Brainstorming with XMind

Posted on August 12th, 2013 in Featured | 2 Comments »

Brainstorming

Innovation without boundaries

Have you used brainstorming before? For decades, individuals and enterprises are looking for better technique to come up with creative solutions. And the Brainstorming is really a great solution! It has the special rules to encourages attendees express ideas, speak out suggestions loudly. Meanwhile, as every participant can make the contribution to the final decision, Brainstorming way also motivates people to join the discussion with the big passion.

Whereas, brainstorming with the old way by using whiteboard/paper/pen also has many problems. We have to spend lots of time on modification, organization, report and etc. At the same time, our mind would be limited by the scale of whiteboard or paper or screen. Finally, we still feel confused as the solution still hides in the chaotic ideas or that we still don’t get any execution plan.

As the technology develops, we can run brainstorming more effectively. Working with XMind, we can innovate without boundaries as the edit interface is boundless. Also, it can’t be easier to organize and modify the ideas, and focus on the particular branch. More important, we can quickly make decision, form report and call for actions with the Gantt chart, the real starting point of solution.

Brainstorming Steps

Before the brainstorming, the compere will read the rules that people should avoid criticizing and rewarding the ideas. At the same time, he/she will assign one person to record the ideas. Then, the recorder launches XMind, input the central topic and click “F8” to enter the brainstorming model.

With explanation and questions, the compere try to encourage the participants to form news ideas and speak them. The ideas may seems to be a bit crazy at first. Whereas, it can enlighten the colleagues and lead to a creative approach. For this situation, we can save them as the floating topics temporarily. At this stage, we should focus on the quantity, but not quality. Drilling down the weak branch, we can balance the different directions.

When the ideas quantity is enough, we can try to evaluate and connect them to explore the solutions in the analytic way. Marker, label, relationship line, boundary and summary can bring us more convenience to express our mind more concisely and precisely.

Brainstorming Scene

Call for actions

Once completing the brainstorming session, we have got a final solution. At this stage, we need to promote its execution and bring us the real result. Working with XMind, we can quickly convert the ideas into tasks by adding the essential task information. Finally, we get a entire Gantt chart of the whole plan and easily to share it within the team. At the same time, we can guarantee the success with a bigger view of the plan and an unified cognition of the decision.

Gantt Chart

Working better with large mind maps

Posted on August 1st, 2013 in Featured | 29 Comments »


The map like the above image would be very difficult to work with. It’s hardly to find the target topics. And more if you want to focus on one part of the map, too many objectives around will make you distracted.  You may want to know are there any approaches to help us work better with large mind maps?

Here, we’d love to share 8 tips, which can help us out.  To let you understand them better,  I divide them as Design, Edit and Navigation.

Design

Multiple sheets
Most time, the best solution is to separate one large map into several small ones. People may worry about maps management now. In fact, you have not to when working with XMind.  One .xmind file is actually a workbook, which can have multiple sheets. Thing is simple now. You can divide one large map into multiple sheets within one workbook. Just select any a topic, and choose “Insert — New sheet from Topic” from menu.

Multipe Sheets

If you begin with a new map, Ctrl+T (command + T on mac) is the fastest way to create a new sheet.

File Revisions
XMind will save one reversion of the file when we save the file manually. And for the large mind map, the revisions will take more storage room than the normal mind maps. For this time, deleting the useless revisions can reduce the file size. Clicking ” File – Editing History” and  selecting the target revisions, we can press the “Delete” button to delete them.

Editing History

Edit

Drill Down
Focus on one target can always make us more effective and creative. Working with XMind, we can achieve the goal easily and fast. Selecting one topic and clicking the drill down icon at toolbar, we can show the selected topic and its subtopics on a temporary mind map without distractions from the other topics.  Clicking the drill up icon at the tool bar, the modification to the temporary mind map can be saved at the original mind map, except for the floating topic.

Drill Down

Theme & Style
Is ther any way to set the properties of our mind map quickly and easily? For XMind, we can make it in a better way. Within XMind, theme is the collection of colors, shapes, line patterns, and other coordinated graphical attributes of a map. Selecting “View-Theme” from the menu and double-clicking the thumbnail of the target theme, we can apply the theme to the mind map and change the whole style. At the same time, we can set the properties of topics, boundaries, relationship lines and sheet independently in the Style view.

