Summarize

The MindManager Topic Notes Editor: Time for a big change?

The Topic Notes editor has remained virtually unchanged for a decade.  A format painter (copier) has been added in MindManager 2012 and way back in 2002 the ink tools were added.  Nothing else has happened.  I met Blaine Mathieu Chief Products Officer at the Mindjet Revolution Roadshow, a few days ago.  After a short discussion, he invited me to send him an email on this matter. Here are my thoughts and your chance to help me write that email to encourage Mindjet to be evolutionary and well as revolutionary!

I have used the Notes editor to create hundreds of web sites: the notes become web pages.  Until last week I used it to create the Cabre web site but I had to do too much post processing to include bits of HTML for videos etc. and had other issues around site management not to do with the Notes Edtor. I have switched to WordPress with MindManager content where required.   The ConferenceREACTION web site is currently produced with MindManager but will switch to WordPress soon.  It’s a pity because all the content is produced with MindManager.

With the Word export I use Topic Notes to create the paragraphs in “Introduction to MindManager” (to be transferred to new web site),  a 20 page  booklet with 50 plus images in it.  I started with Mindmanager X5 and I will updated it to the sixth edition 2012 shortly.

So why change?

It lacks:

  • Word wrapping: you have to use tables.
  • The tables are unstable when they get big (more than 5 rowsish) and if you use cell merge.
  • You cannot include HTML, only links. So no embedded videos, maps or other “gadgets” e.g. mail list capture, twitter streams etc.
  • You cannot resize large images to suitably sized images as you add them to the Notes (or Topics) thus preventing map bloat!
  • It is difficult to manage the formatting in the notes to get the correct format in Word. If you transfer the MindManager Topic Notes format to Word, you can’t (easily) use the Word Styles to manage the formating.

Please add to this list by commenting below.

What would I like to see

Three and half editors:

  1. Keep it simple i.e.the current one.  For simple note taking
  2. A Word editor which uses the style selected for the Word export. Perhaps it opens a Word window and saves the file as an attachment to the map visualised in the Notes pane.  you can support this idea in Mindjet’s User Voice – Editing Topic Notes with Word.
  3. An HTML editor. Something like the ScribeFire for Firefox.  It’s great for editing and storing frequently used HTML fragments.  With the option of using Micrsoft Expression?  You can support this idea in Mindjet’s User Voice – HTML Notes Editor 

3.5 An editor for creating WordPress content. That is one which creates clickable image maps and other content that can be directly exported to my WordPress blog(s). I will write about this seperately.  One respected internet commentator Graham Jones said in his newsletter last weekend: “In my view, though, there is only one way to go: WordPress.” Repeating my dream: Just imagine if Mindjet had developed the HTML editor they had in early versions of MindManager we would be using MindPress now!

 There, that’s this week’s rant (so far) off my desk (chest).  Please add your thoughts here and in Mindjet’s User Voice.

About Andrew Wilcox

Andrew is an experienced user of MindManager who shares his knowledge and advice for free here. And provides commercial training and consulting on how to exploit MindManager and other mind mapping software applications in business, organisations and for individuals at Cabre For more information about Andrew please visit his Google + profile.

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8 Responses to “The MindManager Topic Notes Editor: Time for a big change?”

  1. Robin Capper says:

    I’d like to see a ruler, to allow scaling of images for output to Word (or other “paper scale” formats). Why not an option to use an external editor like Word, or if web is the target Writer, rather than the built in one?

    Not notes, exactly, but also would like to have MindManager use the Word Styles in a template rather than cloning it’s own mmstylename versions.

  2. Alex says:

    Andrew,

    I strongly agree with your comments and suggestions about the MM notes editor.

    Actually they have made two other two helpful albeit very modest changes – first, they seem to have fixed the bug which added multiple spaces to notes text (not sure if they did this in MM2012 or MM9). I haven’t fully tested this – I got so discouraged with it in MM8 that I gave up exporting notes entirely – but so far it seems OK.

    Second (and this is a change that definitely came with MM2012) you can now have numbered as well as bulleted lists in notes. This is something competing products have been doing for years. It also has to be said that the MM implementation is very basic – it doesn’t seem to handle multi-level numbering or even mixing numbers with bullets, for example, but at least it’s a start.

    I like all your suggestions, especially that for either a Word window or at least an editor that uses Word styles. I also like Robin’s idea for a swappable notes editor – simple, Word (or Word-like) and HTML.

    In relation to your and Robin’s comments about the problems of exporting to Word I couldn’t agree more. This is a problem of course that applies not just to notes but also to exporting to Word generally. I have taken up using Opti-Word because it uses Word’s templates and styles rather than imposing MM’s and gives you much more fine-grained control over the export process. It also seems very stable and best of all you can also select the template to be used.

    However Opti-Word imposes its own icons on topics so that these can be linked to the appropriate style. While you can hide all icons in MM, it would be nice to be able have an option within Opti-Word to show/hide just its own icons.

