MindManager Gaps and Tricks 4: How to include hyperlinks and task and topic information when importing a Word document (MM21/22 update)

In this occasional series I’m looking at some of the gaps in MindManager’s extensive feature set and describing a few “tricks”, or workarounds, to deal with them.

In MindManager Gaps and Tricks 2 I described how to import a table of websites from either Word or Excel using the Excel import facility in MindManager 22 which now recognises hyperlinks. The Excel Data Mapper at the core of this feature has been improved and offers the best option for importing Word tables, especially those with hyperlinks.

However, this still leaves open the question of how best to import non-tabular data in Word files containing hyperlinks as well as other topic and task attributes, such as research summaries with hyperlinks to relevant papers and publications, task lists and schedules, catalogues and interview transcripts. There is no equivalent in MindManager (MM) for the Excel Data Mapper, or any other way to control the import process for these documents. Instead, the import process relies on MindManager’s ability to recognise Word paragraph heading styles and to use these as the basis for the map hierarchy. Everything else, including hyperlinks, usually ends up being incorporated into topic notes.

How to import and map documents containing the equivalent of task or topic attributes is the topic of this post or more accurately, how to do this since significant changes were made to the Word import and export facilities in MindManager 21 and 22. Previously I had posted instructions using undocumented features in earlier versions of MM, but at first I feared that this feature appeared to have been broken by the recent changes. Fortunately all was not lost; as a response on the MindManager Community Forum helpfully pointed out, only a minor tweak is required with these and subsequent versions to use this undocumented feature.

In this post I’ll draw on my previous descriptions of the process and outline how to make it work specifically with MM 21 and 22, and also identify which topic and task attributes and other information can be imported successfully as shown in the example below and those that don’t work so well, or not at all. And a word of advice; to use this tip you will need a reasonable understanding of either MM21 or 22, as well as experience in using Word and in particular Word templates and paragraph styles. In addition, this process relies on undocumented MindManager features which may be changed or withdrawn at any time.

Word import test image

Continue reading

Posted in Export, Import, Mind Mapping, MM21, MM22 | Tagged , | Leave a comment

MindManager Gaps and Tricks 3: Preserving line breaks and other formatting when exporting topic text to Word

In the third article of this occasional series looking at some of the gaps in MindManager’s extensive feature set and a few “tricks”, or workarounds, to deal with them, I’m offering some options for dealing with a question that gets asked from time to time on the MindManager Community Forum – how to preserve line breaks and formatting in topic text when a map is exported to Word.

While topic notes editing in MindManager has some basic formatting facilities, topic text editing has virtually none at all. You can change fonts and format text appearance and you can also insert line breaks using SHIFT+ENTER, then manually insert numbers at the beginning of each line to make sub-points within the topic (or use the technique described here to insert bullets), but that’s about it.

An even bigger problem is that this formatting is lost when you export to Word. Topic text line breaks in particular are lost in export, with everything rendered as a long line of text which will include any numbers, bullets or other special characters you may have inserted.

If you are starting a map from scratch you can avoid this problem in the first place by keeping topic text as brief as possible. Topics were never really designed to hold lots of text – in fact one of the early rules of mind mapping when it was mainly a brainstorming tool was to have no more than one or two words per topic (a possible explanation for why topic text editing facilities are still so limited). If you are designing a new map, try to structure “big ideas” so they have a parent topic with just a few words of topic text and then put all the detail either into a topic note or a series of subtopics. Both of these will export successfully to Word.

Export to Word mapjpg

Continue reading

Posted in Export, MM21, MM22, Shortcuts/Gaps & Tricks | Tagged , | Leave a comment

MindManager Gaps and Tricks 2: Importing a list of websites using MM 22 and later versions

In this occasional series I’m looking at some of the gaps in MindManager’s extensive feature set and describing a few “tricks”, or workarounds, to deal with them. In this post I’m actually talking about a gap which the company itself has fixed in MindManager for Windows 22, but so quietly many people may have missed it – the ability to import lists of websites, or tables which include URLs, and have these appear as topics with hyperlinks.

In this post I’ll show how to turn a simple spreadsheet or table like the one on the left into the map on the right, complete with links using MindManager 22 or later.

