Thursday, August 28, 2014

Interactive mind maps on web sites - Mindmappers' Forum    

Excellent post on different mind mapper software

Interactive mind maps on web sites - Mindmappers' Forum    :

Arjen ter Hoeve, noted blogger and mind map expert of and, emailed me recently and asked about interactive mindmaps on websites.  He wrote: 

"I have a question. On the website, I would like to show some 'interactive' mindmaps, like those with the mindmanager viewer.
What is the best solution to do this you think? I prefer to use a free solution. I know that there is a freemind tool for websites.
Still, your expert opinion is what can help me find the best solution."

Frankly, though I know some solutions, I don't know the best solution, or even one that I regard as good enough. And yet this is something that many people want to do, so I thought I'd start a topic here and see if we can get a comprehensive list for future reference.

Here are the ones I know about:
1. FreeMind
Arjen mentioned the Freemind add-in that allows a map to be placed in a web page.  It uses a Flash file that gives interactivity, in the sense that it allows the user to fold or open branches, and jump to links.  These web-based maps are read-only, not a substitute for web-based mapping apps.  There is no guarantee that this will be updated in line with FreeMind itself, because the developers are different, but it's likely it will.  This is free, but requires more effort than just exporting the map as code to place on your web page.  

A nice example of the use of this is WikiMindmap (click for example).  I directed wikimindmap to map the Wikipedia article for 'concept map' as an illustration at that link, because it is more interesting than the one produced from the entry for 'mind map'.

2. Freeplane
This should work with the above add in, though I haven't tested it.  The warning about different developers applies here as well, only more so, as Freeplane is a fork of FreeMind and is diverging from FreeMind itself.

3. MindManager
As Arjen says, MindManager can export maps that can be opened in a browser.  You can choose PDF or SWF (Flash) files, though as far as I know, the result is much the same, except that PDF files don't have to be opened in a browser.  These maps are interactive and read-only.  There are several at the mind map wiki (click for example).  This is not a free solution, but if you have MindManager it is a fairly painless one.

4. Web mappers
Many web apps for mind and concept mapping allow embedding in web pages.  For example, MindMeister,MindomoMind42WisemappingDropmindPearltreesSpinscapePopplet and Spiderscribe can all generate code that allows maps they make to be embedded in a web page.  Of these, Mind42, Wisemapping, Pearltrees and Spiderscribe are free.

5. Diagrammers
While not designed specifically for mapping, web diagram-making apps like Cacoo, Creately and Gliffy can also produce map-like diagrams for embedding, but they are not interactive, so will generally not fit the needs.

Something that has held me back from using embedding is that most embed code appears in a relatively small panel in a web page.  I haven't looked recently - maybe that has improved.

Two more factors that I'm thinking about are: 
1) whether HTML5 is going to improve the situation - I think it should, as Flash becomes less popular and is pushed down by the likes of Apple, and
2) the effect of mobile on the suitability of embedded maps in web pages.

So that's my initial contribution, but it would be good to have the experience and knowledge of others added to this.

Please add yours in the comments, and if I have any details wrong, please let me know.

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