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My Mind: A new web-based mind map editor (github.com/ondras)
122 points by ondras on Jan 21, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 54 comments

This is really impressive, nice work! The ability to export in so many native and useful formats is really awesome as well.

One suggestion: it was not clear to me (until I RTFM'd) that I needed to press the "insert" key to insert a new node. Perhaps a few words of explanation on the homepage would be helpful?

The interface was a complete mystery to me. I clicked and dragged and hit enter and gave up. I read the manual and discovered the insert key (although I don't have one on my mac laptop) and then used tab. But I need to use my mouse to click on a node and then tab and then back to mouse and tab... seems awkward. Could you make it so i can just click and drag from a node to "pull out" a new node and have that default to have focus so i can just start typing?

With any of these sorts of programs, I think it's good to keep the pen and paper interface in the back of your mind. If it's easier/faster/more intuitive to use pen and paper, I think there's still some work that needs to be done on the interface ;)

The UI is designed (and battle-tested) to be controlled mainly via keyboard. Mouse is mostly useless (but somewhat supported for non-power users).

You definitely shall not toggle mouse/kb in an infinite fashion; stick with the keyboard control instead - use arrow keys for navigating around.

Then I guess my question is this: why is a mostly visual interface/representation mainly controlled by non-visual means? To me, a mind-map is not a "power user" tool and is used for organizing loosely understood ideas in hopes of getting a better grasp on their domain.

IMHO it should be something easy to play with, move things around, unstructured (in the sense that a user's stream of ideas won't necessarily be coming into the program in a structured way; the point of the program being to structure them), and be able to make many corrections and revisions. The goal of the tool should be to take unorganized thought and mould it into a comprehensible hierarchy that can be used to communicate ideas to others.

Using insert for childs, enter for siblings and arrows to navigate seems kind of a standard among mind maps. I had no problem at all. Using the mouse only slows down the mind to map process.

Agreed, I spent a few minutes looking around and trying to add nodes before I found the help. And then some time looking for an 'insert' key on my keyboard... haven't found it yet ;)

Wow, I never thought that an Insert key is going to be such mystery. It is kind of a standard way of inserting a new node in other mind mapping (desktop) apps...

And besides not being included on every keyboard, it's not an command key, but a text-mode toggle, in every other desktop app.

I also have no "insert" key on my keyboard. And tab just cycles through various form controls on the right..

fn+return does the trick on macs.

Tab works once you focus the map itself by e.g. clicking a node.

If it makes you feel any better I have used other mind mapping tools and Insert was intuitive to me.

I guessed (correctly) that on my Macbook Air's keyboard cmd+return is "insert".

Unfortunately cmd+return does not work on my iMac (it does the same thing as return, which is add sibling).

Or better yet, have the default map an explanation of how to get around the interface.

I love mind maps to organize my thoughts but they fall flat when presenting ideas to others. Too often a mind map is only expressive to people who think exactly like you so don't use them to present... use them to organize only.

Please turn on the help pane by default. I tried creating a new node for 2 minutes with various gestures.

I don't think many people know where to find the insert key on their keyboard.

I don't think it's so much that as that the insert key isn't used much, so it's a non-obvious choice. Honestly, any keyboard actions aren't obvious since I feel it's a mouse-based ui (less typing text, of course).

In Freemind it's the tab key, which is both intuitive and easy to find.

Tab added five minutes ago :)

Added "Tab" as well.

For a more austere mind mapping alternative, I highly recommend http://workflowy.com

Integrating Workflowy, Trello, and mindmaps would produce a better, more useful, and more complete tool.

All three use the same data structure (lists) and present it in three different ways. These three data UIs excel in different ways at input, editing, and output and are most appropriate for different tasks.

A couple of ideas for example: Workflowy is a better way to generate a mindmap, so how about a mindmap that allows you to enter your text in Workflowy style on the left half of the screen and shows you the mindmap on the right side of the screen? How about taking a node in Workflowy and allowing the user to interact with it through a Trello-style UI?

I feel there's a ton of opportunity here in personal thought management that hasn't had a killer UI yet. It's possible to get it just right, but would take an incredible design. Workflowy is the closest I've seen.

I have seen people using (or pushing) mind maps occasionally. I never got it though. How is it better or different than a tabbed outline? Is it the distance between nodes that matters? Is it because outlines are too vertical?

A mind map is a database for tracking things when you don't know what is going to be tracked and/or how they are going to be related. You start with some central interest and then add pieces that relate. Good mapping software allows you to link relationships between distant relationships, associate minor bits of data, and easily change relationships between nodes.