The Theme View

 

Notes
Notes and subtopics can also be used to add more details of the mind map. However, the notes can be hidden and will influence the structure of the whole mind map. If the mind map has been very large, we can use the notes to record the details instead of subtopics.

Notes View

Navigation

Powerful Filter
How to filter your personal or most important tasks from the large project? XMind’s powerful filter feature can make it happen. Clicking “View- Advanced Filter” and checking the checkbox of marker or label at the filter view, we can focus on the target and darken the rest of the map. By this way, we can see what we want to see.

Filter View

 

Search functionality
Working with a large map, we find it very hard to find the topics we created before. Clicking “View-Search in workbook” and filling in the objective in the view, we can find the target fast and easily. More important, At this moment, XMind can locate us to the target by double-clicking on it at the view.

Search View

 

Overview View
Working with XMind, we can easily achieve the pan and zoom operations in overview viewer.

Overview

If you are not familiar to the above functionalities, please check its usage method by clicking “Help-XMind Help”. Then, you’ll find the specific instructions of the functionality.  Maybe you have some other practical tricks for working better with large mind maps. Would you like to share with us?

Most popular mind mapping tool on Lifehacker

Posted on May 20th, 2013 in Featured | 3 Comments »

The most popular mind mapping tool

Last month, the famous Internet Media – Lifehacker launched a vote campaign of the best mind mapping tool. More than 4,000 readers from different countries joined in this voting campaign. Finally, XMind won the competition as the most popular mind mapping software by a large margin. They said “it’s still extremely flexible, works great on any desktop OS, and makes it easy to organize your ideas and thoughts in a variety of different styles, diagrams, and designs”.

During the process, Lifehacker posted 3 blogs for inviting the readers to vote for the best mind mapping tool. In the first blog of “Best Mind Mapping Tool”,  readers could nominate the best mind mapping tool in their mind. In the next blog of “Five Best Mind Mapping Tools”, five best mind mapping tool were picked out according the readers’ nomination. Meanwhile, the author invited more readers to join in the voting campaign for determining the final ranking of the five.  In the final blog of “Most Popular Mind Mapping: XMind“, the editor of Lifehacker announced the final result. Thankfully, XMind  was voted as the winner, leading the second about 8% total votes.

Without your support, we can never make this happen. XMind team will never take your trust as granted.  Working hard, we wish to bring you the better mind mapping tool.
Thank you again!

Powerful Matrix

Posted on April 1st, 2013 in Featured | 16 Comments »

We’ve known that mind mapping is a very useful tool for idea management, strategic analysis, etc.  But what if meeting big data or complex project? For this situation, the Matrix structure in XMind could be our one effective solution. It has a spreadsheet layout, but has some more special features.

  • Every cell can have multiple topics.
  • Every topic can have its own structure to express content accurately, like logic, tree, and etc.
  • Relationship, boundary and summary can be added for illustrating more logic relationships.
  • Matrix can also be converted into other structures, like mindmap, tree, organization chart, logic chart and fishbone by two clicks.

As you see, Marketing Budget is the Matrix tile. Research/Consulting,  Advertise, Public relationships and Promotion are column name. Quarter 1/2/3/4 are the row name.

Create a Matrix

Matrix is a special mind map structure. And it’s easy to get one.

  1. New a blank mind map
  2. Right click on the central topic, and choose Structure — Matrix
    Martix structure
  3. Click Enter key to get one more row; Click the button beside central topic to get one more column.

Operations to Matrix

The operations to Matrix can be simple and easy. Let’s take a look of the basic operations.

  • Add a column: click the Add Column button besides Matrix title(central topic).
  • Add a row: select any a row title and click Enter key.
  • Add topics to a cell: double-click in that cell directly.
  • Modify column/row title: double click that title and modify its content.
  • Change the Row: select the row title and move up or down.
  • Change the Column order: select column title and move right or left
  • Delete a row: select the row title, click Delete key.
  • Delete a column: select all topics in that column, and click Delete key.
  • Change topic structure in a cell: right click on the target topic, Click Structure — Map/Tree/Logic/Fishbone.

