Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Easy, Elegant Scapple Brightens Mind Maps

Those wanting help in navigating complex ideas often turn to mind mapping software, and Scapple is one of the best on the market. The Mac app brings structure to concepts, but in a user-friendly, drag-and-drop way. The economical design and quick import options also make sure nothing gets between users and their ideas.

Scapple isn't a spelling mistake for that Pennsylvania Dutch concoction made with pork scraps, corn meal, flour and spices.

In fact, scapple is actually a word meaning to work roughly, or shape without finishing.

It's also the name of a dynamite new mind mapping program from Literature and Latte, the folks who brought the Mac world Scrivner.

Mind mapping isn't exactly a new category of software and the folks at L&L aren't me-too types, so you know they wouldn't try their hand at this kind of software if they didn't think they could add value to it.

That they did.

Scapple is not only easy and fun to use, but it's one of best mind mapping programs for creatives in the market.

Blank Canvas for Ideas

Mind mapping is based on the idea that we think visually, not in outlines. When we attack a project, we have ideas swirling around in our heads and can best make the connections to those ideas in a free-form way -- no Roman numerals, letters and numbers.

While mind mapping programs can give you the free-form freedom you're looking for with ideas, they do force you to connect your ideas -- maybe before you are ready to do that.

For example, when you write down one idea, the program will typically automatically connect it to the next idea you write, unless you manually intervene.

Scapple doesn't even make those kinds of minimal impositions on your thought processes. It gives you a true blank canvas for your ideas.

Making Connections

You can type an idea anywhere on that canvas by moving your cursor to wherever you want the idea to appear and double-clicking the spot. Alternatively, you can use the command-control keys to start a new idea.

As you start populating the Scapple canvas with ideas, you might want to move some ideas close to others. All you need to do is click and drag the idea to its new location.

Now you may notice how some ideas relate to others. You want to connect those ideas. No problem. Click one of the ideas you want to connect and drag it to the other idea. The "dragged" idea will bounce back to its original location and a dotted line showing the connection between ideas will appear on the screen.

You can reposition either idea, and the bond between them will stretch and shrink to accommodate the changes.

Don't like the connection anymore? Just drag one idea onto the other and the link will be broken.

Don't like the ideas either? Click on them and tap delete.

Using Arrows to Target Ideas

Dotted lines are OK, but a mind map isn't a mind map without arrows.

Scapple lets you link ideas with arrows on the fly.

To create an arrow from an idea you've dragged to another idea, hold down the option key as you drag and drop the idea.

An arrow in the other direction can be created by holding both the option and command keys while dragging and dropping ideas.

Two-way arrows can be created by holding down the shift and command keys during a drag and drop.

If you see two ideas connected by a link, and suddenly you realize that there should be another idea between the pair, you can double-click on the link and a box will pop up, allowing you to insert the idea between the other two.

Stacking Ideas

While a mind map's horizontal dimensions are its strong suit, sometimes the vertical relationship of a series of ideas can be too obvious to ignore. Scapple lets you group those ideas in "stacks."

For example, let's say you have an idea that you'd like to connect with several URLs. You could connect everything together with dotted lines or arrows, but a stack might be more useful.

You could create your idea, select it and then hit command-enter. A new box will appear immediately below the idea. You can paste your first URL in that box, select it, hit command- enter again to create the next item in the stack, and so on until the stack is finished.

By the way, URLs in Scapple are live, and clicking on them will take you to their location on the Internet.

When you're creating ideas on the fly, you might not see what makes a good stack of ideas. That's not a problem. You can select the ideas you want to stack by using shift- or command-click and choose "stack" from Scapple's menu bar. All the ideas will be neatly stacked under the first idea you selected.

Shining Star

In addition to associating ideas by stacking, you can also place borders around them. That will make them stand out on the page.

You can also lock the ideas inside the border you draw around them by choosing "magnetic" from the Notes pulldown menu. Locking ideas in the shape allows you to move both the shape and ideas around as a single unit.

