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MindManager X5 Pro


We have to thank Tony Buzan for inventing Mind Mapping; we have to thank Mindjet for developing MindManager.In this new millennium of information explosion and ‘accelerated learning’ where the ability to earn is directly proportional to the ability to learn, one has to depend on revolutionary techniques like Mind mapping to collect, collate, assimilate, learn and retain huge amounts of information. This is also the computer era. We now use computers to perform most of our activities—writing letters, sending mails and faxes, conferencing, making telephone calls, managing our finances, and so on.

So it was quite natural that the Mind mapping enthusiasts wanted a software program so that they could do the mind mapping using their computers. Then came MindMan,the predecessor of MindManager, in 1994.Even though a revolutionary product at that time, MindMan had certain limitations—it didn’t support graphics, it was not intuitive and not very easy-to-use. Over the years the people at Mindjet worked on MindMan and introduced numerous innovations and improvements to the product. Along the way MindMan changed its name to MindManager and the latest versions are X5 Pro and X5.

MindManager is an excellent example of how the computer could be used to improve the productivity of human beings—a perfect synthesis of the human mind and the machine happens when one uses MindManager to organize things, develop ideas, do presentations, communicate with others and so on. One of the drawbacks or limitations of the manual mind maps was that one had to use paper and pencil. For a mind map to be really effective, the maps have to be constructed neatly, using different colors, using different fonts and font sizes, incorporating pictures and so on. All this was possible but a little difficult in the paper and pencil era. Also one needed considerable practice to become an expert in mind mapping as it takes some time to get the maps ‘right at the first time.

But with the MindManager, once you have learned the basic concept of mind mapping, you are as good as an expert and you can produce real professional looking maps! When using the software one does not have the limitations that he/she has when drawing the maps on paper—one doesn’t have to worry about the spacing, the neatness, etc. of the map—the software automatically formats the maps so that it looks really professional. With MindManager, one has the choice of myriad colors, fonts, font sizes, and so on. Also there is an impressive collection of graphics to choose from; and if you are not satisfied with the graphics that come with the software, you can create or import the pictures that you prefer from other sources.

According to Rose and Nicholl (Accelerated Learning in the 21st century, Dell Publishing, 1997), “maps allow you to record a great deal of information on one page and to show relationships among various concepts and ideas. This visual representation helps you to think about a subject in a global fashion and lends to the flexibility of your thinking. On a map you can literally see the structure of the subject in a way it isn’t possible with outlines. You not only can see separate themes but also the relationship between themes.Linear note-taking can’t keep up with our complexity of thought—note-making through mind maps can!

MindManager is a very powerful organization tool. The tasks for which one can use MindManager is limited only by one’s own imagination. It can be used to create and develop business ideas, it can help you in organizing the material for an article or a book that you are planning to write, it can be used as an excellent presentation tool, it is an excellent teaching and learning tool, it is a tool that can be used to communicate ideas, for brainstorming, for project management—the list is endless.

I have found MindManager an excellent tool for conceiving, developing and structuring the ideas for articles and books. I use MindManager extensively for these purposes. Most of the authors and writers will agree with me when I say that the most difficult part in writing a book is developing a well-structured table of contents (TOC). Once you have a good TOC, then half your job is done. I have found MindManager an excellent tool in developing the TOC. With MindManager I can start with the title of the book at the middle, add the major topics (the chapters), then the subtopics and so on. Also at any point in time if I want to rearrange the topics or restructure the TOC it is quite easy. I can add the manuscript delivery schedules and deadlines, the books and other references that I have to check, the web sites (and even the links to the web sites!) that I have to visit, to the map. I can also link the chapters that I have written so that I know where my files are. And the beauty of the entire process is that it is not at all a monotonous job. The MindManager—with its rich toolset, color and graphics capabilities, it scheduling, project tracking and management features—is an excellent companion for writers and authors. One can even send the book/article proposals as mind maps and it has been proven to be more effective than a written proposal.

