop, and an increasing number have both Microsoft and Macintosh platforms. I even heard a rumour that Eric Mack was going to get a Mac...
What is scary for desktop software publishers is that straight out of the box, Mindomo is multi-platform and enables collaborative working at no cost. The challenge of persuading your colleagues to purchase and install desktop software so that they can work with you has been eliminated, with few compromises on functionality. No more "read-only" viewers for one-sided collaboration. You can simply create a joint account on Mindomo Free edition and access each other's maps from anywhere. The basic version is free, but there are other (purchasable) editions that provide secure connections or even installation on your own server for security-conscious corporate users. This approach is a critical distinction between "free" and "Open Source"; Mindomo is free to use at one level, but you can migrate to a commercial and contractual relationship where you need to. Open Source will always remain in a grey area for many commercial organisations.
Almost as a by-product, Mindomo creates a visual "Wiki" where users can collaborate on shared maps, and can publish templates and examples for anyone to use. I don't think I am alone in regarding Wikis as full of potential in theory, but rather awkward and to understand and use in practice. On Mindomo, a shared account acts as a Wiki where you can control the membership.
In the article about using mind mapping software to map out events, a few readers asked if there was a template map available. Here is the template on the Mindomo site. If you create a free Mindomo account, you can edit this map and save your own private copy of it, or publish an amended version for others to access, which is all rather cool.
As a beta, there are of course some features still "under development" - but based on the quality of this beta, I don't doubt that EXswap will deliver them.
Mindomo Web site: www.mindomo.com