Combine the power of mindmaps and flashcards with XMind2Anki


Mindmaps are fantastic to show you the structure of a course, an organization or a group of concepts.  Flashcards are great when you want to study details, definitions or formulas.  With XMind2Anki, combine the power of mindmaps and of flashcards to study even more efficiently!

If you are a regular mindmap user, you already know how efficient they are to study : they are a fantastic way to find the links between concepts and to show the structure of any set of thoughts.   You already found out how the association of keywords, pictures, branches and colours helps you to better understand and memorize.

If you use flashcards to prepare for your exams, you already know how helpful they can be to memorize very quickly a huge amount of new words in your own language or in a foreign idiom, definitions or maths and sciences formulas.

What if you could combine the powers of those two fabulous tools?  If you could use the links, the structure, the global view of a mindmap as well as the powerful details memorization of flashcards?

Of course, it would take a lot of time to gather the elements of your mindmap to turn them into a deck of flashcards!

But, imagine that an application could automatically turn your mindmap into a deck of flashcards?  You could take advantage of both techniques without wasting your time copying items from one medium into the other…

how to combine the structure of a XMind mindmap with the memorizing power of Anki ?
Combine mind map & flashcards

XMind2Anki : the power of mindmaps and flashcards

Such application exists : it is called XMind2Anki and it has been developed by my friend Bruno Martin who is finishing his PhD thesis in Paris (you can follow him on Twitter : @itc4efficiency)

It is a small application that you can download and use entirely for free : no bad surprises!

Download also XMind and Anki if you don’t have them yet.

Draw your mindmap as usual.  In this article, we’ll see the simplest method : one question and a set of answers per branch (or topic, in XMind lingo).  In another article, we’ll see how to use filters to export more complex mindmaps.

I made a mind map about the French Presidents of the Fifth Republic.

An XMind mind map about the French Presidents to be exported as a deck of Anki flashcards
A simple 2 level mindmap

This is a very simple 2 level mindmap : the first level – Premier, Deuxième, Troisième, etc. – will be our question.  Who is the fifth French President of the Fifth Republic?

The second level – for instance, Jacques Chirac, 29-11-1932, etc. – will be the answer.

Nothing very complicated!

Using XMind2Anki for the first time

Once you have downloaded your application, you get a .rar file.  You have to decompress it in order to launch it.  Then, click on the xmind2anki.exe file, if your OS is Windows ; click on the .jar file, if you work with Mac OS or Linux.  Xmind2Anki can work with the three operating systems.

When you launch XMind2Anki, the following menu pops up on your screen :

A window pops up on your screen with the different options of XMind2Anki
XMind2anki window

Turn your mindmap into a deck of flashcards

First, click on the red button, in the superior left corner of the menu.  This will indicate to XMind2Anki which XMind mindmap you want to export to Anki.  In this case, I select my French Presidents mindmap.

Then, choose a name and a location for your Anki file.

When it’s done, simply click on the green button, on the right.  XMind2Anki starts to export your mindmap as a new deck of Anki Flashcards!

XMind2Anki Menu showing the achievment of the exportation to Anki
Exporting to Anki!

Since I have only 8 topics, the exportation takes only a few seconds!

If I look closely at my XMind mindmap, I’ll find out that a tiny icon appeard in the central topic : it is the Anki icon and it is a hyperlink towards the desk of flashcards I just created.

Anki hyperlink towards the new desk of flashcards
A tiny icon appears in my central topic

If I click on that tiny icon, I’ll open my new desk of Anki flashcards!

Here is a sample of my new desk about the French President : this is the fourth topic of my XMind mindmap and the fourth flashcard of my Anki deck : François Mitterand, who was the fourth President of the Fifth French Republic.

The word “Quatrième” – fourth in French is my question.  So, who was the French president ?  The answer is François Mitterand and I can see his picture.  All the subtopics the branch François Mitterand became parts of the answer, listed in a bullet list under the picture.

An Anki flashcard resulting of the exportation of my XMind mindmap topics
A new flashcard

Now, I can study the presidents of the Fifth French Republic combining the structuring powers of the XMind mind map and the memorizing powers of the Anki flashcards.

And you : are you also using this kind of techniques ?  Or do you study with other tools ?  Which ones ?  What kind of results do you get ?

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XMind 2013: the 10 new mindmapping software features!


It has been announced for several weeks now : the 2013 beta version of XMind, the most popular mind mapping software, is available. This software includes 10 new features and 11 improvements which aficionados have eagerly waited.

