Polish & Modernize MindManager, Integrate Core PM Features without 3rd Party Add-ins.

Stephen P. shared this idea 5 months ago
Voting Open

So I'm liking MindManager, but...

MindManager was released in 1998 it feels like it. Despite many positive aspects, both visually and functionally, it feels like one of those old, old programs built that has a bunch of handy tools and does what it needs to, but no longer keeps up to make a smooth user experience and add features that are really needed in the current day.

What's good: For instance, having tried 20ish Mind Mappers, for Project Management Mind Maps, MM has GREAT notes, the best drag and drop attachments capabilities, and a lot of import and export options. (Excel import and export for example - awesome!)

Overall issues: However, if MM is slow. It's clunky. The scroll doesn't always work right and distorts the view. The touchscreen features feel like they're from 2008 and are inconvenient to use. Icons are nice, but often hard to see, and attaching an icon or a tag to a task is a whole process of clicking through several menus or hunting through lists in a sidebar. In most PMs, and most programs with these features, you can hit a hotkey or a single context menu option and type in a box for suggestions because projects have dozens to hundreds of tags and fields and resources.

Project Management: Is sorely lacking. I'm sorry to say it, MM has so much potential here, but it falls short of key aspects that most other PMs have, starting with filters & views. There's no way to truly save views. A Kanban view is kind of there, but if you want to use it for anything else with more tags it doesn't really work. The calendar view is okay, but it has issues dragging and dropping and there's no way to view a schedule by time.

It's not terrible, but filtering can be a challenge, especially since clearing a filter clears every filter, and you can't really use Boolean type logic at all to filter* (this may be a function available that I haven't found yet). There's not really anything great in the way of custom fields either.

Add-ons: Some of the add-ons seem great, but there are two issues: First, I tried multimaps and it seems powerful but also very confusing. Second...why aren't most of these add-ons native to MindManager? Most of them are to supplement fairly basic utilities or crucial features MM should have, like multimaps. How are you supposed to manage multiple, interconnected projects without it?

I'd really like to stay with MM at the end of my trial, but I'm finding it challenging to do so. I would sincerely recommend:

  1. Modernize and smooth out the program. It can't be choppy, slow, distorting the page, crashing, and hanging up so frequently. It makes things slower and less efficient, and it just feels bad. If that means re-writing the entire program...so be it. It's been over 20 years since the inception, and it's time.
  2. Polish existing & add common project management features & views.
  3. Incorporate several add-ons such as Multi-Maps. [**Natively. The way Multi-Maps actually implements the add-on would not be ideal for a native feature]
  4. Keep what's good. All the amazing little features and tools, the easy drag and drop, etc.

*Using the Windows Desktop version (and I do not want a PM that's only a web app).

Replies (4)

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While I agree with a lot of your suggestions and also think that aspects of project management could be improved, I would caution against trying to turn MindManager into something it isn't.

One of the best aspects of MindManager is its versatility - it has evolved from a basic brainstorming program into a wide-ranging knowledge management and research tool. It has hundreds of different uses of which project management is only one. Now for many of these uses there are probably many more specialised applications which can do that specific job better than MindManager - but only that job.

One thing I really like about MindManager is that you can start with one of these uses and turn it into another, for example, going from simple brainstorming to something like project development, qualitative analysis, tender document assessment, strategic planning, document outlining, online reference search, etc. A lot of the time the program's feature set is adequate for the task, but if it isn't you can use it to create the starting point for a more specialised application.

I guess what I'm saying is by all means seek to make MindManager more capable at project management, but don't try to turn it into (just) a project manager. As for the specific issues you mention, I'm surprised at the performance problems you're having. I'm currently running MM on a 12-year-old desktop PC and while its a little slow to start up it runs just fine. I agree about the limitations of filters, but there is more than one way to skin a cat - for example, look at using SmartRules as an alternative. These can incorporate a degree of Boolean logic (especially when used in combination with formulas) and can be easily turned on or off.

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I agree that it has potential versatility, but it's falling into the ClickUp trap where it does many things, and only a couple of them well. Only it's actually missing a lot of features too - Whatever here was just the tip of the iceberg, there's a lot I've noticed.

I certainly don't want to turn mind manager into just just one thing, and project management tools and filters help with sorting information in general, which applies to all uses. At least with ClickUp there really arerobust views and information sorting as frustrating as it's issues are. and if mind manager isn't going to provide at least somewhat robust, standard PM tools, why advertise it in part as a project manager? If I were not looking to track tasks, I would not have tried MM this long. There are other programs that are far better at information management (including mind-mapping style programs).

I respect the versatility, but the two issues I have with your suggestions are: first, it shouldn't be as hard as it is to filter and search information in 2023, and second, I can't build the tools I need in MM, unless I get deep into the macros (potentially) or literally write my own add ons. I've used smart rules copiously, and even there, many triggers and actions are missing. There's not even an option to remove a specific icon based on a trigger, and there's no way to specify condition (A) AND (Condition (B) or (C) or (D)). Those have to be 4 separate rules, which you can't even group together. Regarding speed, that's quite the age you have for a PC, and MM may feel run just fine if your baseline is a 12-year-old-Desktop. It's also possible MM runs better on older hardware, having been written a long time ago.

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@Stephen and @Alex,

Any software prodcut can be improved, always and in various directions.

As you mention that your trial period is ending and wish to stay with MindManager, My suggestion is... Do stay.

For instance, why use Multimaps, if you already have Maps roll-up builtin. And if that is not enough, you could look at TopicTracker rom the makers of the MAP addin. MAP has many features and functions and benefits that are not for everyone, but who needs it, can take the addin.


