Mindjet, a maker of visual mapping software to improve knowledge worker productivity, Nov. 11 launched the latest version of its MindManager platform, a SAAS version, and a "player" that lets users share their collaboration maps with others.
Lest you think MindManager is yet another collaboration software platform in the vein of Microsoft SharePoint, IBM Lotus or Cisco WebEx Connect, well, it's not.
Built for Windows desktops, MindManager 8 lets users create so-called mind maps, where users chart their ideas and information visually, starting with a central topic surrounded by subtopics arranged on lines. Think of the topic as the trunk, with the subtopics as branches of the tree. eWEEK will have a slideshow on MindManager features later today.
But, like those incumbent platforms, it does fit the bill as a product knowledge workers can use to build strategic plans, manage projects, conduct meetings or just to brainstorm with a workgroup.
What's interesting about MindManager is that its maps are not static. The visual diagram includes actionable data, live hyperlinks, along with collaboration tools such as word processor, spreadsheet, presentation and e-mail. The idea is to keep users within MindManager so they don't have to leave to access other services.
For example, MindManager 8 features a number of new perks, including a browser window so you can view Web pages and PDF documents without leaving MindManager. Users may view and edit attached Microsoft Word, Excel, Project and PowerPoint files from within MindManager's embedded browser, Mindjet CEO Scott Raskin told eWEEK in a recent interview.
Various Web services can also be triggered directly inside a map with one click. Users can search Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Facebook, MySpace, Microsoft Live Search, eBay and StrikeIron. Also, maps and attached documents created in MindManager are searchable by most desktop search apps. MindManager 8 also now includes task management features.
The crown jewel in Mindjet's new release is easily the Mindjet Player, which allows users to take the interactive mind maps they created with MindManager 8, turn them into Adobe PDFs or Flash .SWF files.
These files can be shared with anyone with a computer. Or, if you don't want to share the mind maps, you can publish them in blogs or embed them in Web pages.
"The idea is that I could send a PDF to somebody, they could open it up and what they would see instead of just a picture of a map, a fully functioning MindManager map with all of the content and links to external information," Rasking said.
Not only does this make perfect sense from an enterprise collaboration standpoint, but it's a great business move, too. If someone sent a user who is not a Mindjet customer a mind map via the player, they might be intrigued about the application, wondering how they could participate in the same vein.
So Mindjet is accomplishing its mission of enabling users to collaborate and share their work, but it's also getting a nice marketing bump by letting users share maps via the player.
With SAAS apps increasingly becoming table stakes today, Mindjet is offering MindManager Web, which is essentially its version of MindManager that lives in the cloud. This means mind maps can be edited anywhere, anytime and co-edited with others. Think of this as a visually compelling alternative to Google Docs or Zoho. Importantly, MindManager Web is fully compatible with MindManager desktop software.
Single-seat perpetual licenses for MindManager 8 are $349 with upgrades from previous versions of MindManager starting at $129. MindManager Web/Mindjet Connect packages are $10 per user per month with a one year subscription.
MindManager 8 is available in English and German now, with French and Japanese versions available in early 2009.