From FreeMind

Revision as of 09:42, 28 October 2007 by Danielpolansky (Talk | contribs)
Jump to: navigation, search

The development of FreeMind is coordinated using FreeMind's project page at SourceForge, and also using this wiki. At wiki, we have requests for enhancements page; there is also requests for enhancements (RFEs) page at SourceForge (not preferred). You can browse CVS repository.

We also use SourceForge for bugs, and open discussion forum. We do not use the documentation part there as we use this wiki instead.


Contributing to FreeMind

There are different possible ways of taking part in the FreeMind development: the project needs people for:

  • developing
  • testing
  • documenting of the program
  • translating its interface
  • translating its documentation in foreign languages
Currently, FreeMind project is after a feature freeze, heading quickly to the testing phase. An important current contribution is testing. --Dan Polansky 23:59, 31 Aug 2007 (PDT)


  • releasing screenshots: if you have a nice screenshot of FreeMind, please help by releasing it under an open-source licence in Wikimedia Commons.

Getting started as a developer

Contributing to FreeMind as a developer

A new developer starts in two stages.

  1. Patches. At firsts, she sends her contributions as patches into Patches tracker.
  2. CVS. Later, after she has shown some volume of contribution, she gets access to CVS repository.

Detail: If you are considering becoming a new developer, please proceed as follows.

  1. Create a user account at SourceForge.
  2. Discuss your contribution (the change, feature, bug fix, documentation or test plan) in our open discussion forum.
  3. If the topic is accepted, start to change the up-to-date code that you have downloaded from CVS. Beware of using the right CVS branch:
    • Currently we use the branch with a strange name "fm_060405_integration".
    • It could be better if you start from code state already labeled by a tag, for instance "fm_0_9_0_beta9", to make the later merging of the code you develop easier,
  4. If, during implementing the feature, you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the "Open Discussion" forum. It is read by the other developers who possible can help you.
  5. Post your contribution in the patch section of SourceForge or send it by email to the current project manager. We do not respond immediately, as FreeMind team consists of volunteers.
  6. After having successfully developed and integrated some items, you get access to FreeMind's CVS repository at SourceForge.

Getting the latest beta version of FreeMind from CVS

A beta version you can get from the CVS, searching there for the latest branch, or the branch of your choice. Please note that beta versions are unstable and may contain serious bugs. Please, use beta versions only if:

  1. you urgently need a feature included in the version, and you are willing to backup your work often, or
  2. you want to give FreeMind developers feedback on the beta versions, which is highly appreciated.

To get a beta version from CVS, see the guides at CVS section.

Compiling last stable version of FreeMind

See detail in Quick guide to compiling Freemind on an XP system using Eclipse. (This didn't work for me, see below instead)

Here's what I did to get things working on Eclipse 3.3 with Windows XP:

  1. download the source code for whichever version you're interested in (I myself downloaded freemind-src-0.9.0_Beta_13_icon_butterfly.tar.gz )
  2. Create a new Java Project in Eclipse
  3. Extract the archive you downloaded
  4. Open the freemind directory in Windows (it should contain .classpath, .project, build.xml, and a whole bunch of other files and folders)
  5. Select all of the files and drag them onto your newly created project, in the Eclipse Package Explorer
  6. Select yes when it asks you if you want to overwrite
  7. That should do it.

A simple way for a developer of compiling FreeMind is perhaps the following.

  1. install Java SDK — standard development kit
  2. install Ant — a tool for building code using complicated make files)
  3. download FreeMind's source code as published in the Files section
  4. unpack the source code package with the extension tar.gz
  5. change directory to the one where built.xml file resides — the build file for Ant, similar to make files for the C language
  6. type ant in the command shell

Working with CVS

See CVS.

Further development wiki pages

Further reading (still under construction):

Development resources

Getting started as a tester

FreeMind is a fairly large project with a very small development team. We need all the extra testing resources we can get, so if you want to help out, this is one of the best places to start.

  1. Let us know that you want to help! Visit the Open Discussion Forum and tell us.
  2. Download the latest beta release of the software here.
  3. Test! Do everything you can think of to break the application, or just use it the way you plan on using it, and let us know what fails.
  4. When there's a bug, tell us. You can report bugs in the Open Discussion Forum, or put them into SourceForge's Bug Tracker.
  5. You'll find things that you want the software to do that it doesn't do. Those aren't necessarily bugs. You can ask for new features, here.
  6. If you are interested in helping with more advanced testing, by writing test scripts, please let us know in the Open Discussion Forum and someone will contact you about it.
  7. Reap the rewards by having better software to work with.