Excel Import 0A

A little bit of history: I have written quite a few posts on importing Word tables, which has always been a somewhat hit-and-miss process with previous versions of MindManager. Tables have always had to be set up in a specific way for importing to work, and matters became even more complicated after MindManager completely rewrote the Word export feature in MM21.

Continue reading

Posted in MM22, Shortcuts/Gaps & Tricks | Tagged , | 1 Comment

MindManager Gaps and Tricks 1: Exporting and printing topic notes

MindManager is one of the most comprehensively-featured mind mapping applications around, but there are a few things it doesn’t do well or at all, despite some of these features being available in competing products. However, MindManager’s versatility means that you can often use a workaround to get at least part of the way there.

I’m starting an occasional series examining these gaps and some of the “tricks” to get around them with a look at topic notes exporting and printing.

The ability to print or export topic notes just by themselves is essential for people who use mind maps primarily for writing, or to prepare project or process documentation. This need has long been recognised, as MindManager does have a dedicated facility to print topic notes – it’s just this tool is very inflexible. For a start you can only print the notes, not create a file (apart from “printing” a PDF document), but by far the biggest limitation is that notes are printed out one to a page.

I’m not sure about the logic behind this, but it makes the process very tedious if you want to print lots of short topic notes. In fact, I was prompted to write this by a plea from a user on the MAPBM community forum for a simpler way to achieve this. This user had come up with a workaround, but one that was very cumbersome; basically you saved the document as a PDF, then either scanned it to Word or opened it in an application that could convert PDF files to Word. Once the document was in Word you could edit out all the spaces between notes.

Fortunately there is a better alternative, which is to use the beefed-up Word export facility that is available from version MM20 onward. This provides a lot of control over the export process, so you can select topics with notes and remove pretty much everything else you don’t need – anything that’s left to be cleaned up can be dealt with easily in Word.

Continue reading

Posted in Mind Mapping, MM21, MM22, Shortcuts/Gaps & Tricks | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Setting up alternative checklists in MindManager

MindManager’s dedicated set of progress symbols provides a versatile tool for measuring how a task is proceeding. The default quartile progress levels (0, 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%) can be supplemented by including additional markers for 10%, 35%, 65% and 90% either in the Map Index or in the context menu for a specific task. Alternatively, they can be edited to limit choices, for example, to only three (0, 50%, 100%) or two (0 and 100%) options, or even just one (100%).

It’s not just tasks which require a status update. Inventories, retail orders, questionnaires and even shopping lists are examples where you might want to the ability to mark whether something is present, has been ordered, supplied or answered. Usually in these cases you simply want to tick a box, or leave it unticked, so the ability to reduce progress levels to a couple of options means that the progress symbols can be easily adapted for this task.

However, there are stylistic and practical limitations which may make these symbols unsuitable in some circumstances:

  1. The progress icons look like, well, progress icons, which may not be desired if you want a list to look literally like a checklist.
  2. Reducing the number progress options simplifies their use in checklists, but this reduction affects the availability of these options across the whole map.
  3. MindManager automatically assumes that any topic which has any task information (except priority) is itself a task. This includes the progress icons, and can impact the behaviour of topics and their parents in maps to which Task Roll-up has been applied.

The last point is potentially the most serious issue, but it needs a bit of illustration. Continue reading

Posted in Mind Mapping, MM21, Project Management, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

MindManager – “reverse mapping” and exporting the Map Index

If you use MindManager to categorise information the resulting groupings in the Map Index are often just as significant as the topics themselves. This is especially the case if you use MM’s tag feature as a basis for research, a process I described back in 2017.

In that post I described how to use MM to undertake basic quantitative and qualitative analysis with small data sets such as survey results or interview transcripts. MM’s potential use as a tool in this area has been enhanced by the revelation that comparison and logical operators can be used in MM formulas. This, along with the introduction of SmartRules means that topic properties can also be used as part of the analytical process.

However, there was one feature I didn’t fully explore in my 2017 post. While I described how to copy individual tag groups into a new map, I didn’t realise back then how simple it was to create a complete “reverse map” based on the Index categories simply by exporting the whole index. This can provide a whole new perspective on your data.

