An example of using mind mapping to assist software design

Recently?Andrew Binstock of? wrote a blog on the topic of using a mind mapping software to help designing software.

Actually, I’m using mind mapping a lot when designing various parts of a software.
And the following is an example – I used?MindVisualizer ??to have designed a backup file format for Writing Outliner?(a outliner software that’s embedded into MS Word) .

Not very fancy, but it’s really been a great help in that it made that thinking process much more clear, because during that thinking process I don’t have to remember every details while I have the big picture right in front of me.

MindVisualizer is more portable-friendly now

I didn’t update my mind mapping software blog for a while, here are some noticeable changes in the latest MindVisualizer mind mapping software.

Auto detects drive letter changes

There is a headache thing when using the portable ?version of MindVisualizer on a USB memory stick – the drive letter changes when you plug your USB drive into other computers, and as a result, hyperlinks that link to files in the portable USB stick will become broken.

Now here is the solution for this headache: MindVisualizer automatically detects the drive letter changes, that means if your portable memory stick is F:\ on your computer and you have your mind maps stored in folder F:\mind\maps\for\work\ and you are cross linking them, your hyperlinks will not be broken when you plug your portable stick memory stick to your office computer and use MindVisualizer Portable, even the drive letter has changed to G:, H: or whatever it is.

Easy mind mapping with keyboard shortcuts

Now ind a mind map, you can move a child node up/down with keyboard shortcuts: <Alt> + <Up/Down> arrow keys.

Now you can move the selected floating topics in your mind maps around with <Alt> + arrow keys.

MindVisualizer mind mapping software V3.8.8: enhanced document export

Now with the?new version of our mind mapping software MindVisualizer, the image of the mind map will be included in the first page of the exported document. Formats affected:

  • Adobe PDF (Portable document format)
  • Microsoft Excel spreadsheet
  • OpenOffice document
  • OpenOffice spreadsheet
  • Html web page

The following mindmap export formats are not affected as you can already include the mindmap picture with these formats:

  • Microsoft Word??/li>
  • Rtf file
  • PowerPoint PPT document

This release also addressed some small bugs.

You can download mind map software MindVisualizer here.

MindVisualizer V3.86: Enhanced live filter and better mindmap and document output.

Hi folks,

A new version of MindVisualizer – the easiest yet feature-rich mind mapping software, has been just released, the following outlines the major enhancements and you can download it here.

1.Enhanced visual style.

The mind maps in MindVisualizer are now look better with gradient and shadow support. ?Example below:
Gradient and shadow

2. Document export enhancements:

  • PDF, HTML, Excel OpenOffice export include?text notes.
  • Document export includes floating topics.

3. Enhanced instant filter.

You can instantly filter topics that have task info attached to them by Status, Priority, ?Start date, Due date and Context. Screenshot on the right below.
Live filter with task info support

4. Enhanced support for concept mapping:

  • Now besides curved topic relation, you can now also add?straight topic relations into a mind map.
    straight and curved relation styles

5.Other enhancements:

  • Avoid the lines from main topic to the central topic being crossing over each other when there are a large amount of main topics.
  • MindVisualizer can properly handle opening of topic attachments that are associated with a DLL other than an executable program.

4. Bug fixes:

  • The picture is out of the page when printing a mind map.
  • Occasional “Access Violation” error when saving the maps.
  • “Range check” error after deleting all items of the “task contexts list” in the Task info sidebar.
  • Occational error when running under Windows 2000.

Enjoy the new version!

A good explanation of why mind mapping works for writing projects

Dan Woods, CTO and editor of Evolved Technologist, recently wrote an article (link at bottom) on, and explained very well why mind mapping works for long writing projects, especially when you ?have to work on multiple projects at the same time.

Dan first stated two problems of the traditional, linear way:

  1. First, writing is a series of creative activities, it’s not a work that you start from the beginning?all along to the end, it’s rather a non-linear way like Dan explained:”We brainstorm, interview someone, or review a transcript and want to add a note to another part of the outline. We page up or down, find the right spot, and then add the note“,and the problem is that

    It doesn’t take long for paging up and down to become frustrating and exhausting, like running up and down flights of stairs to do your work.

  2. The second problem happens when you return to a writing project from other work or another writing project -when?the information is stored in an outline and notes, you?have to slog through pages of material to refresh the context and recapture your thoughts, and actually most of the case the context you captured isn’t quite complete.

