Temporary free license of XMind plus for student and teachers

XMind is one of several mind-mapping applications. They have a temporary offer for a free student or teacher license, but it expires at the end of may. This offer is worth $79 so well worth a look.

XMind is cross-platform (Windows, OSX, Linux) and is partially open source. The main application is free to use, but for some additional features, there are some non-free editions.

While the free version offers a wide variety of diagram tools and sharing on a website, you need the plus or pro version for export to Word, PPT and PDF. There are some more "business" oriented features that are only available in the Pro edition. Check out the comparison here.

I have been an avid mind-mapper user for a while and did use Freemind for quite some time. This is still available as Open Source, written in Java, so it runs on Windows, OSX and Linux.

While I've turned more and more to use Evernote for note taking (as it syncs between laptop at work, iMac at home and my iPhone), it doesn't offer an integrated mind-mapping tool.

For me the strength with using a mind-mapping system is the ease of folding out and in complex topics, to get to the essence. It is very useful when preparing an article or longer text, as you can play around with the outline of your document before commiting to a particular structure or order.

The strength of mind-mapping for note taking can only be reached, however, when you master the keyboard shortcuts. Adding leaves and navigating around the tree need to be done almost blindly, without needed the mouse for most operations.