Scapple not only accepts keyboard input, but you can also drag pictures and document files into it.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

MindMaple Inc. Launches MindMaple v1.61 with Educators and Students in Mind

Expansive features and real-time collaborative functions elevate MindMaple’s potential as education technology.
MindMaple Inc. has released v1.61 of their mind mapping software, MindMaple. Developed with students and teachers in mind, this version seeks to bridge the gap between instructor and student, and overcome the restrictions of group work.

MindMaple v1.61 includes improved formatting, export options and increased style options. The cloud-based collaborative function is arguably the most notable feature added to this update. This feature allows users to upload, save, and launch mind maps or information maps, to their Google Drive. The cloud-based functionality allows the publisher and collaborator to utilize and edit the mind map from any location equipped with an Internet connection. Instructors can upload syllabi, lecture outlines and such, online for students to readily access. Students can upload organized lecture notes or brainstorm group assignments without having to hover over one computer screen. MindMaple’s collaborative feature seeks to improve the process of group work and content creation.

Another useful feature for educators and students alike are the added template and theme maps. Templates, such as lesson plans, and themes, like Blackboard, offer recommendations on how the software can be utilized in the classroom. The sample maps can be altered to fit the needs of the user or used as a source of inspiration.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Beta Tool: Coggle Provides Clean and Easy Mind Maps

BETA COGGLE aims to set itself apart from other mindmapping tools with an ultra-clean interface and user experience. Controls are a cinch -- add an unlimited number of parent/child nodes with a simple mouse click, or delete nodes by holding the 'Ctrl' key down first. Colors, grouping, and spacing are updated auto-magically to ensure the map is always easy to read and trace. You can optionally share mindmaps Google Drive-style, giving collaborators read/write privileges, or review the mindmap creation process with a handy timeline slider.

Coggle is a simple, beautiful, powerful way of structuring information. It's designed to help you understand things, and then share your knowledge by arranging your document in the same way that your mind works. This way of working is called mind-mapping, and is a very powerful way of learning, storing and sharing information.

Coggle supports: * Real-time Collaboration * Markdown formatting * LaTeX syntax for the inclusion of math expressions (use LaTeX via the \\( \\\) or \\[ \\] escape sequences) * Downloaded as vector PDF or as PNG

Other software is ugly, complicated, difficult to use, and often extremely expensive: Coggle is free, simple, beautiful, and it always will be. Coggle is aiming to provide a new tool to the people stuck in the world of conventional documents, lists and spreadsheets, not just to convert the people who already love mind-mapping.

Everyone from business teams sharing information on a project, through students and teachers, to individuals organising their own lives.


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Monday, April 22, 2013

MindMup is a free, effortless way to create mind maps in moments

Mind maps are fundamentally very simple. You can create one on the back of a napkin in mere seconds, so it follows that there should be an equally effortless way to do it online. And there is: MindMup, a free and lightweight service lets you throw together simple mindmaps without having to download anything, open an account, or do anything else. It's Web-based, too, so it works across Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

When you go to, you first see a default map explaining how the service works. It goes over keyboard and mouse use, and includes notes on how open and frictionless the service is. And for once, it's no hyperbole: MindMup requires no registration to work, not even when you save your mind map. And if you're afraid of saving your work to the service, you can easily connect it with your Google Drive, or even save to the local browser storage using HTML5.

MindMup is JavaScript-based, so you don't need to have Flash installed to use it.The service works best for simple mind maps. You can nest nodes, change their color, expand or collapse them, and move them around using the mouse. Motion is accompanied by pleasingly smooth, bouncy animations.

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Off the Beaten Path: The Benefits of Mind Mapping Your Career

For a lot of us, we don’t know what we want to be when we grow until we grow up; even then, our choices might turn out differently than we’d hoped — or just plain wrong. And while daydreaming of stardom or veterinary school is a practice we strongly encourage, it doesn’t always help turn your aspirations into action. Even those of us that are thrilled with the path we’re on can use some direction now and then — luckily, there are methods and tools that make analyzing our professional needs pretty easy.

