This month we’re taking a look at two productivity packages. Both are fully-featured so what follows is only a general introduction. If you’re interested in finding out more I suggest you download trial versions and use the video tutorials, support documents and user forums to see whether either package might suit your purposes.
Mindjet MindManager 8 for Mac – $249
What is it? A visual project management tool to organise and streamline often complex processes using conventional mind mapping symbols. MindManager
is designed for active collaboration and information sharing and integrates seamlessly with iChat, iCal, Address Book, iWork suite and Microsoft Office.
Who is it for? Organisations and those looking for a tool to improve project planning and information management. MindManager brings together all relevant project information, data and documents into a single map.
How does it work? Select a blank map or one of 16 templates. These mirror the range of projects Mind-Manager can handle, from basic decision-making flowcharts and project planning to event planners, travel planning and to-do lists.
The Project Planner, for example, provides five topics for you – Overview, Schedule, Status, Budget and Resources – with three common sub-topics attached to each.
If you’re starting from scratch, a blank canvas with a single central topic appears. Type in the project title and you’re away. Add topics and subtopics from a simple menu and drag them round the page into the order you want.
Add new subtopics to existing subtopics to create deeper levels. Drag items freely to new positions. Create a floating topic for an unrelated but interesting idea or use a callout to provide extra information.
As the project grows, zoom in to the detail or zoom out for a wider perspective. Add a hyperlink to any item in the map to link to a URL, an email address or an external file. Use the Boundaries or Relationship tool to provide visual links between elements in your map.
You can share these maps via iChat or as an email attachment.
The wrap. MindManager is relatively easy to use if you need to bring clarity and focus into your project planning. Buy it from mindjet.com.
DEVONthink Pro Office 2.0 – US$149.95 (about $162)
What is it? A personal information management tool. DEVONthink Pro Office 2.0 stores, analyses, organises, and archives documents using Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Who is it for? Mainly those who need to collect and manage large amounts of data, often in different formats.How does it work? Begin by creating an empty database and importing documents of any common type.
Some of the things you can use it for: Analysing text documents to find related material, archiving emails or print documents, cataloguing disk collections, photos or MP3 collections, collecting text snippets, managing your bookmarks, reading and storing newsfeeds and taking notes.
A transparent widget lurks on your desktop even when the program is not open to pop any new data or notes into. With an appropriate scanner you can import documents as fully searchable PDF files to your database.
DEVONthink is not merely a passive organisation tool. You can create fully featured documents in the program itself. The interface is fully customisable.
The wrap. Cheaper versions with fewer features are also available. Some learning curve is involved. Buy it from devon-technologies.com.
This article originally appeared in the June issue of Australian Macworld magazine.