In this iMindmap 10 review, we cover what may be the most visually stunning Mindmapping app on this planet, with task management features to boot!
Pros • Visually impressive
• Lots of styling options
• Different views and interpretations
of the mindmap
• Droptask integration
Cons • Fundamental usability flaws
• No 3D video export
• For advanced visuals, the Ultimate
version is needed
Bottom Line iMindmap 10 is visually impressive with an overwhelming number of formatting and styling variants. However, while the visuals have been buffed to a gleaming shine, the usability of some iMindmap 10 features could do with improvement. In particular, Time Map and Gantt view. I noted multiple problems in these areas which would frustrate it’s use as a daily task manager. So, impressive Mindmaps can be produced with iMindmap 10 but I would not use this tool to manage tasks.
Mindmapping apps are great for sketching out the bones of a new project. The idea is to start with an initial concept which forms the hub of your Mindmap. You add branches to this central concept to represent the different constituent parts of that concept. The idea behind this came from Tony Buzan, who incidentally has officially sanctioned the subject of today’s review, iMindmap 10.
This is now the tenth release of iMindmap, with tweaks to several of it’s features and the addition of a new Time Map view. It is not only one version of iMindmap 10 that will be released, but a triplet of varying features and prices. This iMindmap 10 review is based on the Ultimate version which has additional features compared to the most basic, “Home and Student”, version and is focused at business users. Now with a swig of Merlot and a swagger in our step, let’s get on with the review.
iMindmap 10 User Interface
Generally the main user interface is broken up into three distinct areas. Along the top we have the menu options, including the possibility to change the Mindmap view. The centre screen is where we will create the Mindmap and on the right, lies a window for different Mindmap editing options.
Screenshot of Mind Map view
Starting with the central area and the different views that can be applied. With iMindmap 10, several different ways of viewing the Mindmap information is possible. These include,
- Mind map. This is the standard Mindmapping view. So, you have a central concept and branches emanating from it represent the constituent elements. All aspects of it’s formatting can be personalized with a myriad of different styles, fonts, colours, icons and pictures. One need never suffer the indignity of having the same Mindmap format as one’s colleague.
- Brainstorming. If you typically like the look and feel of paper and pen when sketching out ideas then this view may be for you. The background is a cork board and ideas can be pinned to it in the form of post it notes or virtual paper lists. So, more of a human touch to the mindmap.
- Capture. This view visualizes the mindmap elements as a set of interlinked circles. I guess the idea is to be able to capture ideas that occupy certain branches of the Mindmap. In this view, all other branches are hidden except for the selected branch.
- Timeline. On paper, this sounds like Gantt view. The tasks are represented by bars that begin and end on certain dates. But, it is a little more than this as those bars can be grouped into “Swim lanes”. So, it is more like a cross between Kanban and Gantt charts.
- Project. A Gantt view of the mindmap elements. In this view, dates can be assigned and the elements or tasks now scheduled.
With any of these views you can add and manipulate the Mindmap items.
Now let’s cover the different menu options in the top menu bar. There are a few buttons dedicated to switching between the views, as described above.
Many of the other functions are view specific and I will cover those shortly in the features and functions section. Finally, on the right side of the main user interface we have an additional window which enables several features, most of which relate to the visualization of the Mindmap and addition of information to the Mindmap elements. These are,
- Addition of pictures
- Links to files and websites
- Outline view
- Formatting options
iMindmap 10 Features and functions
Many of the functions in Mindmap are view centric, so they tend to vary depending on which view you are currently using such as Brainstorming, Mind Map, Capture etc. So, let’s go through each of the views and the corresponding features and functions that accompany them.
Mind Map functions
Although mind map elements can be constructed in any of the views, the Mind Map view is the one most likely to be used for the creation and editing of the mind map. The reason being that this is where one finds the greatest arsenal of editing tools, as shown by the tool bar below. Also some features can only be accessed via this view, such as Project.
Mind Map Tools
In addition to the tools listed above, you also have direct access to formatting tools in the form of the branch drawing tool. These are little icons that take up residence at the branch node and enable common functions to be applied such as drawing new branches, creating relationships and opening the formatting panel to the right side of the Mindmap.
Capture view functions
in a “Fast Capture”, system do you really want to be waiting for dozens of bubbles to achieve steady state equilibrium before adding another idea?
The idea of the Capture view is to be able to quickly capture thoughts. If images are used in the Mind Map, they can be disabled in this view leaving text only. There is also the option to show/hide ancestors which means you can show all the Mind Map elements in that branch or only those in the immediate node. My advice, hide them. As you can see in the image below things can quickly get out of hand when you show ancestors. The other thing about this view is that the little bubbles are not static. They bounce around all over the place. Now, I love virtual bubbles that obey Newtonian laws as much as the next man but in a “Fast Capture”, system do you really want to be waiting for dozens of bubbles to achieve steady state equilibrium before adding another idea? So, fancy visuals but I am not sure this is the appropriate place to be deploying them.
iMindmap Capture View
Time map view
The idea behind the Time map view is to take tasks from your Mindmap and slot them into a time frame for completion. It is not unlike a Gantt view. One notable distinction is this concept of “Swim lanes”, that has been introduced. You can move your tasks up and down between these lanes. This is an interesting idea and it strikes me as being somewhat like a Kanban table, where these Swim Lanes take the place of the Kanban columns. Normally Kanban columns are along the lines of “Pending”, “In Progress”, and “Done”. The title of the swim lanes however is not defined and so is completely configurable to the users needs. In principle, I see some mileage in this idea if it could be implemented well.
iMindmap 10 Time Map View
But, at present there are still some teething difficulties. Personally, I struggled with the Time map view. I could not get the functions to work as portrayed in the slick video outlining it’s functionality, shown below.
