Should FreeMind development be continued?

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  • Dimitry Polivaev


    for a long time FreeMind was an ultimate open source mind map editor. Now we got XMind with comparable set of features, is freely available and commercially developed.

    You can download XMind at

    Do we still need FreeMind? Should its development be continued? Why?

    I just want to ask your opinion.

    Best regards,

    FreeMind developer,
    Freeplane project lead.

    • Nick Kloski

      Nick Kloski - 2008-12-19

      Hi Dmitry,

      As one of the developers involved in FreeMind, what things do you see Freemind doing better than Xmind? 

    • Steve Brettell

      Steve Brettell - 2008-12-20

      Freemind is more compact and efficient than xmind.  I've been playing with Xmind for a little while, and it takes up a LOT of room, both in memory and in output.  I think freemind, while not as fancy looking as Xmind is a more usable system at this point in both programs' development.


    • Ian Lewis

      Ian Lewis - 2008-12-20

      What I find interesting is how a new tool (Xmind) tries to take over an existing community. As I understand it was a commercial tool that has gone opensource (I assume because it saw dwindling income). I've just looked at it and am impressed by the fishbone/project mgmt/organisation chart (of course just hierarchical structures, with style/symbols) but of course for the really sexy stuff you have to pay.

      I also use CMAP & yEd for non-hierarchical structure diagrams.

      Call me old-fashioned (must be my age 53) but I have developed a loyalty to a community product  - just as with firefox/thunderbird - I'm not going to leap to the next new thing just because it looks good.

      Freemind beta is really good for what I want/need - I'm a Lila-quality minded type.
      Xmind gives the community some free design work - how to leverage it into the roadmap seems the question that comes to mind.


    • Murray Wiseman

      Murray Wiseman - 2008-12-20

      I tried XMind briefly. Here are the things that I didn't like.

      -XMind doesn't remember where you were. With FreeMind you can be deep in the map and arrow back to the root node, orienting yourself. Then you can arrow forward and FreeMind will take you back along the same path to exactly where you were. I find this ability a big help. (I wish that FreeMind Flash Browser also had it.)

      -XMind doesn't have left alignment of the the text inside nodes. All text is centered.

      I will stay with FreeMind.


    • Christian Foltin


      Dimitry, please stop such destructive discussions here.
      Did you stop your (invisible?) dev of "FreePlane" inmediately?

      I like the presence of alternatives to FreeMind, this is not a reason to stop it. Every tool has its pros and cons.

      Currently the only developer of FreeMind.

      • Eric L.

        Eric L. - 2008-12-20

        Hi Chris,

        I do not agree with you, it's not a destructive discussion: would XMind be better in all aspects than Freemind/Freeplane, it would be a valid move to stop the development and join effort.

        And, yes, we have the same kind of discussion within the Freeplane team, in a very open and constructive manner, I must say.


        • Christian Foltin

          Hi Eric,

          but thus, you are starting to help a company to enhance their business. Not acceptable, IMHO.

          In fact, I'm happy with many different tools, and I would be unhappy to support only one tool (whoever it'd be). As I said: every tool is different and this is pretty ok. There are more than one pure text editor, too.

          Greetings, Chris

          • Ryan Wesley

            Ryan Wesley - 2008-12-21

            Hi Chris,

            I agree with this. It is more or less what I wrote elsewhere.

            Kind regards,

          • Eric L.

            Eric L. - 2008-12-21

            Hi Chris,

            after re-reading, the wording from Dimitri might have sound too defeatist, but actually, reading it carefully once again, I think it was rather equilibrated, perhaps too equilibrated for someone who has put so much effort in FreeMind ;-)

            Anyway, XMind didn't get pushed, rather the contrary happened, as we have got an overwhelmingly positive (for FreeMind) reaction from our users, and this is positive for the project at different levels:

            1. we don't loose silently users to "better" products.
            2. users, without testing XMind, know what they have to expect.
            3. we get a feedback on most wanted features, some we have (performance, not saying it couldn't be improved), and some we haven't (looking nice).
            4. I found it overall quite a motivating exercise, and we should repeat it for each new product someone throws at us.

            Cheers, Eric

      • Ryan Wesley

        Ryan Wesley - 2008-12-21

        Hi Chris,

        I understand how you could interpret Dimitry's message in this way. But to add to what Eric said, I think there has been a genuine misunderstanding. Dimitry did send the same message to the Freeplane list - and we were all quite surprised that a company can just jump into this market with its big, commercially developed app. FreeMind is still better, though. ;-)

        Kind regards,

      • TheBusinessSage

        TheBusinessSage - 2008-12-21

        Hi Chris,

        I too like toi use a number of tools based around the job at hand.

