Topicscape SE (student edition) is a unique, free visual mind-mapping tool that it is rendered in vibrant 3D color-coded graphics. By incorporating the third dimension into the idea of mind-mapping software and making it more visually interactive, Topicscape SE helps you access and better organize your notes, information and research for any project or idea.
Topicscape SE is, first and foremost, a mind-mapping tool. It was originally designed for that purpose and using it for projects, research and data organization is a natural outgrowth of that purpose. As already mentioned, Topicscape SE is not only simulated 3D (the same way a ‘3D’ game like World of Warcraft is simulated) but also designed to be highly visually accessible by giving you full color to work with.
In a sense, the vibrant color scheme Topicscape uses as the default is like a fourth dimension to your data. The 3D ‘landscape’ of your data, along with the color coding and other indexing systems in Topicscape SE make it not only ideal for your project, whatever it may be, but also just a joy to use. It’s almost as if the whole mind-mapping concept has been turned on its side and presented in a gaming wrapper, which should appeal to more young people than the older 2D flat text mind-mapping programs out there. Gamers, in specific, will find Topicscape SE very easy to jump in and start using but non-gamers will also be able to get started pretty quickly, as you’ll see.
Given the fact that Topicscape is far more complex and in-depth than most of those 2D mind-mapping programs, it also has a naturally higher learning curve. Thankfully, this is something the developers took into account and not only is there a very useful and well designed help system built in, but there is also a fantastically visual and informative tutorial/demonstration that is offered up as the first option when you run the program. You can disable it, of course, but the first time you run Topicscape it is very helpful to see how it is designed to work. To further combat the high curve of learning to get the most out of Topicscape’s available options and functions there are two modes of usage. Limited Mode has much simplified controls, but lacks some functionality. The Standard Mode has none of those limits but the controls are more complex as well. Both modes are covered quite well in the tutorial demonstration, which you can work through at your own speed, pace, and leisure.
In its most basic form, Topicscape is still a mind-mapping utility, however. This means that no matter the controls, the core concept of usage is still the same. You create bits of data, link them visually in a manner that is helpful and sensible to you, and further manipulate them in various ways to explore or determine an outcome or goal. As you can see from the screenshots, the tutorial has many of these categories already set up for you, just waiting to be filled with your individual data. The major advantage of seeing everything in this 3D landscape, or ‘topicscape’, is that you can move between different categories, sections, and data more easily, and quickly. Additionally, there are tons of options for managing connections between them and of course personalization as well. Each of your data points (also called topics) is represented by a 3D figure, most of the time it is a teardrop shape much like a chocolate ‘kiss’ without a wrapper. When you put your pointer over any of these, a ‘halo’ menu will appear, letting you know what can be done with it.
Each halo menu has two distinct sections, as well. One is a ring of icons for actions, like making that topic the central focus or adding a specific tag to it for indexing. The possibilities for organizing your raw data with this program are pretty limitless, for all intents and purposes. The second part of the halo is the pop up description of each item on the ring, letting you know exactly what that icon does if you hold your pointer on it for a moment or two. In this way, even without the tutorial, Topicscape is very user-friendly and will help keep you on track.
Overall, I found Topicscape SE to be a fantastic piece of totally free software for mind-mapping and related applications. The price tag really is zero, and the only thing they ask for is a valid email address. I have not gotten a single bit of spam from them since I downloaded Topicscape, either, which is as it should be. In addition to the Student Edition, there is also a Pro edition and a Personal edition, as well as a Lite edition. The differences between the versions are not just cost and cosmetics but there are some function differences as well. You can view a list of the differences here. As you’ll see, the differences are numerous but subtle in many cases and the whole list is bigger than this article. That means that picking the right edition for your needs is important but also fairly easy, based on the list. For example, if you are more interested in cosmetics, the Pro edition (not free!) has multiple different ‘skins’ you can use for the entire topicscape and the topics in it. That’s just one example, but the list will help you figure out which version has the features that are most important to you. If price is your biggest concern, as it always is for me, then the Student Edition is the one you want. I wasn’t able to find any other editions that are free, and the web site says that the SE version is their free gift to students everywhere, to help them with their studies. It certainly is a good gift, in my opinion!
In conclusion: Topicscape SE takes mind-mapping to the next next level with some very pretty graphics as well as innovative and comprehensive data management options. This one is definitely a winner in my book and I think you will be impressed with it too. Until next time, my friends!