MindNode Pro 1.0.3

The use of mind mapping software is becoming increasingly common in corporate America, but who wants to fork out hundreds of dollars just to create these tangled bubble diagrams at home? Thankfully, you don't have to. At less than $20, Markus Müller's MindNode Pro 1.0.3, is a fun, colorful, and simple-to-use application with a learning curve so shallow even your boss could figure it out.

Part of the reason MindNode Pro is so easy to learn is that there isn't much to it. A 30-second tutorial, and you're off and running. Within 15 minutes, I felt like I knew the program cold.

When you launch MindNode Pro, you'll see a blank screen with a mind map starter bubble, called the root node. Planning a friend's birthday party? Re-label the root note Birthday Party. Drag or click on the plus sign next to the root node to quickly create a child node, and a bubble springs forth, linked with a colored line to its root-node parent. Re-label this node Guest List. Three more plus-sign clicks and you've created three more child nodes into which you can type the names of three invitees (your friend's not very popular).

Congratulations. You're mind-mapping.

Sound easy? It is. The default toolbar contains only five buttons: add node (+), delete node (-), Fonts, Colors, and the Inspector, which enables you to change line styles and background colors. The keyboard shortcuts are just as straightforward.

MindNode Pro scores style points for using thick lines, chunky bubbles, and a hip color palette--not to mention fluid animation each time you create a node. MindNode Pro also allows you to create multiple mind maps within a single document. Just add a new root node.