MindManager Pro 7.0 sports a new user interface, one that closely mirrors that of Microsoft Office 2007. The "ribbon" at the top of the screen provides access to all of the program's features, with tabs dividing the various commands and functions based on the task being performed. For example, the "tools" tab includes the following functions: map templates, map styles, a timer, a "start brainstorming" tool and links to the learning center, a help menu and online support.

While there are many good desktop mind-mapping applications available, MindManager Pro 7.0 looks to be an excellent choice for a number of reasons. First, Mindjet already has a large following with close to one million users, including 85 of the Fortune 100 companies. Mindjet offers training, Webinars and free templates. While it packs a lot of power, almost anyone can master the basics in an hour or two, perhaps less. As you progress, you will find that MindManager Pro allows you to create incredibly rich and complex maps, should you need to. In addition, it allows you to print mind maps to the Web, export maps to Microsoft Office applications (Word and PowerPoint), display Excel spreadsheets within a mind map and export maps to Microsoft Project.

Those who want to start off slowly with mind mapping or those who are interested in collaborating with mind maps over the Web might want to check out some of the newer online mind mapping applications. I have not done a comprehensive review of online mind mapping applications, but three that look intriguing to me are bubble.us (http://bubbl.us/), Mind 42 beta (http://mind42.com/) and WiseMapping beta (http://wisemapping.com/c/home.htm).

All three are free and they all allow you to collaborate with others online. Mind42 allows you to import maps from both MindManager and FreeMind, while WiseMapping allows imports from FreeMind only. Bubble.us can export to XML, HTML, PNG and JPEG formats, while Mind42 exports to MindManager, FreeMind and RTF and WiseMapping exports to FreeMind, PDF, PNG and JPEG. All allow you to publish your maps by URL.

Mind mapping software is clearly a tool that is being used successfully by a number of advisors. The flexibility of mind maps means that almost any advisory firm can benefit from trying them. With a street price of roughly $300, MindManager Pro 7.0 seems like a bargain considering all that it can do. If you want to try MindManager Pro 7 before you buy, a fully functional 21-day demo version is available here: http://www.mindjet.com/us/download/.

If you are on a tight budget or interested in collaboration, or if you want to try an easy-to-use mind mapping application, consider giving one of the free online applications a try. Whatever avenue you take, I'm sure you will find that mind mapping can enhance your practice and perhaps your life as well.

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