Mindjet MindManager 9 review

A powerful mind mapping program with industry-leading integration with Microsoft Office, but is this enough to justify the high price? David McKinnon organises his thoughts into a verdict in our review.

Maps can be honed by using filters to display only the information you need at that moment. A power filter function allows you to quickly view only those parts of the map that concern a particular person or priority level, have been assigned a specific style or take place within a date range. Alternatively, you can just search for text strings within the map nodes.

You can add images, notes and icons to nodes, and new maps can be created from single nodes or entire branches. Mind maps can be exported as an image, pdf, PowerPoint or Word file, or even as a hyperlinked webpage. The ability to export mind maps as a PowerPoint presentation is slightly ham-fisted though as the resulting slide shows are simple snap-shots of your map. Mindjet also offers an online service for 10.80 per month which provides remote access to your maps, and allow online collaboration.

While MindManager does an admirable job of creating order from your chaos, it's not perfect. The included template styles are limited and uninspiring, while the graphical engine trades flexibility in design and pixel perfect placement for blunt ease of use.

In addition, as the complexity of your maps grows, they can become unwieldy, a problem in many ways exacerbated, rather than salved, by the inclusion of information from other applications. A more unified graphical approach is perhaps limited by the necessity to retain Microsoft's livery on imported Word, Excel and Outlook data, but a more cohesive and less cluttered graphical approach to the map view would make identifying important information much easier.

So what's our verdict?

Verdict

MindManager 9 makes keeping track of complex projects easier, by providing access to a variety of data sources through a single interface. The time management tools are well executed and the addition of a Gantt chart function is particularly useful. For those interested in mind mapping as a brainstorming tool there are far cheaper alternatives, but if you want to go a few steps further and use mind maps as an integrated productivity suite, MindManager 9 is a very useful, if relatively expensive, tool.

Operating system: Windows XP SP3 32-bit, Vista 32-bit, 7 32- or 64-bit Processor: 1GHz or faster RAM: 1GB or more Hard disk space: 200MB plus 100MB more during installation Additional software requirements: Microsoft .NET 3.5 or higher. Microsoft Office integration require Microsoft Office Professional 2003, 2007, 2010, Microsoft Project 2003, 2007, 2010.

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