Another area where I have found MindManager tremendously useful is in managing projects, especially software projects. The era of a single person developing a software product is long gone. Today’s software projects consist of teams with hundreds of members in different modules. The different modules or subsystems of the same project could possibly be located in different continents and can very well include people with different, social, cultural and educational backgrounds. In the case of the single-person project, the problem of the communications breakdown never occurs. When only one person is working on a project, that one person has a rather singular communication path with no need for interpretative cognition. The person has only him or himself to communicate with and, hopefully understands his or her own thought processes. When two people are working on the same project, there are now two communicators and two listeners with four potential communication paths. Not only is there a dramatic increase in the number of communication paths, there is also the problem of interpretative cognition, which now comes into play. Interpretative cognition is a part of the process that occurs when two or more people communicate with one another. It is the level of how much of a person’s communication is understood by the other person or persons. You must have encountered situations in daily life, when you said something and the listener understood something else, resulting in misunderstanding and confusion. In such cases, we say the interpretative cognition didn’t work. When a person wants to communicate some idea, he or she must describe it using words, pictures, drawings, gestures and so on. The person who is listening to this communication should see and hear the communication directed at him/her and should reconstruct the idea in his/her mind. If the two ideas are same then we can say that the communication is successful. The complexity of this process increases as the idea that is communicated becomes more complex or when more people are involved. So in the case of large software projects, where complex and sophisticated systems are being developed, the ideas that are to be communicated are complex. Also the project team may be working from different parts of the world, thus the chance to communicate face to face will be rare. So the lack of proper communication between the team members or communications breakdown can result in the failure of the project. In these cases the MindManager can be an effective tool for the project team members for communicating with one another. Also now with the MindManager Conference, one can share a map in real-time with co-workers on the Internet. This helps to discuss topic clearly and effectively and afterwards every participant has the exact map on his/her PC.

A third very important area where I use MindManager is for learning and retaining what I have learned. In today’s information age one cannot stop learning. One has to continue learning new skills, new technologies and new subjects to stay ahead of competition. This is true for individuals as well as for organizations. MindManager is a very effective learning tool. It helps in understanding complex topics and also helps in retaining (in your mind) what you have learned. If one is able to draw the map after studying a subject he/she not only must have understood the topic very well but also would have committed it to memory—the long-term memory. Some other areas where I have found MindManager and Mind maps useful are in giving presentations, in teaching, in developing product ideas, for brainstorming, for project planning, for problem solving, for decision making and so on.

I have shared with you some of the areas where MindManager can be used to improve the productivity and make life more organized and easier. I have mentioned only some of the features of MindManager, as listing all the available features will itself take quite a lot of space. You can get more information (like the features, system requirements, sample maps, etc.) about MindManager from the MindManager web site. You can take a tour (demo) at the site or you can download a 21-day trial version of the software.

I hope that you will try this amazing piece of software and reap the dramatic benefits from it. It is ideal for students, authors, business executives, teachers, preachers, marketing people, etc.—in short for any and everyone who has to learn, earn, communicate, control, plan, manage and organize!

According to Francis Bacon, the British philosopher and statesman, “Knowledge is power.” In this age of information overload where we are drowning in information and starving for knowledge, MindManager gives a person the capability to assimilate knowledge thus keeping him/her always ahead of the competition.

Alexis Leon
Alexis Leon is a software consultant, author and researcher. He is the managing director of L and L Consultancy Services Pvt. Ltd. a company specializing in web design and development and client/server application development and offering consultancy in software engineering, software quality assurance and Industrial engineering. He has written more than 40 books in various computer and management fields like Mainframes, Databases, Internet, SQL, Y2K solutions, ERP, E-commerce, Software configuration management, etc. His books are prescribed text books in many universities and training institutes in India. He holds an M. Tech in Industrial Engineering. He lives in Cochin, Kerala, India. Home page:Alexis’s Ark E-mail: alexis@lnl.net