Kabikaboo versus FreeMind

If you check out my Resources page, you’ll see FreeMind under ‘Programs,’ but not Kabikaboo. These two programs essentially do the same thing. That is, they help you organize your thoughts. So why is one listed and not the other? Keep reading to find out (or skip to the pictures at the bottom, whichever).

FreeMind does so by “mind mapping,” allowing you to create flow-chart-esque diagrams of your story idea, or any other project you feel needs mapping. I’ve been using it for a month or so, and have a map of three novels (though not complete). Here’s my breakdown of the program:

  • Pros – easy to use, flexible, helpful, has formatting options (font, color, size, shape, etc), small and portable program (can dropbox the file and open it elsewhere), fast open/close, makes use of hotkeys, has a separate interface for ‘long entries’ to make it easier to handle the information, can copy and paste nodes and their children, and click and drag to move them around
  • Cons – could use a more modern-looking interface, the fully-inheritable formatting can be a pain, some features are hard to find or have counter-intuitive names, can’t see all the icons when working on a smaller screen (such as my netbook or my work laptop)

Overall, I quite like the program and enjoy working with it. I’ve been able to quickly add details to a running mindmap and build up a new one very easily. I would recommend the program to anyone looking to organize large amounts of related data.

Kabikaboo is a bit different. Kabikaboo uses a tree interface, or an outline. This gives you a more streamlined view of the information you put in. I’ve only been using this for a few days, and have only put part of one novel into it. You’ll see why below:

  • Pros – clean interface, uses hotkeys, easy to use, small program, fast open/close, ‘notebook tabs’ for each recently-opened node, asterisk tells you when there are unsaved changes
  • Cons – frustrating hotkeys, could use a more modern-looking interface, no formatting options, the ‘view’ option erases all child identifiers, it doesn’t always remember your preferences, strange glitches (or it could just be me), cannot copy and paste nodes, no click and drag to move the nodes (though there are buttons on the interface that do just that), no way to choose which nodes you want in a tab and which you do not, can’t close tabs that are already open (there is an option to not use tabs at all, however)

Overall, I didn’t like working with Kabikaboo. It was tedious to add “Action Scene… Goal… Conflict… Disaster…” over and over again, and I had to save after every single change else it would be erased when I went to a different node. I also ran into a glitch where I would click on one node and it would send me to another, so I had no idea where I was actually making edits. Then again, maybe these glitches are due to an unclean install or corrupt download. I’ve only run into these glitches on my work laptop, not on my desktop at home.


Below are some screenshots comparing the same information in both programs. Click on the thumbnails for larger views.


This is my God-Chosen data on ‘view’ mode in Kabikaboo. I turned the ‘notebook tabs’ off since most of my tabs have identical names anyways (Goal, Disaster, Reaction…). Notice how the hierarchical structure disappears in the viewing screen:

God-Chosen data in Kabikaboo

God-Chosen data in Kabikaboo

Here’s a shot of editing in Kabikaboo. This shot shows the ‘notebook tabs’ (I changed the option to show you what they looked like):

Editing God-Chosen data in Kabikaboo

For comparison, here are some images of the same data in FreeMind:

God-Chosen data in FreeMind, all nodes 'closed'

God-Chosen data in FreeMind, opening nodes

God-Chosen data in FreeMind, more nodes open.

*Final words: These are simply my opinions and experiences with the two programs. Don’t take my thoughts as the final word on whether or not these programs are good or bad. Both programs are free and very easy to download and install, so I encourage you all to try them out and see for yourself what they are like. Experiment!

Ishana Mayakashi
Stay Happy, Remain Beautiful


About Squishy

Writer, dancer, gamer, and admirer of all that is beautiful.

Posted on September 14, 2010, in Ishy Writes! and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I was looking for a good mind-mapping program! The OpenMind program we used at school was a little proprietary for my tastes and budget, but it looks like FreeMind has most of the same features while being eponymously free! It seems like a great tool to use.

    • I love FreeMind. The interface is a tad antiquated, but aesthetics don’t matter as much as the capabilities of the software. I actually just figured out how to use “clouds” to separate items. Can’t say I use them well, but at least they look pretty…

      Hope FreeMind works out for you! If you ever win the lottery or something, I’ve heard ConceptDraw is quite good, too.

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