Naturally, those of us at Mindjet prefer mind mapping. Brainstorming ideas, realigning choices, and seeing new connections is an awesome way to go from thinking about making things happen to actually getting them done.

Choosing a Direction: Inside-Out or Outside-In?

Deciding on a starting point is typically the first thing to do, right? What’s cool about mind mapping is that you don’t have to. If you can’t think of a linear path you’d like to travel, that’s perfectly okay — starting a map is all about asking questions.

What’s your current job? What do you like to study, watch, listen to? How much money do you want to make? Do you want to travel, live in a particular city, start a family, own a dog? No question is too ridiculous or unimportant when you’re mapping your career — remember, the average person spends 90,000 hours working during their lifetime (that’s 10 straight years, 24/7). It’s probably a good idea to make those hours worth more than just a paycheck.
Farnoosh Brock of the Prolific Living blog has some great suggestions for things to consider as you build your career map. My personal favorites:

  • Values you’re not willing to compromise on, such as flexibility or integrity
  • What you’re not willing to do or whom you wouldn’t want to work with
  • How you want to see yourself and be seen professionally
  • What you’re willing to invest for yourself and career (education, training, etc.)
Since mind mapping is the digital equivalent of brainstorming, you can always delete, change, and rearrange later — get the important questions answered up front. You’ll learn a lot about where you are and where you really want to go.

Read complete at wrote by Arwen Petty

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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Mind your business… easily

Managing business has been made simpler with increasing use of mind maps in analysing the components that make a business model work.

What do Boeing, BB­C, Google and P&­G have in comm­on? All these global companies use Mind Maps to increase their efficiencies in ope­rations and save valuable time and money. Using mind maps in businesses have become global trend but is still nascent and evolving in the country.

“For setting up or managing any business, the key attributes are ideas and thought process ap­art from resources and infrastructure. Why not giving physical shape to those ideas using mind maps to analyse and get clarity for better understanding,” says Koteshwar, Educe Learning.

One may doubt, how is it different from things to do or points that one note. He says, “It explains the entrepreneur to think a lot in one direction with clarity and organised way. For instance, if you write a business needs on a paper, you may not actually concentrate each of the sub-sets that you need to do to achieve that objective. However, mind maps are radiant, colourful with curves and pictorially depicted as maps. The objective of the business is at the centre and the things required to reach that objective can be stems. Further, each of the stems can be divided to facilitate each of those things required.

“The nature works in a radiant way from brain to tree. Working in this style will help to think in multiple directions on each of the subject that gives a better and holistic understanding. The pictorial and colourful looks break the monotony and make the person to remember in simple and easy fashion. Few pages of information can be integrated in one map and can be made easy to understand.

“Working in a radiant fashion doesn’t let the person to stop thinking on one aspect. He may immediately jump in to next aspect and comeback to the one when it is needed. However, if we work on linear fashion, it is difficult to leave the gap and further fill and in a way making the entrepreneur stuck at a single point which need to be solved rather than working on individual aspects,” he explains.

“The decision-making can also be quick and at the same time informed by simply analysing pro and cons of the given problem. For instance, the entrepreneur can analyse the problem in a detailed way and work on it. These questions need to be thought while drawing mind map; What is the problem; Why and when it’s started and its implications? When and how are we going to address? Who are responsible and who can solve it? Answering these questions on mind map will help the entrepreneur to get a better understanding and work on each of the possibility individually aiming to solving the problem.”

On learning resources, he says, “There are multiple free and paid tools. Many companies are already using these applications. It is not about the cost but the intention of the user that is required to integrate and use in everyday operations. There are many resources like free apps on phones, tablets and PCs. If they want to enhance further they can attend different workshops that are being conducted in the City.”

About its usage in different industries, he says, “This is being used across industries from aerospace to automobiles. However, it is greatly trending in educational institutes. Some schools are converting each subject into one mind map that helps students to easily remember, comprehend and revise in minutes during exam time. The student can explain the answer in much better way with the help of mind maps.

