The time runs out for my much loved Powerpoint 2003: Under Windows 8, my workaround against destruction of connectors does not work any more. So I tried to do without this pet tool when I finally moved from XP to Windows 7 — but failed. When I really want to concentrate on a content problem and need to leverage my “outboard brain” without being distracted by the tools, I keep resorting to this outdated tool, to put my raw thoughts on an empty slide, connect them, and move them around.
Here are the most promising replacement candidates and why I dismissed them.
- Mindmaps? In all programs I know, the hierarchical focus is too obtrusive, even if they support cross links and free-floating topics.
- Cmap by an HCI institute called ihmc.us. I was short of enthusiastic after discovering how easily the few strange quirks could be overcome,
in particular the (ideological?) urge to label one’s connectors by “propositions”. With a little bit of routine, I could quickly draw countless many arrows without the recommended labels. Almost countless. Because whenever the map became full, the shift+drag sequence failed increasingly often. In the end, I sometimes needed 7-8 attempts, feeling like obsessed, to draw a single arrow without the damned proposition placeholder saying “????”. A conspiracy theory would probably suggest that they count my simple arrows and after a certain amount, exert some coercion for some arrows obeying their taste. But probably the coding is just not robust and scalable. But once got angry, you won’t tolerate the next patronizing quirk: Arrows’ heads are silently ignored when sloping downwards. Nobody responds to the forum question “What is the idea behind the default arrowheads style? “. Probably the project is abandoned.
- Topicmaps with Deepamehta, the opensource software which I have often enthused about in this blog? The great visual concept is abandoned; they are focussing on general “frameworks”.
- iMapping.info? If you don’t know this tool, give it a try. It pushes the boundaries of traditional zooming. But this also means sacrificing much visual flexibility.
Mindmapping, conceptmapping, topicmapping, iMapping — which one will be significantly improved? Probably none because mapping applications don’t fit on tablets?