I generally don’t like mind mapping softwares. I rarely have a pre-made, hierarchical data that I will list down into the nodes of a mind-maping software. My data is usually messy; unstructured. It is my job to collect and structure them. The rigid structure that mind-mapping softwares imposes puts me off. It is ironic that they call them “mind mapping” tools as I find them the least mind-friendly of my tools. My brain just doesn’t work with this kind of rigid structure. My brain works with connections, and fussy boundaries. That is reality of the human mind as we know it.
I am a linguist. I know this as a matter of fact because I know the boundary between the word ‘like’ and ‘love’, ‘meet’ and ‘gather’ even between ‘map’ and ‘structure’ etc is as fuzzy as it gets. Fuzzy connections, or associations is how human brain works–not by rigid hierarchical structures.
I have considered mind-mapping software as irrelevant to my work flow. I just gave up with them very early on.
There is one exception thought. I tried them for managing projects. Very few of these applications have the capability to manage projects. The first of these tools I have tried was Xmind. Xmind has Gantt chart. I like the gantt and many of the other views like the Matrix.
But, it didn’t stick with me that much because the application is a bit cumbersome. It is very hard to pull an application everyday if it puts a bit of burden on my processor.
I used Tinderbox a bit for this kind task. I used Tinderbox longer than Xmind for managing projects. I specially used it a lot for Agile system.
Tinderbox also swamped me with large number of notes: as every pieces of task should be dropped with an individual note file. A simple task managing file immediately grew to hundreds of notes because every task requires its own individual note.
I recently tried MindView. It is a lot better than Xmind because it supports both gantt charts as well as timeline. I specially like the Timeline. It also has dedicated project management system: like managing resources; tasks: etc. I found that Mindview is much more potent system for managing project than any other mind mapping application out there.
The fact that I like the timeline a lot led me to further investigations to the applications that have this feature. In the process, I discovered Aeon Timeline. It is very neat application. Very fast and efficient.
Timeline and Gantt are unified into a single system. Best of all, zooming into the details and out to the general overview has never been easier. This guy is the first software I so far discovered that successfully showed me the big picture of my project while still seeping into the details.
In all other softwares, the choice is either or. You have to get to the details—losing the big picture; or lose the details and see the big picture. Tinderbox itself has this weakness. You have to either go to the top of the map; or zoom into one corner of the map. There is no both ways. In Aeon Timeline, flying from details to granular structures is just a matter of scrolling on your mouse; or simple punching on the touchpad. It is very beautiful. I love this easy way of zooming in and out of the details.