From FreeMind

Revision as of 09:59, 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

See Getting started as a developer.

Getting started as a tester

See Getting started as a tester.

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

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.


Creating 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)

Translating FreeMind into your language

See Translation.

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