Saturday, June 20, 2009

3D Maps using 3D TopicScape Pro

    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.

Learning Mind Map created with 3D TopicScape Pro 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.

Hit List for the above Mind Map 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. Personal Topicscape, sample 2D Mind Map available with 3D TopicScape Pro 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.


  1. Yes, this is indeed one of those visual mapping products that either draws you to it or repels you. Roy Grubb is an interesting professional who is self driven and gifted to the nth degree when it comes to further development of Topicscape.
    I have great difficulty with the pyramid stuff but the power of the product is in the database capabilities, and this is what most of the other products lack regarding managing data. The Personal Brain would be the nearest competitor to Topicscape, I can't live without the Personal Brain, it is clear however that Topicscape is as powerful as its nearest competitor.

  2. Hi Adrian,

    Good review.

    I do think there's something you may have missed though: Topicscape is an information organizer and all the cones and pyramids are there to hold documents. I've been using it as a personal knowledge management tool for a couple of years - maybe more - used to use TheBrain but found I much preferred Topicscape.

    It's great for information management, but I wouldn't use it to make mind maps. Like you, I prefer 2D maps for that.

    Did you discover that you can instantly view the small cones from close up, read the text, and then zoom out? And that you can centre the map around any topic?

    I find it entirely practical to build enormous maps of thousands of topics to organize my reference and project information - trying to do that in 2D is a nightmare that I struggled with for years. TheBrain is the only one that comes close, which is why I used it for a while, but I found Topicscape to have the edge in visibilty of all my material.

    Vic Gee
    The master list of mind mapping &
    information management software

  3. Hi Vic,

    nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;thank you for your inputs and I apologize for my late answer. Only now I observed the comments, I expected to be notified as soon somebody wrotes something on my blog. Most probably I missed a configuration setting.

    nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;Yes, by looking at the existing examples I observed it can be used also to organize documents, though, as visual tool, I analyzed it more from the "mind mapping" perspective. You are totally right!

    nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;I haven't used any visual tool similar to Topicspace in order to manage documents, but a few old fashioned document management systems.

    nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;As Mind/Knowledge Map tool I prefer CMapTools, it's easy to use and can handle enormous maps, it allows to export the Maps to an XML file which can be further processed with XPath or LINQ.

    nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;During my research for my Dissertation paper I observed your blog, I found it quite interesting, full of useful information.

    Thank you!

    Best regards,