Mind Map Creators On Unix - Programming On Unix

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(A repost from my blog post)

Mind maps are, from wikipedia:

Quote:A mind map is a diagram used to visually organize information. A mind
map is hierarchical and shows relationships among pieces of the whole.
It is often created around a single concept, drawn as an image in the
center of a blank page, to which associated representations of ideas such
as images, words and parts of words are added. Major ideas are connected
directly to the central concept, and other ideas branch out from those.

Mind maps can be drawn by hand, either as "rough notes" during a lecture,
meeting or planning session, for example, or as higher quality pictures
when more time is available. Mind maps are considered to be a type of
spider diagram. A similar concept in the 1970s was "idea sun bursting".

In Layman's terms, that's just the kind of brainstorm you do on a paper:
Linking ideas together, creating relations between them.

I'm currently working on a project that requires me to find cycles
between researches that have correlations that may link them together
and that is the perfect solution.

I was already doing mind maps but had no clue softwares existed for this
specific purpose until stark, a nixers forum member, pointed this to me.

So here we go, what are the available mind map softwares on Unix and
what is there to know about them.


* labyrinth

[Image: labyrinth.png]


Let's start with the most lightweight mind map software. It has a very
simple gtk interface.

When it opens it presents a list of the previously worked on mind maps.
There are no other options than opening an old one or creating a new.

The UI is straightforward, nothing fancy.

You only have boxes linked together by lines.

To add a box/idea linked to another one you have to select the box you
want it linked to then click anywhere and it'll let you input a name
for it, ESC, and that's it.

You have the choice between text boxes, boxes which you can draw in,
and images.

You can link and unlink thoughts using ctrl-L.


You can only export the project as a PNG image or as a labyrinth project.


It's missing exporting in other formats and the designing part is too
shallow, it looks blunt.


It does the job and only that, moreover it's super small. If you have
a small project where you want to instantly brainstorm then that's a
great option even though it may be confusing for bigger mind maps as
all the box don't seem to have any hierarchy built-in.

* vym

[Image: vym.png]


vym has a complex but straightforward UI.

It opens with a map editor, a single yellow node in the middle. You can
right click anywhere and choose in the context menu to add nodes that
are related to the currently selected node; That is a child branch or
a node on the same branch.

It follow a tree structure and this shows by the way everything is presented.
The node in the middle is larger than the rest and the lines connecting them
are thiner as you go deeper within the tree.

The software also has the concept of tasks, that is you can assign status to
nodes: NotStarted, WIP, Finished. It has a view dedicated for this purpose.


There are multiple format to export the mind map to, most notably:

- Text (markdown)
- Orgmode (the task organizer of emacs)
- pdf
- image (all formats)


The one that thing got on my nerves while using it was that my mind maps were
not necessarily in a tree based structure. Things that come out of your mind
might not follow the parent children relationship that a tree has it may have
inner cycles in it - And that's what I was looking for.

Another thing that is to note is that the styling, while being better
than labyrinth is still blunt.


vym is good for organizing tasks, that's what I would recommend it for.

* XMind

[Image: XMind.png]


XMind is a proprietary software.

> This software is not licensed. Enter License Key to activate XMind Pro/Plus.

It bugs you about signing up and entering license keys.

Nothing seems to work without it.


I wouldn't recommend a non-free software.

* freemind

[Image: freemind.png]


Freemind begins by exposing you with the biggest part of the screen
dedicated to drawing you mind map, a big wide canvas with only a central
node to stain it.

It is surrounded by the tools that will help you, in the same way that
gimp does.

You can right click node to edit them or left click to select.

If a node is selected you can press "insert" to add a new node as a child or
as a node on the same branch. In the same manner vym did.

Also, just like vym, it automatically gives a different style to
children nodes. However here you got more flexibility with styling.

It's also easier than vym to move the nodes around.


One thing that is particularly nice with freemind is the export to HTML.
There's the flexibility to change the html styling that is going to be
applied directly from the software.

