Search all files in MindManager – with a little help from Windows

A recent question on the MindManager (MM) forum got me thinking about MindManager’s search capabilities. These are reasonably comprehensive when it comes to searching MM’s own files, with the ability to search topic text, notes, properties and a variety of other fields, as well as by file name.

Depending on what field you choose, MM will list not only the matching files but also the relevant topics. And, as you’d expect from a mind mapping program, MM provides various ways to incorporate search results directly into maps.

Outside of MM’s own files, however, the situation is very different. MM does have the capacity to incorporate all the files in a particular folder (or folders only, or a combination of files and folders) using File Explorer Map Parts, but this is an all-or-nothing feature with no search capability built into it.

The original question on the forum was asking whether MM’s tags could somehow be linked to tags or bookmarks in Adobe PDFs. The short answer is no, but I started to look at alternatives. I’ve found a couple of options – the first is specifically focused on PDFs, while the second, which involves the use of Windows File Explorer, provides universal searching across all file types.

These options require a reasonable level of experience in using MindManager. Readers are advised to trial these techniques extensively before attempting to use them on important or sensitive material.

Example of a Windows File Explorer search and results in a MindManager map. The search is stored in an external file which has been linked using a MindManager File Explorer Map Part

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COVID-19 and Non-Government Organisations (NGOs)

As most readers would be aware I normally use this blog to write about aspects of MindManager (MM) software such as key features of the latest version, or to explore how you can use these features in unusual ways to accomplish specific tasks. I’m a director of a small company and I’m also involved in several non-profit non-government organisations (NGOs) which manage small projects, so I often have these in mind when I develop ideas for posts on my blog.

These are not normal times, however. As the world responds to COVID-19’s terrible toll, millions of people’s lives have been upended. As countries try to contain the virus, businesses and other organizations have closed, suspended or radically altered their activities.

Almost all community, social and cultural activities have also come to an abrupt halt as social distancing and isolation kicks in. While it’s the cancellations of the big events which have attracted the most attention, thousands of local fetes, markets, concerts, sporting events, performances, exhibitions and other activities put on by small (NGOs) have suffered the same fate.

In collaboration with MindManager I’ve turned what I’ve learnt from working with several NGOs which are going through this process to develop a COVID-19 NGO Pause Strategy which may be helpful to other organisations. This article, which also includes ideas on how to continue some activities online, has just been posted on the MindManager blog: https://www.mindjet.com/blog/2020/04/202004how-non-government-organizations-can-manage-the-impacts-of-covid-19/

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Mind Mapping the World-Wide Web, one page at a time

It’s been a little while since I last updated this blog. I was going to mark my return to regular posting by reviewing some of the new features in the latest MindManager 2020 release, but first I’ve decided to take a small detour to describe some practical things you can do with most Windows versions of MindManager. In doing so I’m drawing on responses I’ve written (on a voluntary basis) to questions on the MindManager Community forum.

In this post I’ll describe a process to turn a list of links on a web page into a MindManager map. These could be lists of links to other pages on the same website, links to products on a commerce website, links to entries in online documentation, or links to references available online.

Why bother doing this when you can simply just hyperlink the page containing the links in a mind map? There are quite a few practical uses, the most obvious of which is to create a framework as a basis to add your own notes and comments, for example if you are conducting online research. This technique can also be used to produce a more concise summary of lengthy webpages with multiple links, especially as you can often edit out the site’s own text descriptions. You can even – with a bit of work – copy and map search engine results.

Finally, you use this approach to take a snapshot of the links on a web page and preserve them at a particular point in time. This advantage does however point to one limitation of this approach; the maps you produce with it are not dynamic. If the web page contents change, you will have to repeat the process to get the latest version.

MindManager and Word – a little secret

Mapping a webpage is surprisingly tricky to do in MindManager. Simply pasting the list in a map results in the links being pasted as the topic names; this looks fairly ugly and is relatively useless as the links are no longer active. You can try going via Excel and using MM2020’s new Excel import facility but this doesn’t seem able to import live links either.

I have developed a workaround, based in part on some of my earlier posts about extending MindManager’s Word import facility. A warning – the process is a bit technical, uses some undocumented aspects of MindManager and requires the use of MS Excel and Word (with the Send to MindManager add-in, which should have installed when you installed MindManager). You will also need a reasonable knowledge of Word, and a basic understanding of Excel.

I’ll demonstrate the process with a very simple example – the list of recent posts on the right-hand side of this blog page, as shown left below – and describe how to turn it into the map on the right.

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MindManager Integrations 3: the logic revolution

In the third article in the MindManager integrations series I’ll explore how SmartRules can revolutionise the use of the program through the introduction of functions based on Boolean logic. 

Beefing up MM’s formula facility to include logic statements, most importantly IF-THEN functions like those found in Excel and many other programs, has long been on many people’s wish lists. This would allow users to compare aspects of topics, most obviously the data in topic properties, either with each other or to some other criteria.

