Fuzzy fonts in MindManager X5

I’ve been evaluating MindManager X5 and I really dig it. It’s a great program, it’s able to work with ink on my Tablet PC, it can integrate with MS Project. I have tried eight other mind mapping tools (FreeMind, Visual Mind, ConceptDraw MINDMAP, Thought Mapper, MYmap, BrainMine, Mind Pad, Map it!, MindMapper and OpenMind, in case someone’s interested) and they just can’t compete with MindManager’s feature set.

So, one seemingly small problem I’m having is that the fonts that MindManager shows in the diagrams are fuzzy. Look here:

Update: Have a look at the comments for a few more screenshots that may help you understand what I’m seeing.

The problem is worst for the subtopic, slightly better for the other node types, but it depends on a style’s font settings – in smaller font sizes, the problem is more clearly visible (and it’s much more clearly visible if the whole screen is full of text, something I couldn’t show in the small screenshot). This doesn’t have anything to do with the font I use, nor with the Windows setting for font smoothing.

Now, the thing is I contacted Mindjet support about this and got this reply:

The automatic antialiazing of MM X5 sadly causes on some screens a fuzzy appearance of the fonts.

Unfortunately the antialiazing cannot be switched off in the actual MM X5-version and at this time I cannot tell you eihter, if this feature will be detachable in a future version.

I´m sorry, that in this case I cannot offer you a solution for your problem.

What? I’m evaluating the best and most expensive mind mapping software in the market, the support guys acknowledge that they have a bad display bug, but they don’t feel they should promise a fix for the bug for any time in the future? Unbelievable!

Looking around the peer to peer forums at Mindjet, I found that three others have posted about this problem in the past, here, here and here. The oldest post dates back to December 2003.

So, if I can’t find a solution to this problem, it looks like I won’t buy MindManager, however great the functionality may be. I don’t like the bug because it makes the maps look ugly, and I don’t like the attitude any better, when I see how long this problem has apparently been known. Or does anybody have a solution to this problem?

12 Comments on Fuzzy fonts in MindManager X5

  1. Oliver,it looks like they are using ClearType – the fonts in the screenshot look that perfect on my TFT ;). But then, your overlayed Word screenshot shows cleartype font smoothing too – so maybe the solution is for you to either turn of cleartype (if you can’t stand it – i know people that can’t, though i personanlly could not live without it anymore), or tune it to match your TFT using the tuner available on http://www.microsoft.com/type.One more thought: Cleartype only works well for TFTs with the RGB pixels next to eachother. if you are using your tablet in portrait mode, they may be on top of eachother – making the cleartype rendering look really bad – maybe tyhat’s what you’re seeing? in this case, the only solution will be to turn of cleartype :(hth.

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  2. Hi Marc,thanks for your comment. The problem is, I already did play around with the font smoothing settings, to no avail, and MindManager is not using ClearType, neither their own nor the Windows implementation. From your comment, I understood that the issue may not be as easily visible on other peoples’ screens as it is on mine, so I tried to find a way to illustrate it better. Just one other thing up front: I have three TFT displays on my main system, two of which are rotated (vertical), the third is horizontal. All three show the same issue, while all three also show the same clean fonts for me in Word, using ClearType. I have also tried the same thing on my Tablet PC and I have tried rotating the image on the TPC in all four orientations, without seeing any change to the bad MindManager rendition. MindManager doesn’t change its font display at all when the Windows font smoothing settings are changed in any way. I can switch ClearType on or off, use the so-called “standard” font smooting or not, without MindManager showing any difference whatsoever. Obviously they have implemented an algorithm of their own (as the support communications also indicated) which is just quite bad. They stress that this problem shows “on some displays”, I have yet to find a display that doesn’t show this problem.Now, trying to make things a bit more transparent for readers who don’t see the problem that well on their own screens, I have created a few more screenshots of a longer piece of text, in MindManager and in Word, with system ClearType switched on and also with font smoothing switched off. The difference is clearly visible in Word, while MindManager doesn’t show any changes.From the zoomed images, it’s clearly visible that MindManager doesn’t use ClearType, but some other font anti-aliasing algorithm. It’s also clear to see why the MindManager algorithm is so bad: it thickens out the single characters enormously and in many places the black “core” of the line of each character is replaced by a thicker dark grey line, which I’m sure accounts for a lot of the fuzziness I’m seeing. What’s really beyond me is why they decided to implement their own font anti-aliasing at all, and why they apparently decided to do it in a way that can’t be switched off or replaced by the standard, much better Windows algorithm easily. Well.So, here are the additional illustrations:MindManagerComplete textZoomed textWord ClearTypeComplete textZoomed textWord no smoothingComplete textZoomed text

