mind mapping software platforms compared

Desktop mind mapping software versus web-based mapping tools and mobile mind mapping applications: Which is the best platform?

The answer is it depends on the type of work you do and your work style.

Each platform has its pros and cons. Let’s take a closer look, so you can make an informed decision on the tools that may meet your needs.

Desktop mind mapping software

Pros:

  • Powerful and flexible
  • Capable of supporting and enhancing many different types of business applications
  • Powerful project management tools
  • A larger screen enables it to display complex mind maps
  • Many options for importing and exporting data with mine maps
  • A powerful tool for group brainstorming
  • The ability to integrate with enterprise applications like share point and Microsoft project

Cons:

  • Full-featured programs are rather expensive on a per desktop basis
  • Not as portable as other options
  • It may be challenging to get your IT department to agree to let you install it on your desktop computer or laptop
  • Only one person at a time can add to or edit a mind map

Who is it recommended for:

  • Power users
  • Anyone doing strategic planning or project management
  • Knowledge workers whose IT policy dictates that your files must be stored behind the corporate firewall

Resource

Web-based mind mapping tools

Pros:

  • Multiple people can work a single mind map from multiple locations at the same time
  • Entirely browser-based – there is no software to install and maintain
  • The ability to integrate with many web-based applications
  • The ability to integrate with web-based task management applications

Cons:

  • Depending upon where you work, your company‘s IT department may take a dim view of you storing your maps in the cloud, outside of the company firewall
  • Not as full-featured as desktop mind mapping software, but the gap is closing
  • Limited import/export options compared to desktop software
  • There is only one real option for power users: MindMeister

Who is it recommended for:

  • Knowledge workers who are just starting to try out mind mapping tools
  • People with limited budgets
  • People who want to collaborate with others in multiple locations

Resource

Mobile mind mapping applications

Pros:

  • These apps give you the ability to mind map anywhere, anytime and then transfer your mind map to the desktop for further development and refinement
  • They are inexpensive – mobile mind mapping apps are free or low-cost, making them an ideal way to try out mind mapping to see fits into your workflow and thinking style.

Cons:

  • Only a handful of the mobile mind mapping apps are updated on a regular basis. The rest seem to be “lost in time” – created once by a developer, and then ignored thereafter.
  • Once an app developer stops supporting his or her application, you’re stuck with your mind maps stored in a proprietary format.
  • Screen real estate is extremely limited on smart phones. To effectively mind map, you need a screen at least the size of a tablet.
  • Like the web-based mind mapping applications, mobile apps store your files outside of the corporate firewall, which may be a problem for your IT department. It may be an even bigger concern, because so many smartphones get stolen.

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