Tips: To add relationship(Ctrl+L), boundary(Ctrl+B), note(F4) and summary(Ctrl+]) , the operations are the same as usual.

Matrix & Mind Map

Since Matrix is a special structure, it can also be changed into the other structures. The process is easy.

  1. Select the Matrix title.
  2. Choose Structure — Map/Tree/Logic/Fishbone from the context menu.

Below is the example about changing SWOT Analysis template from matrix structure to the mind map structure.

SWOT Analysis

(Matrix Structure)

Mind Map Structure

(Mind Map Structure)

As you see, the parts of Matrix actually correspond the topics or labels of a mind map.

  • SWOT Analysis ==> Central topic
  • Internal and External ==> Main topics
  • Helpful ==> Label of Strengths and Opportunities
  • Strengths and Weakness ==> Subtopics of Internal

Tips: “Helpful” is just the label of Strengths, but not Strength1 & Strength 2.

Now, it’s your time to open your XMind and try the Matrix.

Powerful filter

Posted on January 21st, 2013 in Featured | 8 Comments »

Concentrating on one thing one time can make you more successful. For presentation or review of your mind map, you may desire to display and contrast just parts of topics at the screen. Filter feature can help you to concentrate on a series of topics, sharing same markers or labels. Once entered the filter mode, the background will be dark and topics containing the selected markers or labels will be lighted. By this way, the filter supports you to focus on the similar objectives and gives you a different view, such as the first priority tasks or particular person’s tasks.

Filter

Enter filter mode

Within XMind, powerful filter feature can make it accessible.

  1. Click “View – Other – Mind map – Filter” and XMind will pop up the filter view at the right side of  the screen.
  2. Within the filter view, the markers and labels of current sheet have been listed below. You can select target markers and labels by clicking the bracket.
  3. Once you select the markers or labels, XMind will enter filter mode and light the topics, maintaining the target markers. If the target markers or labels belong to the topic, which has been collapsed, XMind will enter the filter mode. Make sure the branches has been extended before apply the filter feature

(Tips: XMind supports you to select multiple markers and labels at one time. At the same time, XMind is able to edit under the filter mode)

Filter_view

Exit filter mode & modify the lightness

Now that you know how to enter filter mode, then how could we exit filter mode? At the same time, how to change the lightness of the screen within XMind. Try the steps below.

  1. Open filter view and there is a button of “show all” at the top right corner of it
  2. Clicking the button, XMind will exit the filter mode immediately.
    (Tips:You can also exit the filter mode by cancel the selection of markers in filter view)
  3. Besides the “show all” button, there is a “lightness” button. Clicking the button, XMind will change the lightness of the screen.

Filter_view_toolbar

Bee line

At the bottom line of the edit window, there is a also shortcut of filter. You can enter filter mode, change the selected marker and modify the lightness.

  1. If you haven’t entered the filter mode, you can choose one established marker and enter the filter mode by one clicking on the mini filter button.
  2. If you’ve already opened the filter mode, you can modify the lightness of the screen by one clicking on it.
  3. If you’ve already changed the background darker, XMind will quit from the filter mode for one clicking.

Quick_filter

Why not try to concentrate on the target and grasp the attention of your audience within your presentation?

Working with FreeMind and MindManager files

Posted on January 3rd, 2013 in Featured | 24 Comments »

  • When your colleagues are using different kinds of mind mapping software, how can it achieve for your team to share mind maps? Will you all have to install multiple software or ask some to give up their favorite mind mapping software?
  • You used to be a user of FreeMind or MindManager and you have adopted XMind for its features and easy-to-use. How can you check the previously saved mind maps?
  • You’ve found a valuable and essential document on the Internet and downloaded it. What a pity. It’s not created by the mind mapping software, you’re using. Do you have to download and install the corresponding software for just opening the document?

For the above situations, you may meet some blocks on the way to success. With XMind, the feature of import and export can help you to clear them, and Collaborate without boundaries.

Import FreeMind and MindManager

First thing to know, these two features are both free. For importing the files of FreeMind and MindManager,  you may operate like below.

