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Annual Report 2017 Insights: Multi-Tool Mapping

The results of our Annual Mind Map Survey are always published in our Annual Report. One of the reasons we publish this is to provide a conversation starter for members of our community, and the wider world of mind mapping. We propose no definitive answers or explanations here, but instead try to share some interesting data, and the occasional reflection!

That is also what we try to do with our blogs!

This week, we're looking at one particular statistic which we found rather interesting:

More than 30% of mind mappers are using more than 1 mind mapping software.

This is a MUCH higher percentage than we expected from this question, and the survey data suggests that many people feel that no single tool is currently satisfying all of the requirements they have for a mind mapping application.

This sparks two main questions with us: Why is one application not good enough? What's the reason behind multi-tool mind mapping?

Surely one software is enough to fulfil your mind mapping needs? Well, it would appear not!

Based on the surveys we have conducted of the users of mind mapping software, as well as on our closed Facebook groups, plus numerous conversations with developers of visual mapping tools, here are a few perspectives we have gained.

Why is one mind mapping software not good enough?

Well, we don’t think it is a matter of how good a tool is, but what user prefer. You could easily work with one mind mapping software for your whole life because it works for you and you like it.

However, the way in which we work has changed over the years and we’re now seeing an increase in ‘on the go’ working, and new innovative applications and appliances on which to work. In this respect, one mind mapping software isn’t good enough because of accessibility and compatibility. As of yet, there is not one single mind map software which combines all features and does ‘everything’, so naturally we’re going to see multi-tool mapping occurring.


It seems that some users need or want a different style or appearance of mind map for different situations, and no single software is covering all of the aesthetic needs at present. They are therefore choosing their software use (and combo) based on what the mind map needs to look like.

Indeed, if you were to select a handful of mind maps from the Biggerplate library, you'll see that visually they are all very different- and that's because our community like having different mind map 'appearances'!


Whether it's because you're a PC at work and Mac at home, or because you want to easily move maps between your iPad and your laptop... it seems many users still do not feel that there is one application that truly sits comfortably and consistently across all platforms and devices, which means they need a combination in order to work where and how they want.


Several participants mention difficulties in sharing maps with others (colleagues, clients etc) who use different mind map software, which may not be compatible with their own. The result? Multiple software applications are needed in order to create maps in the correct format for others!

A number of users also mention collaborative features (or lack of) as another reason why they may choose to combine certain tools, if for example their favourite desktop tool lacks a web based option for working collaboratively with their team.

Where syncing is concerned, mind mapping is one of those activities you can do anytime, anywhere unless the file you were working with doesn’t sync across platforms or devices. A good mind mapping app should allow you to start building your mind map on your Mac and pick up on your iOS device (or vice versa). However as we know, not all mind mapping software allows this, thus users need to find software which adapts to their particular/preferred device(s) accordingly.


Interestingly, the trial and testing of mind map software plays an important part in knowing which software fulfils your needs. As silly as it may sound, but quite a lot of users take advantage of the free software trials before making a decision on which they settle for. Or, they may decide not to purchase mind mapping software at all! Mind mapping software are competing with each other on a price level, too, and some people may not be looking to invest in mind mapping software. This further contributes to the reason why multi-tool mapping is prominent in our community- not all mappers have settled on their preferred tool and are taking advantage of the free software.

Finally, it's good to be able to show off multiple software to beginners!

Even if you are not a mind map trainer or seller, you surely get those interested looks from mind map novices who want to know more about this great tool. Some people we spoke to said they like to have more than one software available to demonstrate to others the different uses and features.

Of course, this is by no means a definitive answer or explanation as to why multi-tool mind mapping exists, but they are interesting insights we have gained from our ever-growing mind map community.

So how do we explain the reasons behind multi-tool mapping? It really comes down to two main factors:

Uses: As suggested in our annual report, mind map uses are varied and each software doesn’t necessarily have the capacity to respond to these uses with the same efficiency. It is of course thus indispensable to be able to navigate between several tools sometimes.

Users: According to our Annual Report, most users are either people who work in Professional Services (coaching, consulting, training, etc.) and people who work in technology (developers, technicians, programmers, etc.). These jobs involve working with a multitude of different clients with a need for flexibility.

Are you one of the 30% of mind mappers who use more than one software? Why? Share your thoughts with us!

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Ruth manages our global mind mapping community: sharing news, stories, and updates! Community Manager de la communauté mondiale des mind mappers; je gère le contenu et marketing !
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