“This is also trending as project management tool. For instance, Boeing saved $11 million by using this as a tool. The aerospace processes are complex involving various parts and departments. The 25-foot long mind map helped the engineers to understand and learn the engineering manual. This also helped each of the team member informed about each of theirs project developments and ideas using shared mind maps. This helped the team members to maintain pace and generate new ideas.”

Read complete at wrote by Prudhvi Raju

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mind mapping and its benefits

Understanding how the technique helps link teaching with learning, enabling students to “learn how to learn”

Lexicon Reading Centre is hosting a lecture by Tony Buzan, inventor of the Mind Mapping technique, at The Library, Rashid Hospital, Dubai. The Mind Mapping for Students with Dyslexia and Dysgraphia is a workshop to help educators detect students’ understanding of presented information, diagnose and remedy students’ learning issues efficiently, and connect with them through visual maps. The mind mapping technique helps link teaching with learning, enabling students to “learn how to learn”. It also fosters creativity, ideas generation, enquiry and problem solving.

Buzan spoke to The weekend tabloid! last week regarding the technique and how it can be used to enhance learning.

Please explain what mind mapping is about

Mind map is a thinking map like the map of a city, but for your mind. A mind map is used to help you find your way around your thoughts.

The intrinsic tendency of the brain is not learn in a linear format, but through imagination and association. Based on this insight, the technique employs visual representation of individual thought processes to provide a creative, innovative and efficient tool for learning. It is a powerful graphic technique which provides a universal key to unlock the potential of the brain by using an array of colourful graphics connected to a central topic. It harnesses the full range of cortical skills — word, image, number, logic, rhythm, colour and spatial awareness — in a single, uniquely powerful manner. In so doing, it gives you the freedom to roam the infinite expanses of your brain. A mind map can be applied to every aspect of life where improved learning and clearer thinking will enhance human performance as it helps organise thoughts and gives an easy-to-follow structure to the learning process.

How much is the technique still viable in our digitally oriented world where varied information is available at the click of a button?

We live in a world that increasingly seems to require more of intelligence and ingenuity in its young minds. As people tend to depend on hi-tech gadgets to provide information, there is very little effort to improve memory skills or think creatively. Mind maps stimulate “comparison thinking” and encourage capacity for creative associations.

Also, due to the same gadgets, attention spans have shrunk, so much so sometimes a half-hour class is not long enough for a child to grasp what’s happening in class. A teacher may create a teaching plan but does the child have enough time to understand or create a mind map for himself, so he can take in the information and write it down at the same time?
It is important for teaching institutions to allocate time for children to understand and then interpret the information through techniques such as mind mapping. If we don’t have time to teach children the right way of learning, then it will be a waste of time. If what is being taught cannot be remembered or understood by the child then it defeats the purpose of the efforts and time expended by both parties. This is why around the globe so many parents are removing their children from traditional educational systems and enrolling them into home-school systems where they have the freedom to express themselves in a creative manner or even day-dream and make use of colour in their learning process.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

MindMaple Inc. Releases Their Full Mind Mapping Software for iPad Users, Including Updates to Their Complete iOS Product Line

MindMaple for iPad is their full version, which gives users the ability to create and edit collaborative mind maps in real-time. With document sharing via Google Drive and DropBox Integration, online collaboration has never been easier for the mind mapping community!

MindMaple Inc., the Silicon Valley based mind mapping software company, have officially launched their latest app for the iPad community. This product has been specifically developed to help bridge the gap between PC users and the ever growing iPad market.

MindMaple for iPad is a fast and intuitive way of organizing and prioritizing information. The education sector has found MindMaple products to be particularly useful as software for teachers, allowing them to create and organize their lesson plans. Students benefit by using it for lecture notes, idea sharing and problem solving. Those in the business world use it to manage their busy schedules, for brainstorming sessions, project management and more. The newest feature gives users the ability to create and edit collaborative mind maps, with a user-friendly interface and additional features to assist in maximizing productivity and efficiency.

You can download their mind mapping software by visiting their website or downloading directly from iTunes.

