Improvement idea (cooperation over network)

  • Tomas Janku

    Tomas Janku - 2009-11-16

    As GoogleWave is coming out and I'm looking for a topic for my university software project I came with the though of adding cooperative editing over network to FreeMind.
    The idea is quite simple and it is inspired by GoogleDocs/Wave.
    Mulitple users connect to a session and start editing the same mind-map/set of maps in the same manner as googledocs (whenever a node is edited, it's content is blocked for other users and they watch in real-time (pseudo) the changes made to the node). After a confirmation the content is changed and automaticaly updated to all session users.
    There would of course be some synchronization and integration problems, but I believe this (in conjunction with some chat/voice-like system (Skype perhaps) might definitely improve some fields of Freeminds usage.
    As for you, the actual developers community, I would like to hear your comments on this mostly for the potential this might have or the idea sucks.
    Also any comments on "why this might not be possible with the current state of the FreeMind system" are welcome as well as links/notes about currently used solutions/plugins that provide this functionality (to be honest didn't find those).
    I just started looking at the source so I'm not so sure this is even possible to achieve.

  • John McDermott

    John McDermott - 2009-11-16

    I don't want to discourage your FreeMind involvement, but check out the wave Mind Map Gadget. It is not FreeMind *per se*, but it will have many of the same features. Maybe you can work with that author. His current early version seems to look good.

  • Tomas Janku

    Tomas Janku - 2009-11-17

    Well I have looked at the gadget (didn't try it for I don't have a GW account yet), but is seemed like it didn't allow multiple users editing the same mindmap simultaneously - although GW allows that for every message posted (as far as I know, what GW allows you to do is every user in the wave create a post and they can edit simultaneously their own posts so I'm not sure that editing the "gadget" mind map would automaticaly work - if anyone tried that, please post your comment).

    Another thing is that when working over GW you are sort of using the Google servers (which might not be a bad thing) but some users might prefer a peer2peer direct connection (for example when developing/brainstorming in an enterprise over LAN with some potentialy confidential information).

    As for today there are some web based mind mapping products that offer this functionality but (as far as I know) no open-source client-based ones. Also the gadget enables you to import/export mind maps generated by FreeMind, but it's like working with 2 separate files and it somehow excludes the usage of freemind for who would use freemind if he could use MindMap Gadget instead (also should work in offline mode as many Google-based stuff does).

    My base idea was to let this functionality FreeMind directly have by a "create/join session" menu option that would establish the connection between various participant nodes (ideally without the need to have a specialized server, more of peer2peer-like or by using some distributed-hashing algorithms). If that was integrated into FreeMind, it would allow the users to use the same stuff FreeMind offers and not only some subset of it (I really have some doubts that the GW MM gadget would support the img/latex/… nodes).

    Anyway this is just an idea for I'm in need of a university project and I really admit it might be completely lame - so please let me know.
    Also any comments on the topic are absolutely welcome (positive/negative/ideas).

    I agree that since some other products offer this functionality it might be against the KISS (keep it simple stupid) design methodology, but I believe the benefits of FreeMinds own solution might overpower the arguments.

  • Tomas Janku

    Tomas Janku - 2009-11-17

    As for the "jabber" collaborative toolset I read about it but couldn't find anything about it (just some forum topis, etc.). So I would appreciate any information you might know about whether it is still in development or it's a dead project (some last notes about it I found were the 2005 release&comments and then an improvement request on 2006, but that's like 3 years already).

  • Antonimo

    Antonimo - 2009-11-17

    I'm afraid I have not used the Jabber Collaboration for a long time.

    I did use it a few years ago and I remember that it was fairly useful. I am sorry that I cannot be more helpful regarding this tool

  • John McDermott

    John McDermott - 2009-11-17

    Check out  for a video and discussion of the gadget. It does indeed allow collaboration. I think it is great that you want to port freemind (and it will take some work), but maybe collaboration is a better approach. Just my $0.02.


  • Tomas Janku

    Tomas Janku - 2009-11-17

    Don't wory, I read Bruces' blog … I haven't looked at the implementation though but I believe since the GoogleWave is a standalone tool all it does is import a XML file describing the mindmap (standart FreeMind *.mm file), interpret it using a DOX/SAX parser and by the usage of GWT create a GUI to manipulate the XML file - with the usage of GoogleWave API for automatic synchronization of multi-users (but I'm not sure about that hence I didn't have the opportunity to try it).

    I dont want to be skeptic about GoogleWave, but this looks to me like a new buzz technology that will be used by some and will fadeout after a year or so (as many web technology does - as an example GoogleReader or GoogleDocs which are not as succesfull as they should be). The fact is that the implementation is GoogleWave specific and if it shows out that GW is not the right web-app some new and more featurefull app wil raise and a new tool for mind mapping will need to be created.

    Also there is this "google ownership of GoogleWave" I might be a little bit concerned about - I haven't studied their users policy for it (for it's not an official release yet) but I somehow doubt it will be completely free to use for whatever stuff you want (like GoogleCode where there is quite a strict policy about what stuff it can be used for).

    To me having this included into the FreeMind open-source project is a much more free choice that I believe is worth trying. With the GoogleWave MindMapping Gadget the situation would be completely different if for example you could use FreeMind to edit the mindmap directly on the GoogleWave and vice versa - but I believe that's not gonna happen soon. Also a lot of plugins and gadgets for other systems is used for MindMap handling that can use the FreeMind mind map file format (Wiki,Trac plugins, some web-based mind-mapping sw, etc.) and hence these provide a lot of nice features, people still use the FreeMind client.

    So the question is: "Why should we use 3 tools in sequence for a job when 1 might just do ?" (as far as there's no other on the market :-) )

    "I rest my case … please take me to my cell !"
    (still I hope to get some comments from you - developer comments are most welcome)


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