Mind Mapping Software – Which One Do You Choose?

If you are looking for Mind Mapping Software then how do you know which one to choose? 

At the last count (accoding to Vic Gee at www.mind-mapping.org) there are nearly 300 different forms of software that in some way shape or form could be described as "Mind Map Software".

So how do you choose?

Well I can only tell you from my experience what works for me but even putting that aside, I think it is useful to know a few things about the market leader.

I use Mind Manager software from Mind Jet.

If I remember rightly, over the years I have jumped from version 2, to version 4 and now am on version 7 having spent quite a while using version 6.

I started with them because at the time I first looked at Software for Mind Mapping (going back to 1999), Mind Manager was the only credible solution I had seen.

So partly out of habit, a little bit of customer loyalty and mainly because I have not seen any viable alternative I am a firm advocate and ongoing user of the software.

Therefore it would be safe to say my judgement might be a little biased and slightly narrow (which is why I strongly recommend taking a look at Chuck Frey’s site I featured a few weeks ago or indeed Vic Gee’s site).

Now I refered to them as the market leader but how do I know that?

Well first of all they told me so.

mindjet facts for mind man.jpgHere is a screen shot of a graphic sent to me in one of their latest e mail campaigns.

You can probably see the numbers but can’t make out what they mean….let me explain.

According to this graphic there are over 1 million Mind Manager licence holders world wide and that 91% of those who upgraded to the recent version 7 are either "satisfied" or "very satisfied" they upgraded.

Now just for the record, I have recently upgraded and I too am very satisfied.

The 85 is the number of Fortune 500 companies with Mindjet customers.

Now this last figure is starting to get a bit "markety" because if just one person at Microsoft uses Mind Manager and they happen to be on the Mindjet database then that adds 1 to this number so we really can’t tell much from this figure but I’d imagine that there would be more so we can have a bit of (mildly sceptical) confidence in this figure.

But I suppose the most important figure on this graphic is the 3-5 hours typically saved by Mind Manager 7 users on a weekly basis.

Now is that hype or is there some truth in this?

Well these days we can’t always trust what these companies say about themselves so it is useful to take some independent assessment.

I mentioned Chuck Frey again earlier in this post and I now want to bring him out again as my secret "weapon of mass verification".

Chuck knows Mind Mapping software.

Chuck knows what Mind Mapping software users think of Mind Mapping Software…because he asks them.

In a recent survey he polled exactly what software they were using.  The results sort of looked something like this:

software used edited.jpgIt shows in % terms the relative market share of Mind Mapping software of those polled.

Just looking at this, I think it is quite clear to see which is the winner…the biggest one of course :-)

And which software was it… well you are going to have to go and get the report to read it yourself (available from Chuck’s excellent blog) but I am sure you can put two and two together…

The leading software at the time of the survey had over 70% of the market, more than 7 times that of the nearest competitor (which was a free software).

Now I think the most interesting statistic to come from Chuck’s survey (as far as I am concerned anyway) is that the use of Mind Mapping Software on average increases the productivity of its users by 20%.

That is about a day a week.

Now it is somewhat more than the 3-5 hours reported by Mindjet for version 7 of Mind Manager but it is consistent with Mind Map software adding to personal effectiveness and productivity.

So Mind Manager appears to be the one to choose.

But are there any viable alternatives?

Well there are and tomorrow I will be telling you about one that has the potential, certainly in Mind Mapping functional terms, to challenge Mindjet.




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  • Vic Gee August 7, 2008 at 4:03 am

    Hi Michael,

    What you say about numbers is true, but can I refine that ‘nearly 300′, before everyone thinking of looking at mind mapping software other than MindManager tears their hair out?

    Yes, my database has 296 software packages in it, and most are information mapping tools of some sort. But that includes historical records, outliners, some general purpose diagramming tools and other information management stuff.

    In the categories: 3D mind maps, argument maps, cognitive maps, concept maps, influence diagrams, mind maps, visual organizers, and similar, it has 138 entries for current software.

    Add defunct packages and it’s 183, but that would only grab an academic researcher’s interest!

    I suspect the figure that Chuck has for FreeMind under-represents FreeMind users. Look at the target market and demographics: I think it’s fair to say that Chuck targets mainly the business market. FreeMind, judging by its forum – which I follow – attracts the technically inclined and students. It’s had nearly five-and-a-half million downloads as of today. Many of these would be re-downloads to get an updated version; many more would be downloads that were never used; but I believe the balance is likely to be more in favour of FreeMind than the self-selected respondents to Chuck’s excellent surveys would indicate. Not that I think it’s number one, just a *much* stronger number two.

    The master list of mind mapping &
    information management software

  • Michael Tipper August 7, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Hi Vic,

    Thanks for that clarification on the Freemind position and for the number of mind mapping software packages.

    I had seen the number of downloads and it did strike me with as somewhat inconsistent with what Chuck had discovered but as you say the demographics of his audience probably mean a lower percentage will be regular users of it.

    Thanks for your continued contribution


    Michael Tipper