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Create and share concept maps online with CmapTools

05 May 2015, Mike Williams

CmapToolsCmapTools is a free cross-platform application (Windows, OS X, iPad) for creating and sharing concept maps, structured diagrams which represent various concepts and show how they’re linked.

Essentially they’re a simple type of mind map which can help you with anything from brainstorming new ideas to teaching knowledge models to others. And if that still doesn’t help – or you’d just like to see one yourself – then CmapTools has a concept map about itself which you can view here.

As you’ll see, the example is a fairly simple diagram. The key extra is that it does allow you to link to other maps and web pages (click one of the example icons, then the link), which means you’re able to build models with whatever depth you find necessary.

CmapTools

Concept maps can be useful for brainstorming or presenting knowledge models to others

Creating these diagrams is reasonably straightforward. The CmapTools interface is a little clunky, but once you get to the drawing part, it’s just a matter of double-clicking to create concepts, clicking and dragging to connect them, and typing text labels as appropriate.

Right-clicking then provides more options to add links, tooltip text, set a custom background and generally configure the map to suit your needs.

The finished map can be saved locally as an image, PDF or HTML file, but perhaps the real value here is that you’re able to publish it online, an easy way to share your ideas or collaborate with others (if they also have the program).

This isn’t the most polished of products. Something like Edraw Mind Map can create concept maps and many other diagram types, while you could present simple charts online with little more than a few Google Docs drawings. Still, if you’ll make use of its web publishing and collaboration tools then CmapTools also deserves a closer look.

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