MindManager 7

As most ActivityOwner.Com readers are likely aware, Mindjet is launching MindManager 7 on May 31st. Marc Orchant and Chuck Frey have enumerated the new features of the program in detail, so I won't go into them here. I would note that the upgrade pricing from version 6 has not been announced, but given that the X5 upgrade price is only $119, the $174 price that Marc quotes is likely incorrect.

Here is a list of the new features that impressed me enough to note them down in a map when I learned them:

  • Hide Parent: You can hide the parent of any topic and center the focus on it and its descendants using the "Filter – Show Branch alone" functionality. This has strong potential to overcome what I'd call the "82% rule" — once a map grows beyond the point where it doesn't fit on the screen at 82% zoom, its utility starts to drop dramatically.
  • ResultsManager robustness is better: For those of you who have let your dashboards get a bit too hot, or have added custom branches, you know that eventually MindManager 6 can "cry uncle" under the weight of the intermediate dashboard complexity with an "incorrect parameter" or "out of memory" errors. I've taken v7 up over 1.2gb of memory usage during dashboard generation and seen it easily handle dashboards that were crashing under V6. I haven't seen the v7-compatible beta release of ResultsManager yet, but the basic functionality of the current 2.7.8 release works with the V7 Beta if you manually assign the macros for editing activities and refreshing dashboards to the topic and application context menus respectively.
  • Copy as hyperlink: You can copy-as-hyperlink a topic and pull up that topic using that link from a browser or other application. Previously you could only link to a map in general. This has a lot of potential as sometimes a general link into a complex map leaves you (or another user) with some navigating to do.
  • Shortcut key reminders: When you hold down alt-F (for example), all the menu options have a little square with their short-cut key pop up. It is amazing how much you can use a function and never learn to use the best short cut for it (to this day I use Alt-F-S instead of Control-S).
  • "My Maps" in the File Open Sidebar: When you go to open a file, in addition to the normal "My Documents", "Desktop", "History", and "Favorites' short-cuts on the right-hand side, there is now a "My Maps" button to jump you to your default "My Maps" directory. That can be a big time saver, particularly if you use a directory that isn't sitting right under "My Documents".
  • You can keep running V6: You can continue to run V6 side-by-side with v7, giving you the ability to edit two different maps at once or fall back to your v6 comfort-zone in a pinch. V7 wins "ties" in terms of control (e.g. when you click on a file). GyroQ can be configured to interact with either one and switching back and forth is fairly fast by just re-running the GryoQ installation program.
  • You can grab the center topic and drag it around: This provides a quick way to re-center the map and move around.
  • You can Customize the "Quick Action Toolbar": V7 comes with a "QuickAction Toolbar" that you can customize to add a button for any of the standard commands. A similar toolbar is available in V6, but it becomes a critical part of lowering your learning curve for the ribbon toolbar.

So, what are the current downsides of the V7? Here are my main concerns:

  • The Ribbon toolbar will have a huge learning curve: Version 6 has an excellent user interface that is very intuitive and makes use of all four side-borders for tabs, buttons, and menu commands. Several users have commented to me over time on how strikingly easy the program's learning curve is for new users and how you can incremental grow your use as you use the program.

    The Office 2007 Ribbon Toolbar can be baffling. One gets the sense that privately-held MindJet might be a bit too focused on impressing the folks in Redmond than catering to their current user base.
    . This was a bit harsh. The new interface is ultimately friendlier and easier to use once you are past the learning curve.

    The menu options have gone from:

    "File", "Edit", "Insert", "Topic", "Format", "Tools", "Window", "Help"
    to:
    "Home", "Insert", "Format", "Review", "View", "Tools"

    I was totally stuck the first time I went looking for "Edit", "Undo". Luckily I remembered I could use "Control-Z" until I found the "undo" arrow button, which is in plan sight in V6 but I'd never gotten around to using. The rest of the frequently used "Edit" options have been spread to the wind. The "File" menu items are hiding under a big MindManager logo button in the top right corner. Apparently this deletion must be part of the Ribbon standard?

    The sidebar tabs of "My Maps", "Map Markers", "Task Info", "Map Parts", "Library", "Search", and "Learning" are gone and have to be summoned up by a menu command.

    Now even though the "hide parent" command was one of my favorites, it took me over 3 minutes to find it in the menu this evening . The intuitive spot would be the click right context menu "Hide Parent". I think someone could make a very useful blog post if they summarized the "mapping" of commands from one version to the other.

    The bottom line is that you need to be prepared to invest some time in totally relearning the interface (stepping through it command by command) and to leverage the customizable toolbar to make your frequently used command more accessible. Ultimately the interface may "save time", but for existing users that will be weeks or months down the road.

  • MindReader isn't fully working yet: V7 introduces some type of bug that causes file commands in macros to fail when the macro is called by an external program like GyroQ or ActiveWords. You can assign the "mindreaderNLP.mmbas" macro to the topic menu to "process" existing topics, but the "o", "q', and "s" commands won't work. is working now. See MindReader 7 and download updated versions of the macro code.

    The same underlying macro issue prevents "run:rm:dashboard" from working, and thus the "put it in front of the door" script won't work. Hopefully MindJet will be able to prioritize the work necessary to address this issue soon. . See Putting it in front of the door again for instructions on getting this to work.

Note that the above is based on the Beta testing experience and I'm sure much of it will be addressed in the official release.

So should you upgrade? A lot will come down to what MindJet chooses for its v6 upgrade price. I'm hopeful they will make it attractive for its existing user base to keep up with their latest version. I would hate to see a steep upgrade price cause the group to fragment the way MS-Office users are. I personally will likely upgrade but will continue to work in V6 until the fixes can be made that enable "MindReader" and "Put it in Front of the Door" to work under V7.

2 Comments »

  1. Jim said,

    May 10, 2007 @ 4:30 pm

    I was keyed up to upgrade, but if MindReader doesn't work with it…I might have to hold out. How hard would it be to code MR with an "industrial strength development tool" as they put it?

  2. ActivityOwner said,

    May 10, 2007 @ 7:03 pm

    I think the power of MindReader has been the simplicity and accessibility of it — allowing several folks to contribute to improvements in the code. I don't think you'd get that with another implementation technique — even if I knew how to do it!

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