One thing that should have been mentioned, that is also present in vym,
is that you can add an anchor url to the nodes.

It supports most formats, multiple HTML ones that you need to try on your own
to understand the difference.
Unlike vym, it doesn't support exporting to a text format such as markdown.


Just like all previous programs, freemind doesn't allow to add free-roaming
nodes and link them to others.
It doesn't let you have cycles within the graph.


freemind is a nice option for mind mapping, if you are sure that your
ideas are tree-shaped then this is the absolute goto.

* freeplane

[Image: freeplane.png]


Freeplane is my personal favorite between the previous alternatives.

It starts with a clutter free UI, even more than freemind.
It actually started as a fork of freemind.

And thus it works in the same spirit, only that it also allows to insert
floating nodes and linking nodes from different parents.

The styling is also more advanced letting you run wild with your imagination.

And just like freemind, it let's you edit the HTML parts.


Every format possible, from pdf, html, to dynamic html, to svg, to ascii.


The only issue I've encountered is that when there are too many children to
a node moving them will also move other children so that they don't overlap.


I would highly recommend it as it's the only one, other than labyrinth, that
allow floating nodes and doesn't restrict the tree hierarchy.

More on this page:


This is it folks, give mind maps a try!
Long time nixers
Thanks for the excellent write up!

I am now tempted to install these although I know I wouldn't use them. I prefer doing
mind maps and notes on paper, because it is a much more direct form of interaction,
a physical expression of thoughts. A line, a box, a word is on paper when I want it
to be there, nearly instantaniously, instead of clicking, clicking again, dragging,
and then releasing the mouse.

Also, I realised I prefer reading code on paper, because I'm not tempted to change anything,
can make arrows for the control flow, put notes and remarks anywhere, in free form, on
the paper.

I will probably upload some images of code I read and worked on on paper.
(15-11-2016, 05:45 AM)pranomostro Wrote: Thanks for the excellent write up!

Just came across this thread. I know it's probably irrelevant to you now, but LibreOffice Draw can also be used for mind-mapping. I used it recently for a project on PageRank algorithm I'm working on and it was surprisingly easy to draw up complex networks.
Antharia Jack
Labyrinth is no longer maintained and it's a shame. Still looking for a minimalist mindmap tool. I already use freemind, but i would like something more like Scapple.
I would like nodes and link have properties, like a graph database.
And why not the ability to add nodes from the terminal.
Do you know something like this?

I think VYM have changed a lot in the meantime.

Quote:vym has a complex but straightforward UI.

I do not know the definition of complex, so I'm not sure this is true. VYM do offers bunch of toolbars, yes, but you can just hide them and rely on menus. Or on keyboard, which is what I mostly do, except when I move nodes around.


The one that thing got on my nerves while using it was that my mind maps were
not necessarily in a tree based structure. Things that come out of your mind
might not follow the parent children relationship that a tree has it may have
inner cycles in it - And that's what I was looking for.

It is possible to have multiple root nodes, and it is possible to detach and reattach nodes or branches. There is also the possibility of using XLinks to add "ropes between the tree branches":

[Image: VKc.png]
And for when the link will be dead, the text export:
map 1

1. child A

2. child B

map 2

1. child 1

2. child 2

Interestingly, it seems the export does not have the XLinks, but this still shows the multi-root.

Quote:Another thing that is to note is that the styling, while being better
than labyrinth is still blunt.

Have to say I have not played much with this, as I usually don't tweak that kind of stuff anyway, but to me it seems to be rather standard for a graphical application, not sure if this have changed much since your own test, though.

Quote:vym is good for organizing tasks, that's what I would recommend it for.

I have yet to use this feature.
For now, I only used it to describe the big points of projects, like, what it should have, what it shuold not have, what would be nice, categorize those quickly, "refactoring the ideas", etc.

I have not played much with the XLink feature, though.