MindMaple Lite is a free application for generating mind maps, project plans, running brainstorming sessions, and generally helping to organise, present and share your ideas.
Download and installation is straightforward – no registration, adware or other hassles here – and conveniently the program opens with a mind map explaining itself: the main features, what’s new in this edition, what you get from upgrading to the Pro edition, and more.
The program provides a few templates – prebuilt diagrams – to help you get started. If the standard “Project Map” template matches what you need, for instance, then you could open it and just modify its text however you like. But otherwise it’s simple enough to start with a blank page and create your own map from scratch.
How simple? Starting a new project gives you one box in the middle of the screen, titled “Central Topic”. To create subtopics, all you have to do is left-click in that box, drag to the point where you’d like that topic to be, and release. A new box appears with a connecting line.
Do the same again to create as many new subtopics as necessary, then click and drag from those subtopics to add more ideas. With every click-drag-release sequence adding a new subtopic, you could build a complex structure in just a minute or two.
Clicking any subtopic and typing gives it a caption, and you can also customise your ideas with pictures, hyperlinks, attachments, maybe text notes. They can be assigned dates, or icons, and you’re able to show relationships between them in various ways.
There’s a good range of export options. Apart from the usual images, you’re able to export the map in a text form, which – if you’re careful how you generate it – can produce a very readable business plan-type document.
Export to HTML and there’s an option to include a dynamic version of your map in an embedded Flash applet. The program also has ability to export in various Office formats, although it seems you must have Office installed, and even then it doesn’t always work (we were told, incorrectly, that PowerPoint wasn’t installed on our test system).
As you’ll guess from the name, MindMaple Lite is the free version of MindMaple Pro, a $9.99/ year commercial edition with more themes, clipart, backgrounds, password protection, smarter Office and PDF export, and so on.
MindMaple Lite has more than enough power to be useful, though, and thankfully it’s not one of those free versions which is designed to irritate you into upgrading (no nag screens, Pro-only features are highlighted so you’re not forever selecting them by mistake). The interface isn’t always intuitive, and the PowerPoint export failure was a concern, but overall this is a solid mind map generator and well worth a closer look.
MindMaple Lite is a free mind mapper for Windows and Mac.