Today I took the time and played with 3D TopicScape Pro, a nice 3D tool that can be used for Mind and Concept Mapping. 3D TopicScape Pro together with 3D TopicScape Lite, products of TopicScape, can be run on Windows 2000, XP and Vista.
From a first user experience the look and feel is interesting, the tool is easy to use and has a small learning curve, and it includes a few demos which make the learning process easier. The Landscaped Maps seems to be useful for representing several levels of children, though when the number of children is greater than 4-5, the labels are hard to see. The topics are represented as cones (see Figure 1) and to each topic can be attached up to 10 tags, the flagging of topics as important allows easier visual identification.
Figure 1: Learning Mind Map created with 3D TopicScape Pro
The tool offers multiple views – home, full, top, tag pool and hit list, the later offering an historical list of Map’s elements (see Figure 2). It includes several skins, rich editing and configuring features that add a plus to overall usability.
Figure 2: Hit List for the above Mind Map
Frankly I was expecting more from the tool and personally I prefer the 2D version of the Map (see Figure 3), it is less graphically loaded, and the increase border or text size can be used to obtain the same visual contrast as in landscapes. 2D Maps have the advantage that they can be constructed using Visio or PowerPoint, two of the tools used by many IT professionals and managers.
In exchange, I would use a 3D Map for representing weighted Topics, in which cone's size would be proportional with its eight.
Figure 3: Personal Topicscape, sample 2D Mind Map available with 3D TopicScape Pro
The site offers also a collection of more than 1000 Mind Maps which could give you a feeling what Mind Mapping is about. Actually from the TopicScape’s blog I found the link to a nice source for learning how to make a Mind Map.