I was never much of a mind mapping person — that is until I stumbled into it a couple of years ago. Since then, its become an essential part of my thought process. I often turn to mind maps to help me flesh out ideas and having an app on my iOS device that allows me to do so, is game changing.
Mention mind mapping on iOS and immediately two names rise to the top: iThoughts and MindNode. When time came to choose one, I opted for MindNode — Despite iThoughts being heralded as the best. It’s minimal, almost playful aesthetics drew me in and it was powerful and versatile enough for my needs while being a joy to use.
It did have it’s shortcomings however, but this update addresses many of them, adds a few new features and a new coat of paint too.
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New Looks & Better Organisation
MindNode’s UI was totally overhauled in this update. Its fresh new look and brighter colours make it feel right at home on iOS 7. Animations are subtle and used sparingly to highlight the actions being executed — such as moving documents into folders. Yes, you read right. I said folders!
MindNode now sports folders (visually similar to iOS folders), giving me greater control over my document’s organisation whereas in the previous version, documents were few and short-lived simply because managing them was a chore. With iCloud sync active, the folder structure and corresponding documents mirror perfectly to MindNode on the Mac, meaning I can now have all my mind maps accessible at all times.
The improvements don’t stop there though. File actions have also been tweaked and are now more powerful and easily accessible. Tapping the up arrow next to the document’s name provides options to rename (not possible in the previous version), delete, duplicate and move to a folder.
Powerful & Elegant Editing
I was happy to discover the improvements to the document browser were just an appetiser. When it comes to editing a mind map per se, is when we really see all the work that has gone into MindNode 3.
Crisp text, fast and fluid zooming or panning are just a few things that make working with MindNode 3 a treat. There is also a beautiful new default theme. However, should I need to do so, the inspector gives me free rein to tweak almost every aspect of my mind map.
Another much welcomed addition is the ability to add and edit node connections and perform rich text formatting. Node creation has also been streamlined thanks to the new keyboard shortcuts to quickly add sub and sibling nodes (a feature first seen in iThoughts).
Exchanging information between documents is also possible, simply copy an entire mind map or just a section and paste it into another document.
Nirvana For The Keyboard Fiends
Those that prefer working with an external keyboard, will be delighted to learn that MindNode has extensive support for keyboard shortcuts. In fact, with the exception of moving nodes around (attaching and detaching), I can pretty much work on a mind map without having to touch the iPad. Apps with this kind of support for external keyboards are making me strongly reconsider my initial stance.
Sync & Sharing
I had previously mentioned that I can sync my mind maps via iCloud, but that isn’t the only way to load new mind maps into MindNode. I can use MindNode Pro’s iPhone Sharing feature to easily pass documents between the Mac and my iOS devices and if I link my Dropbox account, I can import documents in a myriad of formats. MindNode imports not only for its proprietary format but also OPML and FreeMind files. Finally, I can use “Open in…” to pass documents to MindNode from other apps.
Mind maps can take me only so far, therefore it’s a good thing that MindNode has extensive sharing and export options. I can save to Camera Roll, Print, Send to App, Send to Dropbox or email a documents in any of the following formats: a MindNode or FreeMind document, a PNG image, an OPML or Text outline or as a PDF. If that isn’t enough, there is also a new service which allows me to share a mind map online on MyMindNode.com.
MindNode 3 is a solid update to an already stellar app. Some may argue that it isn’t as feature rich or powerful as iThoughts. I on the other hand argue that it’s just perfect for my needs.
Simple and intuitive making it a cinch to pick up and learn (even the new features such as connecting nodes were easy to discover and understand). Beautiful and minimal yet has everything I need to get in and quickly flesh out an idea. It’s node outline feature in the editor and improved organisation options in the document browser help me find anything I need in no time at all. And finally, MindNode’s extensive import and export options guarantee that my information is always accessible and never stuck in a silo.
If like me, you don’t need all the bells and whistles that iThoughts bring to the table (such as adding images to your mind maps), then MindNode is the app to get. Powerful, versatile and pure joy to use.