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MindNode for iOS Adds TextBundle Export Option

I’ve long been using iThoughts to create mind maps for my longform stories, but I’ve been playing around with the latest MindNode for iOS over the past couple of weeks, and I’m intrigued. MindNode 4.5 for iOS adds the ability to export mind maps as TextBundle archives (more precisely, the compressed version called TextPack), which can then be opened as rich documents in Ulysses.

Launched three years ago, TextBundle is an archive format designed to let Markdown text editors exchange text documents that also contain referenced images. Ulysses, my favorite text editor, fully supports the TextBundle spec, along with the popular Bear and Marked. With the latest MindNode 4.5, this means you can now create a mind map that contains sub-nodes, inline images, and notes, export it as TextBundle to Ulysses (or other apps), and you’ll end up with a Markdown-formatted sheet that retains inline attachments.

A mind map with an image becomes a sheet in Ulysses thanks to TextBundle.

A mind map with an image becomes a sheet in Ulysses thanks to TextBundle.

While writing in plain text with Markdown formatting is fantastic for file portability, there’s the downside of .txt files not being able to act as containers of other referenced files (such as screenshots). Ulysses’ unique handling of sheets breaks with the tradition of plain text files, but it enables for powerful additions to standard Markdown editing, including notes, keywords, and images. I’ve been writing in Ulysses for over a year, and its non-standard approach to Markdown hasn’t been an issue because every time I publish a story or save a draft for a document I’m working on, I also save a second copy of the same file as a regular .txt in my Dropbox. This way, I enjoy the best of both worlds – Ulysses’ richer editing environment, and the portability of plain text files synced with Dropbox.

With MindNode, TextBundle, and Ulysses, I can now create mind maps that contain images and notes, outline a document visually, and then copy it to Ulysses, where I can write, edit, and continue to see images referenced inline. This feels like a much better workflow than having to constantly keep my text editor next to a mind map. I’m going to test this system and evaluate how much it could be automated1 over the next few weeks, but, overall, it’s a fantastic improvement for MindNode and Ulysses users.

MindNode 4.5 is available on the App Store.

  1. My ideal scenario: I would like to export a .textbundle archive from Ulysses and let Workflow turn local image references into images uploaded somewhere on the web. However, I can’t figure out how to open .textbundle archives with Workflow, as changing their extension to .zip won’t work. ↩︎

MindNode 4.2 with Reminders Integration

Nice update to MindNode, a great mind-mapping app for iOS and OS X, which can now attach tasks to items and (optionally) sync with iCloud Reminders:

Mind Maps are a great way to kick off a new project and Tasks are often a major part of this workflow. MindNode now offers native Tasks support. You can turn any child node into a task and check off completed tasks directly on the canvas. To help you stay on top of your tasks, MindNode will also show a task progress indicator on parent nodes that have children with tasks.

If you prefer Apple Reminders to manage your tasks, you can also export your Tasks to Reminders and MindNode will keep the completion state in sync with Reminders. For example when you mark a task as completed in Reminders, it will also be marked as completed in MindNode. This feature works across iOS and OS X.

Even better, if you use Reminders with 2Do, you’ll be able to work on a project with a tree structure in MindNode, then share to Reminders and complete tasks either from 2Do or MindNode. Clever integration – though it would also be useful to import lists from Reminders and visualize them as mind maps in MindNode.


MindNode 2.0 for Mac

Mindnode has been a favorite at MacStories for a while, and I’m happy to see a brand new version for Mac available today. MindNode 2.0 for Mac is an entirely new app, with an introductory price of $19.99 US ($29.99 after the intro sale).

The new version includes a variety of features that expand MindNode’s usefulness beyond simple mind mapping to make it a powerful tool for collaboration, polishing ideas, and writing (among the many things mind maps are great for). All this while maintaining the attributes that set it apart from the beginning: simplicity and elegance.

The new features include notes, something I’d always felt was an oversight in MindNode. I like to keep my topic titles as short as possible, and being able to expand on an idea or add extended thoughts via attached notes is vital. MindNode 2.0 does a nice job of indicating which nodes have notes with an unobtrusive icon while concealing the extra cruft. Notes can be included in the various export formats (PDF, Freemind, OPML, Image, Markdown, or text).

When I’m writing, mind maps are the first tool I employ to brainstorm, develop, and begin structuring a piece. The outline view in MindNode (new to the Mac version) means I can see a linear view of my content as I work in the less restrictive format of a mind map. Being able to include notes in the Markdown export means that I can even begin developing paragraphs right in the mind map.

That leads me to mention my favorite new feature: the ability to preview the rendered Markdown from a mind map while I work using Marked 2 (my own Markdown preview and writing tool). Click File -> Advanced -> Open in Marked and a full preview of the Markdown export, including notes, will update every time the mind map saves. (iThoughtsX has Marked integration, as well.)

MindNode had also been missing the ability to add icons and markers to nodes, but not anymore. The “Stickers” feature lets you choose from a custom set of tinted icons to set ideas apart. You can also add labels to connections to help make things more scannable.

MindJet MindManager users will be happy to hear that MindNode can now import your existing maps. I switched away from MindManager a while ago, but used it for years, accumulating a significant pile of brainstorms in mmap format. Being able to access Mindjet’s proprietary format in my tools of choice is important to my sanity.

The MindNode update also boasts improvements in smart layout, theme customization, and visual refinements.

Also new to the Mac version, the MyMindNode web service allows you to publish your maps on the web and link or embed them in a blog or web page. Maps can be re-published at the same URL as they’re updated.

If you’re looking to up your brainstorming game, you can find MindNode 2.0 on the Mac App Store.

MindNode 3.2 with Image Support

MindNode, my favorite app to outline ideas visually on both iOS and OS X, was updated last week with a notable addition: embedded images.

I use MindNode to flesh out ideas and thoughts that help me find connections and relationships through the use of colors, branches, and formatting of text. Typically, large reviews, roundups, and articles for this site start as a plain text list in Evernote, but before writing in Editorial, I transform that list into a map in MindNode to get a better visual understanding of the topic(s) I want to cover. Images were an obvious candidate for mindmaps, and while other apps already supported them, I wanted to be able to insert images in maps with the simplicity of MindNode’s interface and iCloud storage.

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MindNode 3.1 Adds Redesigned Outline, Markdown Export

MindNode is an elegant and powerful mindmapping app that I use on all my devices to visualize thoughts and topics before writing an article or preparing research for a podcast episode. I’ve been a fan of MindNode for years, and I was particularly impressed with version 3.0, which brought a new iOS 7 design alongside more intuitive interactions, better iCloud sync, and keyboard shortcuts.

Today’s 3.1 update, available on the App Store, features an entirely new sidebar for your mindmap outline that replaces the app’s old popover. The advantage of the sidebar approach is immediately clear on the iPad, and especially in landscape mode: with the new version, you can keep the map and sidebar open at the same time, tapping on items in the outline to select the respective node on the map (and vice versa).

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MindNode 3 for iOS [Sponsor]

MindNode makes mind mapping easy. Mind maps are a visual representation of your ideas, starting with a central thought and growing from there. This allows you to brainstorm and organize your thoughts in an intuitive way, so you can focus on the idea behind it.

MindNode 3 for iOS was just released and it comes with a completely new user interface designed for iOS 7. New features like MyMindNode - a service that allows you to embed your MindMaps on any website - and iCloud folder integration mean sharing your documents between all your devices has never been easier.

I’ve been using MindNode for years and I’m a fan of version 3.0 (my review). What I like about MindNode is that Smart Layout makes it easy to build large maps without having to worry about rearranging nodes, and the beautiful new default theme on iOS 7 looks great on the iPhone and iPad. In the new version, MindNode also supports keyboard shortcuts on the iPad: this allows me to create a map in a few minutes like on my Mac while retaining the iOS app’s handy Inspector menu. I rely on MindNode to organize topics for my longer articles and reviews, and I highly recommend it.

MindNode 3 for iOS is available on the App Store.


MindNode 3

MindNode 3

MindNode 3

When I’m writing for MacStories, I tend to prepare articles as outlines in Evernote, where I’ll also throw in some images and hyperlinks. For pieces that are focused on a single subject (like an app review, a tutorial, or an opinion piece), the simple outline system works well because Evernote can keep everything in one place and show inline previews.

For longer articles that require deeper research and span a variety of topics, however, I like mind maps. Since I was in middle school and especially in high school, I got used to remember topics by creating mind maps (“concept maps”, as our teachers called them) with pen and paper for classes like History, Ancient Greek, English Literature, or Philosophy. Back then I had no iPhone or iPad and the school’s computers were some cheap Pentium 4s that the school administration couldn’t upgrade due to lack of regional funds, so I spent hours drawing little boxes and coloring them with highlighters. I made hundreds of them over the years.

When my brain has to jump from point to point several times and a text outline isn’t enough, I like the visual approach of mind maps. And in the modern age, unless I need specific advanced features of iThoughts, I usually open MindNode – IdeasOnCanvas’ app for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. MindNode for iOS gets the 3.0 treatment today with a major update that redesigns the app, makes it iOS 7-only, adds new features, and cleans up some old ones while staying free for existing customers. Read more

Sponsor: MindNode

My thanks to IdeasOnCanvas for sponsoring MacStories this week with MindNode.

MindNode is an easy to use and elegant mind mapping app for iOS and OS X. With a clutter-free interface, MindNode lets you brainstorm and connect ideas on an infinitely expanding canvas that can hold as many ideas as you like. MindNode’s focus on simplicity allows you to easily move between “nodes” and mark the most important ones with bold text or bigger font sizes.

MindNode has been one of my favorite apps for a long time. I don’t use iCloud much, but I found MindNode’s implementation to be extremely reliable at keeping my maps in sync across my iPhone and iPad, allowing me to start jotting down thoughts on one device and finish on the other. Whenever someone asks me for a mind mapping app recommendation, I personally mention MindNode because it’s been a great tool for me.

Find out more about MindNode here.

MindNode 2.1

MindNode 2.1

One of my favorite apps for iOS, MindNode, has been updated this morning to version 2.1. Devoid of the iCloud integration that was previously teased on the developers’ website (iCloud continues to be a problem for several developers), the new version still sports some great improvements that will dramatically increase my usage of MindNode, especially on the iPad.

With Retina-ready graphics, 200% zoom level, and a new visual style, browsing and editing mind maps in MindNode now looks better than ever. I don’t rely on MindNode for the attractiveness of its graphics though, which is why I am welcoming the possibility of sending documents to other iOS apps installed on a device. Similar to the sharing menu The Omni Group has been using for quite some time in OmniOutliner for iPad, the new MindNode lets you export maps as FreeMind, PNG, text, OPML, or PDF documents. Automatically recognizing third-party iOS apps capable of receiving such files through the “Open in…” menu, MindNode 2.1 allows me to pass along maps as OPML files to CarbonFin’s Outliner or iThoughts HD, or send them as simple text files to my preferred text editor. Because MindNode can also open documents from any Dropbox folder, outlines I had already created in Outliner can easily be “visualized” and edited in MindNode. iOS could use a better way to let apps access the same version of a file, but with a plethora of importing and exporting options MindNode 2.1 provides a decent solution for now.

MindNode 2.1 comes with other bug fixes, and it retains the same simple-yet-powerful text entry and manipulation workflow of the previous versions. MindNode for iOS is $9.99 on the App Store.