Mind Mapping in a Breeze With Exobrain

Keeping the idea flowing can be really more difficult than it sounds. We get easily distracted, and the chain of thoughts will be lost forever. It would help to write them down but more often than not they are just abstract notions in our heads. Beyond a point things get complicated and even you can’t understand what is in there.

That’s why God invented Mind-mapping. Well actually Porphyry of Tyros did. It is a very simple way to keep track of things but again when your idea grows the tree keeps growing things get muddy and you possibly can’t fit everything in a paper. Over time all I see is an overtly colored, slightly blurred version of a spider web. I was looking out for a savior and I stumbled upon Exobrain. Is it truly what it claims to be? That’s exactly what we are going to find out today.

Mind Mapping, eh?

For those of us who don’t know, mind mapping is a popular brainstorming technique. We take a key-word in the center, and branch out associated concepts to it like a tree. The major units are linked to the central node and the sub-units are attached to the subsequent nodes. This way all your concepts are mapped without worrying much about the priorities. It makes it easy to retrace our steps in case you get stuck at some point.

Exobrain is a tool which helps us to create mind maps with apparent ease and it looks impressive at the first glance.

Setting Up

Setting Up

Setting Up

What first attracted me towards Exobrain was the fact that there is practically little setup. Once you quickly sign up for an account, you’re presented with a board where you can conjure your nodes.

Managing a Map

There is a neat sidebar to the right side which will pretty much be your control panel. You can view your maps, and also create a new one. When you create a new map, exobrain creates the central node for you. Just rename it to the relevant keyword. From there just drag your mouse and it automatically creates a sub-units. Same way you can create all the sub-units, and the child nodes for each sub-units. For visual clarity each sub-units have a different color than the others, so the information isn’t lost in translation.

Colorful Maps

Colorful Maps

A node might be linked to several other nodes. To establish a link all you have to do is to drag a line between these two. Likewise, if you feel a link had been established in error, just move your mouse over it and click. The little scissors icon in the air is a nice touch. Another interesting thing to note is, if you’re linking nodes belonging to two sub-units, the color of the link is a combination of both, highlighting the difference.

It is also relatively easy to manage the nodes. You can rename a node just by clicking in the middle. To delete a node just click the small (X) button attached to it and Whoof…!

No, you don't have to call 911

No, you don’t have to call 911

Should you face any problems with the app, they have an intuitive help board. There is a nifty little animation for every single action that you can perform.

Usability

The interface is neatly designed. It is very simple and users can get away with little training. The best part about with Exobrain is it is not bloated with a slew unnecessary features and they have managed to keep it simple. Also the focus is where it should be. With the control buttons neatly docked towards the far end of the screen, I find myself having a lot of space. It lets me focus more without any distractions.

This might be very small, but I really like the auto save facility. It saves a lot of needless effort on my part. The Undo and Redo buttons work just fine, even if it is a little on the slower side. However I would have preferred the usual shortcuts over this. Overall the user experience was great, albeit minor goof ups.

Other Thoughts

One feature that I miss the most is the ability to export my maps out. Think about it. In today’s collaborative world we seldom work alone. At some point or the other we might have to share our ideas to the world, at least to our peers. Sadly Exobrian doesn’t seem to have multi user plans. Also lacking is the option to export out your data to other platforms like Viso for instance, making it impossible for you share your map with anyone without having to expose your password. This might work well for personal use, especially for students, but clearly unsuitable for teams. Though I understand that they wanted to simplify things, collaboration is paramount in a Productivity app.

Summing Up

To sum up, Exobrain is a really nice tool. It does everything it promises to do out of the box and in fact a great job at that. And that’s not something I get to say often. Their pricing is also perfect. You get 3 free maps for life and above that you will have to shell out additional $3 a month. I’d strongly recommend you to check them out.

How was your experience with Exobrain? Have you tried any other mind mapping tools that you liked? Do share your thoughts by joining us in the discussions below and thank you for reading.


Summary

Exobrain eases out the pain from mind mapping.

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  • Adam Turner

    This is not mind mapping – it’s a spider diagram. Read Tony Buzan’s (creator of MindMapping) books on it – it’s meant to resemble a brain, and neurons. Moreover, mindmapping should be done on paper. It should use individual words (not phrases) and lots of colour/symbols/pictures. Doing it on the computer defeats the point!

  • Bryan Gibson

    Mind Mapping *is* a Breeze with Exobrain. ;)

  • Ben

    Great design. It’s simple, very easy and intuitive.
    I’d use it a lot more if there was an ability to export/share/collaborate with others.

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