Creating a reverse map

All you need to do to make a reverse map is open the Map Index pane, then click on the ADD drop down menu and select Copy Index. Create a new map and simply paste the copied index. A new map should be created in which the main topics will be the names of groups used in the Map Index; only those groups whose icons, tags or other elements have been used will appear in the map. If fill or font colours have been used these will also appear as main topics.

Continue reading

Posted in Mind Mapping, MM21 | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Turning URL lists into mindmaps: MindManager 2021 update

Surprisingly, MindManager (MM) lacks a facility to easily import and map a list of URLs. These can be all sorts of things, for example, bookmark or favourite lists exported from web browsers, website page directories, product lists on commerce websites, publication reference links or pages of links you may have developed yourself.

A couple of years ago I developed and documented a workaround to do this which depended on a number of MM undocumented features. This was based in part on some of my earlier posts about extending MindManager’s Word import facility to include formatted task lists. Recently MindManager 21 was released, with a new approach to Word import/export which makes some of the techniques I described obsolete.

However, after a bit of research and a lot of trial and error I’ve been able to modify my workaround to work with the latest version. In this post I’ve updated and extensively revised my previous article to incorporate these and several other changes.

A warning – this process is a bit technical and there are a few steps involved. It requires the use of MS Excel and Word and draws on some undocumented aspects of MindManager which could be changed or deleted at any time. You will need a reasonable knowledge of Word and MindManager, and a basic understanding of Excel. Finally, there are variations in the processes I describe depending on whether you are using MM21 (or later), or earlier versions of MindManager.

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

Continue reading

Posted in Import, Mind Mapping, MM21 | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Logic, time and money: more MindManager formula surprises (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this series, I looked at Time Value of Money (TVM) and exponentiation in MindManager (MM) formulas. While the potential of exponentiation in MM formulas is easy to overlook, at least this featire is referenced in the help guide. However, formulas have two other categories of operator which are entirely undocumented.

These are comparison and logical operators. Codeacademy describes comparison operators as “operators that compare values and return true or false”, while logical operators “combine multiple Boolean expressions or values and provide a single Boolean output”. I “discovered” the comparison operators while exploring MM’s formula capabilities, and subsequently MM’s Jan Heger confirmed the existence of the logical operators. Until now I had always assumed that MM’s SmartRules feature was the only way to access these types of operators in MM. Continue reading

Posted in Mind Mapping, Project Management, Software | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Logic, time and money: some MindManager formula surprises (Part 1)

A lot has happened since my last post in May 2020, starting of course with the huge and continuing world-wide impact of COVID. Back in April last year I wrote an article for the MindManager blog with advice of non-government organisations (NGOs) on managing the impacts of the virus. I had no idea back then that in many countries these effects will last well into 2021, and beyond.

The release of MindManager 2021 in September 2020 was a welcome diversion, bringing a suite of new features, including topic info cards, accelerator keys, flowchart extensions and an enhanced MindManager Snap feature. Among the major changes was a major redesign of Word import and export and a completely new approach to slides, which I’ll come back to in future posts.

I also want to mark the sudden demise of the old MindManager Community Forum late last year. The forum was a great example of peer support, with experienced users volunteering their knowledge in response to thousands of questions from the wider MM community. Late last year the third-party providers of the forum software abruptly discontinued the service, which meant that all this information was lost.

I’m pleased MindManager has responded by starting a new forum, though I still miss the content of the old one – and at the moment I’m trying to recover some of it. More on that in the future, but one of the early questions on the new forum was about MM formulas and specifically whether it was possible to use them to make Time Value of Money (TVM) calculations.

Playing around with the MM’s seemingly modest formulas facility I discovered to my surprise that it is indeed quite capable of handling TVM equations. In addition, I stumbled across some significant but undocumented features which make formulas much more capable than they initially seem.

This two-part series is based on my response on the forum to this question and my additional research on formulas. My thanks to Jan Heger from MindManager who confirmed what I found and whose comments on the forum filled in some important gaps. In this first part I’ll look at TVM calculations and exponentiation. Continue reading

Posted in Mind Mapping, MM21, Software | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

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

Continue reading

Posted in Import, Mind Mapping, MM2019, Project Management, Research and Writing, Viewing, Filtering and Formatting | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment