Free Concept Mapping Tools

Concept mapping is also known as mind-mapping. It is a graph for ideas where you create a central focus node and add related nodes. An example of this is a circle where you write the word “Halloween” and draw lines from this circle to other circles with the words “witches,” “bats” and “cauldrons.” Concept mapping is a way to outline essential topic points. Free software can make this easy.

Freemind and Forks

Freemind is a concept-mapping tool for Linux, Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. The software has forked into two other products: Freeplane, which focuses on enhanced usability, and SciPlore MindMapping for professionals in the scientific community with enhanced PDF support and collaboration. The Freemind software allows you to create nodes and branch into child and sibling nodes. You can color code each node, shade the borders and add color to the branches. You can fold the branches joining the nodes so that nodes are hidden. Notes are a handy feature of this software along with the ability to insert media and hyper-links. You can export Freemind documents (.mm) to various formats such as Flash, PDF and images.

Freeplane derives from Freemind and has added features such as spell checking and image scaling. SciPlore has additional features to help researchers use reference keys such as BibTeX, import bookmarks for PDFs and monitor folders for new PDFs. These software packages run on the same operating systems as Freemind and accept .mm files.

Pimki

Pimki is software for Linux and Windows. The features are a mind map that works as a graph of wiki connections through the helper program GraphViz. There is an integrated blog called Bliki, and to-do items and lists. The software offers both expanded and advanced search.

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VYM

VYM is short for View Your Mind. This software is available for Linux, Mac and Windows. The features of VYM are the ability to create bookmarks, associate images with a branch, add or remove branches, create macros and add or delete whole maps or parts of a map. You can pick colors for lines and nodes, insert images in nodes and use graphical flags to highlight nodes. VYM is exportable to HTML and PDF files.

VUE

VUE (View Understanding Environment) is software that runs on Linux and Windows. Some of the handy features are selection of nodes for presentation without impacting the base map, zooming on specific areas for greater readability, and seeing embedded images in nodes. You may also fade in and out links and collapse and expand branches in the map. VUE also permits importing of such files as CSV, RSS and Zotero.

WikkiaWiki

WikkaWiki is for building wiki documents. Some of the features include page preview, editing notes and search and replace. It has text styling options for heading, types of lists, tables and threaded comments as well as notes. You can also upload and download files, use inline Flash files, insert images and import mind maps.