The company has answered this request not by adding this feature to formulas but instead via an unusual route; the expansion of the SmartRules facility in MindManager 2019. Despite some shortcomings this is a surprisingly useful approach. 

SmartRules can accept a wide variety of inputs and not just topic properties. They can be nested like functions in Excel and can also combined with MM’s formula facility. And just as there is a range of inputs, there is a wide selection of formatting and other outputs. This makes the SmartRules feature and more specifically its IF-THEN functionality one of the most powerful tools available in MindManager.

The following example map was developed to illustrate of these techniques and is itself a work in progress as I continue to explore this functionality. I’ve hidden most of the “machinery”, including some topics and topic properties as well as the SmartRules and formulas involved, but I’ll come back to these later in the article.

A word of advice – this is a long and very technical read and assumes a reasonable level of experience with MindManager, some understanding of how SmartRules and formulas operate, and, ideally, familiarity with Excel formulas. If you haven’t done so already, it’s also worth having a look at the first article in this series which explains the basics of linking SmartRules and formulas, as well as the second which provided further examples. Continue reading

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MindManager Integrations 2: Doing more with SmartRules and Formulas

Introduction

This is the second in a series looking at the ways in which new and old features in MindManager 2019 can be combined to produce innovative and exciting ways to manage and present material in mind maps. 

The first post in this series outlined how MM2019’s revamped SmartRules feature can be used to translate tags and icons, including task icons, into topic properties which can then be manipulated using MM’s Formula facility. In this article I’ll explore some additional ways to use these concepts. 

Recap

Previously I covered how to:

  1. Set up numeric topic properties to match tags or icons;
  2. Create SmartRules to link icons or tags to these topic properties;
  3. Use Formulas on the Central Topic to sum the topic properties matching each tag or icon; and
  4. Write SmartRules to highlight if the total for each topic property meets or fails to meet certain criteria.

 These techniques provide the basis for some of the more complex examples discussed in this post, so it’s probably best to look at part 1 if you haven’t done so already. 

Counting multiple tags

In part 1 I used a simple example of counting of mutually exclusive Kanban tags The same approach can be used to count multiple tags in the same group without the mutually exclusive option, as shown in the following example. 

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Sociamind MindManager Article Map Updated

The mind map of MindManager posts on the Sociamind blog has been updated and revamped to make it easier to find articles.

Click on this link, the map below or the MindManager Articles item on the blog menu to go to the map, which shows selected posts relating to MindManager published over the past five years. The three most recent articles are now highlighted in red.

Around 50 articles are grouped by theme in the map. The hyperlink icon next to any topic provides access to the relevant post. The earliest MindManager version applicable to each article or group of articles is shown in brackets. Articles which discuss several key MindManager features may appear in the map more than once.

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Posted in Mind Mapping, MM2019, New Version Overviews, Project Management, Research and Writing, Uncategorized, Viewing, Filtering and Formatting | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

MindManager Integrations 1: Tags and Icons to Topic Properties – the Basics

One especially useful feature of the current version of MindManager (MM2019) is the way in which the program’s latest features can work with each other as well as with MM’s more established features to produce new ways of seeing, managing, and presenting material in mind maps. In this series I will look at some of these integrations, starting with how the revamped SmartRules feature can be used to translate tags and icons, including task icons, into topic properties which can then be used with MM’s Formula facility.

What can I do with this?

The primary purpose of this integration is to provide a dynamic count at the central or parent topic level of specific tags or icons in the relevant descendant sub-topics. MM has long had the facility to count tags and icons in the Marker Index, but these are global counts across either the whole or filtered map and aren’t easily accessible within the map itself. Sometimes it’s more useful to show the total count directly in the map, especially if you can show it on a branch-by-branch basis.

The ability to count tags and icons with a map also opens up a range of other possibilities. These counts can be used in other formulas or to apply specific tags or formatting to the parent topic; for example, you can use this approach to apply and then count tags for specific defects in a project, or each time a particular comment is made in a survey at the sub-topic level.

Alternatively, a special tag could be added to the parent topic depending on the result, or it could be specially formatted to highlight key issues. This facility can even be used as a basis for constructing Boolean If-Then-Else statements which currently are not available in formulas. I’ll explore some variations on this approach and other potential uses in later articles.

What is involved?

The process is reasonably straightforward, providing you have a basic understanding of MM2019’s Topic Properties, SmartRules and Formulas – and of course, tags and icons. If you haven’t used these features before try to have a little play with them first. In this example I’m using the default Kanban “To Do”, “Doing” and “Done” tag group but you could use any tag group or icon set.

Basic Kanban Tags to Properties Example

It’s probably best to start with a group containing a limited number of tags or icons set to mutually exclusive, though you can use more complex groups and ones which are not constrained this way (though there are some issues which I’ll cover later). I’m also using a simple map and adding the count totals to the central topic, but the same approach can be used to show the totals for each branch at the parent topic level.

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