Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

idea manager / thought graph?

I had a bit of a Eureka! moment this morning with a seed of an idea for a new product lodging itself in my head.  I'd like to run with it, but I'll be on the road for the next few days, so I'll be away from my precious whiteboards.

So, I'm hoping someone can direct me to what I'd call an idea manager or thought graph.  I've seen them before, but never played with one.  Conceptually, it is a glorified drawing program that allows you to very quickly draw a graph of shapes and associated text in various groupings in order to facilitate brainstorming.  I could use a visio-like app I have here, but I know I'd end up spending way too much time on the mechanics of a generic drawing app.

Any ideas?

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Kind of like this?

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Hrm, I suppose I should have mentioned that I'd greatly prefer something that is either cross-platform (java, python, etc) or directly available for OS X.  Picky, picky, I know. :-)  Thanks for the suggestions so far though.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

In that about a pen & pad of paper? As cross platform as you can get, batteries that never run out and you never have to worry about virii eating up your ideas...

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

the termites though, they will eat their way through anything ...

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

omnigraffle is well known, though i haven't used it.

or dig up an ancient copy of MORE from, it might run on OSX.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Have you seen VoodooPad? I'm not sure if it's the sort of thing you're talking about. It's kind of a wiki for one, but it can do drawing etc as well as normal text.

I'm just starting my move to the Mac platform, and it's a fantastic tool for managing ideas, thoughts, information, questions, etc.

Darren Collins
Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Isn't that what used to be called "mind mapping" ?

Steve Jones (UK)
Wednesday, April 28, 2004

A free mind mapper (written in Java):

Bob Chan
Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Bob, that may be exactly what I'm looking for (and cross-platform too!)...I'll take a long look at it.

Although I haven't tried them yet, a quick search revealed a couple other selections of 'mind mapping' software available for OS X:  (Company also offers a range of drawing tools for OS X, including UML, gantt, etc)

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

I second NovaMind for mind mapping coupled with OmniOutliner for outlining. NovaMind can import native .ooutline files. Both products can import / export OPML (which is some flavour of XML) so that you can round trip textual outlines into maps and vice versa. OminiOutliner is highly configurable so that it can be used for lots of nifty things like to-do lists connected to bibliographies.

I also have OminGraffle ('cos there was a nice student package available!) and can only say that its so much better than any Windows based charting tool I've come across that I cry thinking how much time I used to waste when I was properly employed.

For a review of a sizeable number of outlining tools look at the extensive review at About This Particular Macintosh

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Try GraphViz
Here are some examples how to use it with Perl
Also check CPAN

I am just beginning to use it for some graphing tasks, but since it is easilly programmable with perl it can draw data from many sources.

Fredrik Svensson
Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Hi there, FYI due to customer demand we have worked on improving the outliner capabilities within NovaMind so that it is nearly an outliner program in itself. About the only thing we couldn't incorporate is the hoist function as this creates some problems with what to do about the Mind Map graphic which updates as you work in the outliner panel. If you have any queries regarding import/export or functionality about NovaMind feel free to contact me.

There are a number of websites around which explain how Mind Mapping works and the benefits you can get from it, try

Michele, NovaMind Software Pty Ltd
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home