Firstly, when I tried to stretch the timelines of tasks they behaved like rubber bands and bounced back in the opposite direction.
Second, my expectation would be that all tasks would be in this view when I switched across from Mindmapping. This was not the case. Manual addition of the tasks onto the Time Map from the outline view was needed.
Lastly, I even had difficulty to even see the tasks. If you zoom out slightly, they become invisible to the naked eye as you can see on the show below when I viewed the tasks over a two week time frame. Also in the screen shot above the Swim lane titles overlapped which does not assist legibility. Such basic usability issues need to be addressed.
Time Map visibility problems
At present there is little help available on the support page for this feature. Clicking on Help within iMindmap 10 brings you to the Support page for iMindmap 9, which does not have this feature. Hopefully, the Help section of the iMindmap site will be created soon for users of the new iMindmap 10 version.
The brainstorming view is more about the look and feel of the interface than the features on offer. There is but a few icons to add different kinds of notes on your cork board – post it notes of different sizes and “paper”, lists.
This essentially does what it says on the tin. It transforms your two dimensional mindmap into a three dimensional representation, which can be panned and rotated to whatever angle you desire. I think this view is less about brainstorming and creating content as presenting it later perhaps in a document to add a touch of pizazz. When combined with the presentation mode and it’s animation, it is especially impressive.
iMindmap 10 Three Dimensional View
Presentation mode functions
Visually, the Presentation mode is the most impressive part of iMindmap 10
Visually, the Presentation mode is the most impressive part of iMindmap 10. While the other views are very flexible in terms of themes and styles, the Presentation mode smoothly animates across the different elements of the Mindmap. You would use this feature when presenting the mind map to other people, with the Mindmap branches substituting for the bullet points that you would find in a traditional PowerPoint presentation.
It is also possible to export this to a video file. However, there is another problem here. The cool animated 3D presentation cannot be exported, only the 2D version. That’s a shame. You can see the videos below of how each of them look. I had to record the 3D one with my camera so you get some feel for it.
The Exported 2D Video Presentation
A 3D Presentation (which cannot be exported)
It is pretty fashionable these days to include Gantt chart functionality with Mindmapping apps. Other offerings from Mindjet and Mindgenius also include such features and I look forward to reviewing those products at a later date. Any hoo, so yeah, back to Gantt charts. On the face of it this seems a reasonable extension to the Mindmap. You can imagine the typical scenario. A young whippersnapper of a Project Manager whips out his Mindmapping app. He quickly brainstorms all the elements of Project X. He then switches to Gantt view, adds his resources and dates and has a fully-fledged project plan before his second cup of earl grey tea that morning. I expect this is the vision that iMindmap is aiming at, but not quite meeting with the Gantt view. As you can see from the screen shot below, the general format of it is right but there are a few flaws. These include,
- The task relationships created in other views are inexplicably not reflected in Gantt chart task dependencies.
- The indented task titles cannot be read. The column is not wide enough and it cannot be widened further.
- To add dependencies, you have to scroll through the list of tasks and identify that. You can imagine this will be rather tedious with hundreds of entries and multiple dependencies.
So, from a quick look I already see problems with trying to use this for day to day task management.
For the task relationships in particular I would have thought it logical, even novel that quickly joining tasks in the brainstorming view would automatically create the links in the Gantt view but alas that was not to be.
Relationships in the mindmap are not reflected in the Project Plan
Import and export
There is a myriad of options when it comes to the export formats for your completed mindmap. Those include,
- MS Word, PowerPoint, Excel
- Outline Processor Markup Language (OPML)
- MS Project XML files
To name but a few!
The app with the closest relation to iMindmap is of course Droptask, as it belongs to the same parent company. Droptask is an application which is used for team task management and can generate tasks based on iMindmap file inputs.
So, you can create your Mindmap and then send it directly to Droptask. All of the elements of your Mindmap become actionable tasks in Droptask and of course Droptask’s own task management features can then be applied to the tasks. This includes being able to share the tasks among team members, re-arrange the tasks as you wish using their novel circle user interface, integrate task management based chat and attachment of files. You can find out more details in this Droptask review.
There are three price packages for iMindmap 10. The most basic Home & Student offering will cost $100 and for that you get the Mindmap editor and Brainstorm view. Coughing up $235 for the Ultimate version will give some additional functionality in the way of the Fast Capture view, 3D view, Presentation builder and Integration with Droptask and MS Office. For the Ultimate Plus+ (for once this is not a typo, on their website it states Plus+. I had to double check I was not looking at a McDonalds Menu). Anyway, for this uber positive Ultimate version with a price tag to match – $310, you get an additional 2 x DVD’s and three books.
If I had to pick one of them it would probably be the Ultimate version. People come to iMindmap 10 for the visuals and some of those functions are only possible with the Ultimate version. For business users, file conversion is likely a must and this also requires features from the Ultimate version.
For the other two versions. I am not sure there is a place for a Student version as other free/lower price Mindmapping apps are out there for the price conscious.
For the Ultimate Plus version, my first thought was, I don’t have a DVD player. I would have to dig out my decade old laptop for that one!
iMindmap 10 Review Summary
Ostentatious is alive in kicking in the Mindmapping world in the form of iMindmap 10. If your reports need a bit of glamour then iMindmap 10 would fit the bill. There is a large choice of formatting and viewing options for the mindmaps. Beyond this core competency, iMindmap is also going in the direction of task management in both the Time Map and Gantt views. However, my feeling is that the usability for both of these could be improved. I would find some of the problems highlighted in this iMindmap 10 review simply too frustrating if I were to be using this every day for managing tasks. In conclusion, for impressive visuals, iMindmap 10 is certainly one of the best. However, I would not currently recommend iMindmap 10 for task management.