One of my favorite and most-used apps–MindNode–is free in the iOS App Store this week. After thinking mind mapping wasn’t for me, I tried it just over a year ago and loved it. Now it’s a regular part of my brainstorming and writing workflow.
Here‘s the link–download it while you can, for iPhone and iPad. (Regular price is something like $10.)
The Drafts action you’re going to need is “Open in….”
I’ve given this action (which comes already installed with Drafts) its own “Run Action” key on the customizable Drafts keyboard, with its own icon from the emoji keyboard. My keyboard in Drafts looks like this:
Now the amazing part, and it’s just three steps:
1. Outline the text of your mind map in Drafts.
Here’s a bit of voice-dictated text:
To get going, use Siri to record what will be your first node.
To get to a second node, simply say, “New line, new line” and say what your next node will be.
If you want to do sub-nodes (i.e., “children”) after you have dictated your main/parent node, say, “New line,” and then have Siri indent your sub-node with the “tab key” command. Then dictate that sub-node or child.
You can add more parent, child, and sibling topics similarly.
2. Run your “Open in…” action in Drafts.
I simply tap my “Run action” key, which automatically triggers the “Open in…” action:
Select Mind Node and…
3. View your mind map in MindNode.
Because of MindNode’s iCloud-enabled sync setup, you can now view (and modify) your mind map in iOS or OSX platforms.
Joey Lawrence put it best:
The above is an adaptation/re-posting of a previous post on voice dictating a mind map. That post used the app iThoughts, but I learned shortly after posting that even though MindNode doesn’t have the x-callback-url support that iThoughts does, Drafts’s “Open in…” feature makes the same process possible with just one extra tap. Rad.
Then head to the Drafts action directory to pick up this nice little callback url to install to Drafts. If you click this link from your iOS device, you can have it install the action right to Drafts. (More on iThoughts and x-callback-url options here.)
I’ve assigned this action its own “Run Action” key on the customizable Drafts keyboard, with the label MM. My keyboard in Drafts looks like this:
Now the fun part, and it’s just three steps:
1. Outline the text of your mind map in Drafts.
Here’s what I’ve just voice dictated:
To get going, use Siri to record what will be your first node (“topic” in iThoughts parlance).
To get to a second node, simply say, “New line, new line” and say what your next node/topic will be.
If you want to do sub-nodes (i.e., “children” topics) after you have dictated your main/parent topic, say, “New line,” and then have Siri indent your sub-node with the “tab key” command. Then dictate that sub-node or child topic.
You can add more parent, child, and sibling topics similarly. (iThoughts has a nice terminology overview here.)
2. Run your “iThoughts: New Map from Outline” action in Drafts.
I simply tap my “Run action” key, which automatically opens my draft in iThoughts as a mind map–and does it so quickly, I can barely catch a screenshot of the dialogue!
3. View your mind map in iThoughts.
Because of iThoughts’s sync setup, you can now view (and modify) your mind map in iOS or OSX platforms.
If this isn’t amazing tech, I don’t know what is.
UPDATE: I’ve just learned you can achieve this same effect with MindNode, my current go-to app. It doesn’t have as rich x-callback-url support, but you can make a mind map from voice-dictated text using the “Open in…” feature in Drafts. Very cool.
Thanks to the good people of toketaWare, for giving me a download of iThoughts for iOS and OSX for review purposes. More on that app to follow.
All of a sudden I’m hooked on mind mapping. It’s been a really productive way for me to make sense of the texts I speak on each week. Here’s how I’ve made structural sense of the David and Bathsheba account:
(If that image doesn’t work well for you, click here to see a zoomable version.)
(Next up: trying to outline thought processes in other parts of my life using mind mapping.)
I’m not at the point of being able to write a whole sermon via mind map (and may never go that route), so my next step is exporting to text.
MindNode makes that exceedingly easy, as I mentioned here. In MindNode 2.0 for Mac, you can always view a text outline of your map right next to all those nodes, sub-nodes, and connecting lines:
By the way–that’s a lot to look at on one screen. MindNode has a lovely “Fit to Mind Map” zoom selection, so you can have your mind map fill the application screen. For large and multi-noded apps, that’s a great setting.
