Concept map software focused on information, not images

tldr: To you know concept map software which enables user to easily present the same “nodes” in multiple maps?

Hello all,

I’m trying to find the perfect tool for personal knowledge notes.
I tried many approaches: markdown, wikis, checkvist, anki, evernote, mind-maps (free mind), Jupyter notebooks etc. I can bet you know this mental disorder first hand :slight_smile:

Long story short: every tool has pros and cons but recently one approach seems to me particularly appealing: note taking in form of concept maps.


To avoid misunderstanding, let’s agree on some definitions of what I mean by “mind maps” and “concept maps” in the context of this question.

Mind map is a set of nodes organized in the structure which looks like tree - core, few main branches and more subbranches (just like folders directory in the computer). Simple example: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/TzaXm2B7P8o/maxresdefault.jpg

Concept maps are similar to mind maps but there is less restriction related to the structure. It is more a cloud of related nodes (usually with some labels on the lines which connects nodes). Every node can be connected to any other node if it makes sense from the represented information point of view.
Simple example: https://www.clearinghouse.edu.tum.de/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/KR19_ConceptMap_Abbildung.png


I used mind maps with success in the past, but it does not take long time until you realize that tree-like structure is to restrictive to represent non-trivial parts of reality.
(Free software I used in this period: FreeMind)

I switched to concept maps, but after some time I encounter new obstacles. If you try to pack in one map to much information from different areas, the amount of connections quickly becomes mind-blowing and result picture is not readable.
On the other hand, if you decide to create concept map per topic you lose whole concept map potential to find unobvious cross-domain references/analogies/similarities etc. (In other words, if you create many small concept maps you achieve not much more than in case of tree-like mind maps)
Another problem of huge concept maps is the fact that the same nodes can be very important or barely important in different contexts. Let’s take for an example node “Albert Einstein”. Such node should play an important role of concept map related to modern physics. But if you create a concept map about pop-culture you probably want to include this node somehow with really marginal importance.
(Free software I used in this period: VUE (Visual Understanding Environment))


The solution which I was able to find is a tool TiddlyWiki with extension TiddlyMap. This combination enables you to store pieces of information independently from graphs (so called “Tiddlers”). Each tiddler can be represented in different contexts on different graphs and you have full control what relations are represented where. There is no need to create “Albert Einstein” many times, you simply include/exclude this piece of information in different graphs (aka. “views”) and place/format according to the context.

The concept of visualization of relations between independent small pieces of information is brilliant. If you haven’t tried it yet, I recommend to give it a chance. If your brain is wired similarly to mine, you will love it.

The only problem which remains is the fact that it is hard to fall in love with TiddlyWiki itself. It has many small annoying issues which makes me consider looking for alternatives.

Unfortunately if I search in google “Mind map tools” or “VUE alternatives” results contains hundreds of maps drawing tools which has nothing to do with more mature concept provided by TiddlyWiki/TiddlyMap.


That’s why I decided to ask you, fellow learners, for advice. I would love to hear about any other tool which is (like tiddlywiki) organised around stored information, not “circles and arrows”.

Do you know any other tool which is focused on storage and visualization of relations between bite-sized information pieces?

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Take a look at the software ‘thebrain’ if it would work. I tested the trial version years ago but found that mind maps are good enough for me, even with the limitations.

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You might want to try CmapTools. It is free concept mapping software (not mind mapping).

I’m not sure if it would meet your needs, but clicking on a node can take you to another concept map that you have made.

You can also include notes, web links, and documents at each node, and include a label on the line showing the relationship between the concepts.

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Recently I started to learn DrakonHub for Workflows and MindMaps, just take a look.