Review: ConceptDraw MINDMAP [2009]

ConceptDraw Office is a complete software suite that focuses on project management.
ConceptDraw MINDMAP is the first piece of the suite. It is “a business- and personal productivity tool that gathers ideas and organizes them into visual maps.”
It can be used for on-screen brainstorming. Mind mapping software is something I have never tried before. I am more of a back-of the-envelope type of girl. It was so easy to turn the ideas into a mind map that actually meant something.
MINDMAP offers several options when you open it. You have two options. One is to start from a blank document. This can be daunting because the screen is full of icons. You can also choose from pre-loaded mind maps templates that you can edit with your ideas. You can also choose ‘Brainstorm’.
The Brainstorm option is very cool and could be used during a project team meeting. You can also set the title and time limit. The minutes begin to count down when you click on the timer. The session must be timebound. This is an important feature that saves time and helps people to keep track of time. Instead of using a flip chart or whiteboard, you can type in all your responses.
You can then edit the results. Drag and drop topics to create a radial diagram.
There are many display options. You can alter the line style, colour, and weight. All the text editing options that you would expect from a graphics program are available.
You can add relationships between topics and floating topics, clipart, links to websites, symbols, and clip art. Each topic can be customized to display text only or in a specific shape. You can also import your own image to illustrate the topic.
If that seems too daunting, you can apply a theme. There are 14 themes, but only two that I would use. If you’re a student using the “Exam Preparation” mindmap template, you might not be quite as fussy about the pink ‘Glamour theme.
It is still a great feature that, when you click the theme icon, it automatically applies that theme to your selection. This allows you to quickly cycle through the themes until you find the one that suits you best. You can modify the colour scheme, lines, or shapes later. Below is the mindmap I created of the topics I presented at the BPUG Congress. It took only a few minutes to create using the Intuitive theme.
Although I would not use a mind-mapping tool to create and present task lists or other project data, I work with visually-oriented people who might find such a tool useful.
I believe that using software for mind mapping can have the disadvantage of making the final product look polished, especially if you make use of all the formatting tools available. The stakeholders will be able to see a polished task list presented in this format. They won’t be able to tell the difference between a brainstorming session and a completed product.
Meri Williams’ Principles book makes this point: If you spend too much time on your project plans when you really only have a rough outline, then those draft dates that look so neat in a Gantt chart can become reality for a stakeholder.
You can export to.pdf or any of the supported standard graphics formats, especially if you are using the functionality to do so. Although I haven’t tried this, it is possible to export your mindmap information into iCal and as html.
ConceptDraw MINDMAP (version 6.1.1) is not comparable to any other mind mapping tool, as I haven’t used any. This software would be great if I had to create a brainstorming session.