Concept Maps and Mind Maps with Typed Nodes and Relationships

Why most Concept Maps are visually homogeneous and flat? Most have the same basic visual elements: Ellipses for Concepts and Arrows for Relationships, like in the next sample:

I come from the world of software development, where is very common to do analysis and design using heavy typified diagrams (Flow Charts, E-R, UML, etc.). In these diagrams the objects are visually and easily classified on their predefined shapes, line styles, colors and other graphic elements. Then, why not to do the same visual classification in Concept Maps?  Some may argue that by doing this, the map would become distracting or too complex. But as the Mind Mapping school says: Colors, styles and other graphics elements helps the user to remember better and use most of our brains.

So, now consider a typified yet simple Concept Map:

As you can see, all Concepts have a visual style corresponding to a semantic typification, like a rounded gray rectangle with brown border for the planets, yellow background for the stars and so on. Also, the Relationships are stylized, having two types: Facts as blue arrows and Predictions as segmented green arrows.

Also, this already typified Mind Map shows a common simple appearance:

Now, consider the next visually typified and annotated version of the ‘Astronomic’ Concept Map as shown next.

And the corresponding improved Mind Map in the next sample.

Maybe you could think that having so much information in a map is very confusing instead of helpful. As in most cases, it “depends”… if you have dozens or even hundreds of nodes in your map, you will need to be clear, precise and highlight the charactestics of your information elements. The key point is to have the chance, because not all cases just need a high-level overview, there are complex scenarios where you discuss, analyze or design delicate matters and precise details are required.

Having this in mind, I created ThinkComposer with an emphasis on typification and information details presentation as powerful as you want.

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Web Environment (or Network) Management sample diagram

The next is an example, created with ThinkComposer, of an informal Web Environment Management diagram.

The symbols and connector types are encapsulated in a user defined Domain, that can be reused for creating new diagrams.

The “Access Perspective” folder content is…

You can download the Domain (containing this diagram as template) from here.

Only for very Early Adopters: ThinkComposer public Beta launched.

Finally! I deployed the website for my product ThinkComposer and company (Instrumind Software).

A preliminary and undocumented Beta version is also available.

The documentation about how to use the software will be created and published in the coming weeks.

If you wish, download and use it at your own risk and imagination!

The URL is: http://www.thinkcomposer.com

ThinkComposer is the versatile tool to Express the Challenges, Solutions and Knowledge of your Unique World.

(for Windows 7, Vista and XP)

It can create Concept Maps, Mind Maps, Models and general purpose Diagrams with rich and detailed content.

You can define your own “Domains” creating specialized Concepts and Relationships, considering its symbols, visual style, associativity and structured information.

This Beta will expire on Jan-01-2012, but more versions will come. Stay tuned!