MindManager for SharePoint: Tasks

Today I installed MindManager for SharePoint on my Lenovo W500 running Windows 7 Professional. There were a couple of pre-requisites that weren’t there already, and after prompting me for them and getting me okay, downloaded and installed them with no problem. So far so good.

Testing the Task Integration
I’m not new to mapping nor MindManager, so the interface was no issue. There is a new SharePoint tab above the ribbonized UI, and within there a number of options for how you want to connect to SharePoint: “Site Explorer” (just take a look and see what you find lurking in there!), “Calendar Items”, “Issues”, “Tasks”, and others. I started with Site Explorer, saw how it worked, and then tested the Tasks one.

So here’s the setup:
– I have a SharePoint site — Windows SharePoint Services v3 from the SharePoint 2007 wave — for testing purposes (as you would expect!). It’s hosted by Mail2Web.
– The site has 5 sub-sites, most of which have a task list. I created some test tasks in each task list.

When I clicked the “Tasks” icon in MindManager, it opened a three-stage dialog box.
– (1) where’s your SharePoint site? (and do you want to include sub-sites?)
– (2) what tasks do you want to bring down? (includes filtering options for all tasks, my tasks, or tasks by email address, as well as date ranges, and so on)
– (3) summary, and go.

The map connected to SharePoint, and brought down all of the tasks I had set up. It worked!

So, first up as an observation, using MindManager for SharePoint will allow a user to get an automatic consolidated list of their tasks … and across multiple SharePoint sites and sub-sites. This is the key idea of Pillar 6 in the 7 Pillars framework, and something that SharePoint 2007 struggles with.

Where I Try to Break It (Push the Limits)
Now to try and break it through various tests.

  • I created a new task in SharePoint, clicked to sync in the map, and it found and imported the new task. Pass.
  • I changed the priority of one task in the map, clicked sync in the map, and it updated in SharePoint. Pass.
  • I changed the priority of one task in the map, while changing the priority of the same task in SharePoint before clicking sync. However, SharePoint told me that I someone else had made a concurrent edit, so would not let me save the SharePoint item. Pass.

    1. This surprised me, so I played some more. The map doesn’t wait for you to click “Sync” to pass item (branch) level changes. When selecting a branch and changing a value, assuming you have a connection to SharePoint, it transparently passes the update to SharePoint immediately. High kudos to Mindjet for sorting this out.
    2. Test under offline conditions … I closed MindManager. I edited a task in SharePoint (changed the priority to 3). I disconnected from the network. I re-opened the map, and changed the priority to 2. Upon reconnecting, the change in the map was overwritten with the change in SharePoint, with no notification that “two interpretations” were in existence. Fail.
    3. Actually, for flagging differences of view like this, I’m not sure what Mindjet should do. They could explode the task branch into the two versions, but would that send the signal it needs to send? Mmm, thinking.

  • I thought about how to use the task map. Perhaps you could use the “Task” synchronizer in the map to bring in all new tasks, and then drag and drop the task items to other places on the map to lay it out visually in a different way. Eg, group some tasks on under “Key Projects” topic, others on a “During the Evening” topic, and others on “Errands and Outings”. But … as soon as the task item was dragged off the Task synchronizer topic, the Task synchronizer topic couldn’t see it, and brought in a fresh copy from SharePoint. Fail.

Net-net: Very slick integration between a map and SharePoint, and with some caveats on usage (eg, not taking branches off the Task topic), a highly valuable addition to a mappers world.

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