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Show HN: Turn indented text into mind maps (tobloef.com)
323 points by TobLoef on Mar 29, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 99 comments

A few months ago one of my favorite tools http://www.text2mindmap.com went down and since there doesn't seem to be any plans to bring it back up I created my own version of the site. It's basically just a quick mashup between some of the code from the original site and some code from my Markdown Editor (https://tobloef.com/markant/), but I hope someone will find it as useful as I did.

Do you know why it went offline? I'll assume lack of funding. What would be the best way to make a niche-app like this self-funding, given developers' aversion to ads? Donations? Monthly/Annual subscription? I have a similar site that I want to spin up, that serves a different purpose but has a similar interface.

AFICT this replacement is hosted on Github pages, so there shouldn't really be any funding concerns.

Really something like this shouldn't rely on being hosted by one person. A decentralized protocol like dat[0] would solve this problem.

[0] - https://datproject.org/

Or Secure-Scuttlebutt, which vehiculates the concept of identity as a first citizen.


Here, the social aspects could be useful, like following my friends mind maps etc.

>vehiculates the concept of identity as a first citizen.

What the heck does that even mean?

It’s a perfectly cromulent sentence.

Amazing! Such an attention to detail! Love that it continues stabilizing while I'm dragging individual items. Thanks a lot for sharing this!

After using it for half a minute I love it already!!!

One thing I am missing thought is the ability to hide sub-nodes within the mind map.

Thanks for sharing :-)

Congratulations on shipping! It looks great.

What do you normally use this sort of thing for?

Thanks. I use it as I would a normal mind map, to organize ideas and sometimes visualize trees of data. I just find the text-based approach to creating mind maps a lot faster and simpler than using the various other online tools, even though it's a bit more limited.

I've used one in the past to organize my monthly routine. Seeing the "size" of my expectations for each week helps a lot. I used text2mindmap for this and a few other things. Didn't realize it was down, thanks for this!

Like it, might use it as a online alternative to FreeMind, which allows pure keyboard control, so kind of similar, at least from my perspective.

This looks great and very useful. Thank you!

OP: https://gingkoapp.com/ will blow your mind

Cool! This kind of looks like a super charged version of: https://workflowy.com/

This looks great, I'm really looking forward to giving it a try. I've been using Trello to accomplish the same thing for a while, but it hasn't been ideal. Thank you for posting that.

Landing page says nothing about what (and how) it actually does. I had to watch the youtube video to get a vague idea of what is going on.

I would have closed the website after failing to find a description if not for the warning. But the videos are very short and clear, and it'd probably be harder to explain the interface with text.

I started something similar, but it's been gathering dust lately. FWIW, some differences were:

Graph instead of tree. I'm rather baffled by the popularity of mindmaps. Even on paper, I do cyclic graphs of typed nodes and links. So the end of text lines could optionally contain link targets, node types, and "use this link type for these children".

Outline mode for text. Mirrored in the graph.

3D graph. I'm mostly interested in using it in VR/AR.

Graph nodes with arbitrary markdown. So a node might be a markdown list. Dynamically managing outline-like "collapsed vs list vs graph vs graph-with-reduced-force" was a puzzle.

Instead of online editing, it was a development kludge of file watching and hot reload.

Motivating use case: Most project management is so constrained on time and resources, that that's what tools are build around. But I do a lot of opportunistic lazy projects (eg "when browser bug #N eventually get's fixed, we could do an exploratory spike over that way, or alternately, we could take this other path which is bottlenecked on X and Y and needs a risk mitigation exercise on Z"). Even a small project can have an order-1000 node graph. And I've never seen tooling that wasn't wretched at managing them.

Hey this sounds very interesting! Is it open source / where can I read more?

> Is it open source / where can I read more?

It's just toy fragments at present. Using an idiosyncratic format. And a Windows MR HMD (for resolution), on linux(!), with three.js-but-not-WebVR (for resolution), and React, and emacs ... so in its current form, market size seems order-1. Low order one, since even I don't use it.

One might pull together something simpler for people to play with. Maybe preprocessed yaml. Just a browser window. Simple three.js. ... But I haven't.

What aspects of it sounded interesting? I'd been thinking of it as a niche itch-scratch type project.

It doesn't seem to work at all for me. Not sure why, I've checked with Chrome and Firefox on Linux (using i3 tiling window manager). I see the text outline on the left and the white pane on the right, where I assume I should see a mindmap. I see nothing but white in the large right pane, so maybe there's something you're supposed to do to get it to draw the mindmap, but I can't figure out what.

There was a bug with the styling, that should be fixed now.

Nope, still the same, can't see any mindmap or any button to click to create one.

However, I can now see some blue text up above and to the right of the menu items, which when clicked takes me to mailchimp for email. That text is unreadable for me, though, not enough contrast with the black background it's on.

