Since computers entered my life I have “always” looked for new ways to write which utilize the strengths of the computer which is the flexibility of moving, removing and adding bits and pieces. The problem is that most tools are very linear in their design so that when we write and move stuff, it is easy to get lost in the mere amount of text… So I have been using different mind mapping tools as well as the outline tool in Openoffice.org (which is not very good) and really never found the perfect tool. The other day I did a thorough search for something to suite my style of writing and found a few matches:
I tested my “old” tools more thoroughly: Neither Cmap, Compendium nor VUE which are amazingly competent mind mapping and content mapping programs had the necessary export functionality. I need something which will let med make a map of the bits of text I write and let me export it to word, openoffice or latex/lyx format in a sensible manner. I then tried some Freemind successors such as SciPlore, but I found them far too limited. I then stumbled upon two really interesting programs which were easy and tailored for writing: Semantik and ViewYourMind. Of the two, VYM attracted me most at first, but the export to structured text with defined headers in different levels did not work so I turned to Semantik.
Semantik seems to be doing what I want to: I can make a mind map almost only without using the mouse, and I can define in what order the parts are exported and even have an easily accessible window for writing the raw text. I am writing an article about the Linux on a Stick project for the Journal of Music, Technology and Education with Semantik at the moment. However I find it a bit simplistic, and it still forces me to use two tools. It has no support for references footnotes and so forth. Well – I have something to look forwards to I believe. Rob Oakes is a writer and programmer who is currently redesigning Lyx to facilitate the ultimate tool – Lyx-Outline. I will not test it yet as I will not risk wasting lots of time on software that breaks on me, but this looks like a one stop solution to my search. Stay tuned!