MindManager 8 Review

Reviewed by: Mark Goldstein, January 2009
Published by: Mindjet
Requires: Microsoft® .NET 2.0 or higher; Windows XP(Home, Tablet or Pro)/Vista (Business or Ultimate)/Server 2003 (32-bit) or Citrix MetaFrame Presentation Server 4.0; Pentium 4/700MHz CPU or faster, 512MB RAM, 200MB available hard disk space; some features require the presence of Microsoft Office Professional 2002/XP, 2003 or 2007, Microsoft Project 2002/XP, 2003 or 2007, Microsoft Visio® Professional 2002, 2003, or 2007, Internet Explorer 6 or higher or Firefox 2 or higher, Adobe Acrobat 8 or higher, Adobe Flash Player 9 or later
MSRP: US$349.99 (full), $179.00 (upgrade)

Project management and all that it entails is rapidly becoming a primary skill that too many company presidents and owners previously believed was related most to (and often only to) being adept with Microsoft Project or Milestones Professional and similar products. It was a mistake, no doubt. With the complexities of doing business efficiently, the pressures of quickly devising effective and profitable programs and products, quickly developing attractive product designs and technologies and quickly planning successful campaigns in our highly competitive global business world, new tools have to be employed in order to compete. MindManager 8 is designed to help executives, designers, senior managers, product managers, project managers and team leaders in any business develop, explain and demonstrate concepts, product ideas, lifecycles, project plans and projects in a way that thoroughly integrates a wide variety of data (diagrams, flowcharts, idea charts, spreadsheets, documents, images, video, PDF, remote web pages, etc.) into a coherent, graphical presentation that can be viewed on a computer monitor, shared online by a locally or more widely dispersed team, or packaged for presentation in meetings and conferences.


The effort needed by most of us to explain ideas so clearly seen and understood in our own minds often devolves into frustration with all the 'dopes' around us over why they just can't see or understand what we're explaining. The comment made most often after such efforts is, "Well I did my best to explain this but they just don't get it." Wiser heads might note, in such situations, that the best ideas — the ones you understand most clearly yourself — are usually easier to explain in inviting and understandable ways than ideas which are less fully formed or which you don't fully understand yourself. Admitting that your spoken pearls of wisdom and explanation may not be as clearly understandable as they could be is a difficult admission for many people. You need help. By implication, your company needs help if its managers and the people originating ideas inside the four walls of your operation aren't able to clearly describe important ideas, concepts and changes to everyone else. MindManager 8 is designed to be the tool which helps solve that fundamentally important communications problem.

MindManager 8 (and all preceding versions) is distinct in both concept and use from other popular software often pressed into service during the conception of ideas and projects. Microsoft PowerPoint for example, is a morass of difficulty compared to MindManager 8 mainly because MindManager 8 was designed from the ground up as a tool to help visualize ideas and projects as they're being conceived rather than, like PowerPoint, merely providing the means to visually summarize plans or ideas already formed. Comparatively though, MindManager 8 can also be used, like PowerPoint, to present finished ideas and project plans. At the other end of the idea and project planning software spectrum, Microsoft Project and Milestones Professional are tools designed to create complex project schedules, track all of the individual components of the schedule, and generate completion, to-do and achievement statistics about the schedule and its components. By contrast again, MindManager 8 is an idea visualization tool which helps almost anyone explain what it is they're thinking about in the first place. So MindManager 8 is designed to be used primarily as a means to give first life to an idea in order to explain it to others. PowerPoint and Project come later. Mind you, with valuable MindManager 8 add-ons such as JVCGantt Pro, we find it relatively easy to link components within any mindmap to an integrated project schedule. Note that JVCGantt is very good, but it's not powerful enough to stand as a substitute for Microsoft Project or Milestones Professional when developing densely complicated project plans requiring output of deep analysis reports.

MindManager 8 is significantly more powerful in every way than any of its previous versions. The most fundamentally important change is the addition of a web browser shell integrated within the mindmap workspace. This component is well integrated and provides no performance or control barrier to collaborating on mindmaps online (as long as MindManager Web and Web Connect are also installed). For multi- or co-located workgroups, teams, consultants or staff, simultaneous online collaboration can be truly powerful. The ability to draw on research material from some web site or otherwise web-published resources for demonstrations or presentations using MindManager, along with the ability to integrate live web-based workgroups in real time within a mindmap is an amazingly useful function. Once you've had a taste of this sort of collaborative functionality, you're unlikely to give it up.

MindManager Web is probably the most significant step forward for Mindjet in its development of MindManager Pro. If you run MindManager Web and its Mindjet Connect component in conjunction with MindManager 8, you get what amounts to seamlessly integrated Web functionality which is accessible in every area of whatever mindmap you're building, collaborating on or editing. For full web integration in MindManager, you need the subscription-based MindManager Web.

We're not going to walk you through each feature and function of MindManager 8. The product is big, powerful and easy to use. We strongly recommend that new users and experienced users alike take some time to run some of the large number of tutorial videos put together by Mindjet. The videos are well done, run smoothly on any PC capable of running MindManager 8 in the first place, and they'll help you quickly understand the idea creation concept at the foundation of the software.




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