Lisez cet article en français !

 Let us say it immediately, this is not a revolution…

When you look at your home screen, you hardly see any difference with the previous version. But, as with some cars, you have to look  under the hood to really grasp the new technical features.  And their invaluable potential.

And these technical features are numerous: no less than 10 new features and 11 improvements!

10 new features for XMind

 These new functions are not all at the same level : if some go to the core of the software, some, such as new markers, seem rather peripheral.

 But let us review them. Nothing like a mindmap to view all in a glance! Double-click the map to enlarge it or click here to download from Biggerplate (for free!)

A brand new version of the most popular mind mapping software
10 new functionalities and 11 improvements

Still no online real-time collaboration and yet, users, especially professionals, increasingly ask for it.

Nevertheless, XMind 2013 authorizes the automatic sharing of mindmaps via a local network: such a major breakthrough! And it automatically shares the latest and recently updated mindmap version. No need to exchange emails with your colleagues or even upload your mindmaps on the XMind platform anymore.

You can import text directly from Word in a topic note.  Previously, you  had to use the copy and paste – a function that saves significant time gathering documents, for example!

For me, one of the finest success of this new version of XMind 2013 is the new export to Excel! This is something that was sorely lacking in XMind, and it works very well.

 Export to Excel, a real success!

I conducted a test with one of my previous mindmaps often posted on my French blog : that mindmap is called CQQCOQP. I’ll repost it here just to show you how the export to Excel works (you can also acquire free downloading on my Biggerplate page).

The 7 questions of Quintilian, the Roman orator, translated into a mindmap
CQQCOQP : a set of 7 questions

Once the information is exported to an Excel spreadsheet, nothing changes and everything is in order according to the position of subjects. The central issue became the title of my Excel sheet, the levels are the titles of my columns, and the issues have become cells A, while other subjects are placed back into the logical order.

The data afer I exported my XMind 2013 mindmap into Excel
The results in the spreadsheet

I don’t have a Mac OS and hence don’t have the opportunity to test the new features using this operating system, including direct export to PowerPoint, Word and Excel.

Xmind 2013 also exports to SVG , the scalable vector drawing.

As for the workbooks, it is now possible to merge and print them in their entirety and not map by map.  Again, a significant gain in time .

Now it is possible to reduce the file size of an XMind 2013 mindmap  : no more stuck with files too heavy to be emailed!

I also tested the new style editor : very intuitive , very complete.  It allows you to change the shape , color, size, font , etc.  It works not only with the topics, but also with other objects like summaries, boundaries, etc.  A great tool for those who love the aesthetic mindmaps.

I conclude this list of new features with the markers: a new series of the prettiest and most readable markers.

11 Significant improvements of the mindmapping software

The new XMind 2013 works better in exports : better PDF export with SVG vector graphics , Word, PowerPoint.

The gallery is renamed Clip Art : I personally would have preferred that certain old school or rudimentary images would have been replaced in a brand new style like the one of  the new markers …

The files attachment and hyperlinks have also been improved – which is not directly visible. It also has to be tested.

Keyboard shortcuts have been added for Mac OS users, including the addition of new sheets.

You can also simultaneously focus on a topic and see the tasks related to it in the Gantt chart : a real advantage for project managers.

An improvement that XMind doesn’t report on his blog: the new zoom at the bottom of the screen to adjust the map display.  It doesn’t sound that important, but this small device that can display the map at 50 , 100, 150 %, etc.,  adds up to the comfort.  In practice, you will find it handy !

Finally, there are also several improvements in the markers field : their size is now proportional to the font of the topic in which they are included. This makes them much more visible in some cases.

Groups of markers in the menu become expandable sets, which avoids an endless scroll following markers on the screen when looking for a particular group…

And finally, for multiple makers in a topic, the order of markers is the same in the topic as in the “view” menu : there could have been a confusion with previous versions .

Conclusions

As I said in the introduction, this new version  is not a revolution, but, if the changes in the look of the software are almost imperceptible, there are  some significant breakthroughs!

Some of the new functions, such as export to Excel, the merge and print of entire workbooks will obviously make it easier for users to save their time and make XMind 2013 more compatible with standards softwares formats .

A version to use and to leverage…  waiting for the collaborative online in real time (I know, I repeat myself over and over, but it is a growing market demand …  I just hope the software producers will hear me and adapt their software to the users’ needs… ).

Convinced? Download the free beta version of XMind 2013!

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