Those of you who know me, know that I consider Mindjet’s MindManager is the greatest invention since sliced cheese. I use it for almost everything that you could think of (and a few that you couldn’t).
I’ve only had a couple of hours to test the new version so this is just a short post with my first impressions.
The interface has barely changed: It still exhibits the Office 2007 style of interface, making excellent use of the ribbon. They’ve cleaned up the fit and finish in subtle ways, redrawing icons and making good use of shadow, anti-aliasing and some slight colour adjustments. People who look at it assume that it’s a Microsoft Office product because it just fits in so well and everyone has the same comment: I’ll bet Microsoft buys it and adds it to Office in the near future.
The major new features of this new release are around publishing and collaboration. MindManager is now available as a rich desktop application and as a fully-featured browser-based tool that allows you to upload and edit your mind-maps via the web. This extra-cost service will be a major benefit when you have distributed groups that need to view and edit maps as a team. It also means that you can view and update maps from anywhere that you can get an internet connection, even if you don’t have your laptop with you.
The other great collaboration/publishing feature is that you can export an interactive map via PDF. This flash-embedded PDF allows the user to navigate the map, including expanding/collapsing items, viewing notes and zooming in and out, all without downloading a MindMap viewer. You can also save as a flash file that can be embedded into a web page (watch this space for an example - coming soon).
Another new feature that looks very interesting is the database access functionality: This allows MindManager to attach to an external database (Excel, Access, SQL Server, Oracle, etc.) and bring the values directly into the map.
So, here’s the bottom line on my quick first impressions about upgrading to Version 8: If you have a requirement for the new web based share and edit features, or if database linked maps are important to you, then this is a compelling upgrade. However, at $129 to upgrade (and $179 after December 31st), the majority of functionality is already available in MindManager 7 Pro and the upgrade may not be necessary for you.
Stay tuned for more details as I use MindManager in the “real-world” for my ongoing projects.