Reporting Bugs

The most important thing you can do to help us find and fix the bugs you report, is to make sure that you give us enough information that we can reproduce the bug. Otherwise, we have no way of knowing, for sure, that we've fixed the bug you report.

The first thing you should do, when reporting a bug, is double-check your setup, especially if you are just getting started. Make sure you are using the correct version of the Java Runtime Environment. (Currently, FreeMind is compiled and run under Java 1.4. Some of us run it under Java 1.6, but there have been some problems reported from some Java 1.6 users.) Make sure you have your Path and ClassPath variables set correctly.

You can report bugs through the forum, or through SourceForge's Bug Tracker.

Here are some things that help:

  • The version of FreeMind you are using.
  • What operating system you are running.
  • The version and patch level of your OS. (For example XP Professional Service Pack 2)
  • What you were trying to do when you got the failure
  • A description of the failure
  • Clear instructions on how to reproduce the failure
  • Sometimes it helps if you send us the actual mindmap where the problem occurred.

--Rben13 10:50, 3 Sep 2007 (PDT)

Organization of FreeMind development

Initially, every active developer of the core team works on his own CVS branch. Our intermediate results are published as our "alpha versions". We use forum Open Discussion and section Experimental_versions on this wiki page to communicate them.

Further details about the FreeMind release process are described on the FreeMind Release process page.

Experimental versions

Currently, there are the following experimental versions available. They are not meant for productive use; use at your own risk!

FreeMind 0.9.0 beta 9 with Node Attributes, Map Filters and WYSIWYG rich text node editor

Attaching of named attributes to every node, filtering of the displayed map content based on node text, node icons and node attributes, HTML based rich text formatting for nodes and notes, fit for Java6, a script editor is included in the script plugin

--Rben13 10:06, 3 Sep 2007 (PDT)

Conceptual remarks

Modular model - view design

The architecture of FreeMind makes it possible that FreeMind becomes general tool for editing tree-structured data, that is mind maps, XML/HTML documents, folder trees etc. in future.

All these kinds of data would be presented to the user as a mind map. Model-View-Controller design makes it possible for you only to write so called model of the data structure, without caring for the visual representation. Currently, mind map mode and file mode are implemented.

Original vision of Joerg Mueller

Joerg Muller is the original author of FreeMind, developing it up to the version 0.4.0. Here follows what he's got to say on his original vision:

What I had in mind when I began to write FreeMind, was creating a collaborative mind where people can intuitively share their ideas, knowledge and thoughts with each other. Of course FreeMind is only a first step into this direction, but I did this first step. Now a Mode must be implemented that makes collaboration over the Internet possible, maybe using the Topic-Map standard. I think linear text is a very poor way of representing knowledge, and by using trees and networks, visual representation, internet collaboration and open source we should be able to create some kind of a collaborative mind.
FreeMind now has evolved from a specific Mind Map Editor to a generic editor for tree structured data. I want FreeMind to become for tree structured data what emacs is for linear data (ie. text).

One may think of extending FreeMind to work with networks as opposed to trees only, an example of this being Topic Maps (ISO).

Daniel Polansky: Joerg's vision of FreeMind becoming Emacs for tree data is intriguing, but rather far fetched at the time. You would need to provide scripting facility and at least many basic operations, like upcase, downcase, replace and many others. It is even not evident that this goal valuable compared to other goals - there many quite obvious and still missing features.

Why may FreeMind be more relevant than some other open source applications

A simplistic and personal consideration by Daniel Polansky.

There are many efforts to create new text editors, text processor and the like. While this activity is not without value, it does not fill that big value gap as mind mapping application.

Take, for instance, text editors like JEdit. There are already well estabilished text editors like Emacs or Vim, and there are many others. It's not that these editors would be perfect, far from that, but they're still pretty useful and with some training users can become very efficient with them.

With text processors, the thing is that most users in companies have already Microsoft Office for free. What does that mean? That means that the individual users do not have to pay for the MS Office, and they cannot effectively decide to use other Office platform either because of the value of easy sharing. Furthermore, there are competing free Office platforms like KOffice, OpenOffice or AbiWord.

In mind mapping, the situation is quite different. You do not get commercial alternative granted in companies, unlike office applications. The point here is that most of MS Windows users, the mainstream, do not have a mind mapping application yet. For them, starting to use FreeMind is not a switch from Microsoft product to alternative product. It is a switch from scattered documents in incomparable and hard-to-overview formats to one document with unprecedented order and transparency - FreeMind's mind map.

Therefore, I am expecting a growth of interest of free developers in developing and using this application.