        I have also found that FreeMind is an excellent program that allows the user to "get the job done" without worrying about the "presentation" which can be adjusted.

        I would not like to see the development of FreeMind halted as I find the ease at which information / toughts can be captulated is what keeps me using the program. I must also say that I promote the product where I can.



        • Quinbus

          Quinbus - 2008-12-21

          I've been playing around with Xmind now for about a week and, like many things in this life, external appearances sometimes mislead.

          The program *is* pretty and has some features that are nice.

          But it's a hog.

          I was using it tonight to build a large text-heavy map and the further I went the more bogged down my computer became; screen graphic refresh fell behind and at one point the map disappeared and could only be restored by quitting Xmind and reopening the file.

          It doesn't really matter if something is pretty or not.  If it doesn't discharge it's prime directive, it's worthless.

          And the fact that a product once sold for $150 doesn't mean anything either.  There are ladies all over the world in police holding cells that are proof of this :O)

          Freemind is clearly needed and valuable.

          If Xmind open source offers any benefit to furthering FM development, great.  But there's no way X trumps FM in my short experience!

          Keep it up, guys!  FM forever!


    • andres

      andres - 2008-12-20

      1) Xmind introduces itself as an open source program. In practice, it is a commercial program with a couple of "open source" modules, a sort of those hundreds (or maybe thousands) freeware that offer a free second (third, etc.) rate version of their program. Look a this: the comercial version (what I would call simply the program) includes export to PDF files, an essential feature with widespread use that is not included in the "open source"version: you must thus pay to export to PDF !! Incredible. And the same with other features, e.g. audio notes. I won't be surprised if Microsoft and other commercial suppliers of software soon begin to adopt this sort of business model of "open source" with own captive community of users; I find interesting what I. Lewis says above: "how a new tool (Xmind) tries to take over an existing community."
      Xmind competitor is, in this sense, not Freemind but MindjetManager. And there is no question that this last program is -currently, at least- far superior to Xmind.
      2) It is not only in terms of market that Xmind is different from Freemind. I feel the whole approach is different: Mindjet Manager and its little brothers are oriented towards presentation; I personally find Freemind more oriented towards the act of thinking itself. I mention some characteristics as proof:
      a) in Freemind you can very quickly take notes, etc., everything that comes to mind, in a sort of graphical database, in situations for which the abundant and flamboyant features of programs like Mindjet Manager become rather cumbersome. The fancy looks are in this case not so fancy for the mind. I totally agree with what S. Bretell says above: "it takes up a LOT of room, both in memory and in output ... Freemind is more compact and efficient than xmind".
      b) the graphical interface of Freemind lacks some features, something it has been pointed out in these fora. But it has an enormous advantage: the flexibility to move the nodes without being constrained into a rigid scheme of symmetrically placed nodes. And this helps in the process of quickly write down your thoughts, tasks, etc. (floating nodes can even be advantageously replaced by ad-hoc nodes in Freemind: you can always create as many provisional nodes as you want, in every place of the map with invisible links and graphical ones).
      No doubt that Freemind should be improved (I would like, for instance, moreadvanced note taking features, labes on links,  more varied node edges, etc., and specially integration with other open source programs so as OpenOffice, Zotero, etc.). I think Freemind is just now more needed than ever because it offers something the others don't and can be improved. After two years of using Freemind, tired of the cumbersome abundance of Mindjet manager, I wouldn't like to go back to it and even less switch to its little brother.

    • Ronald Künemund


      I'm using FreeMind for several years now for all my projects and also as daily task list together with my PDA. One of the most advantages for me is, that the FreeMind mind maps are fully compatible with many freeware PDA software relying on the FreeMind data format. The very best of all (FreeYourMind -\) can even support notes and encryption and is under continous development.
      As far as I know, there is no other mind map tool that has this PDA compatability.

      A further reason for me to use FreeMind and not some other mind mapping tool is the exchangability with the colleagous in our company. Many are using FreeMind for presentations and we can share the files without data conversion.

      So, please carry on!
      I wish you and the complete development team Merry Christmas and a happy and successful new year.
      Many thanks to you all for the support so far.

    • samos29

      samos29 - 2008-12-20


      Freemind is the only mind mapping non-online software that has really the "open-source spirit". several integrations (latex, scripts, java export, flash export). Xmind doesn't.

