Map Type for Ordered Export

Mark L. shared this question 2 months ago
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I am in search of a process flow map that exports based on the position of the topics. Every map I've tried exports based on the order that the topic was entered into the map... and I've never seen the "Sort" option enabled (apparently it would never be for flowcharts). See the map example attached where the topic numbers are the order in which they were entered. In this instance I would want to export a process flow, outlined from top to bottom, i.e. Central, Topic 5th, Topic 4th, then Topic 2nd with its associated note. The map shows the relationships between process steps (which would not be necessary in the export except as a diagram) but the order would be from top to bottom. I would think this could be achieved by Selecting All and then something like Sort top to bottom or right to left or Radial distance. Dates do not have meaning in this application. I've tried using Priority, but this doesn't seem extensible or practical.

Any thoughts? Thanks.

Replies (1)

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This is an old chestnut of an issue. As you say, the default order of floating topics is the order in which they are created, which as far as I know cannot be modified. This feeds through to the outline view and exports. I am not aware of an elegant solution. The "sort" feature is disabled in the Outline view. If this were enabled then floating (sortable) topics could be sorted. As far as I can see, drag and drop in Outline view is restricted to moving floating topics to be the subtopics of others. They cannot be re-ordered at the top level.

A couple of less attractive workarounds are possible:

  • Select all the topics in a network or flowchart, copy them and paste them to the central topic of a new empty mind map. The relationships will be copied, and you can now sort the order of the topics to get a controlled export. However the novelty of doing this will wear off quickly, as it requires manual sorting each time.
  • A custom function to regenerate a new map from an existing one based on the position of floating topics (or some other parameter such as a topic property or alphanumeric sorting of topic texts) would give a new map that could be exported with built-in features, as the order of the floating topics would be controlled. This is doable but non-trivial. I expect that it would not be entirely lossless.

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Thanks for your reply Nick. The first workaround seemed plausible except that I found that the sort would only work if the items remained the subtopic of the topic copied to. Moving them away from the tree made them topics that apparently could not be sorted! Plus, there's no really good way to label the items for sort and retain the whole point.. which is to use the graphical aspect to organize the text export. Your second workaround seems like a lot of work!

What I did find though, is that the items in the Word Export are moveable. For example I can cut and paste a topic and it's notes in text to another position, then click in the table of contents and "Update the Entire Table" to make the document correct. This would be completely unhandy if the number of items were large.. but for a dozen or so, it's probably the best way.

I can imagine an Export option "Sort by vertical, horizontal, radial position".. and that this would be a great way to graphically manipulate a map to come up with an ordered document. The whole idea of tracking when the topics are places might be good for undo... but is useless for what otherwise would be a quick and dirty tool for procedure generation. Can this be submitted? Thanks again.

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Yes, topics can only be sorted if they are a sibling set of subtopics. I see you have submitted a suggestion already. I think the general principle is to provide a way to sort floating topics. It would probably make more sense to sub-sort them within connected networks rather than across the whole map, as there could be other floating topics elsewhere in the map.

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One workaround is to number the topics sequentially by manually adding a number prefix to them in the order that you want (MindManager's own numbering facility won't work in this case). Then when you export the map to Word you can simply use Word's sort function to put the topics into the right order.

To make this work properly remember to tick "Don't include numbering" on the Document Formatting section of the Word Export dialogue, and if you are exporting more than nine topics you will also have to add a leading zero for the topics numbered 1 to 9.

If you want to export topic notes as well it's best under Template & Style to select a Word template with a Heading paragraph style such as Heading 1 for topics and Normal style for the topic notes. This should mean the topic note stays with its topic after sorting in Word, but if you have trouble with this change the topic notes formatting to a lower level Heading style.

If you want to retain the numbering in Word you could number the topics conventionally in the map, for example, "01. ", "02. " and so on, up to "99. ". However, if you want to delete the numbers after sorting then you could number the topics with something like "#01#", "#02#", etc, then use Word's search and replace function to find #??# and replace with nothing.

If you are just exporting topics only and not any other topic attribute and you are not using topic notes, you can simply follow the instructions above to number the topics then select and copy them all and paste the topics directly into a Word document. You can then sort them as described above. This is much faster than going through the Export to Word process.

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Update: unfortunately on further testing the sorting of topic notes after export is a bit inconsistent. One option is to number topic notes as "01.1 " for the note on the topic numbered 01. , "02.1 " for the note on topic 02. and so on. This way they should remain associated with their topics after sorting.

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Any type of numbering would tend to obviate the purpose -- to move connected topics graphically to organize them in and then use a small number of sort options (think top to bottom, then right to left) to automatically create a reasonable hierarchy in the Office document. A hierarchy is probably a bit hard to do perfectly because of the possibility of crossing relationships. That said, there should be a way to get MindManager to renumber the topics in a graph (better than by order of creation). A user could use the exported map diagram to show the relationships between the topics (with numbers shown) then use the numbers as indexes to text of the export. This is done all the time in CAD software to create electrical schematics.

There might even be a certain map type that would already do this maybe? I still haven't figured out how to submit a request to Corel for such a thing.

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A macro that numbered topics in a network (a set of connected floating topics) is possible, if that would help to order them later in a linear export process. It could either number them by physical location or could make a best guess at execution sequence, which would be sub-optimal for all but the very simplest of charts, but better than creation order.

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Hi Nick and Mark,

My suggestion to use numbering is purely a workaround, as I can't see any other way to do this with the parameters of MindManager. Numbering is also reversible, so after the export you just have to undo it all.

It's also important to recognise that while flow chart and concept chart features have been added, MindManager remains at heart a hierarchical application. I also had a quick look at how dedicated concept mapping programs handle Word export but couldn't find anything - which isn't to say there isn't something that can do this, but I think it's rare.

Nick, I was wondering whether a macro could be developed to handle this. I think numbering by location would be the simplest option (with, say, the ability to choose across then down, or vice versa), and you would also need a second macro to optionally remove all the numbering when the export process is completed. In addition topic notes would have to be numbered as sub-numbers of their topics if they are to remain attached to them when sorted in Word.

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I will put this on the list :) Like all of them it probably looks simpler than it actually is.

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