Part 2. MM4XL Tools > 3. Charts and Maps > Mind Mapping > Working with Project Mapping

Project Mapping

Working with Project Mapping

A map consists of three elements: the main shape (in the center of the map), the branches, and the connecting lines, called connectors. Each part of a map can be modified, and the many available options allow the creation, in only a few minutes, of widely varied map styles that not only enable the effective communication of information, but also function as a comprehensive storage system for documents relating to the same project.

Enriching Maps

The appearance and position of the elements in a map can be modified in two basic ways:

  • Right-mouse clicking on an element opens a pop-up menu with a few basic options.

Mind Mapping Software for Concept and Project Management

  • Left-mouse clicking on an element opens a form, from which the selected elements can be modified.

Mind Mapping Software for Concept and Project Management

Formatting single elements

Left-mouse clicking on the main shape in the middle of a map (labeled Main Idea in the example pictured below), will open a form where changes can be made to the appearance of the selected element. The form consists of two pages: Settings and Additional. All available options are detailed below.

Form page settings

There are two main sections to this page: Branch and Appearance.

In the Branch frame, at the top of the page, the Text box can be used to add labels to branchesthe text will subsequently be displayed on the map. When, as in this example, the selected branch is the maps main branch, check the Is main symbol option. The main branch is the primary branch, from which all other branches extend. This system is required for the printing of clearly organized reports. When active, the Branch autosize checkbox sets the branch size according to the length of the text in the label.

Mind Mapping Software for Concept and Project Management

The six buttons on the right side of the frame (Cut, Copy, Paste, Delete, Collapse, Add childs) act on the map structure.

Cut, Copy and Delete branches

To cut a branch, select the relevant branch, or group of branches, then left-click on the selection and choose the Cut button in the Branch frame. The selected branches are then removed from the map. The Copy button works in the same way but leaves the shapes on the map. The Delete button removes the shapes from the map.

Paste and Link branches

After an element has been cut or copied, use the Paste option to place it in the desired position on the map. This function is also available from the right mouse-click menu.

Mind Mapping Software for Concept and Project Management
To connect a child branch to the parent branch, click on the Link button, then select the parent branch. Click on the child branch again and a connector will be displayed. Clicking on the connector will bring up a form, where formatting commands can be accessed.

Add children

To add one or more branches (with connectors) to a parent branch, use the Add childs button in the Branch frame. A form will then appear, where you can make your selection.

Mind Mapping Software for Concept and Project Management

As shown in the above picture, the placement and shape of a new branch can be selected, as well as the quantity of new branches to attach to the selected parent branch. In order to choose the shape of the branch, click on the button with the ellipsis points [] to access the form below, then select the desired shape and click on the OK button.

Mind Mapping Software for Concept and Project Management

Collapse branches

The project mapping tool is very useful when describing complex and multifaceted projects. In such cases maps can easily become unmanageably large, and risk losing their visual efficacy. To overcome this problem, users can either click on the Magnify lens button on the floating toolbar (buttons 5 and 6 in the toolbar from the left) or use the Collapse buttonclick on a branch containing sub-branches (collapse is not active when the main shape is selected), then click the Collapse button. A small plus sign (+) will appear, which indicates a collapsed branch. The branch still exists but is not visible to the user. Clicking on the plus sign again reverts the branch to its original appearance. This option can be very useful in a number of instances; for example, when presenting projects which require topics to be displayed only at a specific point, encouraging the audience to focus on targeted portions of information only.

On the left side of the Appearance frame is a list of options for changing various elements of the branch, such as font size, color, etc.

Raw branches do not have a shape attached. To attach a shape to an existing branch, select the Use shape option, then click on the button with the ellipsis points [] to access the Select shape form previously described in the Form page settings section. Select a shape and then click on the OK button.

Alternatively, you can attach a picture to a branch. Select the Use picture option and click on the button with the ellipsis points [] to locate the file with the picture you want to attach. Most standard graphic formats are supported.

On the left side of the Appearance frame, the Apply appearance to listbox allows the format of several branches at different map levels to be changed simultaneously. The default selection is this child only. There are a further three options which determine the extent of format changes: whole map, or to child or parent branches only.

Form page Additional

The Additional page in the main form provides a series of options regarding map content. There are seven frames in this page:

> Task description

> Hyperlinks

> Attachments

> Vocal messages

> Icons

> Schedule tasks

> Task budget

Mind Mapping Software for Concept and Project Management

The Task description text field works as a note sheet, and is useful for attaching hidden information to branches. This information can then be retrieved by placing the cursor on the icon resembling an open book (

Mind Mapping Software for Concept and Project Management
) which appears beside a branch that has a description note attached to it (see picture below). The above form is accessed by clicking on the (
Mind Mapping Software for Concept and Project Management
) icon.

Mind Mapping Software for Concept and Project Management

The Hyperlink field accepts Internet or file addresses. To open a hyperlink, right-click on the icon and select Follow Hyperlink on the form that appears (as shown in the Working with Project Mapping section). If the hyperlink is a web address, the project mapping tool connects with the default browser. If it is a file, the tool opens it, given that the software required to open the file format is installed on your machine.

Attachments can be added to a branch by clicking on the Add button. An attachment can be a file of any kind, and when added, appear as in the picture below. Place the cursor on a file icon to view the path and file name. Click on the file icon to open the file in its own application. This feature makes the project mapping tool a true repository of documents of all kinds. To remove attachments, click on the branch label, enter the Additional page, then select the attached file to be removed and click on the Remove Button.

Mind Mapping Software for Concept and Project Management

Tip
Complex maps can be split in to chunks. Create a main map containing the issues central to your idea. Then, in a separate file, create a new map describing, for instance, a sub-process relevant to a section (branch) of the main map. Link the second map to the first using the Attachment option to any branch of the main map. The attached map can then be opened with a simple mouse click.

Plug a microphone in your computer and take advantage of the great features in the Sound note frame. Click on a shape, go to the Appearance page, then click on the Record button. You can then start talking in the microphone; the message is recorded and linked to the selected branch, which will then show an icon resembling a microphone. Click on the microphone icon and listen to the message. To remove the message, click on the branch, not the microphone, then go to the Additional page and click on Delete. It is that easy to record voice messages with the MM4XL project mapping tool, and you can share voice maps with your fellow MM4XL users across the globe.

The Icons frame on the upper right side of the Appearance page shows the various icons that can be attached to map elements. Each icon has a meaning, and they are used to enrich maps of incremental visual information. Place the mouse on one icon for a second, without clicking, and the icon meaning appears in a small pop-up box. The whole list of icons and their meanings is displayed in The Working Environment section

In the Schedule task frame, a Start and End date can be assigned to the central shape (whole project) and to branches (project phases). The Priority level can be assigned to branches only. The Task budget frame is used to assign a value to a branch. This information is printed as a reminder in the Summary report.

The Help button in the lower-right corner of the main form launches the online reference documentation, the file you are currently reading.

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