Learn Freeplane

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ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ನೋಡಿ हिंदी में देखें


Basic information

ICT Competency Freeplane is a free and open source software application that helps you create and edit concept map, as a generic resource. For the purpose of this section, we can treat 'concept mapping' as nearly synonymous with 'mind mapping'.
Educational application and relevance Making concept maps can support thinking, brainstorming, sharing information and documenting meetings and group processes.

Educators consider that concept mapping is a good approach for building skills in students for ideating and organizing ideas; they also find it a great asset for teaching. It is a great tool for students to help them organize their thought processes when writing. Teachers and students can use this application to collaboratively or individually create concept maps on an idea or explore a problem.

Version Version - 1.3.15
Configuration This tool has no specific configuration requirements. It is available as a part of Ubuntu custom distribution.

Freeplane is part of the Ubuntu GNU/Linux operating system. It is also available for download on Windows and Mac operating systems as well.

Other similar applications Freemind
The application on mobiles and tablets There is no concept map creation tool in mobiles, but you can view concept maps In Android Mobiles using Freeplane reader or Simple Mind app.
Development and community help Freeplane website

Overview of Features

Freeplane allows you to create concept map, as a textual resource that can be organized graphically, in the form of a map or tree of ideas; it provides a pictorial overview of the concepts, related concepts / sub-concepts for a topic. Freeplane helps you to create a textual OER with possibilities for linking to additional resources (on your computer as well as on the web), adding annotations as well as images. Freeplane allows you to organize and order ideas into a hierarchy connected by lines (edges). Nodes can also be linked with free lines (connectors) and labels. The concept map can be exported as an image as well as a text document.


For Ubuntu
  1. The application is part of the Ubuntu custom distribution.
  2. In case you do not find it on your computer, you can install by typing Freeplane on top search bar in Software Centre(App Grid).
  3. If you would like to install through the terminal follow these steps below:
    1. Open terminal by clicking Applications->System Tools->Terminal or through Keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+T
    2. In the terminal window, type below command and press enter to start the installation by providing your machine password:
    3. sudo apt-get install freeplane
For Windows and MAC computers

To install and use Freeplane on your computer, you need to install both Freeplane and Java runtime packages in your Windows computer.

  1. Download the Freeplane-Windows-Installer-x.x.xx from https://sourceforge.net/projects/freeplane/ and download Java Runtime Environment from https://www.java.com/en/download/. You can save these two executable (.exe for windows/.dmg for MAC) files to your desktop or any other location in your computer.
  2. Once you download both files, double-click on "Freeplane-Setup-...exe/dmg" file to begin the installation.
  3. Click Yes if it ask your permission to allow this program make change to the computer, Keep clicking on "Next" button to continue and complete the installation.
  4. Also install downloaded java runtime package from the above same method.

After you download Freeplace and Java .exe files, watch this video for installation steps

For android smart phones
  1. Freeplane is not available for phone
  2. Mimind is alternative app for android phones
  3. Click here to download and install Mimind on your phone

Working with the application

  1. To download mindmap file click here
  2. Some of the shortcut keys in Freeplane Shortcut keys

Creating a map

To learn working with Freeplane, we will start creating a concept map for Digital Story Telling; you will see above that Freeplane has opened a window with a box with text "New mindmap". This node, also called the "root node" will contain the core idea/ theme to be discussed in the concept map. You can click on File option to save this map; when the map is saved it will get saved with the name in the root node.

Inserting nodes

Concept maps can be stored in your folders; they are saved with an extension ".mm". We have created a concept map called Learning Digital Story Telling. After the root node is created, additional ideas are added by adding more nodes, called child nodes. The concept map gets built by adding further child nodes, for topics and sub-topics. You can keep adding child nodes to any node.

  1. Use the ‘insert’ key to create a ‘child node’ this is a sub-concept of your current concept.
  2. Use the ‘enter’ key to create a ‘sibling’ this is a parallel concept to your current concept.

Thus you can create a concept map with knowing just two functions – add child node (insert) and add sibling node (enter). In this manner, a concept map can be used to classify and categorise information.

Our map has nodes for the ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ of DST, with sub-nodes.

  1. The first image shows the creation of a concept map with the first child node.
  2. The second image shows the completed concept map with child nodes and sibling nodes.

Linking nodes

  1. When you discuss concepts, you can notice that sometimes concepts are connected, and you want to link them to study in detail. For doing this you can add a graphical link (an arrow) to connect two nodes. To do this select two nodes, then go to Menu Bar and choose EDIT > CONNECT option. Then you can see graphical link which is connected to two nodes. You can click on the arrow and move it around.
  2. By right clicking on graphical link(connector) you will get the window as shown in second image. In that you can change connector color, shape, size and direction. You can also add or remove the source node label, middle node label, target node label.

Hyperlinking files and weblinks

  1. In the first image, did you notice the red arrow in the root node of our concept map? This main node has a hyper-link which opens the Wikipedia page on digital story telling. You can embed a hyper-link on a node, such that clicking on the node can connect to related resources. In our Learning Digital Story Telling .mm concept map, we have inserted a hyper-link for the main node ‘Learning Digital Story Telling’.
  2. To do this Move your cursor to this node and select Edit → Link → Add or Modify hyperlink (type). You can also use the keyboard short cut CTRL-K. Freeplane will open an input bar as shown in the second image. We will type in our web page address https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_storytelling into this input bar
  3. You can also add a hyperlink to a local file on your computer. If you select When you click on Edit-->Link-->Add Hyperlink (choose) allows you to link to a file on a folder on your computer. The third image shows how to choose a file from your folders to link.