  1. Choose “File – Import – FreeMind or MindManager” from menu,
  2. Click the “browse” button and select the target file,
  3. For the option of “the current workbook”, XMind will append the imported file to a newly created sheet in your current workbook. For the option of “a new workbook”, XMind will append the imported sheet to a newly created workbook. The difference is the sheet and workbook.
  4. Click the “Finish” button and end the import operations

Beautify the appearance

If structure of the imported file has been changed manually before, it may show chaotic after being imported in XMind. How to beautify the imported mind map? Actually, XMind has offered an effective approach for you.

  1. Select the topics of the imported mind map by clicking “Ctrl + A”
  2. Click “Modify – Reset position” and XMind will reset the structure the position of the topics
  3. For further modification, please just select topic or line and change font, size, color or shape in the properties view.

Export FreeMind and MindManager

For exporting XMind document into FreeMind and MindManager file type.

  1. Choose “File – Export” from menu
  2. Select the target file type and click “Next” button
  3. Browse the destination file and click the “Finish” button.
  4. Then you will get .mm or .mmap files.

One more thing, actually,  you can export .xmind file into 10 different formats, like image, txt, html, whereas only a few export features are on charge. Have you tried the import and export features?

Manage Projects with improved TaskInfo and Gantt view

Posted on December 23rd, 2012 in Featured, XMind Basic | 34 Comments »

In November 2009, there was an article about how XMind can be helpful on Project management by using TaskInfo and Gantt Chart. At that time, XMind might not perform well enough, but it still worked efficiently. And with valuable support and suggestions from many enthusiastic people, XMind has made many improvements through time. For example, the “assigned to” option to add a particular person.

Especially in XMind 2012, we bring the “task dependency relationship” to help you identify the dependency relation between tasks, and re-design the Gantt Chart with a more friendly interface, fluent interaction and improved usability. We’re ready now.

Taskinfo and Gantt Chart

Now, let’s see how Task Info View works. Below are what we can do here,

  • Task: This is the content of selected task (can’t be changed in the Task Info view);
  • Assigned to: Select or input the people who are responsible for this task;
  • Priority: Select the proper priority level for this task in the drop-down list;
  • Start/End Date: Select the proper date for this task. You can even set an exactly time if required.
  • Duration: This shows how many days you can complete this task. You can set it directly too;
  • Progress: Move the slide to change task progress;
  • Check Point: The time point to stop and check your task;
  • Predecessors: Click the plus button to add a predecessor to selected task.

TaskInfo View

Task Dependency In XMind

Before showing Gantt Chart, maybe we should talk about the Task Dependency for better understanding.
A dependency relation exists between any two tasks in XMind. How do you display it? Now, XMind can help you achieve this with few simple steps. For example, task A has a dependency relation with task B. Let’s do as following:
Select task A.

  1. On the Predecessors fields, click plus button.
  2. Choose task B in the coming Task Dependency dialog.
  3. Confirm the Dependency type,
    • Finish to Start, Task A can’t be started until Task B is finished.
    • Start to Finish, Task A can’t be finished until Task B is started.
    • Start to Start, Task A can’t be started until Task B is started.
    • Finish to Finish, Task A can’t be finished until Task B is finished.
  4. Click OK to finish.

Task Dependency

Then after adding these task details, let’s click Show Gantt Chart at the Taskinfo View bottom. All tasks in current mind map will be shown in the Gantt Chart view.

Gantt Chart

If you switch among sheets or workbooks, the content will be updated at the same time. Moreover, when you drill down any a topic to focus on more details, Gantt Chart will only show the tasks in this drilled down map. Concentration is ever so easy and simple.

Gantt Chart has two parts. On the left, all topics are listed as a tree. On the right, the tasks are shown as task bars with time indicator. A glance, you can catch the most task details immediately, like Task content, Start/End Date, Progress Status, and Dependencies. When moving mouse on a task, all information will be appeared. How convenient! Also, you can change timeline scale among Hours, Days, Weeks and Months in the left as you want.

