Online mind mapping using MindMeister and bubbl.us
But until now, there have been few options in terms of available mind mapping software, and none of it was web-based. That has changed, thought, with the introduction of two competing products called MindMeister and bubbl.us. Setting aside the hipster and web 2.0 names, let's see how these products stack up against one another.
Both web applications are in beta status, and while MindMeister seems more feature-complete, bubbl.us is prettier, more fun to use and has some pretty cool features. For example, bubbl.us maintains a seemingly endless number of undo actions, so if you head down a wrong path and decide to back way the heck up, you can. Also, the barrier to entry with bubbl.us is non-existent, since they let you start making your first mind map without even creating a user account. You can create an account at any time, and once you do you are able to save and print your maps. Finally, the user interface in bubbl.us is dynamic and bouncy, but not in an irritating way.
That's not to say MindMeister is not a strong contender, though. MindMeister offers some power user features such as the ability to import mind maps from other mind mapping software, and collaborate with other users on the same mind map simultaneously. This feature uses color coding to let each user know when the other person has added to or changed the document. This is a new way of thinking about a mind map - now you can have a collaboration session without having to be in the same room - very cool. bubbl.us offers a collaboration feature as well, but I was unable to find any information about live document sharing.
MindMeister allows up to 5 saved maps with a free account, after which you'll need to pay $49.92 for a year's subscription. bubbl.us doesn't appear to offer a paid version, and there is no obvious limit to the number of mind maps that you can save under an account. At this time MindMeister is in private beta, so you will need to request a beta account. When we requested one, it arrived within an hour, which is shocking for a private beta. Somebody is on the ball over there.