I don't know what I'm supposed to see, but I assume there's supposed to be a mindmap graphic somewhere. This is what I see on both Firefox and Chrome on my system: https://screenshots.firefox.com/REX701nPf7jUrYbw/tobloef.com

I think that might be a problem with the caching. I'll look into forcing a cache refresh.

Okay, seems to be working now. And mailchimp link is visible in 'subscribe to newsletter' over by github and twitter icons.

Hey guys,

That's basically what I'm doing with my new Mindmapping tool in dev, Wigwam. I'm pre-launch, but you guys are welcome to check it out.


Let me know what you think!

Looks pretty good, I'm looking forward to trying it out. The UI a bit more cluttered than I would like, but it's nice to see something like this more fleshed out than what I posted.

Wow- great job. I could think of literally hundreds of ways to use this!

Looks great!

For those who use Markdown and Atom this plugin might also be of interest: https://atom.io/packages/markdown-mindmap

Exactly what I needed, thank you!

The idea is great, but the nodes constantly rearranging and floating around (and overlapping) makes the actual "mind mapping" hard to do, at least for me. When I look at something like that, make a few changes on the left, I would expect the right side to stay relatively the same or at least change in a more predictable way.

> the nodes constantly rearranging and floating around

Sigh. So there's like three decades of research on interactive graph layout stability. And almost none of it has become available as code. Much of graph layout is like that. Perhaps VR/AR will finally create sufficient incentive to make it more accessible.

Any suggestions on where in the literature to get started if I wanted to play around with different graph layout algorithms?

> Any suggestions on where in the literature to get started

On stable layouts for user mental map preservation with interactive dynamic graphs? I'm sorry, not really.

Avoid depending on a mental map with tasks that permit that (eg by using task-specific highlighting). Increase graph layout stability (eg by nested layouts). Simplify visual tracking (eg colored groups). ... Sorry - not my field.

I'm also interested, writing my own graph editor as a side project.

Let's see, a few very quick and crufty random thoughts... There are a great many open source graph programs available to be played with - which might contribute inspiration. And "sometimes much more easy to get working" images and videos of them. For surfing literature, I mostly use google scholar and scihub. Blog posts seem part of how the software dev community is educating itself and advancing, so perhaps do a post at some point. Perhaps approach the project like "writing a renderer" - something useful for learning computer graphics, without the expectation that it will escape the zombie fate of most graph libraries. Writing and posting a d3 example isn't hard, and might inspire others. ... Good luck.

I'll see what I can do to improve this. At the moment you can click "Lock all" under the "Mind Map" menu to lock all the nodes in place.

Act fast and add a signup field so you can get the emails of people like me who want to know when you start a hosted service.

Good idea. I added a link to a mailing list, which'll do the job until I make something better.

it's not an indented list in Safari or FireFox.


Freeplane does this and many other cool things natively.

Freeplane: Gpl, multiplatform, icons, styles, images, links, connectors, foldable, clone-nodes, scriptable (groovy, jruby, jython, javascript), efficient even with huge maps

Just have a look

Fantastic launch. It's intuitive, responsive, interactive, understandable, and cross-platform. Thank you.

I'm a longtime user of a piece of Mac software called Tinderbox which I've used use to create mind-maps (linked knowledge trees) and Text2MindMap compares very favorably in that its directness and intuitive workflow allows for immediate and direct visualization.

There's also something about the animation implemented here that for me seems to stimulate my thinking as I add nodes.

Really good stuff here.

Kudos to you for so polished a product.

Good luck.

Super neat. Quick bug report.

I started typing as soon as I could. I jotted some notes down and indented with spacebar. After I had 5-6 lines written I noticed that the webapp completely deleted everything I had written and replaced it with something else. I guess the page hadn't fully loaded yet or something. But I would recommend hiding the text view or something until it is ready, so you do not accidentally delete user data.

Otherwise super neat!

Looks neat!

Tried 1+ top level nodes and it automatically marked them as a child of first one. Not sure if this is broken or is a feature tho, just wanted to comment.

Is there any way to get this to save as a DOT[1] file? I find it less than simple to get my graphs to show up the way I want them placed. [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DOT_(graph_description_languag...

This is great stuff! You should look into integrations with dynalist or workflowy.

Also being able to read an OPML file would be a wonderful add too.

Good work.

Ok, this confirms what I had though. Mind maps are just hierarchies with a different layout from normal.

Yea, presumably in the visual format you could connect to root nodes together. Or do weird ancestor joins which would be impossible to represent in this tabbed format. But I guess that might be breaking the "mind map rules".

Looks awesome! We're in the process of building a knowledge graph and were looking for a more intuitive way to manage the main hierarchy. Adding node autocomplete would a great way to do that, especially if it could pull in existing children and dump them to text.

What's the license?

Can you explain a bit more of your knowledge graph / hierarchy? I've been working on something like this myself.

We're building a food/nutrition knowledge graph. Goal is to be able to take a product, recipe or restaurant dish that someone ate and determine what type of food it is, cuisine, ingredients, dietary properties and etc.

