capsule review

YouMinds Composer Creates Mind Maps, Org Charts, and More

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder YouMinds Composer

    PCWorld Rating

    YouMinds Composer is a capable, if barely documented, application for creating mind maps and more.

YouMinds Composer (free for personal use) is a do-it-all application for representing information visually. It can create mind maps, organizational charts, system diagrams, and even mobile-friendly websites. Its Pro version ($59) permits commercial use, removes watermarks, and includes a built-in FTP client among other extra features. All of this, and moreā€¦as long as you manage to get it to do your bidding.

The overwhelming impression that YouMinds Composer 2.6.0.1 gives off is complexity. The application's interface is crammed with icons, tabs, buttons, panes, and just about any other control known to UIs. It does not go out of its way to help new users: There is no Welcome pop-up upon first running it, for example.

YouMinds Composer comes with a rich selection of demo projects.
The New File dialog does contain a Samples section with several diverse and interesting projects, such as two system architecture samples, a vacation plan, an example of a pinboard, and more. Descriptions are very sparse; the pinboard example is described "Organize things of interest."

When you load the sample pinboard project, a speech bubble shows up with three lines of explanation, and a caption that says "Pretty simple." That's all the guidance you are going to get. Pretty simple for someone who already knows YouMinds Composer, perhaps. Other projects are equally cryptic, and some include German names only (like "Symbolliste").

YouMinds Composer's interface is crammed with buttons, tabs, panes, and many other controls.
The YouMinds Composer interface consists of a main tabbed area containing the current project and a sidebar with four tabs, each with several sections, for styling elements, changing shapes and icons, and otherwise controlling the view. You can drag and drop elements around in the current project, but they do not always drop where you'd expect them to. For instance, I was unable to place an element of the pinboard where I wanted it to go, despite dragging it there every way I could think of.

After fumbling with YouMinds Composer for some time, I decided it was probably time to read the documentation. The Help menu had an encouraging Help entry, but when I clicked it, it launched a webpage containing two YouTube videos. I watched both videos in full--one was 11 minutes long, and the other was almost 6 minutes long. Neither had any narration, subtitles, or captions. They mainly consisted of silently watching a user work with the application with very little explanation as to what is going on. The second video was even more challenging to watch, because parts of it were done in fastforward.

YouMinds Composer seems to be able to do a great many things. I only wish its developer took the time to elaborate on how to get it to do all of these things, and make it easier for users to get started with the application.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    YouMinds Composer is a capable, if barely documented, application for creating mind maps and more.

    Pros

    • Capable of creating many types of projects

    Cons

    • Complex interface
    • Barely documented
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