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  3. Another thing I should report to keep everybody updated is that I had another unexpected reply to my first email from Mindjet. An “End-User Support Representative” mailed me to let me know that my problem had been an issue for several of their customers and that it “has been approached by our development team for future versions of MindManager.” He’s careful to promise nothing, though, so I think this is really only marginally better.

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  4. Oliver,ah yes, now i see it. it seems indeed that they are doing their own (pretty crappy) smoothing… 😦

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  5. News: I got another mail from the first support contact. Finally I understand: I got it all wrong, this is not a bug at all. It’s in fact my monitor that makes me see this. Here’s the essence of the latest mail, translated as accurately as possible from German:

    With regard to the anti-aliasing function: this is not a bug. The problem is that the smoothing of the fonts is not being displayed as focused as it should by a small minority of monitors. So the anti-aliasing is deliberate, which may be possible to switch off in a future version of MindManager X5.

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  6. I’m trying MM Pro 6 and, like before, there doesn’t seem to be a way of switching off the anti-aliasing. Also like before, the Map View doesn’t react to changes in the method used by Windows to smooth the edges of screen fonts. It’s a shame. Another thing I hated in MM5 and which remains in MM6 are intermittent interruptions when scrolling maps. Try to scroll a big map using Ctrl + Arrow-keys and you’ll see what I mean. The same happens using the mouse wheel. Long ago, I reported this to MindJet, received an answer saying they had been able to reproduce the problem, but that was all.

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  7. You are right about the fonts, they haven’t changed anything in that regard. Have you contacted their support about this again? I haven’t done it myself yet, but the new release is probably the best opportunity to tell them about old problems again.What I can’t reproduce is the problem with the scrolling. I have a pretty big map (~300 topics) and I’m scrolling around in it without seeing anything that would qualify as an interruption – I do see that scrolling is slightly slower when there’s more text visible, but that’s no big thing, hardly noticeable really. This is MM6 Pro.

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  8. Well, I was testing MM6 but meanwhile put it aside, because of the hard-coded anti-aliasing’s awfulness, but not only. Call me a dinosaur, but MM – even now integrated with Outlook – still can’t replace a few features of Ecco that I can’t live without. Not to mention that it uses up ten times as much memory. Still, MM is a good tool, full of potential for improvement and, following your suggestion, I posted about the anti-aliasing annoyance in the Improvement Ideas section of their forum. I took the liberty of referring to the older posts you pointed out above and also to this blog entry. It’s here.Thanks for your comment on the jumpy scrolling: it prompted me to try MM in another machine and realise that it behaved differently. Some delays with big maps, but no interruptions… Still, I couldn’t solve the problem in my machine at work, which is actually a better one (in terms of processor and memory).Cheers.

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  9. That’s great! The more people talk about this, the better the chances to get it fixed eventually – I hope.

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  10. This problem is more serious on asian ideographs. In such language like Chinese and Japanese, characters are more complicated so that they are more fuzzy displayed.

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  11. a patch for Mindmanager v6.1.894 fixing antialiased text: <a href="http://rapidshare.de/files/36836819/mindmanager_noantialias.zip.html&quot; title="download patch">more info:<a href="http://www.mindjet.com/uk/forum/viewtopic.php?p=3896#3896&quot; title="mindjet forum">

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  12. Hi! (I already posted the following in the thread at Mindjet forum, but perhapts somebody reads here and not there)I was sooo happy to find a solution for these antialiasing problem which I have on my notebook screen (1450*1024) for years now.Unfortunatly the Rapidshare-link does not work any longer. Does anyone have an alternative download location, or can anyone send the patch to my email adress efgs@arcor.de ?Many thanks in advance (and please excuse my english language mistakes)

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