Dan then explained how mind mapping solves the above two problems:

  • The two-dimensional space of mind maps allows you to navigate around quickly with mouse, and put an idea in the right place in the hierarchy, expanding and folding the level of detail as needed. Because this is quick and easy, ?engages capturing more ideas and reorganize them faster.
  • When you return to a mind map of the writing, the context of the latest thinking is quickly restored, nothing is missing or lost, because you can see the big picture of the writing project and the relation between different parts.

Other benefits of min mapping for writings:

  1. Capturing ideas from an interview. I think this is because with mind maps you don’t have to write long sentence, you mind will not be interrupted so that you can follow the?interviewee.
  2. Taking notes when ?reviewing a transcript or other material.

BTW, I’m excited that some features of the upcoming professional version of MindVisualizer mind mapping software will make the long writing projects easier 😉

Click here for Dan Woods’ great article about mind mapping for wring.

Mind mapping for GTD?

GTD (Getting things done) for time management and productivity invented by David Allen is really a great way ?for task management and project management, and it’s becoming more and more popular nowadays.

On the other hand, according to Chuck Frey’s survey, to do listing and project management are two of the most frequently used areas of mind mapping.

So this question came to my mind: How good can mind mapping play for GTD? Mind mapping is well known for its ability to see the big picture of information, maybe this can be used for the process of determine the next action and reviewing?

Mind mapping example

Well, since we are working on the professional version of MindVisualizer, it’s been a while since the last major upgrade of MindVisualizer Standard. But I’d like to let you know that MindVisualizer is actually being improved constantly, so I am posting a mind map example that shows the new gradient style that’s added recently. In this mindmap example, the diagonal gradient style that’s is one of the three supported, the other two are vertical and horizontal gradient. No mind map samples will be posted for the later two, because you’ll be soon able to apply that look and feel to your own mind maps after the next new version of MindVisualizer Standard is released.

BTW, if you are an existing MindVisualizer Standard user, you’ll notice the improved graphic quality, that’s true because we’ve also changed some underlying code for the drawing part.

the 'SQ4R reading method' mind map example
the 'SQ4R reading method' mind map example

concrete5 – A very promising open source CMS I found!

There are a lot of open source and commercial CMS available, but concrete5 is a the most easy and intuitive one I found recently, it’s as easy and intuitive as google creator, but it’s far more powerful, the unique feature it provides is that you can edit your whole site in the WYSIWYG mode.

Note, I am saying you can?edit the whole site visually! Oppositely,??in WordPress you can edit the posts/pages with its WYSIWYG editor, but all the other elements such as header/sidebars/footer you have to setup/edit/configure them in other none-visual ways.

The down side is that is pretty new and there is not too much themes available, but I think it’s very promising!

?Check their administration control demo and you’ll be amazed how easy and intuitive it it!the link?concrete5

a mind mapping and business problem solving discussion

The author of the mind mapping software blog Chuck Frey has just added a post to invite his readers to share their thoughts about creative problem solving. ?According to the mind mapping related discussions?taken place in Chuck’s blog, I can imagine that this will be another hot topic, as a?mind mapping software?developer I can’t wait to see the insightful comments that are supposed to be?upcomming!Join the discussion now?

New Gmail Feature: Contact picker (Google Apps) only

Google has just now introduced a long-awaited feature for Google Apps (formerly known as gmail for your domain) – contact picker, and it’s really what I expected!

Now the “To: “, “CC:” and “BCC:” next to the recipient list box is clickable, as following:

clickable label

And you click on it the “contact picker” window will pop up:

gmail contact picker popup window

In the “contact picker” window:

  1. On the top is the search (filter) box, as you are typing the search string the contacts will be filtered instantly, so that you can locate a specified contact easier. Nice! This is a filter-as-you-type feature, like what we implemented in our mmind mapping software MindVisualizer ? . Note: You can only search for contact names but cannot search for the domain part of the contact’s email addresss.
  2. Under the filter box is the contact group, and there are 3 built-in groups: “my contacts”, “most contacted” and “suggest contacts”. And you can even define your own groups, see below.
  3. The contact list is below the contact group, which you can click to select.
  4. The selected contacts are displayed in the bottom area, and once you click Done the selected contacts will be added to TO, CC or BCC box in the email composing window, depends which which link you clicked to call up this “contact picker” window.

To conclude, it’s a great feature which many google apps? users (and gmail users? Sure!) have been hoping for a long time, tough I think the “filter as you type” search box should support filtering against the whole email addresses. And I believe this great function will be supported in gmail very soon!