It’s taken me a while to blog about MindManager Pro 7. Previously if I’ve burst into print, well blog, soon after a product release it’s because I’d been living with beta/preview versions for several weeks/months. With MindManager Pro 7 it was a little different as I didn’t see the product until shortly before release and also decided to change to Office 2007 at about the same time. I’ve been living with this combo for a while now and have learnt enough to share. This post is about MindManager 7 but as they are closely integrated I’ll also cover some aspects of Microsoft Office 2007.
Getting to 7 – My upgrade experience;
There are several things to consider before upgrading. If you’re dependent on any 3rd party MindManager add-ons check they are “7” compatible. Many, like GyroQ, were ready at release and over the last few months others, including the Mindjet Labs extensions, have been updated. I removed MindManager 6 and all related add-ons to give a clean start before installing MindManager Pro 7 and a few add-ons crucial to my workflow.
MindManager/Outlook links – a few migration glitches:
Synchronising full maps is now “legacy” behaviour: I discovered a few quirks after updating my Synchronised “Dashboard” map. It uses the “Outlook Import, Export and Synchronize” function to link all the content with task information to Outlook as described in my “MindManaging your day” series.
This method is still supported in 7 (via MindManager Button>Export) but is referred to as a “legacy” mode in the help. The recommendation for MindManager 7 is to link individual topics to/from Outlook rather than an entire map.
I suspect the reason is the tendency for things to get rather messy if you fully synchronised more than one map. I’ve always avoided that & only used synchronise with one dashboard map. I have many other maps with multiple individual topics synchronised but not the full map. I’m glad the “full sync” legacy behaviour is supported and hope it remains in future versions since my MindManager/Outlook workflow depends on it!
Duplicated Tasks: After the upgrade re-establishing the link from my dashboard map to Outlook resulted in duplicated tasks. Since all my Outlook tasks are generated/sync’ed by my dashboard map I simply deleted them all in Outlook, then re-sync'ed to have a clean list generated.
An alert about Alerts: I only use a few Topic Alerts but found they also didn’t migrate fully. The MindManager topic alert was there and still worked fine but it’s associated Outlook calendar item didn’t appear. Opening the alert settings then closing the dialog, effectively saving it, re-established the Outlook item.
While these items were a hassle none were show stoppers and the effort was worth it. Having used MindManager Pro 7 for a few months there is no way I’d be going back!
What’s so magnificent?
The welcome screen has a summary of “What’s New” but I’ll start with one thing you can’t miss. It’s officially known as the “Microsoft Fluent UI” or more informally “the Ribbon”. Microsoft developed it for Office 2007 and Mindjet’s implementation is very slick. It’s a big change and I expect some hate it as much as I like it. There is no alternative, no legacy UI option, so using MindManager 7 means accepting the ribbon. I suspect you’ll see similar UI’s in other products in much the same way previous Office’like toolbars & panes were adopted/adapted over time.
If you’ve migrated to Office 2007 you’ll find the layout and operation very similar. In fact looking at the UI’s (below) you have to look for the MindManager Buttonto pick the non-Microsoft product.
MindManager veterans will experience “Ribbon shock”. The File Menu is gone and replaced by the MindManager Button. It gathers all the things you can do with a document into one place with most accessed via fly-out menus but also has application options (formerly Tools Menu>Options) on display. A bit strange when “Document Properties” is almost hidden in the Prepare fly-out. Took me a while to find that one!
Task oriented Tabs/Ribbons have replaced Menu/Toolbars. The old task panes (My Maps, Library etc) are still there but closed by default until a related Ribbon tool activates them. The Ribbon layout is fairly logical but I still find some of the combinations a little strange. Why does “Paste” appear on the “Home” tab but not on “Insert”?
Perhaps my favourite UI change is a tiny regression. The "Click to cycle" through Detail Levels button, last seen in MindManager x5, returns! A keyboard Ctrl+D also does this but I’d got into the habit of repeatedly clicking the button. The MindManager 6 version didn’t respond to that but I still clicked it anyway!
After a while the ribbon becomes second nature but expect to spend some time adjusting. One benefit is I’ve made more use of features, like bookmarks, that were always in MindManager but forgotten, buried on rarely accessed menus. It appears to take more space than tool bars but the way I ran old version with multiple toolbars displayed there is little difference. Then consider the Ribbon replaces Menu, Toolbar & some Task Pane functions and can be minimised/restored with a click or set to auto-hide which wasn’t possible with toolbars.
I’ve customised the UI to restore a few features I missed and optimise it for my workflow. I’ve added Paste, Export and a few other frequently used functions to the Quick Access toolbar. I’ve also turned on the task panes, they are hidden by default, and moved the workbook tabs to the top to create my optimised Fluent UI. Some new features and those changes are summarised on this map (thumbnail image right, map file below).
While the Ribbon is the most noticeable change look for future posts on some new features I’ve found really useful:
- Saved Queries
- Saved Views
- Show Branch Alone
- Topic Styles
- Split Topic
What’s not so magnificent?
Nothing is perfect and I’ve found a few things that bug me. Some are new, some carried over from previous editions or due to changes in other applications:
- Fuzzy Display: MindManager has that slightly "fuzzy" anti-aliased look when zoomed out. It’s been there since X5 but I hoped things would look crisper in the new version.
- Right Click>Export>Send Topic to Word doesn’t find the Email Editor in Outlook 2007. This breaks one of my favourite work flows - Export topic to email. This isn’t really a MindManager flaw as it’s the Outlook editor which has changed. Still, it would have been nice if Mindjet could have caught this and added a Right Click>Export>Send Topic to Outlook Email function.
- Vulnerable to .net framework instability. Again not specific to MindManager but I’ve found when running several applications .net related trouble in one may take out the others. I commonly run AutoCAD Architecture, MindManager and RSS Bandit together. I’ve occasionally, maybe once a month, had a .net component crash cause the other app’s fall over. I suspect this is more to do with the underlying architecture than the applications themselves but having an application just disappear, sometimes not even an error report, is rather disconcerting. My only solution is to save frequently, not just in MindManager!
* The post title is a rather weak reference to The Magnificent Seven (1960). I’m not really into Western movies but it seemed fitting.