MindMaple Inc. have also created an online guide that provides step-by-step instructions on how to utilize their real-time collaboration feature. Users can access this guide by visiting their MindMaple for iPad Help section on their website.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Build Your Career Master Plan with a Mind Map

A career plan is a map that guides you to where you really want to go professionally. While there are several approaches to career planning and mapping your way to your next job, a mind map is an excellent tool for brainstorming and organizing your career ideas—especially if you're not sure yet what you want to do.
As Farnoosh writes on the Prolific Living blog, mind maps help you visually and textually organize your thoughts in a way that gives you a structure, linking related concepts. You can use a mind map to brainstorm and discover your career purpose.

This example includes what Farnoosh calls the "foundational pillars" of your career plan—things you need to explore and answer to find your ideal career and plan where you want to go. They include:

  • Current job or role
  • Career goals and dreams (short and long term)
  • Your big why: Why you want to do the work
  • Core values: Values you're not willing to compromise on, such as flexibility or integrity
  • Limits and boundaries: What you're not willing to do or whom you wouldn't want to work with
  • Top strengths
  • Desired strengths
  • Education investment in yourself: What you're willing to invest for yourself and career
  • Execution strategies: What you might do (e.g., change jobs) to accomplish your plan
  • Role models
  • Ideal client or company
  • Ideal professional self: Describe how you want to see yourself and been seen as professionally

As you fill out the answers to these, no doubt other branches and levels will surface, creating a wide web of ideas to help you get a clearer picture of not only where you want to go but also, perhaps, how to get there.

Read complete at: | Prolific Living

Saturday, February 16, 2013

MindNode Makes Mind Mapping a Mind-Blower

Mind mapping - the process of visualizing ideas and information in much the same way that people think - has evolved from pencil and paper to digital methods. The new MindNode Pro app for Mac, however, makes mind maps easier to navigate with features that play into our media-rich, link-embedding, social-sharing era of computing.

Mind maps don't have anything to do with identifying the contours of your brain -- although they may give you an inkling about how your mind works.

At the heart of a mind map is the idea that we don't think in rigid hierarchies. The old-fashioned tree outline with heads, subheads and so forth can nicely organize a theme, document or white paper, but it isn't how people think or the way the brain works.

We don't think in straight lines. Our ideas tend to radiate from each other -- more like a net than a strand of rope.

That's where mind maps enter the picture. They can help you create the framework for a project in a way that's closer to the way you think.

Before computers had good graphics support, people created mind maps with paper and pencils. Pencils were a key component, as lots of erasing could be involved. Even then, a mind map could be decipherable only to its creator.

Enter the Computer

Computers have greatly improved the task of creating mind maps. Not only have they improved our ability to create more legible maps, but they've opened up the process to collaboration, something impossible in the pencil and paper age.

All the advantages computers bring to the mind mapping process can be seen in MindNode Pro (US$19.99) for the Mac.

MindNode allows you to quickly and easily create new nodes -- the spokes on the hub of your idea -- as well as create cross connections between nodes.

Back in the pencil-and-paper days, the nodes, siblings and children consisted of words. Everything was flat and two dimensional.

With MindNode, you can embellish an element in your mind map in ways that not only enhance the look of it, but make it leap into cyberspace.

Media Galore

You can add media to your maps. If you created a map of your family tree, for instance, you could display a photo with each family member in the tree.

For easy access to images, audio and movies, MindNode has a media button on its toolbar. Clicking it displays a window that gives you access to folders on your Mac where media reside.

For example, you can access your iTunes library directly through the media window. When you see an audio file, image or even video needed to illustrate an element of your mind map, you can drag it from the window to the map.

Links can also be added to elements. A reference to a court decision on a map designed to explain a public policy issue, for instance, could contain a link to a PDF file of the actual decision stored on your computer, or to a site on the Web containing the document.

Size Matters

While computer mind maps have a lot of advantages over paper ones, one area where digital maps fell down was size. Large sheets of paper cost a lot less than large computer screens. Also, when a map starts getting cramped on a sheet of paper, you can just tape another sheet to it.