Furthermore, even though Java is quite slow and memory hungry, it solves the never ending quarrel between religious die-hard fans of different computing platforms, which I have first experienced with Atari 800 XL versus Commodore 64 battle, later IBM compatible versus Commodore Amiga battle, and nowadays Windows versus Linux battles.


To create a new release

To succesfully complete a new release, do the following

  • upload the release files into /incoming at , use the user anonymous and your e-mail address as a password
  • create new release. The files you have uploaded with ftp will be offered to you. Releases have names like "0.6.1", "0.6.5".
  • update the home page so that it points to the new version of installation files
  • post news, listing the most important changes of the new version
  • repost the news to the Announce forum, with basically the same text
  • repost the news the mailing list

Notice that the news cannot be monitored unlike forum, and forum has no RSS feed unlike news.

To create proper copyright notice

A source file may be viewed as a sum b + d1 + d2 + ... + dk, where b is the basis, di are deltas (or patches), and the plus operator is the operator of applying a patch. The basis and each delta have their own copyright holder and the year of copyright.

If there is only one author and one year, then the copyright notice is simple.

If there is only one author and more years, then the copyright notice may look like

Copyright © 2003-2005 Big Author

which is to be understood as

Some parts of the sum are copyrighted in 2003, some perhaps in 2004, and some certainly in 2005.

If there are more authors, then the copyright notice consists of more lines, like

Copyright © 2003-2005 Big Author,
Copyright © 2005 Captain,

Not all changes are eligible for copyright. If a change is small, then it does not make sense to add a line to the copyright notice for it.

Copyright notice is not required for copyright to hold. It makes claiming your right at court easier.

The correctness of these instructions is not granted. They are subject to improvement as we see fit.

--Danielpolansky 11:29, 3 Jun 2005 (PDT)

To translate FreeMind into your language

See Translation.

To translate the wiki pages

See [1] for a description of how to do that. We don't have such a page yet, so, please, be careful.

Libraries and tools used in FreeMind

Sources of free icons

FreeMind uses (a) tool icons used in the toolbars, and (b) icons used in nodes. Especially for the icons used in nodes, a good comprehensive source of free icons is needed. FreeMind uses PNG icons, in the size of 16 x 16. Nowadays many icons are drawn in SVG vector format first, and converted to 16 x 16 bitmap images afterwards.

Ideally, it would not be the task of FreeMind team to draw icons; this task should be outsourced instead. Whether this is a realistic assumption remains to be seen.

Some links on the sources of free icons follow.

More relevant links


To obtain focus for selected node in reliable manner

Requesting focus for NodeView using requestFocus() method is unreliable. A reliable way of doing that has been implemented in the method obtainFocusForSelected() of Controller. A typical call in is


Requesting focus using


where newSelected is a NodeView is unreliable, though most often works.

To set the class load path in in jar

In the source folder tree of FreeMind, there's a file MANIFEST.MF. This file tells what should happen with the freemind.jar when java tries to run the jar archive. The file may look like

Manifest-Version: 1.0
Main-Class: freemind.main.FreeMind
Class-Path:                  silk.jar nanoxml.jar ekit.jar kafenio.jar
            kafenio-config.jar kafenio-icons.jar gnu-regexp-1.1.4.jar
Created-By: Joerg Mueller

A tricky thing about the file is that the length of the lines can be at most 72 characters. That creates difficulties when specifying Class-Path. In the exaple above, the first line of Class-Path is set in such a way that it has 70 chacters. That has been achieved by putting spaces before the actual list of classes. In the freemind.jar, the file can be found in the folder META-INF. Here you can check if the manifest has been created correctly.

Deleting nodes and branches in FreeMind

Since version 0.8.0, it is possible to delete a whole branch of nodes by pressing DELETE. When a user accidentally presses DELETE and does not notice that, they may loose considerable amount of data. For users using FreeMind as a knowledge base or a semi-structured database, being able to delete whole branch at one keystroke is problematic and unusual; in filesystem browsers, users are asked for confirmation before the file is deleted by the system.

However, some users use FreeMind as a mind mapper and are glad to be able to delete nodes just by pressing DELETE.

There are several solutions to this problem.

  • Add user option to enable or disable confirmation before deleting of nodes and branches (depending on model type)
  • Store all deleted nodes and branches in a kind of trashcan associated with every mind map
  • Ask for confirmation only for nodes with children
  • Ask for confirmation only for nodes with more than p children

The confirmation would be requested both for keystrokes DELETE and CONTROL + X, that is the actions Delete and Cut.

More development pages

To see all development pages, have a look at the category Development, by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.
Personal tools