I once started a job supporting several pieces of software on several servers in a new environment. I took disparate notes on this and that, but it would have been easy to lose specific pieces. So, I created a mind map of (Company Name), created nodes for server names and softwares. Then, I started filling in things for access information, credentials, installed software, useful scripts, etc. Eventually, I got a map of the whole system of a dozen servers, installed software, how they worked (and didn't), etc. I became the go-to guy for those systems because I knew them so well.

What software did you use? No offense to the creator of this, but this seemed a bit buggy. I love the idea of being able to save easily to a variety of places, like Google Drive, but I would honestly be willing to try it out for a few bucks a month if it was super-intuitive and helped me get more organized. I'd prefer web-based though.

I did this when starting a new job as well. I used (and still use) XMind. Now that I'm a bit more familiar with things I find myself using it less than I did at the beginning, but it's great for rapid brain dumps.

Would you mind reporting these bugs to the official GitHub issue tracker? That would help fixing them and improving the app.

This actually does seem like a damn useful project. I'll put an issue up for keyboard problems I noticed. If I have some free time I might try to help out at some point.

My own impression (having extensively used mind maps, outlines, and whatnot) is that it depends a lot on the subject at hand and the user. Some people are better wired to use mind maps effectively (I'm not one of these, but I find them handy on occasion) and others fare better with lists (org mode or a notebook for me.)

Mind maps don't imply a hierarchy. This change in how a problem is structured can alter how you think about it. (It's basically a different data structure, which makes it easier or harder to perform certain processing on it.)

Many mind map products do imply a hierarchy, though, specifically because they often do not allow linking a child to multiple parents. While they visually appear to be non-hierarchical, spreading out in multiple directions, they usually are a data structure where each node can have multiple children, but only one parent. This can be represented in an outliner, while a graph data structure cannot.

I like this, and mindmup is impressive too. My problem is that it chokes on my own notes file. If anyone would like to test a stripped down version of freemind, for a terminal, please make contact via my profile. The stripped down version can handle larger files than most other clients that I have tried, I made it after freemind got too sluggish for daily usage.

A very good work! Thank you for making it open source, in general there is a need for several modularized, open source editors (images, vectors, databases, data map, UML & more.) The problem would be a standard look and feel, perhaps it would be great to define a common, standard open source editor UI style guide

I am still looking for a DAG based mind map instead of a tree structure. Bonus if the editor could tell me the shortest path between distant nodes, further solve it in a constrained time.

And I always think of nodes first then connections, many mindmap editor force you to create edge first, this drives me mad.

The problem though is visualizing a DAG with even 20 nodes becomes super confusing. So you'll end up with a mess and have no idea why those edges are running in every direction. It's not like mindmaps need something new to get more confusing than they already are...

It seems more like a management or usability problem, but currently we have availability problem.

Totally agreed, unfortuantely however this introduces significant constraints in the parent/child/sibling insertion and navigation model.

also if you're all for analyzing your networks, you might want to try the UCINET social network analysis package (http://www.analytictech.com/)

This is really impressive work and thank you for making it open source. I played with it, I get it is early, so I was plesantly suprised with how many things worked. I obviously miss folding, but no biggie :).

Very cool, although it seems not to load long nodes when importing from FreeMind. That said, I was pretty impressed that I imported a .mm file and had it "just work" (besides the long nodes).


would you mind opening an issue (at GitHub) and attaching the problematic .mm file?

Sure thing. I actually just made a test file, and realized that the problem is long nodes that have HTML formatting, not long nodes.

I just got started using MindMeister (http://www.mindmeister.com/), while not open source, it's a nicely polished product.

Jakob's Law – “Users spend most of their time on other websites.”

Would be great if you could mention how to insert a new node in the front page itself. Don't expect people to RTFM.

Very good work though.

Fantastic work, I've been using Freemind up to now and I haven't been able to find something web-based that is comparable until now.

Have you looked at MindMup? http://www.mindmup.com

Nope, I wasn't aware it existed. At first glance it looks very useful, although I don't think I'm a fan of the bubbly look and the spider leg edges (my maps tend to be fairly large, so I suppose I like a more compressed look).

Thanks, I also was not aware of it. It is a shame that some really good sites are not promoted and us who might be interested don't even know about it's existence.

HN is the closest thing I've found that addresses that -- I still have to wade through much of the startup stuff which is irrelevant in my case. When I already know what I'm looking for, using HN search will lead to me to what's out there 90% of the time.

Exactly what I was looking for. Awesome work.

Collapse and Expand nodes as an option (maybe ctrl-space) would be incredibly useful..

Wonderful!! I wish I could export to FreePlane format as well.

Please submit this feature request to GitHub's issue tracker...

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