How to use mind mapping in your MicroISV software business

You know what? I use MindVisualizer to design MindVisualizer nowadays 🙂

I recently talked with Bob Walsh about using mind mapping in one’s MicroIsv business and here is the brief? descriptions of my usages:

  1. Running?? SWOT analysises :
    1. List all competitor products I can find on the Internet;
    2. List all advantages and disadvantages for each of them;
    3. Use colors, icons and fonts to identify important parts I need to pay more attentions.

    By seeing the big picture, it’s a really a better experience than doing SWOT with tables or other non-visual approaches.

  2. Making up my pricing strategy:
    1. List all my competitor products;
    2. List all available editions for each of them;
    3. List the unit prices and discount strategies for each.
    4. Compare and get your pricing strategy out.
  3. Planning new features:
    1. Brainstorm all ideas;
    2. Identify features by its importance, with icons, colors, whatsoever;
    3. Identify whether a feature should be in the standard edition or professional edition;
    4. Like work breakdown in Project Management, I can breakdown features into functions;
    5. I can even turn the listed features/functions into tasks by assigning a scheduled date, expected duration, etc.

As you can see there are a lof of things for MindVisualizer to do with task scheduling part, in fact that is what we are working on – a project called ProjectVisualizer 😉

Listen to customers is an essential habit for software developers

I wrote an article about the text 2 mind map feature in MindVisualizer few days ago, by coincidence one of our prospects contacted us yesterday and suggested allowing directly import a text file from disk will be better, because you’ll don’t have to drag & drop or copy & paste. That’s good idea and today we quickly added a new item under the File menu and released the new version to our internal area for testing.

The end users of a software usually think in different ways from the software developer, as a software developer you might ignore something that is simple technically but important for your customers to save their time in their daily work. So listen to customers is a must-have “habit” I think, especially for software vendors competing with other already well-established big names and well-known freewares.

Today we also solved an compatibility issue? with Windows Vista, you’ll no more seeing any error when opening attachments under vista.

Convert outlined text to mind map in MindVisualizer

Simon Fodden introduced an online text2mindmap service which can? convert outlined text into a mind map, as Simon Fodden said it’s a quick way to get a mind map and I agree,? in fact MindVisualizer has the same feature and it can considerably save you time.

For example you have the indented text as following (note the underscores means spaces):

Spring
__March
__April
__May
Summer
__June
__July
__August
Autumn
__September
__October
__November
Winter
__December
__January
__February

By invoking the ‘Quick Insert Multiple Topics’ command under the ‘Insert’? main menu, you can quickly convert it to a mind map like:

convert text to mindmap, months of the year

The world’s ex-largest mind map?

Last November, Lee Xian Jie claimed that they have made the world’s largest mind map in Singapore. They did a good job. Here I want to show you the largest mind map in China – or the (ex) largest mind map in the world 😉 It was made in Shanghai, China, November 2006, it’s been over one year since then, I think it’s still worthwhile to mention it again, since as far as I know no one has mentioned it in the English world – I should have done it, I didn’t have a English blog at that time though 🙂

It was coordinated by one of my friends called Qu zhinan who is known as the most famous mind mapping blogger and evangelist in China, check the photos bellow. You won’t find me in the photos, I did not participate in that event because I was putting all my effort with my team in developing MindVisualizer. However, I will not miss the next similar, but bigger event he is planning this year, which the mind map will be 2008 (we are holding the Olympic Games in Beijing) square metters large!

Oh sorry, I forgot to tell you that the main topic of the map is “A History of Chinese Civilization”.

Year 2006-the largest mind map in the world part 1

Year 2006-the largest mind map in the world part 2

How mind mapping can clarify your thinking when designing software

A mind maping survey conducted by Chuck Frey shows that the top single benefit of mind mapping software is clarify one’s thinking, I did not participat in that survey but I absolutely second that conclusion. Have a look at the mind map below, recently when I was thinking of how to implement the new drag-and-drag feature for our mind mapping software – MindVisualizer, I had a great experience of getting my thoughts clarified completely!

With the visualization of the ideas, the map is essentially the guide for programming and a design document of this feature, we can also use the map to communicate with end users for feedback, we can even use it as a draft of the help doucment by exporting to Microsoft Word, a RTF file or a text file.

If you are a software designer, try to take advantage of mind mapping approach today! You’ll get the most of it only when you actually use it but not when you are reading the example here.

A mind map shows how MindVisualizer handles drag and drop from external applications