DropMind Web Review – Part 2
Is this still mindmapping?
The user has limited possibilities in placing topics where he or she wants. The are roughly four positions where topics can be placed (right, bottom, left, top). Strangely enough the topics on top and bottom are displayed rather as an organogram instead of a radial mindmap. Other mindmapping solutions don’t seem to have this (problem). We can conclude mindmaps created in DropMind Web visually don’t look as good as mindmaps created in other applications. Furthermore ‘hardcore’ mindmappers won’t find them that pleasing to look at.
Saving time with smart maps, losing time to scaling
The Microsoft Ribbon interface makes it easy to find your way trough the various functions available, you know it from Word, Excel and other Office applications. Most functions are self explanatory but in case you don’t know what that button will do, there’s an extensive help file available.
To be able to add color to a topic or a branch make sure you have selected that specific topic first.
DropMind has a large library containing icons and images. These images are quite big when you insert them and take a lot of space in your mindmap, the user has to scale them down which unfortunately takes time everytime you have to do it. DropMind Web allows you search external sources such as Flickr or live, unfortunately Google images is not available. You can however upload pictures from your desktop manually.
DropMind Web has the ‘map parts’ functionality which allows you to store (recurring) parts of a mindmap. This is quite convenient and can for instance be used in meetings, a 5W + H template etc.
Adding external sources
Topics in the mindmaps can be extended in several ways. The user can add links to websites or upload files from a laptop/computer. Add these attachments to a ‘sources topic’ in your projectmap or the ‘incoming documents topic’ in the online meeting agenda.
It is also possible to add documents to a Google-Docs account linked to DropMind Web. This gives the user the advantage of always having acces to the most recent version of the Google Docs file.
DropMind Web also allows the user to record an audio file and directly add it as an attachment to a branch. Text can be sufficient to explaning something but sometimes a spoken message is better to clarify certain actions or propositions.
Further empahsizing the fact that DropMind Web looks like a desktop product is proven by the fact that it’s able to open multiple files effortlessly.
Working and visualizing together
Seavus, the developer of DropMind has added the ability to connect to other tools such as the previously mentioned Google Docs and Google contacts. The integration is well thought trough. Collegues in Google Docs can be added to the DropMind online community saving you time from having to enter name, email adresses etc. manually. Those colleagues can easily be made editors of the same mindmap.
It is furthermore possible to take pictures with the computers webcam and have them immediately added to a topic and there is a good history function. At any given moment the user can switch back to an older version.
Starting (and visualizing) projects together
When using DropMind Web it seems seavus has really developed it as a stand alone tool and not merely as a cloud extension of their desktop product. Besides being a cloudservice itself it also integrates with several other SaaS tools. Besides Google Docs it’s also possible to import from and export to Basecamp. Basecamp is an online project management tool. Users can import projects and to-do lists which will be converted into structured mindmaps. Likewise, mindmaps can also be converted into basecamp projects or tasks.
Mindmapping applications are particularly useful for brainstorming. You can quickly enter ideas, structure thoughts in levels of importance, assign colors/icons and easily share the results. You can use DropMind Web if you want to start a session with your community, members can chat to exchange ideas, vote etc. Add a Skype call to improve your online collaboration session even more.
When you host such an online session prepare it well and also make sure there is a moderator who acts as the leader of the session. Non-verbal communication will most likely not be possible but every participant should be able to fully express his or her opinion. It will be the task of the moderator to make sure the virtual meeting doesn’t end in chaos. Nowadays there are special courses which can learn you how to this. If you want to make the most out of your online collaboration sessions, we recommend taking one.
Importing, exporting and more
Like the majority of all mindmapping applications the user is able to import certain other mindmapping formats. DropMind Web can import formats like MindManager, Freemind, XMind etc. There is no Excel or Word import but i was able to do the latter using the word2map plug-in for Word. Likewise there are also a few exporting abilities. Compared to MindManager, who the developer identifies as their most important competitor, the exportcapabilities are not quite as good. The PowerPoint export for example only exports text as bullit points, each branch will be a new slide. User however shouldn’t really worry about this. The great mindmap you just created will most definitely be a better way to present your information than a regular PowerPoint presentation.
DropMind Web has a lot of exporting options even surpassing some desktop products. You can export your mindmap to DropMind (desktop), Microsoft Word, Mindjet MindManager, XMind, Basecamp, HTML website, XML, Google sites and as an image. The Google sites intregration can be useful to develop and such websites together. The user can easily restructure the information and turn the mindmap into a Google Sites website with a single mouse click. It works but there are perhaps better solutions. There is a Visual web export add-in for MindManager which does this better. DropMind also has the option to make your online mindmap publicly viewable for everybody but unfortunately, they won’t be able to properly view the mindmap as they see an image which is too small to be able to read the text in the branches.
Mindmap everywhere you want
When compared to other online mindmapping tools like MindMeister and Mindjet Catalyst DropMind Web’s functionality is comparable and in some cases even more extensive. More isn’t always better, you should always start ‘with the end in mind’. Think of what you want to achieve first. We found that working together in a mindmap works fine. A nice feature for users who also have the Desktop version is the ability to sync your online and offline mindmaps by means of a ‘synchronized folder’. Every mindmap placed in that folder will be made available in DropMind Web. Edit these while you are away from office for instance and you can continue working on your online edited mindmap later on your desktop.
The available languages to personalize this SaaS solution are English, Spanish, French, German and Japanese. In order to use DropMind Web you’ll need Microsoft Silverlight and either Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or above, Mozilla Firefox 2.0 or above or Safari 3.0 or above. Chrome isn’t officially mentioned in the documention but as expected, it works fine in Google’s popular browser.
If you only happen to have your smartphone and need to view or edit your mindmaps you can do so via mapp.dropmind.com. Supported are the Android browser, Apple mobile Safari and BlackBerry browser 4.6 or above.
Data and Security
All data of DropMind Web is stored at Amazon in the United States of America. Logging in to the service is via secure SSL connection. This can be a drawback for several types of organizations like Government departments or bank for instance. The mindmaps are encoded and can’t be viewed without DropMind. Only the owner and users of the mindmap can view it’s content. Unless the is public ofcourse. To connect to Twitter or Google Docs you’ll need to authorise by simple giving permission.
User can use DropMind Web for free albeit with certain restrictions. Exporting mindmaps and several integration options are not available.
The Premium version will run 15€ for 3 months and will give buyers 100mb of storage. A semi-annual subscription will cost 25€ and for 39€ the service can be used for a full year. There is an academic version available as well. Even though users get less storage than direct competitor Mindjet Catalyst it is less expensive and even has a few advantages over the latter. A drawback can be the amount of storage space, user like can’t upload all of their mindmaps into DropMind Web and perhaps they don’t need too.
DropMind Web is good alternative for existing solutions like Mindjet Catalyst and MindMeister. People new to (online) mindmapping can use the full service for a relatively low price. The more advanced users will like the amount of functionality and the several ways DropMind Web can integrate with other SaaS services. The strenght of this solution simply is that it offers a lot voor not much money. Mindjet Catalyst is still the leader of the game but DropMind Web is definitely on the rise.
Feel like you want personal advice about online mindmapping? Or would you like to have good templates to work from for DropMind like a personal dashboard or a meeting agenda? Contact Hypershifters, we’d like to help you.