Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Switch to the new layout for faster, better maps with customisable visuals

We're very excited to announce the first major upgrade to the MindMup drawing engine, which will provide users with much more flexibility and better experience.

The engine is ready for general use, but there are still a few things we need to polish. To avoid any potentially nasty surprises, we will keep it as an opt-in feature for a month, while we're cleaning things up. On May 20th, the new system will become the standard for all users, and we'll keep the old one as an option for a month. On June 20th we plan to completely kill the old engine and migrate all users to it. You can keep track of progress of our work on the new drawing engine documentation page.

Please help us test the new engine by turning it on now and helping us identify any potential problems.

Here are the benefits you can get immediately:
  • More productive mapping on mobile devices - showing the toolbar on mobile devices just isn't a sensible option because it takes too much screen space, but our old display engine did not allow us to have precise control over touch events, so the top menu bar was the only real option to get anything done on tablets. No longer! Long press (hold) a node to show a popup menu with actions, or double-tap anywhere on the background to show the menu. This makes MindMup much more useful with touch interfaces.
  • User-customisable visuals: You can modify almost any visual aspect of the map yourself: if you know a bit of CSS, you can customise almost any map element - make buttons larger or smaller, change the font, make lines thicker, remove shadows, change default node colors or box sizes... At the moment, this requires some familiarity with CSS but we'll build on it to make it easier for non-technical users to customise maps.
  • Faster interface: we're now using hardware acceleration on Webkit browsers (Chrome and Safari) so you should see much better scrolling and usage performance, especially on mobile devices. 
  • Crisper map text: the new engine allows browsers to display text better, in particular on mobile devices, by using the standard browser text elements instead of drawing on a graphic canvas.
  • No more Chrome drawing problems - the last few Chrome versions broke MindMup for some users, creating shadows and reducing performance. The old engine was using latest and greatest HTML5 features, which seem to be under heavy development and not well tested in new browser versions when they come out. The new engine is using a completely different drawing system which is more mature and will not be affected by browser upgrades that much.
  • Embedded maps will work in older browsers - People who visit your site will be able to see embedded maps even with older browsers. The new drawing engine does not rely on the bleeding edge HTML5 features, so embedded maps will work in older browsers.
Over the next few months, the new drawing engine will also allow us to roll out these benefits:
  • More flexible node display: we will be able to easier add labels and other elements to nodes. For example, we plan to extend the measurements function so you can select a measurement to display next to the nodes, and add it up automatically towards the centre of the map. This way, you can, for example, instantly see how much money you have in blocked projects, how much testing you still need to do, or how many estimated days the whole project is going to take.
  • Scalable icons: the old map visualisation engine converted node icons into bitmaps, which meant that you had to upload huge pictures if you wanted to use large icons, and they looked bad if you zoomed in. The new engine will enable us to use any image format supported by the browsers, including SVG (scalable graphics). SVG icons will scale and display nicely at any level of zoom, and will take significantly less resources than equivalent bitmap icons that you have to use now.
  • Much better native mobile interface: the new engine will allow us to finally build a great mobile experience. 
  • Better sharing on social networks: the new engine will allow us to create Twitter cards and Facebook meta-data which will enable the maps to show up nicely in social network posts. 
  • Better HTML export: you will be able to create a nice HTML page from your map, to use on your web sites, which can then be indexable and searchable by Google. 
  • Customisable maps for non technical users: we'll make it easier for people who don't know CSS to customise map layout.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Google Drive problems resolved

The Google API update which broke half the internet was rolled back, and MindMup seems to be working fine with Google Drive again. Please let us know if you experience any further problems.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Ongoing Google Drive problems

update: 3PM GMT 8 April: European access seems to work fine now, so if you're still experiencing problems reload the browser window and it might work OK.

Many users are experiencing Google Drive access problems at the moment - it seems that Google updatedbroke the library we use to access Drive, and not just for us but for many other applications out there. The problem was already reported and, given the impact, we expect it to be fixed soon. Unfortunately there is little we can do meanwhile.

To access your maps until this is fixed, you can download the files directly from the Drive application (http://drive.google.com) and save to local disk, then use File-Import in MindMup to load from the local drive. Use File-Export to save to local drive and then upload back to Google Drive using their app.

For those of you that need technical details, check out the issue on the Google Drive JavaScript Client bug tracker.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

MindMup usage grew 50% in four months! Thanks for coming back

We passed a new milestone today - the first time we had more than 150k visits in a month. In mid-November we passed the 100K mark for the first time, and just four months later MindMup monthly usage increased by 50%. Here's a few more interesting stats from google analytics for number geeks - roughly 80K visitors, creating roughly 350K maps over the past month. This calls for a small celebration, so thank you very much for coming back to MindMup.

Monday, 3 March 2014

You can now copy-paste across maps

MindMup now supports copying and pasting nodes across maps - just open several maps in different windows and you will be able to transfer content through the clipboard as usual.

You can now cut out parts of a large map and create separate maps. Just select the top of the hierarchy you want to cut out, copy or cut it to the clipboard, then select File->New from Clipboard. Because each map has a unique URL on MindMup, once you save the new map, you can create a hyperlink in the old one to the new content for easy navigation.

Similarly, it is easy to join up multiple smaller maps into a larger map. Just copy the root nodes of smaller maps and paste them one by one into the central map.

Because we now store the clipboard contents in the local browser profile, there are two important limitations of this:

  • both windows have to be using the same browser profile (so copy/paste between Firefox and Chrome will not work, but if you open two windows or two tabs using the same profile it should be OK)
  • the size of what you can copy is limited by the local browser storage, which most browsers limit to about 5MB for a web site - so you won't be able to copy-paste huge images

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Use Shift+Enter to add a node above the selected

We tweaked keyboard shortcuts slightly to make MindMup more productive. Enter used to add a sibling node, always at the bottom of the list of siblings. It now adds a node always below the currently selected node, as it would in a word processor. We also enabled adding a sibling directly above the currently selected, using Shift+Enter. (both shortcuts just add a child when pressed on a root node, as it cannot have siblings). A big thanks to Ken Chow for the suggestion!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Important announcement - we're starting to remove old anonymous maps!

Starting from 21st February, we're turning on automatic removal of anonymous maps (blue spider logo) older than six months. When we launched MindMup, we promised that anonymous maps will be kept for at least six months. Now, with roughly 1.5 million maps saved using MindMup, and many alternative ways to store maps, we have to purge expired anonymous maps to keep the operating costs low.
  • Google Drive, Github, Dropbox, Gold (yellow and black spider logos) and browser profile maps are not affected - we're only cleaning up anonymous MindMup storage.
  • Anonymous maps stored in the previous six months are not immediately affected, but they will expire automatically six months after their creation date.

How to check if your maps are affected

You can check if a map is stored on anonymous storage by looking at the URL when the map is loaded. Check the first letter after the colon in the URL. If it is 'a', then the map is stored on anonymous storage. For example, this is an anonymous map:


this one is not - the first letter after the colon is b:


What to do if you want to keep them

You have a week to export or transfer your old anonymous maps if you want to preserve them. Just open the map and click on File->Save As to transfer to another storage, or save the map again to anonymous storage to create a new file, which will stay on our system for six months.

If you use anonymous storage to embed maps into your web site, you will also need to re-generate the embed code after saving the new map. To avoid having to do this every six months, transfer the map to MindMup Gold Public storage (yellow spider logo), you can embed those maps as well and they do not expire automatically.

If you need more information or help

If you have any concerns about anonymous map cleanup, or any questions related to your maps, please send us an e-mail at contact@mindmup.com