So here we are, making mind maps again. For those unaware of what a mind map is, suffice to say that if you ever need to memorize something extensive which is something other than a list, then you might want to resort to mind mapping instead of filling a spreadsheet.
Freeplane is not an exceptionally friendly tool, but it has its advantages over FreeMind. For one, it features a very good way of introducing the user to its various elements. The help and tutorials are mind maps themselves. So as you familiarize yourself with the concepts, you will also see them in action, so to speak.
When creating a new mind map, you will need to choose between several map styles. These styles can vary from a simple global node and link style to more complex iterated styles. Styles can be edited and you can also create new ones. The style editor is rather archaic looking, and so is the rest of Freeplane for that matter.
You can create new mind maps rather easy with the same key shortcuts as in FreeMind. Icons are on the left side and formatting on the right. However, the high level of customization and the rather unfriendly interface make for cumbersome first steps. If you're serious about using Freeplane you will eventually get over the interface. However, when I look around I get the same feeling like with Photoshop. You can get good at it, but you're never going to discover everything about it. Of course, this is an exaggeration, and a compliment at the same time.
Again, every link can be edited separately either from a visual or an HTML perspective. There are several ways of linking nodes to other items such as notes, making truly baffling creations possible.
A good thing to take into account is that Freeplane uses the same file types that FreeMind uses (.mm). This might be a standard in the "industry" for all I know, but it's nice to be able to convert your mind maps one way or the other, just like plain document files.
- HTML nodes
- Easy individual styling
- Styling templates
- Uses the "mm" extension type
- Conditional formatting
- Rich palette of visual styles
To be honest, going through Freeplane was a rather tiring experience. There's no reason for you to feel the same, as I was trying to explore everything there is to it in a short amount of time. The basic use is simple and can be enough for most users.