Wed, 17 Dec 2008 XMind 2008 Pro review
This mind-mapping tool excels in variety and range
- Manufacturer: Xmind
- Pros: Easy to use, good variety of chart types, excellent range and quality of export options, great performance
- Cons: Closely resembles a Windows database program, only two import methods, some operations are needlessly complicated
- Price: $49 (£39) one year subscription
- Star rating:
XMind 2008 Pro (version 2.3) stays true to the mind mapping ideals, although Mac standards are the occasional victim. All mind maps start with a central topic. Child branches radiate out from there, using text, colours, and graphic embellishments to articulate the ideas. When you create a new document, XMind enters Brainstorm Mode, creating and selecting the central topic. Adding child and grandchild branches is just a matter of pressing return or C-return.
When the brainstorming is over, you can give your plain map a little pizazz using Drawing Mode. Here you can apply backgrounds, format shapes, choose fonts and colours, and add graphical elements such as icon size markers. Adding a marker to a topic is a simple drag-and-drop operation. Adding custom markers ought to be a drag-and-drop affair too, but requires a trip to the preferences and the use of a clunky interface that doesn’t even let you see what you’re typing.
Any image can be dragged into a topic from the Finder, and XMind even facilitates grabbing images from the web through a built-in browser.
XMind comes up short on interface design. Colour palettes are straight out of Excel and font management bypasses Apple’s tools in favour of a toolbar-like configuration that doesn’t offer previews. The overall user experience is satisfying, though. Performance was excellent, even when importing and exporting complex documents.
Organisation charts, flow charts, project charts, management charts and Fishbone charts are offered as well. Yet XMind does not allow free-form charting. Everything must be performed in the context of the supported chart types.
XMind exports to HTML, PDF, MindManager, and a variety of image and text formats. Importing and exporting utilise a wizard-style interface. Wizards have their place in the computing universe, but they’re overkill here.