And just as Alex, I have no issue with speed or crashes on my older windows 10 system.
And my maps are large, and I use most options in my training classes.
SO for the speed issue, I would contact support, they are always happy to assit you.


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Hi Ary! I would say mostly the same as I replied to Alex, only to add that I really shouldn't have to pay $180 for the program, and then another $119, $45, and $45 for the features I need, which should probably be included in the base program anyway. It's just not worth $400, especially when MindGenius seems to have similar features with more ways to view info (I'm checking MG out currently, so far it's MUCH smoother and modern overall, has more views, but lacks automations and excel import, which I suppose I can live without.)

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Hi Stephen, you won’t get an argument from me regarding MindManager’s price - I also think it’s quite expensive especially relative to most of its competitors. And I agree that some of these programs have a more modern approach to presentation than MM, but I don’t think they match it in terms of power and versatility.

As I understand it, MiM is the only commercial mind mapping program with an open API. At least you can create macros and add-ins to enhance it - and yes, some of the features in these add-ins should be part of the program, but several of MM’s more innovative core features actually started off as add-ins. It’s one of the ways the program evolves.

It’s horses for courses, I guess. Personally I quite like having a mind mapper that can export to Excel (a fairly basic feature), incorporates SmartRules and formulas, and which can be enhanced by great add-ins like MAP, but I also understand that there are plenty of people for whom these features aren’t important and/or who don’t want to pay the rather high premium required to obtain them in MM.

As for the suggestion that MM ageing coding might be better suited to my ancient PC, I’m happy to report that it also runs well - and I concede, a little bit faster - on my wife’s six-month-old fairly high-end desktop.

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I am, unfortunately, a horse without a course.

I really want to stay with a program like MM, the features are useful. Excel is great, (many MMs can export to excel, I like MM's rarer ability to import from Excel), and it's going to hurt not having Smart Rules if I go with MindGenius, but the unfortunate reality is that MindManager simply doesn't have the tools I need. (In my experience with it, falls in a zone that's in-between a fully featured mind-mapper and a fully-featured Project Mapper, has a strong positive of somewhat-featured inbuilt automations, but also lacks visual distinction without using them extensively.) There isn't even an auto-color feature without using smart automations, which is tremendously helpful in visualizing and distinguishing data when imported from Excel.

I'm very visual, which is why I want a Mind Map type software to help me organize, but the ways in which I can view the data are extremely limited and colors take a long time to implement. I know I keep saying this, but while I really love some of MM's features, it just won't work for me as a task manager, nor is it the best at information management. I think MM's current niche falls into a more narrow range for users who have use cases with highly predictable patterns - for instance, it would be fantastic at making dynamic, well-formatted, fully-featured org charts, or in helping to visualize and working with a number of excel-imported or synced datasets that don't have many variable categories. However...I have little experience with it, but it appears that Lucid Chart also does this, and from the demos I've seen, it does it better.

Based on the fact that the add-ons I've tried are implemented using what appear to be complex workarounds, the API would seem to be challenging to work with, but I can't say for sure. (I think other MindMappers have open APIs, but I can't say for sure on that either without verifying.) I'm also glad it runs well and faster on the new laptop, but if it's only slightly faster from a 12-year-old desktop, that still says slow to me (I've worked with a lot of legacy company tools, I know the feeling).

I think the reason I'm writing so much is because I really want to like it, and I was really, really hoping that MindManager would be my "forever home." I really, truly think that a reworked MM could be the bar-none best Mind Mapper out there for all of the use cases I've outlined. I sincerely doubt this could become a reality, but if the company or devs ever wanted, I'd be super thrilled to share my ideas on the product design/features that would make that happen. Things being the way they are, I'll keep MM in mind and check back in a few years if I still haven't found anything up to par.

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This is a good discussion. As Alex says, no mind mapping software can be all things to everyone - the feature set is potentially infinite. I have always regarded MindManager as a platform. There are many different ways to do things in MindManager, some of them easy, some of them deeply buried, some requiring lateral thinking and some requiring a compromise between objectives and features. This is true of all software and especially true of software that tries to automate applications in a very long-tail market. There are as many different use cases for MindManager as there are users.

I think it is important to stay focused on the process behind mapping rather than the software feature set. The process is something that is not described by feature documentation and its value is only indirectly captured in maps. I would agree with you that as a vertical project management tool or a task management tool, MindManager is technically adequate, not exceptional. But as a workspace for preparation, analysis, learning, creating, negotiating, and communicating I think it is exceptional. We tend to lose sight of these processes because software features are much easier to compare, explain and sell.

I would be interested in your ideas for product features. One of the Add-ins available for MindManager for Windows is App Studio, a technology that makes it cost-effective to tailor MindManager to a specific business application, which may or may not include new features - some customisation can be done without any coding. While this has the disadvantage of being yet another Add-in, it provides a way for special requirements to be implemented without needing to make a general case for extension of the core product, which is expensive and time-consuming. You can see from the 300-plus ideas in this forum that there is an infinite supply of reasonable suggestions, each of which is of particular interest to a handful of people.

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So since writing this, I've looked through every Project Manager with Mind Maps that I can find, and sadly, it doesn't seem like any mind-map based project manager adequately suits most project management needs.

I just want to bump this to reiterate that MM would be fantastic if it just 1. ran smoothly, 2. could search through multiple maps (and preferably link dynamically to like Multimaps), and 3 .had custom fields you can sort by with a table view. After looking through everything I can find on the market, I could live with the rest if these were fixed/added.

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UPDATE: I figured out that Intel drivers have an issue with certain software. Updating to the most recent version appears to have largely fixed the sluggishness and lag. Sorry for that misunderstanding!

The rest of the issues I still hold firm to. An auto-color option is also something that would be useful.

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