Sounds really awesome - any mailing list or social media where I could follow the project?

We have a newsletter sign up form on bite.ai but haven't really emailed anyone yet. The API is coming soon though so we'll probably send out a message when we launch it.

Hi, just a few days ago, I had the same problem and no text2mindmap. :(

So I started a similar project but with a different approach: I use a local webserver (written in go, because everything written in go is automatically awesome, obviously) with a filewatcher and a simple websocket to send everything to the browser.

And I use 2 spaces...


Ah damn, can't edit a comment?

Wanted to ask if you are interested in merging some ui? Your output looks much better ;)

Isn't fully working for me. Windows/Firefox. I can't drag the boxes around or activate the menu drop downs.. sigh. Looks cool though

I like the idea of transforming the text into visual representation. This project takes structure defined with tabs and builds beautiful maps. What if apply to static code analysis to produce dependency maps for the program? Or draw the type structure with their usage across the code?

CTRL-N is apparently a shortcut for new? Nice thought but this runs into standard navigation supported in OS X and most Unixes of using CTRL-N to go down a line. Kind of hard wired for me to navigate text boxes using CTRL-N and CTRL-P so would recommend another shortcut.

Otherwise very neat!

I love this, very simple yet power. Bookmarked for future use. Any chance of an offline version?

You can grab it from the official Github page:


Works perfectly offline. No server necessary :)

Add svg/pdf export and a map that grows without cropping and that would be ace

For a less "floaty" style, this is a project I build some time ago, I think I already posted it here:


My antivirus software blocked the site as malicious. I would think it's a false positive but the AV hasn't marked anything bad in the past year --- first time seeing the message. ( Also blocked the Markdown Editor)

That's weird. What antivirus do you use? And does it say anything about what caused the block?

bitdefender: an infected object has been detected on this page.

doesn't say which objext

No warning with Bitdefender.

I was going to make something like this, but I wanted it across all devices, synced to google docs based on yaml. Is there such a thing already?

The use case is really just textual entry on pcs and consumption/light editing on mobile.

Xmind has the outline editing mode that I find very useful for this very reason. Sure it's not just a simple text file but it also doesn't require edit and presentation on different places/apps.

nice work! doing quick graphs is very easy when you use paper and pen, but it's always been a pain to do with a computer!

I assume this tries to be simple enough, but maybe it would be nice if we could have some extra, quick formatting, like dashes, like in lists (-) to stack elements, or other symbols for different layouts, quick access to colors, etc. I know handling multiple layouts and auto-placement with springs simulation can be tricky, but hey... in any case, thanks again for the work, hopefully it inspires more people to work along these lines!

This is really slick. I never knew about (the now defunct) text2mindmap.com, but it seems like something I would get a lot of use out of for doing quick brainstorming sessions. Thanks for sharing!

Very nice. But are the "File" and "MindMap" menu items supposed to do something? (like export the file). On both Safari and Chrome they don't seem to have any behavior.

Yeah sorry about that, it's fixed now.

This seems to be a tree. How does one make a "graph" out of it. I want to link a single node to multiple other nodes without that node being parent.

For example.

Trump <-> Hillary

Trump <-> Ivanka

Hillary <-> Chelsea

Ivanka <-> Chelsea

Needless to say brilliant work

Nice. Could you add google login so my students could save their work?

This is really fantastic. Such a simple concept that works so well.

Awesome! Can you add a license to the Git Repo? Thanks!

This looks very cool, thank you! I have an issue, though: Can't open the File and Mind Map menus, neither on Firefox nor Chromium nor Opera.

Same. Tried in Safari and Chrome. Upon inspection, looks like something is going wrong with the styles. Changing .dropdown-content{position:absolute;} to position:fixed; brought them back for me.

Whoops, that should be fixed now, as soon as GitHub Pages updates.

I can't open them as well.

This is very helpful. Just yesterday I was using mindnode and thinking it is overkill for 80% of my mindmapping tasks. Thank you.


This is really good because of the attention paid to the ease and ergonomic physics of dragging the nodes. Keep up the good work.

Very cool. Might be nice to have standard positions so things are organized by default and don't require additional clicks.

Hi Tobias, Very elegant! Thank you for sharing it. I was wondering if you could share a non-minified version of mindmap.min.js?

Failing my least astonishment

Distinct top level entities do have edges (no distinct roots).

Identically labeled leafs are not merged (have multiple parent nodes)

Simple and cool!.

A bit of curious - I see your blog is hosted on github. Is this app also hosted in github? How is that achieved?

Simply Great, super neat. Especially that drag around on the nodes. Thank you for sharing.

Really cool tool, thanks! Maybe you could add bold text as well? Just a thought!

Looks like this could be useful for rdf/linked-data. Maybe for json-ld too.

Clean and intuitive UI, thank you for creating and sharing.

I cant seem to access it, is it down?

bitdefender just freaked out on visiting this page. just a heads up



this is great

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