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Web Dynpro for Java Mind Map

Introduction

What’s a Mind Map?

Anyone who’s ever had to try and make sense of a large quantity of information will know that as soon as you try to force that information into some sort of list or sequence, you often loose more than you gain. The list might look neat and tidy, but you will not have an accurate representation of the interrelationships between all the different facts.

The bottom line here is that information cannot be represented entirely sequentially or hierarchically. In reality, one piece of information is related to multiple other pieces of information to form a web of relationships, associations and dependencies.

A mind map is a simplified form of a diagram known as a Semantic Network. Mind maps have been used in many different forms for many centuries, but have lately been popularized by the British psychologist and educationalist Tony Buzan.

A mind map allows you to create a web of relationships between words, ideas and tasks. In creating this network or web of relationships, you can communicate the structure of information in a way that is compact and easy to understand. Rather than having to use several sentences of text to describe the relationship between a set of ideas, you can simply place each idea on the page and draw lines between them. The lines can additionally be labelled in order to add further description to the relationship. Typically, a mind map will start from a central topic, and from this will spread out various related topics.

When used correctly, this diagramming technique can concisely describe the relationship between multiple ideas and tasks yet require significantly fewer words than an equivalent plain text description would.

In addition to this, the associations between the information in a mind map often act as triggers to your memory, and help you remember details about that particular topic that you thought you’d forgotten.

This is why I have chosen to use a mind map to represent the ideas, facts and tasks involved in understanding Web Dynpro for Java.

Graphics and screen shots

The screen shots are taken from the Mindjet® MindManager® Viewer 7 running as a stand alone program as opposed to a browser plug-in.

How to View the Mind Map

This mind map has been created using the Mindjet software called MindManager. In order to view this mind map, you must install the Mindjet MindManager Viewer either as:

  • A stand alone program
  • As a browser plug-in (Only Internet Explorer v6.0 or higher)

Stand alone program installation

To install the Mindjet MindManager Viewer as a stand alone program, please follow the link to the Mindjet website where the software is available for free download (25Mb download).

The viewer software is available in four different languages (English, German, French and Japanese) for both PC and Mac systems.

Browser Plug-in

If you are using Internet Explorer version 6.0 or higher, then the plug-in will install automatically.

Depending on the security settings of your browser, you may see a security warning message displayed. Click on “Yes” to install the ActiveX plug-in.

Figure 1: Possible security warning during plug-in installation

Follow this link to view the Web Dynpro for Java mind map using the browser plug-in.

Downloading the Mind Map

If you choose to install the stand alone Mindjet MindManager Viewer, then you need to have a local copy of the mind map file. This is done by right-clicking on this link Web Dynpro mind map and select “Save Target As”.

W A R N I N G !
It is possible that the browser will mistake the mind map file for a ZIP file, and then try to open it with some tool such as WinZIP or WinRAR. If this happens, you must make sure that the file extension is not changed to .zip. The mind map file must have an extension of .mmap and must not be unzipped.

Using the Web Dynpro Mind Map

General Information

Once you have installed the Mindjet MindManager Viewer as either the stand alone program or the browser plug-in, you will then be able to view and navigate around the Web Dynpro mind map.

Figure 2: The Default View for the Web Dynpro Mind Map

As you can see from Figure 2, radiating out from the central subject are nine different topics. Each one of these topics is then broken down into further sub-topics. As these branches are expanded, further relationships will emerge between the different sup-topic areas.

You will also notice from the diagram above that some of the links have icons to the right of the text. This indicates that a hypertext link is available to take you to a document, presentation or web page within either SDN, or the Online SAP Help or some other relevant information source.

Figure 3: When the same concepts appear in multiple locations within the mind map, blue association arrows link them together

Since information cannot be arranged sequentially without significant degradation, you will see the same concepts or topics appearing in multiple places across the map. When they do, you will see a blue association arrow that connects them together. See Figure 3 above.

Mind map navigation

Once you have expanded several branches of the mind map, you will find that it rapidly becomes larger than the available screen size. In this situation, you can either change the zoom level (Ctrl + spin mouse wheel) or drag the whole map around to examine a particular area.

Dragging the map can be done by first left-clicking and holding, and then the mouse pointer changes to a hand and you are then able to drag the whole map in any direction.

Be careful about expanding too many branches of this map at once! This map can grow to become very large and you will not be able to see all the branches at once. It is recommended that you expand only the particular branch you are interested in.

Figure 4: Since the mind map is very large, you should only expand the branches you are interested in.

Printing the mind map

It is quite possible to print the fully expanded Web Dynpro mind map – as long as you have a sufficiently large printer! For instance, the entire map can be printed successfully on an HP 1055CM printer. The resulting print is about 1 metre wide and 2.5 metres high.

A word of warning about the print settings though! In the Page Setup menu, always ensure that the “Print Background” option is switched off!

The reason is that the mind map has an off-white background colour defined for it.This makes it easier to read on the screen, but if you attempt to print the fully expanded mind map, it will generate a print job of around 475Mb (depending on the type of printer being used). Not surprisingly, a print job this size caused the above printer to abort the job.

The answer is simply to switch off the background colour during printing, and the size of the print job drops to just over 2Mb!

Figure 5: If you wish to print the fully expanded mind map, then ensure that the Background colour is not printed.

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24 Comments

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    1. Chris Whealy Post author
      Hi Blag

      Personally, I think a mind map is one of the simplest and most compact ways to communicate the structure of information.

      Let me know how useful you find this presentation format.

