Thursday, June 21, 2007

MindManager, Performance, and Other Issues

For gathering new, complex, and broad areas of knowledge I found mind maps to be a very efficient tool. Although drawing on paper is often faster, an electronic version has it's advantages, too. As a product I use MindManager.

I have been using MindManager from MindJet for a several years now. Performance has always been an issue, but admittedly the featureset has improved over time. Each time there was a new version the company promised that the performance issue would be addressed.

I can't remember which version I started with. I upgraded several times, and currently the version number is 6.2.399 Service Pack 2. The performance with a map of reasonable size is poor. My laptop has no CPU usage, no I/O, plenty of free memory, and no network activity. When pressing the "Insert" key to add a new topic, it is as if the product doesn't do anything at all. It can take many, many seconds until it does something.

Of course I did complain to technical support. The people were very responsive. They suggested to switch off hardware acceleration for the graphics adapter. I tried that, and it helps. Sometimes.

Some observations:

  • Suggesting to switch off hardware acceleration is basically like saying "Yes, sure did you buy the Ferrari, but adding our add-on allows for driving in first gear only." I didn't pay for a laptop with graphics hardware acceleration just to hear from a software vendor that I shouldn't use parts of it. That's not what I would call protection of my existing investments.
  • Why is it that other software vendors are able to write software that has no issue with hardware acceleration?
  • When I disconnect from the network and/or run the computer with batteries, the performance becomes even worse. I have had instances where MindManager didn't respond to user input for 15 minutes or more. By then I decided to kill the program. What has the network to do with graphics hardware acceleration?

A more "minor" issue is the function "Balance Map". If I could only figure out, what it is good for... When I click it, it rearranges the topics, but I can't find that the map is more balanced... Usually I have to print it on larger sheets, or I have to use a zoom of 38% instead of 50% or so.

Now, MindJet has made available version 7, and they encourage me to upgrade. Of course I have to pay for the upgrade. Why should I trust them that the tool has really been improved? Why should I pay for an upgrade if I cannot even get the existing version in a status that allows me to fully use it?

Given my experience I might just go for an open source tool or try a competitor. Maybe there are competitive cross-update offerings... Maybe I try FreeMind. They even claim that their software is faster to use than MindManager.

2 comments:

kylesmcfarlin said...

Manfred,

I would give the trial version of MindManager 7 a whirl before going away from Mindjet. A lot of users are reporting that speed has increased significantly for them with the new offering.

Jin Chun said...

no offense, but I haven't had performance problems with MindManager at all, either with the 6 or latest 7 version. This is while having about a dozen tabs open in firefox, Oracle 10g express running, VMWare with RH running, a cluster of SonicMQ brokers, MyEclipse with a big workspace, and sometime Websphere 5.1 running at the same time on my laptop. Granted, it's tricked out with 4 gigs of physical memory, but still, the only times MindManager has been slow has been when something like Outlook spins the cpu for everything ;-)

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