I had a chance this past week to take a look at MindView 3 Business Edition, which is the latest offering from Matchware, Inc. MindView 3 is a full featured mind mapping application that is a significant upgrade from what used to be known as OpenMind 2. MindView 3, takes full advantage of Microsoft's Fluid Ribbon Interface and makes navigating, formatting, and working with your mind maps easy to jump into. MindView 3 is unique in that it offers the user a full featured mind mapping application as well as including project planning (GANTT charts) and Timeline views that are integrated into the application. I will speak more about these features in part 2 of my review.
When MindView 3 opens you can quickly start creating a new mind map, Outline, Timeline or Gantt chart from the template provided. There is also a complete library of mind map templates that are more specialized that you could start your map from. Once you select your mind map you are ready to get started to map your ideas. From within MindView 3 you can designate the style of the map that you would like to create and you have the option of creating a tradional map with your ideas radiating from the center and going out as well as selecting top-down and left/right maps. To get started you simply type you main idea and press the Enter key to have you ideas radiate from your central point at the same level. To create a sub-branch you can click on the Sub-branch icon on the ribbon or simply Press the Insert key on your keyboard. Generating your ideas moves quickly using the keyboard and within minutes you should be able to flesh out your mind map. Moving ideas on your mind map is easy and intuitive as the program gives you visual feedback along the way. With MindView 3 you can quickly add icons to your branches and sub-branches by selecting the branch and accessing the Icons from the Insert ribbon. This is a fair number of icons that when inserted will appear to the left of your idea in the branch or sub-branch. The icons cover prioritization, arrows, task completion, stars, and library of commonly used icons. You can also access a large library of clip art which can be searched from within MindView 3. Once you find the picture you are looking for you can drag it to the branch. Unless you are using a Floating Picture as it is referred to in MindView 3 the graphic will sit above the branch. While you can select the graphic and make it larger or smaller you can not place it as an inline graphic within the branch. You do have the option of bringing in any graphic of your choice as a Floating Picture which allows you to move the graphic anywhere on your map. Attaching multiple files and hyperlinks to your branches is straight forward and easily accomplisehd using the Ribbon interface. MindView 3 makes it easy to add text notes to your map and opens a large text window at the bottom of the screen to accomplish this. Using the text editor you have the freedom to format to your heart's content, as well as giving you the opportunity of inserting pictures, tables, and hyperlinks.
Formatting your mind map is very intuitive and easy within MindView 3 using the Design ribbon. Using the Design Ribbon you can quickly select from Layouts, Styles and Effects which can quickly let you format your map just the way you want to. To format the branches and sub-branches you will need to access the Properties menu from the View Ribbon to bring up the options. You can also add boundaries around your sub-branches and format them with a range of colors, gradients and fills to highlight certain areas of your map. When using MindView 3 for presentations you will find the Focus Mode and the Apply Branch Focus to be two very helpful features. If you have designed very large maps these two features help to bring your ideas into focus on the screen. The Focus Mode zooms in on your map and what you have selected and brings into focus the branch or sub-branch. Using the Apply Branch Focus will hide all of the other branches except the one you are focused on allowing you to zero in on your topic. Navigating through the two features is fast and intuitive. MindView 3 also has powerful filtering features which lets you set up rules for showing certain branches that meet the criteria. You can use Boolean logic to only show those items in your map that meet the criteria. If you have a designed a large map this feature will come in handy.
When it comes time share and distribute your map MindView 3 gives you lots of options to output your map. You can export your maps very quickly to the Microsoft Office Suite of tools including: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Project. I found the exporting to be very fast and clean with lots of options for tailoring the output. Each export gives you the option of doing a Quick or Advanced export depending on your need. MindView 3 supplies you with lots of Export templates to choose from to make your documents, presentations and projects come to life.
There is a lot to like about MindView 3- in no time you will be developing your mind maps complete with pictures, icons, and links. I found MindView 3, with the Fluid Ribbon Interface very easy to use and quick and responsive. With robust exporting to the Microsoft Office Suite, MindView 3 makes sharing and distributing your maps a cinch. In my next post, I will highlight the GANTT and Timeline feature that is built right into MindView 3 which really makes this a unique software application. Mindview 3 is a formidable mind mapping software application with a sweet spot for those who want built-in project planning tools. Look for Part 2 of this review that delves into the project planning, using calculations and the timeline features found within MindView 3.