Do you use mindmaps? This method of organizing information is popular among academia because it can help them make sense of information clutters. But the use of mindmaps are not limited to educational environments only.
Anybody can use mindmaps for various uses including, for example, to remember school subjects faster, to expand a topic to write about, to organize ideas, to break down a complicated project, and many more.
While the traditional pen and paper method is still used today, you can also use your computer to generate your mindmaps. There are many mindmap creators out there that you can choose and use. One of the free alternatives to create and manage your mindmaps is Blumind.
Since the site is in Chinese, you might need a little help from Google Translate.
Beautiful, Lightweight & Portable
The first thing that you will notice about this app is how small it is. In the era of gigabytes and terabytes, the size of 250KB is almost non-existent. That’s how small the compressed installer is (even after you extract it, the application is only around 650KB).
It’s also portable, so you can just put it on your thumb drive and bring it with you. But please note that you need to bring the “DocTypeReg” along. It would be easier to put the whole folder on the drive. The app also needs “.net 2.0 runtime” environment – or better. So make sure that you open the app on the machine under Windows 2000 or above and have the runtime installed.
Another thing that you will notice is the interface. I personally think it’s beautiful and user friendly. A bit different than most third party Windows applications.
The basic usage of the app is simple: you click on the center topic box, add/edit the text, then expand it using the “Add Topic” button or hit the Enter key. You can also add “Sub Topic” by clicking the button next to the “Add Topic” or by pressing the Tab/Insert key. To show the relation between two (sub) topics, you can use the line tool.
The relationship between topics and sub topics will also be displayed in the “Objects” pane in the form of a hierarchical outline.
Put Some Colors On It
Aside from drawing interconnected boxes of topics and sub topics, building a mindmap is also about assigning different colors to different classes of items. The colors help us to quickly differentiate items and remember them faster.
Blumind allows you to play with colors using the “Themes” tool. There’s a list of “Windows Color Schemes” that you can use under the Themes button.
There’s also the “General” list for those who want to apply a quick set of colors.
To edit individual items, use the “Property” pane, or open the “Options” window via the File menu.
If you like the color combination that you created, you can save it as a theme by opening the “Themes Manage” window.
Other Tiny Details
You can discard unwanted items by going through them one by one and hitting the “Delete” key. But if the items that you want to erase belong to the same root, you can quickly delete them by clicking on the “minus” button next to their parent box.
Add Topics and Sub Topics (and other standard editing tools) can also be accessed quickly from the right click menu. This is a quick alternative for the mouse fans out there.
If you like to work with less distractions, you can try the “Full Screen” mode. Everything will be hidden, except the mindmap area and the tool button.
As a bonus, Blumind also supports tabs. This feature will allow you to work on several different maps simultaneously without cluttering the workspace.
After you have finished working with your mindmaps, you can “export” them as text or image files (there are several supported formats that you can use). You can also print the maps and put them on your bedroom wall if you want to.
Armed with the lightweight Blumind inside your thumb drive (or maybe inside your Dropbox folder), you are ready to quickly create your good looking mindmaps anytime and anywhere.
Have you tried the apps? Or do you know other alternatives? Share your thoughts using the comments below.
Image Credit: cosmorochester
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