There are hundreds of options available to consumers to help develop mind maps, all vary in cost, usability and features. The following three are options I have tested and used in the past ten years and have found valuable, some with very similar features such as shortcut keys, others with very unique features such as instant messaging and reverse engineering.
Visio is made by Microsoft, available in several different versions such as Standard, Pro and Premium its costs vary greatly depending on the needs of the consumer. The standard version however, would suit the needs of most users.
Shortcut keys which are standard across most mind map programs are used within Visio, making it easy for a user to switch or upgrade to Visio without having to learn new shortcuts.
Like all Microsoft software, templates are available for the user to help get started with tasks to be undertaken. The Microsoft website also has a large variety of other templates for users to utilise
Besides mind maps, users can also create fantastic floor plans, flow charts, org charts and almost any other document that requires the connection of shapes.
The Pro version of Visio also has a unique add on called Reverse Engineer. This add on allows the user to link visio to any other ODBC database to map the tables and relationships that operate within. Once the reverse engineer has been set up, the user can edit and alter the database directly from Visio.
Considered the biggest competition for Visio, SmartDraw is a more cost effective mind mapping program on the market, if the consumer can time the purchase during one of the frequent sales its developers have, savings of up to 50% can be made.
Shortcut keys which are standard across most mind map programs are used within SmartDraw, again making it easy for a user to switch or upgrade to SmartDraw without having to learn new shortcuts.
SmartDraw comes with a vast array of templates built into it, with more are available to download when required through the software itself.
The extras in SmartDraw are all comparable to Visio, allowing the user to also create floor plans, flow charts, org charts, and maps which link to Google. Again almost any other document that requires the connection of shapes can be created in SmartDraw.
The lesser known Catalyst Mindjet program allows users to create Mind Maps in a similar method to its competition. Unlike its competitors however, Mindjet offers a special add on that allows users to manage their Mind Maps in the cloud. A cloud feature allows users to collaborate with not only their mind maps, but other universal documents, permitting them to check-out/check-in documents for editing.
Licences for MindJet can be bought outright, or in a subscription method. By purchasing a subscription licence, the buyer receives free updates and can pay on a monthly basis, making the cost more manageable.
As with the other software programs compared in this document, shortcut keys are available which are similar to all other mapping programs. Again making the transition to a new mapping software easy.
Templates are available with MindJet however these are few in comparison to the many hundreds available in the competitors products.
Unlike the competitors, MindJet doesn’t offer extras like floor plans, flow charts and org charts. It’s in the cloud option however, provides the user with an option that none of the competition offers. Having the ability to manage mind maps locally on their a pc or in the cloud, is a fantastic resource. The ability to check-out/check-in documents for editing can also help users collaborate on documents.
Other than managing documents in the cloud, MindJet also has an Instant Messaging (IM) program built in. Although there are already hundreds of IM software packages available on the market, many organisations are slowly blocking these to prevent staff from socialising outside the organisation during work hours. By introducing an IM software within MindJet organisations are able to restrict staff to message users only of the software, again promoting collaboration.