    Alex

  3. Ary Velstra says:

    And in MM2012 a small error has arrived:

    If you export to HTML sudenly it combines words by omitting spaces in the text.

    So the above sentence can look like

    == If you export to HTML sudenlyit combines words byomitting spaces in the text. ==
    More examples can be found at MindManager generated websites like http://www.contemplate.nl

    It is impossible for us to find any logic in that.

  4. Nigel Goult says:

    Andrew,

    I wonder if the Notes Editor poses a problem area for Mindjet, after all it is probably one of the most utilised areas of the application and as you and others have observed has had little input or development focus in a decade. Perhaps there are issues within the structure of the file format that makes extended mark-up and formatting attributes a problem for the Notes object. I’m guessing there is something awkward about further developing this area because let’s face it, it would have a huge beneficial impact to the majority of users so makes it a no brainer (if it’s simple).

    Alex,

    Thanks for the positive comments on OPTi-Word. I have found myself using the add-in more and more lately and indeed it has actually made me start some documentation projects in MindManager knowing I can get the flexible output for Word and then PDF etc.

    I have noted your comment on the Icons and agree that a show/hide for them would be ideal and I will look into implementing this in an update very shortly.

    Regards

    Nigel

    Olympic Limited
    http://www.olympic-limited.co.uk

  5. Andrew Wilcox says:

    Ary

    It’s a bonus feature for the gradual conversion of Dutch into German by combining words in to less longer words.

    Robin

    A ruler with settings for margins and page width would be very useful. For more than ten years I have been carefully adjusting the Notes window width to suit my output in Word or web page. Or alternatively inserting an invisible table with the page width. Unfortunately tables have become a bit passé and have generally been replaced by divs.

    Alex

    Thanks for your support. I know we have been here before.

    Ary

    That’s a real show stopper. Difficult to write a macro that spots missing spaces. Spotting double spaces is easier. Thank goodness I have switched to WordPress. Producing clickable image maps still seems to be fine.

    Nigel

    It may not be easy for Mindjet but if you take the sum of the disruption, lost opportunity and frustration of their users on this issue, I am sure it would be worth it.

    Would the strap line “All because the lady loves Milk Tray” work if there was nothing in the second tray? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXFs9DvPGO8&feature=related

  6. Alex says:

    Nigel,

    Thanks for your positive response re my show/hide Opti-Word icons suggestion. I think Opti-Word is a great add-in which should be incorporated into MM (though given what happened with Power Markers I’m not so sure).

    When I have the time I’ll make a few more suggestions re Opti-Word directly to you, but in the meantime I have one request. The editing process for the default templates is a little counter-intuitive. When you choose the edit option you are presented with a document based on the template rather than the template itself and it is a little unclear how – and where – you should save your edited version as a template.

    I haven’t worried about this too much as I just add the template I want to use, but it might be worth looking at.

    Alex

  7. Nigel Goult says:

    Alex,

    The OPTi-Word templates are stored here:

    C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\OPTi-Word for MindManager\

    When OW is installed it comes with copies of the default Word 2003 and Word 2010 .dot / .dotx files in this directory.

    If you then edit one of these files once you fire an Export or you choose to add a new template you have designed, OW will store the template in this location.

    If its an existing template OW will make a copy of it in this location. We did it this way to preserve any templates in your default MS store. When you manipulate OW templates you are manipulating files in this location only and OW will only list templates that are stored there.

    If you manually copy existing template files into this directory they will automatically be listed the next time you run the Export. Likewise deleting them manually will remove them from the list.

    Hope this helps.

    Looking forward to hearing your ideas on OPTi-Word.

    Regards

    Nigel

  8. Alex says:

    Nigel,

    Thanks for your response, however it’s not working quite that way for me.

    When I go to edit the existing Opti-Word template, it opens as a document and not a template in Word. I then have to save it manually as a template, whereupon it is saved in the current Word directory and not in either the OW directory or the Word templates directory (the latter may be a quirk of my installation as I can’t get any templates to save there by default). I then have to add the modified template manually to the Opti-Word templates directoy.

    So, for me at least the steps to edit one of the existing temnplates are:

    1. Open the template in Word as a document and modify it appropriately;
    2. Save the document as a template in the current directory;
    3. Exit from Word and find and copy the saved template file;
    4. Go to the Opti-Word directory (actually on my machine this is C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\OPTi-Word for MindManager\Opti-Word Templates) and paste the template (presumably you can overwrite the existing template but I haven’t been game to do that yet so I just add it with another name).

    Believe me it’s not a major problem now that I understand the process – and as a said I think Opti-Word is a great product. I just wanted to check if this was how it is meant to work. If so, that’s fine, but it might be helpful to explain the process in a bit more detail in the user guide for the next upgrade.

    Regards

    Alex

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