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Friday, April 29, 2005

Free Your Mind.
Open-source program makes

it easy to try mindmap software.

While I commonly use mindmapping as a creative tool, it's usually restricted to handwritten form on an eraserboard during brainstorm sessions, or in one of my notebooks for development of my own projects -- but, my buddy Stephen Nipper (an incredible Intellectual Property attorney and author of the super-helpful InventBlog) uses mindmap software on a regular basis.

Stephen says he uses it during phone conversations to record notes, then emails a PDF of the mindmap to his client. Stephen says "they are blown away."

Impressing the hell outta your clients?
Sounds like a damn good reason to give it a shot!

During a quick search for mindmapping software, I ran across FreeMind. It's a free tool that works on a variety of platforms and appears to be compatible with the most popular mindmap software, MindManager.

The search sparked another mindmap-type tool I used several years ago. I found helpful and will have to revisit it -- it's called TreePad.

Although it's been a long time since I last used it, a quick trip to their website let me know that they had not stopped developing the tool. TreePad appears to be available in a variety of formats (maybe too many), but the closest I found to the original is called TreePad Lite. There's even a knock-version available for your PDA.

It's basically a vertical mindmap -- a sort of expanding outline format. After looking at it again, I wish they'd run it horizontally with the branches extending down from a master bar running across the top. It seems to make more sense in my head to drill down thru different levels via additional columns -- but that's just the way my brain works. Your mileage may vary.

In the end, the whole point is to make innovation easier -- use whatever tools you find the most useful for recording and developing your ideas. Why do you think I still keep a big box of Crayola Crayons on my desk?

Sometimes nothing but crayons will do when you're interested in Coloring Outside The Lines.


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