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.