      It's easy for me to say that Freemind's project MUST continue : I don't know programming !!

      Freemind is one of the master on the MindMapping's software scene, and there are lots of things to do ("sexier" interface, easiest way to integrate picture, possibility to add non-linked node (a lot of Freemind users ask for it ;-) ),....).

    • scf_code

      scf_code - 2008-12-21

      Open debate and argument is healthy, but my support goes to Chris F.

      Freemind is an excellent opensource program and I know I would be saddened if it were to disappear.

      Keep going Chris, you have a lot of supporters!!



      • Steve Brettell

        Steve Brettell - 2008-12-21

        Or worse than disappearing, just stagnate.  Orphan programs get harder and harder to use and just fade away.  Becoming a curiosity because no one know how to really use it.

    • Wolfgang

      Wolfgang - 2008-12-21

      I have been working with freemind for several years.
      I have been sweatening to learn some XSLT
      I have used freemind to write 'papers' in latex or html
      I have been writing anayzer software in perl for the .mm-files
      I have even learned to import Mindmanager-Mindmaps into freemind by simple use of the menu :-(
      And  now I'm wondering whether a senior when starting as a junior programmer with java is considered a senior or a junior?

      And last not least, I even showed my kids how to do a mindmap with freemind

      And you think you get rid of me that easy? :-)
      Forget it.

          a happy user

    • Meccano2006

      Meccano2006 - 2008-12-22

      Competition is good.

      I am actively testing Xmind and I see a lot of good things that I wish I could have in Freemin. e.g-

      - very pleasant look, great in corporate environment
      - drill down on a specific topic making it center of a new map with a singly keystroke
      - floating topics
      - icon legends


      I can also see many good things that belongs only to Freemind

      - truly free
      - speed
      - its great spirit
      - better export features

      I do not see any reason to stop Freemind development while I see many to speed it up! I wish the time for implementing new features can be long did it take to go from 0.8 to 0.9?

      Then, why not implementing in Freemind the good things of Xmind?


    • Ian Lewis

      Ian Lewis - 2008-12-22

      I did some backward-engineering of a Xmind diagram (file is a zip file, xml diagram spec & other files).

      Adding the following features to freemind would expand it in an interesting direction (for me)
      - multiple floating tree nodes on page
      - tree node has template style (mindmap, spreadsheet, Project Status, fishbone, pie chart - see my favorite site for a super list of possible diagram types)
      - non tree nodes

      I'm sure these have been suggested before, I will try and look carefully at the wiki and make the relevant comments at the correct place. Thus becoming an active community member in 2009, after using mindmapping for I so long I don't remember.


      • Rigel

        Rigel - 2008-12-25

        In my experience with java, embedding outside data, can become cumbesome and slow, as the program written doesn't do the embedding, or translation, it's all done by the Java Interpereter.

        Every image, has to be converted into a bitmap, and then displayed, every time

        Every sound file has to be converted to wav, and then played, every time

        Every font has to be converted to match the Java spec.

        The littany of import complications of java  go on add infinitum

        I wouldn't want to program those things into the program, even if I could. There are other applications that do a far better job. OpenOffice has a viewer app, and so does MS office, and they run just about as quickly as the picture viewer in xp


    • Alex Krupp

      Alex Krupp - 2008-12-22

      Haven't tried XMind, but I find that other mind mapping programs generally aren't well suited to creating anything beyond very small maps that don't require much folding. Even a relatively small like this would be very hard to do with most other software:

      I have several maps with thousands of nodes of text. These maps aren't things I use for one-off presentations, they're a way for me to organize my thinking, my learning, and my writing. I use FreeMind because it allows me to do this, and because it uses an open data format that is future proof. Please don't discontinue work on FreeMind!

      • Edmund Laugasson shows the following message:
        Flash plugin or Javascript are turned off. Activate both and reload to view the mindmap

        At the same time about:plugins shows Java and Flash very well and also other websites requiring Java/Flash, are working.

        Firefox 3.0.5, JRE 1.6.0_07 and Adobe Flashplugin 10.0 r15 are used under Kubuntu Linux 8.04.1 LTS.

        • Alex Krupp

          Alex Krupp - 2008-12-25

          I'm also running FF 3.0.5 and it works fine for me. I'm not sure why it would be doing that. Maybe one of your FF extensions is messing it up? I have no idea.

          In any case, you should be able to go to and grab the file directly.

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