Now exporting the map to multiple options is easy. Last week I exported to .rtf, dumped the text into Scrivener, and worked from there. Export options are robust in MindNode, as are import options. I could even easily import some random thoughts from Scrivener’s cousin, Scapple, right to MindNode.
This week, however, I wanted to live dangerously. I.e., I wanted to try OmniOutliner for fleshing out my outline, once I had the content figured out in MindNode. So I exported my mind map from MindNode as .opml and opened in OmniOutliner:
Awesome!! All right there, as it should be. All the points and sub-points are in order. The text outline that was already in MindNode is now in OmniOutliner, with everything in its right place. Even the notes popovers in MindNode (sweet new 2.0 for Mac feature) come in to OmniOutliner as notes (the grey font next to the notebook icon, in the image above).
At this point I can work from the outline in OmniOutliner. You’ll see in the image above that I’ve added a “RESEARCH” section to allow me to do just that.
OmniOutliner has similarly robust export options. I can make a couple tweaks to fine-tune the formatting in my export, and then open the finalized, annotated outline in a word processor of choice. Very nice!
I’ve been experimenting with workflow for sermon preparation lately, a little more than usual. I’ll still do my research with Accordance as my primary hub. But for the initial outlining process and the final writing process, MindNode and OmniOutliner seem to be making a great team.
One other huge bonus that both apps have in common: they are fully cross-platform across Mac, iPad, and iPhone, so I can jot down ideas wherever and whenever inspiration strikes.
Some folks swear by mind mapping, a way to get ideas down on paper and visually display their interconnections beyond what just a text editing file can do.
I haven’t found it as easy a medium, but this last week I tried mind mapping my sermon outline before writing out the manuscript, and found the process really helpful. I used the app MindNode to do it, which I review today.
What’s really cool is what you can do with this mind map in MindNode (iOS) once you have it. You can see a text-based outline, which can expand or collapse levels:
And you can export to MyMindNode, where you can view and publish your map on the Web:
I was hoping to embed the above mind map right here in this post, but WordPress.com does not support plug-ins or a good deal of third-party embeds (dah!), so I simply can give you this hyperlink to see what it looks like.
More Complex Mind Mapping
I used MindNode to map out my sermon outline this last Sunday. When I was done it looked like this:
And then I thought: oops. How I am going to get this into Scrivener without re-typing everything? At first I just dragged a .png image file into Scrivener so I could see the mind map as I worked on next steps. Then I realized I could actually export it not only as a PDF or image, but as a text file. (!!)
It looked like this:
…which was sweet, because then I could just copy and paste to Scrivener and write my manuscript into my outline, started in MindNode.
By the time I was done writing the manuscript, I’d pared down the outline a bit. Editing in MindNode was easy, so that the final map looked like this:
Nodes, Parents, Siblings, Etc.: All Easy to Use
There’s a lot more to mind mapping, not the least of which is learning some terminology (nodes, parents, siblings, children, etc.). The best place to start is the MindNode Web page here. The iOS User Guide is also a great way to get to know the app; that is here.
Styles, fonts, and colors are all customizable. And it seems a rare treat for a writing app to exist (and be well-designed and executed) on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Of course, for a large mind map one will probably choose Mac (or iPad) over iPhone, but moving between devices is easy. There is no Apple device on which you cannot access and edit your mind map. There’s even an accompanying Apple Watch app.
There are some other really nice touches, too, like being able to “fold and unfold” nodes, the equivalent to expand/collapse in a table of contents, for example. You can hide all of a nodes’ children if you need to clear up some screen real estate, and just as easily unhide them. You can also add notes to a node for storing even more information without having to display it.
Perhaps the best thing about MindNode is how easy it was for me to make both of the above mind maps before reading any of the support material. Moving nodes, connecting them, disconnecting them, changing fonts, dragging things around, exporting, and more… all of this was really intuitive and easy to come by both on OSX and iOS.
So… I’ll keep trying mind mapping for the outlining stage of writing. MindNode has much more still to uncover, and I’m looking forward to future use. A brilliantly executed app.
Thanks to the good people of IdeasonCanvas, for giving me a download of MindNode for iOS and OSX for the review. Check out the app’s iOS page here and the Mac app (MindNode Pro) here. Note that MindNode Pro for OSX has now been updated to MindNode2. See my other AppTastic Tuesday reviews here.