Map it!, a new mind mapping program from BrainPower Ltd., fills a unique niche: It provides a significant amount of functionality ease of use, at a very affordable price. In addition, this new program is endorsed by the namesake firm of the inventor of mind mapping — Tony Buzan — remarkable for a brand new software program.
In this “first look” article, we’ll take a brief look at what makes Map it! so promising, and why it’s worthy of your consideration.
Map it!’s user interface is clean, uncluttered and intuitive. A vertical pane running down the left side of the screen contains a visual library of “pictures” that you can use to enhance your map. Just below that is a summary pane, which displays an outline view of your map. Finally, a mini-map viewer occupies the lower left corner of the screen. It displays a thumbnail overview of your entire map, with a rectangle drawn around the portion that is currently visible in the program’s work space. This feature is especially useful when working with larger maps.
Icons or symbols, which you can add to the branches of your map to communicate additional information about its meaning, are arranged in a narrow vertical toolbar along the right side of the screen. In addition, a horizontal notes pane runs across the bottom of the screen.
Map it! offers a number of well-designed features that make it a pleasure to work with. While these features are not unique to Map it!, I am impressed that this new mind mapping program already includes them:
Multiple branch edits: You can edit the titles of multiple branches at the same time.
Fast topic entry: For fast entry of topics (during brainstorming sessions, for example), you can use the Enter key to add branches. You click Enter once while a topic is selected, and a new branch appears. Type the title of your new topic, and click Enter, and your title is recorded in the map. Click the Enter key again, and you can add another branch at the same level as the last sub-topic — very simple and intuitive!
Brainstorming mode: When you switch into brainstorming mode, you don’t need to click the Enter key a second time; after you type a topic into a branch and hit the Enter key to record it, another new branch automatically appears at the same level in your map, ready to capture your next idea.
“Drag map” feature: You can reposition your map in the program window using a hand icon to drag your workspace to the right, left, up or down.
Move selected branch to the center of the screen: Using this command, you can re-center your map in the program’s work space around the currently-selected branch. This is a very convenient feature, which can be quite handy if the branch you’re editing is at one of the far corners of the workspace. You don’t have to drag this topic to the center of the screen — this command re-positions your map for you.
Roll up and roll down: This tool enables you to contol the number of levels of detail that are shown in your map. For example, clicking on the “roll down 1 level” icon displays only the next sub-level of topics in your map. Some competing mind mapping programs enable you to do this with a numeric value (ex: 5 means show 5 levels of topics and sub-topics) but for some reason Map it!’s implementation of this feature seems to be a little more intuitive to me.
Enhanced relationship lines: Relationship lines between 2 topics contain several “drag handles” along their length, so you can easily bend and shape them. This is a very useful feature, normally only found on graphics editing programs, which enables you to reposition a relationship line so it doesn’t run across one or more branches of your map.
Adjustable branches: Drag handles on either end of the branch allow you to move its anchor point on the parent topic, and reshape its curvature near the child topic.
Like any version 1.0 software program, Map it! isn’t entirely perfect. For example, it does not support Alt-key commands (such as Alt + F + O = file open). When I questioned the developer about this, he indicated that this is a feature that he will probably add to Map it! in the near future.
How does a brand new mind mapping software program obtain the support and endorsement of the Buzan organization, which was founded to promote the technique of mind mapping originally invented by Tony Buzan? Here’s what Vanda North, founder and CEO of Buzan Centres Worldwide, told me when I posed this question to her:
“The Map it! team has taken the time and trouble to be trained in the actual understanding of Tony Buzan’s mental literacy process. They have tried hard to create a program that is easy to use, priced so individuals can afford it and which tries to follow the actual structure and principles of Tony Buzan’s mind maps and mental literacy processes.”
I don’t claim to be an expert in Tony Buzan’s principles of mental literacy, but I am very impressed that an organization of this caliber would give its support to a new mind mapping program like Map it!
If you’re looking for an affordable, well-designed mind mapping software program, then Map it! should be on your short list of programs for final consideration. Map it! is a surprisingly polished, stable and full-featured program, considering the fact that it is only a version 1.0 product.
Map it! Standard Version costs US$78 (£48.00, €68.00) and can be purchased from the Map it! Web site; a free trial version is also available for download.