The Road to MindNode 1.0

On this very day 5 years ago I released MindNode 1.0 and it changed my life. I’ve never talked about how MindNode came together and I’d like to use this occasions for a short trip down memory lane.

A Failure

About six or seven years ago I attended a presentation by Will Shipley at WWDC’s Student Sunday. He talked about his success with Delicious Library and motivated us to follow his lead and create great Mac applications. This really inspired me and the idea got stuck in my head.

At this time I was working on InfiniteCanvas - a simple tool for creating visual stories/comics that aren’t restricted by the confinements of a page. I developed IC as part of my final thesis at university. I saw high potential in the concepts explored in this app and had the idea to build 2.0 into a full featured presentation tool. In functionality similar to Keynote, but much more interactive and free form.

Infinite Canvas App

InfiniteCanvas 2.0 failed miserably. I never managed to turn it into a product. I wanted to solve too many things at once: planning too many features and covering too many different use cases. I got completely lost in the complexity of the project. I was no longer sure if I was following the right path and as my work still didn’t pay off financially, everything felt like a failure and I was very close to give up on my dream.

Mind Mapping

However, I wasn’t ready to truly give up. When I decide to follow a certain path, it takes a lot to throw me off track. I reviewed the current stage of InfiniteCanvas and realized that I never actually wrote down my ideas. I then tried to write outlines, all kinds of design documents, but nothing really helped clear my head. During my research I encountered mind mapping. I had heard of it, but I never gave it a fair try. And it worked great for me, at least on a piece of paper. But no software solution came close to what I was looking for. They all sucked.

Then I had an idea. Why not write a simple mind mapping app for my own use? I could get this done in one or two weeks and the experience finishing a small project would surely motivate me to continue my main project.

I never came back to InfiniteCanvas.

Working on a Product Working on the mind mapping app was fun. I had a clear picture of what I wanted to solve and what features I wanted to implement. I designed it to help me clear my thoughts and it helped. I was finally able to focus and without meaning to I created something I was proud of.

MindNode Early Beta

The naming of the application was also pretty straightforward. I had purchased the domain MindNode.com a few years earlier and it was a perfect fit for my new application.

The Release

It wasn’t two weeks, but 7 productive months later when I released 1.0 on March 15th 2008. MindNode 1.0 was simple, basic and free. It was fast, supported new Leopard features and to my surprise it got featured by Apple on Apple.com/Downloads a few days after the release.

MindNode featured by Apple

About six months later I released MindNode Pro, followed by MindNode touch the following year.

Special Thanks Over the years many people have helped turn MindNode into a success. As this posting focuses on the initial year, I’d like like to thank Wilfried Reinthaler and Peter Purgathofer especially. Both of them helped me shape the app in its initial years. Thank you.

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