I found a great program about a year ago. It is a 3 Dimensional mind mapping and project management program called Topicscape (www.topicscape.com ). At the time Topicscape was still in a public beta stage and hadn’t been released for sales yet, but it had lots of potential. Within a couple months they officially launched Topicscape 1.0 and they have been realizing that early potential with new improvements ever since.
Topicscape is unique for many reasons, chief among those reasons is its three-dimensional mind mapping user interface.
Navigation in Topicscape
This program is fun to drive! It’s intuitive, and it’s easy and it drives like a video game.
One of the purposes of this software is to help convey what words can not always deliver efficiently. So I have prepared several little video demonstrations of the product. They show navigational capabilities of the program at work first in slow motion and then at full speed. Then I demonstrate how to make a Topicscape mindmap. Finally, I show how a simple feature can help you rapidly find the information in a mindmap that you are looking for in a way that no 2 dimensional mindmapping software can compete with well.
Note. The first two videos are excerpts from the demo that comes with both versions of the program. Any granularity you might notice results from the streaming of video across the internet and the compression of files by video sharing services. The quality in the executable demo program available from Topicscape is far superior. It shows you how to fly around in Topicscape and move your 2 dimensional mindmaps and projects into a new realm.
As you can imagine, my ‘two-dimensional’ words just don’t do the program justice.
Topicscape Navigation in Slow Motion
Topicscape at full Speed
Creating a Topicscape 3D Mindmap
Finding the Needle in a Haystack Quickly with Quick Zoom
Who is this program for?
Brand new and seasoned MindMappers can get a lot of use out of a 3d mindmapping tool.
The software is excellent for organizing information for many types of users including:
- To do lists
- Resource Information
- Business Plan Components
- Research Papers, Term Papers and Thesis
- Publishing white papers, blogs, ezines, or even a novel complete with plot lines, character development and background research!
- Genealogy and family tree information too
This tool enables you to gather and organize information. It’s great for breaking down complex topics or diving deep into Web research without getting lost in the details.
This general concept has made mindmapping a very useful tool in Project Management for quite some time and now the 3 dimensional capability added to mind maps strengthens and compliments the benefits significantly. In a system where the goal is to be able to rapidly see the big picture, Topicscape delivers the big pictures with an extra dimension of clarity and understanding within the same sized screen. When you compare a big map in a 2 dimensional map to its imported result in Topicscape, it becomes obvious that this program is evolving to take on a serious role in the world of mindmapping.
Project management is the discipline of organizing and managing resources in such a way that these resources deliver all the work required to complete a project within a defined scope, quality, time and cost constraints. - Wikipedia
Topicscape makes that discipline easier. Its primary purpose is organizing the information, and that organization enables better and faster management of resources, and analysis of the status and scope of projects. Too many project management tools focus on building long lists of tasks to be completed. They make it very difficult for anyone other than the project manager to grasp the big picture of what is going on. Topicscape provides that big picture with all its details in three dimensions.
Evolution of Topicscape
Topicscape initiated almost 2 years ago as a public beta and as I mentioned launched officially last year with version 1.0. Topicscape has gone through two upgrades (since its Public beta which included 5 upgrades) and is currently running on version 1.2.
There are now two versions of Topicscape, the Lite version and the Pro
version. The split occurred after two groups of users emerged and provided more focus about their needs. The first group could be described as the Simplifiers that wanted a big picture view of their to do list and life in general plus they liked mindmapping and the easy interface.
The other half of the split was formed for the Extenders. They wanted to use Topicscape with other software tools and they are getting that now. Plus, Topicscape is continually evolving and they have just released a public beta 1.5, which continues to demonstrate that continued improvement is ongoing with the product.
The Pro Advantage (Over Lite and Over 2d mindmaps!)
Topicscape Pro offers many great features that make this product very worthwhile, even if you already have a passion for a 2 dimensional mindmap. Ther two major advantages that make this software important are:
- The Pro version enables you to connect with programs including Outlook (contacts, calendars notes and more through a URI connection) This enables you to avoid having to maintain useful information in 2 different areas, just make the connection and they will be ‘Livelink’-ed.
- In a two dimensional maps, a map with hundreds or thousands of subtopics becomes too large and difficult to see at a big picture level. It can be almost impossible to find things in very large 2d maps that begin to rely on text search functionality rather than visual navigation. Topicscape solves this problem as the three dimensional capability allows you to Home in on the big picture of the landscape/topicscape. As you need to drill into more details, it only requires a deeper zoom and dive. If people wanted to solely rely on a text search tool from a 2d mindmap to find information(and if that actually worked), they would not need to mindmap in the first place and we might all still be running programs through DOS instead of a GUI!
|This image shows a 3 dimensional view of a complex mindmap. Click to see the disfunctional 2 dimensional map before conversion!|
Solving the Problem of the 2d Mindmap that is too Spread out to View
So if you already have 2d maps, you can just export them into a text file and import them into Topicscape or with the beta straight into and from Freemind maps. This can help you solve the problem of the 2d mindmap that gets too large and needs to be ‘saved’ before it becomes trash. In this regard a Topicscape mindmap is more scalable and has greater longevity than a map in two dimensions.
Topicscape Price more than half of major Mind Map Programs
Either way Topicscape sells at a price point today that is very attractive Topicscape’s 3d mindmapping software is currently discounted half off for early adopters.
- Pro Version on sale for $79.99 down from $149
- Lite Version on Sale for $49.99 down from $99
- or - Upgrade from Lite to Pro $34.99 (if you decide to go for the full package) ~> Total price $84.98
Accessories and other tools
Topicscape also offers several accessories that can enhance the users interface a bit more. For just a few dollars, a user can purchase additional skins essentially alternate environments that overlay your information. Topicscape offers an advanced information search capability that can make it even easier to access and organize complex data structures.
Topicscape is a three-dimensional program and you should check your system before you attempt to run the program. That said I’ve found that it does work relatively well on multiple different systems.
I ran it on a four year old IBM ThinkPad with about 768 MB of RAM that can run the program without any problems whatsoever. I put it through its paces on a new Toshiba Satellite with a true bright screen and a 17 inch display that looks absolutely phenomenal running the software (with Outlook, 40 tabs of Firefox, Dragon Naturally Speaking and Dreamweaver all running too, so I didn’t coddle the program!). Both systems are running XP; I am personally not ready to experiment with Vista’s issues yet.
Topicscape provides tools to check your system and determine if it’s capable of running the program. Plus they provide resources that you can use to upgrade your video drivers if necessary.
I don’t recommend it, but you can just download a free trial and give it a spin. I will admit that I often do just this, download the trial, install it and try it out. That’s not always practical, but sometimes I like to try first and trouble shoot later.