I've used several mind mapping tools over the past few years, including, most recently, MindManager for Windows. I like the tools well enough, but it's a niche market. The leading vendors like Mindjet and NovaMind typically charge $250-$400 for their products; that feels a bit much when Aperture sells for $80 on the Mac App store.
All of the commercial products use proprietary, closed data formats -- so there's a severe data lock problem with this domain. It's tough to switch vendors. Some, like NovaMind, have quite good import/export features -- but that doesn't change the fundamental data lock issue. Many of the products, including some respected freeware apps, are Java based. That's a big negative for a Mac user.
Which is why it's nice to see that Inspiration is back. It was never actually gone -- but they stopped marketing it for adult and business use (schools only). Visiting their web site today they seem to be taking another stab at a broader market. Inspiration isn't nearly as pretty as MindManager, and it doesn't have MM/Windows deep Office integration, but it's much less expensive. I'd give it a try (it used to import MORE 3.1 documents btw!), but the trial software registration form is ridiculous. I'll wait until they get a clue on that front.
Inspiration is nice, but what I really want is for the OmniGroup to deliver a mindmapping solution. They could extend OmniOutliner, OminGraffle, OmniFocus or do a new app -- but my preference would be to extend OmniOutliner. They'd do a beautiful job, and perhaps they'd consider opening up the file format.
Update: The ever reliable "Martin" mentions MindNode in a comment. I loved this part of their web site description:
No file format lock-in. MindNode and MindNode Pro support a variety of file formats. You can import and export FreeMind and OPML files (a file format used by many outlining applications) or export the mind map as PNG image, TIFF image, PDF, RTF or HTML document.
MindNodePro is sold on the App Store for $20 and by direct download. MindNode is quite limited by free. There's an iOS version that currently has its own file format, but the developer promises it will migrate to the MindNode format.
MindNode is a small OS X and iOS developer product ...
... MindNode and MindNode Pro are applications designed and developed by Markus Müller. Based in Vienna, Austria, Markus is an independent software developer whose focus lies on designing intuitive and useful software for the Mac and iPhone platform...
This on is my todo (Toodledo/Todo.app) list to try.
Update 6/4/11: There's a free trial version of MindNode Pro - limited to 20 nodes. That's what I'm experimenting with. It's simple, but elegant. If you drag and drop a file to MindNode it creates a resizable icon shortcut (default size is too big). I like how it works. If you want to create documents, you create then externally and relate them using MindNode. For example, I could related a set of SimpleNote text notes. The documentation is unclear, but i can confirm node names are indexed by Spotlight.
- Mind map - Wikipedia
- List of concept mapping and mind mapping software - Wikipedia
- Gordon's Notes: XMind: Software made in China for OS X and Windows
- Which is the best mindmapping software? - WikIT
- Inspiration (store)
- ThinkBuzan - Official Mind Mapping software by Tony Buzan
- FreeMind - Wikipedia and Alternatives to FreeMind
- Freeplane - Wikipedia
- MindManager - Wikipedia: the prettiest product - corporate favorite strong Outlook/Office integration on Windows
- Simplemind (iOS, OS X, sold via App Store)