MindNode addresses the size issue by giving you an infinitely sized canvas for your maps. If your map expands past the edge of the MindNode window, the program just slides left, right, up or down to accommodate the expansion.

The expanded canvas works nicely with a trackpad because you can slide around the canvas effortlessly.

MindNode, which runs on OS X 10.7.3 or later, also supports Lion's full screen mode, so not only can you get the maximum area for your mind map, but you can block out all desktop distractions to your brainstorming as well.

Mess Begone

Those messy mind maps from the bad old pencil-and-paper days are gone with MindNode, which has a number of organizational features to create cleaner maps.

If you need to remove some map clutter from sight, you can hide nodes with a single click.

You can edit your map on the fly by grabbing nodes and dragging them anywhere on the screen.

Grabbing and dragging nodes, however, can be inadequate if your map gets too complicated. MindNode thought of that; it has an auto-organize feature that will clean up things for you without your intervention.

Your map's organization can also be aided by customizing your nodes with the many choices of colors, fonts and stroke width offered by MindNode.

More Than Sharing Photocopies

With paper mind maps, sharing usually meant photocopying your map and circulating it to your colleagues. That just won't do in the age of the social web.

MindNode lets your share your maps on your local network with your other iOS devices. MindNode's makers, IdeasOnCanvas, also makes versions of the program for the iPhone and iPad.

You can also export maps created with the software into other formats, such as PDF, FreeMind and OPML, or as a PNG or TIFF image file. You can even export it as a text outline in RTF.

MindNode is a great example of how a computer has taken a productive tool for brainstorming - the mind map - and made it a robust powerhouse.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Mapping out presentations, documents and research

Quite a while ago, in the ancient times when I worked at Digital Equipment Corporation, I was introduced to a technique, called mind mapping, as part of a "Digital Management Education" course on business planning. It's been part of my daily work ever since.  I was presenting from a mind map recently. A session attendee came up afterwards and commented on my single-page "script" that allowed me to present a two-hour session.

I've spoken with a potential client from the back seat of a taxi while on the way to that company's office and used a hastily created mindmap to present exactly what information they were seeking moments later. Once mastered, this is a surprisingly fast tool for planning, research and content creation.

What is mind mapping?

Mind mapping is a technique of visual diagramming that is designed to help people outline concepts, individual components of those concepts, and link one concept to another. Proponents would suggest that this technique ties the analytical and visual portions of the brain together.

These diagrams can be as simple as a branching tree or complex works of art. The most complex of these diagrams look like flowing, organic webs of information, colors and pictures.  Since I'm often under pressure to produce results very quickly, I keep mine pretty simple.

I use this approach to planning out documents, presentations, projects and the like.  I've learned that audiences often respond better to seeing a compressed and unfolding mind map on the screen rather than being subjected to yet another PowerPoint deck.

Try searching for "mind maps examples" or "mind maps" using the image search of your favorite search engine to see examples.

Mind Mapping Tools
I've used quite a number of tools over the years. Some were quite expensive and offered tight integration with Microsoft Office. Open source tools now exist that link easily with OpenOffice or LibreOffice. These tools allowed me to map out my thoughts and observations and quickly turn them into a presentation deck or paper.

Although not an exhaustive list, here are a few that I've used:

  • MindManager by MindJet — This tool is very powerful and is relatively expensive. It links with several project management tools and Microsoft Office. A "cloud-based" collaboration tool is offered that makes it possible for groups to plan out projects together.
  • Inspiration — This was the first mind mapping tool I used. It was a Mac-only tool in those ancient times. Today, it appears to be targeting academic environments and students.
  • FreeMind — This is an open source tool that executes in Java. It is available for just about every personal computing environment, UNIX workstations and Smartphones and Tablets. It links nicely with OpenOffice and LibreOffice. These presentations and documents can be converted to the formats used by Microsoft Office.
  • FreePlane — This is a fork of FreeMind that appeared when development on FreeMind slowed. It has all of the capabilities of FreeMind.