Adding notes and note window

  1. In our Learning Digital Story Telling concept map, you will also see a yellow label beside the arrow and if you place your mouse over the yellow label, you will see a note description.
  2. To add a note, you can click on the node, as shown in the second image, go to View--->Notes--->Display note panel
  3. You can type your note in the note window which opens as shown in the third image. You can change the position and size of this note window.

Moving nodes

To move nodes from one position to other position or to disconnect a node from its current parent and connect it to another parent you can simply click and drag it to its new location. Each node has two positions where you can drop another node. These positions are visible if the cursor is above it.

  • If the cursor is near the top of the target node, the whole upper half lights up. If you drop a node here, the node will become a sibling above the target node.
  • If the cursor is near the child side of the target node, the left or right side of the node lights up. If you drop the node here it will be connected as a child node.

Type regional language in your concept map

To type any Indian regional languages in your concept map, you need to download and install the Sakal Bharati font from this link (after your download, double click on the downloaded "SakalBharati.ttf" file, click on install font to install the font in your computer).
Now, configure Sakalbharathi as the default font in your Freeplane tool.

  1. Open a Freeplane tool, goto Format -> Manage styles -> Edit Styles. This will open a concept map standard template (like in below gif).
    Configure sakal bharati dafault.gif
  2. From the menubar, Goto Navigate -> click all visible nodes.
  3. Now on the right-side properties window go to "font of whole core", Font family select Sakal Bharati font.
  4. After you configure, click on the right mark (green colour) on the top left window.
  5. Now you just close and reopen concept map to see the Sakal Bharati is your default font.

Now, you should able to type regional languages in your concept map using Saka Bharati font.

NOTE: After installing the font in your computer, If you are not able to configure Sakal Bharati as a default font. You can follow below steps to type regional language at one time.

Select Sakal Barati and type

Open Freeplane, select the node where you want to type, change the font from sans serif to Sakal Bharati from the font list on top. Now, you can type any Indian regional language in the node. For every new node before typing, you have to select Sakal Bharati font and type.

Adding different icons to the node

By simply clicking on the left side different icons, you can add those icons into your nodes. You can add different and multiple icons for each indvidual nodes.

Saving and exporting

Like in most applications, a file can be saved using the FILE – SAVE command, or by the shortcut key CTRL+S. Always give a meaningful file name, reading which you should get an idea of contents. Freeplane saves files with a .mm extension. You can also export a concept map to image (png or jpeg) and text (odt and html) formats.

  1. By default your concept map is saved by Freeplane as a '.mm' format file as shown in the first image. While saving the file, Freeplane will display the file browser, to allow you to select the folder in which you can save your file. By default, the file is saved in your home folder.
  2. However, the concept map can be saved in many other formats. You can export the map to a text document file (in .odt or .doc formats). You can also export the map as an image (in .png or .jpeg formats) or as a web page (in .html format), as shown in the second image.

Advanced features

  1. You can insert images directly in your nodes by drag and drop or copy and paste.
  2. You can create visual representation using 'Cloud' etc.
  3. Our aim here is to get you started with concept map OER creation using Freeplane. For advanced functions, you should refer to the User Manual for the application. The Freeplane tutorial is available within Freeplane itself, which you can access any time by pressing the F1 function key. The tutorial itself is a concept map, and you should browse this concept map, not only to get help that you may require, but also as a lesson on how a concept map can communicate so much information in such a simple manner!!

Ideas for resource creation

Freeplane a good tool to start your resource creation work. You should develop a concept map for the topic you want to develop a resource on. The ideas you have about the topic, the sequencing of ideas and sub concepts, the specific points for each idea / sub-concept can be developed on the map. Links between nodes, with web pages, notes explaining concepts can all be inserted in the concept map. The power of the digital concept map is that you can keep revising the nodes, adding and deleting, moving and copying nodes as you want. This makes the process quite dynamic.

Once you have completed your concept map you can share it with your colleagues for feedback with which you can refine the concept map still further.

Exporting a concept map to a document for further fleshing out

The advantage of a concept map is that you can categorise and arrange your thinking the way you want to. You can enter detailed notes for any node. When you export it to a ODT, you can see this as a document, with the 'note' information being the text in the note, and all the nodes will become headings. This way you can even write a document using Freeplane. Use this whenever you are writing an essay or an article or a paper

  • Note - Before exporting it into ODT you should format freeplane file to automatic layout for all nodes. To do this follow this step. Go to Format-> Automatic Layout-> for all nodes and select it. This will format nodes to headings, child nodes to sub headings and notes to text source.

Frequently Asked Questions

After upload/share my concept map on the Internet, inserted Images are not displaying

When you insert an image into your concept map, you do not actually 'save' the image inside the concept map. Freeplane will only store the 'path' information, that is the location of the image file on your computer. Now when you mail the concept map to someone else or upload it on a web page, the image is not shared along with the concept map. When the map is opened by another person, Freeplane will try to locate the image again in the same location as it is in your computer, and will fail to find it. Hence, the image will not appear.

One way of not facing this problem would be to hyperlink to an image on the web/internet. In which case when you click on the link, Freeplane will try to get the image from the web, and if there is connectivity you will be able to access the image. Hence, the images not appearing subsequently is not a problem, but a feature. One solution given by Rakesh sir is to export your concept map (showing the image) itself as an image. This image export will show the inserted image (as a part of the exported image). You can upload this image export of the concept map, along with the concept map (.mm files), so that others can see the images you inserted in your concept map.


Wikipedia Freeplane website