      Chris W

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  1. Marilyn Pratt
    Actually I’m dumbfounded, Chris.  This provided an enormous aha beyond your core Web Dynpro contents.  I’ve been using mind-maps for a long while now and enjoy the way one can use them to diagram contents, projects, ideas but what I realized while navigating yours, is that they can also provide a really great way to map navigation to help documentation organization.  Hadn’t thought about it until I saw the way you hyperlinked your nodes to help.  I could imagine using this, for example to create a graphical getting started area for community information about how to edit and write a blog, participate in forum discussions, search effectively, update wiki contents, submit articles.  Nice job!
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    1. Chris Whealy Post author
      Hi Marilyn

      Thanks for the comments.  My aim here was to bring all the different documents about WD4J together into one place, but do so in a way that also communicated the structure of the information; a mind map was the obvious choice!

      As you said, you can use the hyperlink capability of these mind maps to bring together all sorts of diverse content that is related in some way or another.

      Chris W

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      1. Chris Whealy Post author
        A mind map sitting in front of Wiki content would be a powerful tool because the mind map itself not only provides links into the Wiki pages, but also shows the web of relationships and interactions that exist between the facts and topics.

        Information without structure may as well be noise…

        Chris W

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        1. Marilyn Pratt
          Now you got me exactly.  That’s absolutely where I was going with all this in my imagination. I’ve also done some techinical checking in interim.  Let’s keep it high on the wishlist agenda.
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  2. David Halitsky
    Chris –

    That is a beautiful thing you’ve done.

    In the mid-90’s I attended a DoD conference on MPP in DC – all of the presenters were showing what great things MPP (massively parallel processing) could do.

    One of them was a web-based zoom sysstem like yours (remember – this was mid-90’s) only not for a graphic “network” diagram – just for large text – where you could view a whole book as one extremely dense diagram if you wanted to and then zoom in on chapters, lines, etc.

    But the point I’m making is that even though RAM/MHz costs have shrunk so that MPP processors are no longer required to do what you’re doing, very few folks have taken the visual approach you’re taking – which is EXACTLY the right approach.

    There’s a company in Washington DC (or used to be around in the early 90’s) that was developing the same kind of associative tools for military intelligence – linking anything to anything to increase chances of useful “clues”.  They also understood as well as you do the power of the technique you’ve chosen to use.

    In short – bravo for the conceptualization and double-bravo for the implementation.

    Regards
    djh

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    1. Chris Whealy Post author
      Hi David

      Thanks for the kudos…

      I’d have preferred use a Semantic Network representation, but I couldn’t find any software that would allow easy distribution of the finished result.

      Whether its a Rembrandt or a Mind Map, the old saying is still true “A picture speaks a thousand words”.

      πŸ™‚

      Chris W

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  3. Bharathwaj Ragothaman
    Quite an extra ordinary tool ! For all SAP documentation , we can have an additional navigation structure like this!

    Just to document these links would have taken a while. Kudos for the effort.

    Is there a possibilty to search in MindMap ?? πŸ™‚ (Greedy , I know !)

    Regards
    Bharathwaj

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    1. Chris Whealy Post author
      Hi Bharathwaj

      If you install the free, stand-alone viewer available from Mindjet, then you can search mind maps just like any other document.

      Regards

      Chris W

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  4. Oliver Kohl
    Hey Chris,

    another high quality blog from you with some fresh ideas. This has probably grown to its current size over the years, and it will probably take some time for me to extract some of the informations and ideas  into my current projects. Now I just have to find a good print shop, that can produce it in full size;)

    I have looked into mindmaps before and because the original MM software is a bit heavy on the price I tried FreeMind (http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page). Probably not a full replacement but the latest version can import mmap files and the results look at least ok. (http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Import_and_export_to_other_applications)

    One thing I want to look into is how to use a mindmap like this for the complete analysis, design and implementation phase of a project, especially for WebDynpro and this looks like a good point to start from.

    Anyway thanks for the inspiration and kudos for this well structured and exceptional work.

    Cheers,
      Oliver

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    1. Chris Whealy Post author
      Hi Oliver

      There is lots of Mind Map software available – some free, some commercial, some very capable, some not so capable…

      Mind maps can be used for all sorts of situations.  I used mind maps for note taking during my degree.  At the end of the lecture, I had one side of A4 with everyting on it, and the others had 8 or 10 sides of A4 and were complaining that they couldn’t keep up! πŸ™‚

      Enjoy!

      Chris W

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  5. I appreciate your effort, I’m big user of mind maps myself. It has helped in many different ways, You’ve taken it a step forward by providing the WD framework in Mind Maps.
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    1. Chris Whealy Post author
      Hi Nirmal

      Thanks for the complement.

      I hope other subject matter experts will see how useful a mind map can be, and then use the same technique for gathering together all the documentation related to their specialist topic.

      If people took that approach, then it would be much easier not only to find the documentation you’re looking for, but also see how all the topics in a particular area hang together.

      Chris W

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  6. Helmut Tammen
    Hi Chris,

    first I want to say that this is a great blog.
    I´m a busy user of mind maps. I think this sort of presentation is perfect for many use cases.

    But why didn´t you select a tool that is supported for a great variety of operating systems and browsers?
    Isn´t there such a tool? I´m using FreeMind. It is platform independent but doesn´t have browser plug-ins.

    Best regards
    Helmut 

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  7. Daniel Silva
    Hi Chris,
    After design and integrate the diagram in the form, is possible to generate the code and class for any languagem? I mean build automatically from the Java Mind Map Java, generating Java code for example.

    Tks,
    Daniel Silva

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    1. Chris Whealy Post author
      Hi Daniel
      No, this is not possible.  This mind map was never intended to be used as a programming tool.
      Instead, it is a communication tool designed to show you how all the information within the topic of Web Dynpro for Java is structured.
      Regards
      Chris W
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