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Mind-mapping can easily be done with readily available materials - whether pen and paper, a whiteboard and marker or a simple graphics package such as CoralDraw or Powerpoint. For many assessments, however, there are advantages in using specialised mind-mapping software. Depending on its level of sophistication, this typically offers advantages such as:
- providing ready-made symbols and mapping functions;
- helping to ensure effective layout of the map;
- enabling mind-maps to be expanded to need;
- enabling mind-maps to be saved and shared on-line.
Mind-mapping has been adopted in a wide range of disciplines and business areas, as both a research and a practical management tool. As a consequence, a large number of programs have been developed to help conduct mind-mapping exercises. These differ in their level of sophistication, flexibility and underlying concept, and also use different symbols or syntax to reflect practice in the application areas for which they are designed. Some are free, some are stand-alone packages, and some come as part of bigger software packages providing other project design and management tools.
The table below lists some of the systems currently available. This list is not intended to be a set of recommendations, but to illustrate the range of functionality available. Before selecting a package, it is useful to consider the functionality required, and then search the web for suitable packages.
|SmartDraw]||A sophisticated, integrated project design package, with includes ca. 70 tools including mind-mapping. Provides a stasr-template for new mind-maps; maps automatically produced by dragging/dropping shapes; maps can be hyperlinked to allow building of complex, multi-layerd diagrams; extensive export capability.||Purchase|
|iMIndmap]||Range of mind-mapping packages, of differing levels of sophistication. Range of predefined templates provided; flexible mapping capability (automatic, click-and-drag, freehand...); more advanced versions offer expand and collapse facility.||Purchase|
|DropMInd]||Delicated mind-mapping software; desktop and on-line versions; on-line version allows simultaneous collaborative mapping. Range og start-templates provided. Unlimited number of parent/child links; hyperlink capability to enable building of complex, multi-layerd maps.||Purchase|
|MindView]||Mid-level project design package, including mind-mapping plus five other interchangeable tools. Includes range of predefined templates; drag-and-drop facility to built maps; maps can be hyper-linked.||Purchase|
|BubbI-us]||Simple on-line mind-mapping software, that allows documents to be shared on-line. Automatic child and sibling creation; click-and-drag facility for new links; colour control. Good starting package for the novice.||Free|
|X-Mind]||Simple, desktop package, which provides capability for mind-mapping and other types of chart. Double-click facility to create new items; drag-and-drop facility for organising layout. Business version offers greater functionality.||Free|