In this redesigned Gantt Chart View, we bring various colors for task bars, which depend on the task’ priority. This would be helpful to distinguish one task from the others. One more thing, the Task Dependency, which is shown as the lines between tasks. You’re allowed to insert dependency line here, by selecting the little circle at the start or end of a task bar and pointing to any a task. To help you understand the dependency type better,  please watch the above screenshot, there are four lines, from top to bottom,

  • The first one means that Task B can’t be started until Task A is started.
  • The second one means that Task C can’t be started until Task B is finished.
  • The third one means that Task D can’t be finished until Task E is started.
  • The fourth one means that Task F can’t be finished until Task E is finished.

What we do believe is that, you may bring a big surprise to your co-workers while reporting the project status with XMind, and they will understand your work fast and easily.

Add your own markers and share marker package

Posted on December 11th, 2012 in Featured | 26 Comments »

Within XMind, markers stand for special meaning of priority, percentage complete, passion and so on. The appropriate use of marker can beautify mind map, improve the communication efficiency and simplify your mind map.

Marker_View

Add markers

Within XMind, markers can be added into mind map by flexible operations. Actually, there are 3 different ways for adding markers.
(Tips: we recommend you not to add more than 3 markers into one topic)

  • Marker View
    1. Open the marker view firstly by clicking “View- Marker”.
    2. Drag the target marker to the particular topic. Or select the particular topics and click the target marker.
  • Right clicking
    Right clicking on the target topic and choose the “Markers” option for selecting the particular marker.
  • Short cut
    By pressing short cut of “Ctrl + 1“, you can add the first priority marker into the selected topics quickly.
    (Tips: the number can range from 1 to 6 and it will stand for the corresponding priority)

Delete markers

Within XMind, the added markers can be deleted by 2 different approaches.

  • Right clicking
    Right clicking on the target marker and choose the “Delete” option.
  • Delete button
    Click on the target marker. Move the mouse and click on the target again. After these operations, you’ve selected the marker.  Press the “Delete” button can delete the marker immediately.
    (For each marker group, users can only add one marker of it into one topic)

Add your own markers

XMind has integrated many markers for expressing various meanings in advance. At the same time, it offers you the approach to add your own markers into XMind for special application context. With the added markers, you can design mind maps more effectively and precisely.

  1. Open the “Marker Preference” window by clicking: ”Edit- Preferences- Mind Map- Markers”.
  2. In the upper part of the window, click the “Add” button and a new marker group can be created immediately.
    (Tips: Selecting the marker group and clicking the “remove” button can delete the marker group and its markers.)
  3. Select the marker group and type directly for renaming it.
    (Tips: The new name can not be displayed directly in the marker view, unless restarting marker view.)
  4. Select one marker group and click the “add” button in the markers part.
  5. Within the pop up window, you can select markers and XMind will import them into the selected marker group immediately.

Marker_Preference

Import your own markers

Maybe you’ve thought the above operations is troublesome. Actually, XMind can also import your own markers by marker package and file, which may makes your work easier.

  1. Open the “Import Markers” window by clicking “File-Import-Marker Package-Next“.
  2. For option of “From File”, you can enter a path of a “marker package”. For the other option of “From Directory”, you can enter a path of a folder that contains image files.
  3. Click the “Finish” button and the target marker will be imported immediately.

Import markers

Export markers

Sometimes, you may want to share your markers to friends or copy the markers to another computer. For these situations, XMind offer you the approach to export your own marker as a marker package.

  1. Open the “Export Markers” window by clicking “File-Export-Marker Package“.
  2. Select one marker group in the window and click the “Browse” button to find the target path.
  3. Click the “Finish” button, XMind will export the marker group as a marker package in the target file.

Export markers

Marker package for you

Here, I’ve prepared 3 marker packages for you. Click the links and download them. Try to import your own marker yourself.

(Tips: they are marker package, so you may import them by method of “import your own markers”)

Markers stand for business tools

Markers stand for IT service

Markers stand for file type

The Theme

Posted on November 29th, 2012 in Featured | 7 Comments »

In XMind, theme is the attributes collection for text font, text color, shape and color of topics , lines, boundaries, and relationships, map’s background color and wallpaper. XMind has 6 well-designed themes in the theme view, which you can open from menu View — Theme.

