Mind mapping is a technique that quite a few people are starting to use to help organize their thoughts. While some people just write pages of notes, mind mappers make maps of their minds, grouping thoughts together to keep their brain dump more organized. While making a list can be a bit easier, mind mapping pays off as it keeps you organized and makes it much easier to add more information as you think of more ideas. There are many different mind mapping applications and many different ways of approaching the organizational method. Curio is a very powerful and asthetically pleasing mind mapping app.
While most mind mapping programs, like MindManager, are strictly for personal/corporate use or the occasional PDF to pass out to colleagues, Curio was designed to function with the creative presenter in mind.
Curio’s developers, Zengobi, Inc., did an excellent job of creating a functional mind mapping program while still letting the user be creative. Curio has several features that make it rise above other mind mapping apps. Curio allows you to create several “Idea Spaces” in one window. An idea space is a blank page where you can build your maps, lists, etc. Curio allows you to ‘paint’ your background with patterns and images such as cork-boards, paper, and even your desktop backgrounds.
Every mind mapping program I’ve ever used has some sort of style that you can use with your mind maps to make it more friendly to the eyes, but nobody does it as well as Curio. Curio lets you add styles which change the appearance of your mind maps. Styles like chalkboard, blueprint, and handwriting, add some spice to your mind maps to make them look more personal and creative as opposed to a plain white look. The styles are a very cool feature to make your mind maps more presentation friendly.
A presentation friendly mind map? I know I asked the same thing when I started playing with Curio’s Presentation mode. Curio’s presentation mode allows you to put our idea space on the big screen through the use of a projector, external display, or even the display on your laptop. This I think is one of Curio’s biggest selling points. With each idea space, you are also creating a slide to use in your presentation. By enabling your cursor with a quick key command, you can click to highlight certain components as you’re moving through your presentation. Curio uses OS X’s built in animations engine to transition from slide to slide.
Snippets is a great function built into Curio that allows the user to drag and drop images, text, links, emails, from any other app into the snippet bar inside the app. This is handy for dragging web pages into Cuiro to keep the content you’re referencing near by. It’s also good for organizing pictures that you might wish to use for your idea spaces. Snippets are also useful for keeping track of documents related to your mind map.
Overall I feel like Curio could be a very useful application to have in your arsenal, but like all applications, it has some short comings.
I was expecting a little more out of the presentation mode than what it had to offer. When giving presentations I like to give my audience only the information I am talking about. This helps to keep them focused on the topic and also keeps me focused if I turn around to look at my screen. I was hoping that I could build each component of the map piece by piece but I couldn’t seem to figure out how. When asking Zengobi about this, they said that they are not trying to replace Keynote so therefore kept their presentation mode simple.
I am a keyboard freak, in that I like to do as little as possible with my mouse/track pad. If I could pay my bills with Quicksilver I would; so I was a little disappointed with the keyboard shortcuts. Adding child notes to main parent components of the map, require what I consider to be a funky command of Option-Command-Enter.
Lastly, while looking for some help on certain functions, I would turn to Curio’s help function. Unlike most all of the programs I use, who use OS X’s help viewer app, Curio opted to link the help command to a PDF file. This sometimes made searching for a quick solution a more than 10 second endeavor.
Curio is still a powerful application that I think many will find useful. At a price of $149.00 for the professional version and $99.00 for the standard version, it is priced a little too steeply for a college student. Visit Zengobi, Inc. to download a free trial.