Apply a theme

In Theme view, double-clicking any a theme will apply it to the current opened map immediately. Just one click, we get a well-formated map. By using theme, we can save a lot of time to get a better mind map to improve our work. And this is what XMind wants to help.

mind map with applied theme

Although we list many attributes above, but theme has not to have all of them. For example, XMind pre-made themes do not have font information. So when applying them to map, we can find that the font in map will not be changed.

Tips: For the situation that you’ve manually changed attribute of the topic or wallpaper, applying theme won’t affect that attribute. We believe the your own choice should be listed firstly. For color attribute, if you change the attribute into “automatic”, then it will change as the theme has asked for.

Design our own themes

XMind Pro offers possibility to let us design our own themes and save them for future usage. And the steps are very simple,

  1. Open a blank map, create a main topic and subtopic
  2. Select central topic and chage text font, color, line, and shape in the propeties view
  3. Do the same thing to main topic and subtopic
  4. If necessary, we can insert a relationship and boundary, and change their properties.
  5. Select Tools — Extract Theme from menu
  6. Click extract only in the coming dialog to get this theme
  7. Click name of the extracted theme in the theme view, we can rename the theme (Only work for XMind 3.3.1 version)

“Extract and apply” & “extract only”

In the theme-extracted dialog, there are two options, “extract and apply” & “extract only”. Below are their differences,

  • Extract and apply, extracting the theme from current map and apply it back.
  • Extract only, just extracting the theme from current map and save it in the theme view.

If we’re facing a big map, the first option will let us change the map with this extracted theme at once.

Rules to Extract a theme

While facing a complicated map, how does XMind extract a theme? Below are the rules XMind follows.

  1. XMind extract four levels style of topics, central topic, main topic, subtopic and floating topic.
  2. Every attribute in a level will just have one. For example, no matter how many font in main topics, theme just has one font.
  3. In each level, for every style, XMind will extract the font of the topic which was created first among all topics in the level whose fonts have been changed. If we haven’t changed the attribute of main topic 1 but change the attribute of main topic 2 and main topic 3, then XMind will extract the attribute of main topic 2.

The above rules can also work to boundaries, relationships and summaries.

Change the default theme

Every time, you create a blank mind map, it will be applied with the default theme automatically. So most time, people would love to select they favorite theme as default one, which is the one marked with a Star in the theme view. For changing the default theme,

  1. Open theme view (view — theme)
  2. Select the theme in the theme view.
  3. Click Star button at the top right corner of Theme View.

The Theme View

In the future, maybe we can share our personal theme. For now, what’s your experience of theme feature?

16 ways for elevating your performance with mind map

Posted on November 27th, 2012 in Featured | 5 Comments »

This is an excellent post of elevating our performance by mind mapping software from Chuck Frey, a famous mind mapping blogger.

Mind mapping software is a powerful tool for savvy executives who want to improve their impact and effectiveness in their work. No software tool is better suited to help you think deeply about your work and to increase the value of your contributions to others in your organization.
Here are 16 powerful ways mind mapping software can help you to elevate your performance and make a bigger impact in your work (click on the image above for an expanded mind map showing all 16 benefits):

Productivity
1. Manage information overload and stay better organized
2. Reach clarity faster on complex business issues
3. Make better informed decisions
4. Plan projects and manage tasks easier

Analysis/ critical thinking
1. Analyze problems more thoroughly
2. See patterns and holes in information more readily
3. Play with ideas, possibilities and scenarios easily

 Creativity
1. Great tool for exploration and discovery
2. Be more of a “whole-brained” thinker – left and right sides – analytical AND creative
3. Capture ideas lurking at the periphery of your thinking
4. Mind mapping provides a visual guide to the connections between ideas
5. It bypasses the “inner critic” – you can easily do a brain dump and organize your thoughts later

Collaboration
1. Reach shared understandings of business issues in meetings
2. Get people more engaged in brainstorming sessions
3. It enhances the group’s ability to do systems-level thinking
4. It captures a “group memory” or history of what has been discussed in the meeting

I agree with Chuck Frey’s points for his complete and specific analysis. As a visualize thinker, I’ve seen the benefit that mind map has brought to the users. As professional mind mapping software, XMind has offered more opportunities for elevating our performance.
I often use XMind for managing fragmented information and making strategic thinking. Then, How do you use XMind for elevating your performance?