MindManager CPU and Memory Usage

Filed Under Mindjet

Mindjet

by
September 12, 2006

I want to thank Eric Mack for his recent post on MindManager’s CPU usage. Between Eric, Doug Sorocco and participants in the Mindjet User Forum and the Yahoo Mindjet User Group, we have heard loud and clear that the issue of MindManager using too much CPU and memory is an issue some of our customers would like to see us address more directly. (I also want to thank everyone who filled-in our recent survey on new features.) 

 

As Mindjet VP of Engineering, the “bug” stops here. We want both as a matter of customer service and as a matter of professional pride to see to it that MindManager operates as efficiently as we can make it.   

Here is a bit of background:

The issue we already know about is in the idling behavior of MindManager.  It relates to how toolbar buttons are enabled or disabled.  When idling Windows sends periodic message to MindManager.  We use these messages to check that all our toolbar buttons are in the correct state.  This is a standard Window programming practice, and we have been doing it for years.  The problem is that we recalculate the button states every time, even when nothing has changed.  Over time we have added more toolbars, we have more add-ins, and we have bigger and bigger maps.  All of this makes the button state calculation take longer and longer.  The calculation takes longer if a topic deep in a branch is currently selected. 

From what I have read in the users groups, the use of some add-ins seem to aggravate or cause the issues of CPU utilization when idle and memory usage. We already know of a way users can remedy this situation—in some cases.  The challenge is to be able reproduce the circumstances in which either or both of these occur.  We can fix this problem: We know what to do.  It is not a small job, and needs a lot of thorough testing. 

At this point I cannot, in all honesty, promise a fix in the immediate future—but rest assured it is now firmly on our radar. I just want everyone to understand that we allocate 25% of our development efforts to improving performance.  For instance, in MindManager 6 Windows Service Pack 1, we used quite a bit of our resources to completely rebuild our map-loading code to greatly speed this up in certain cases (we changed our XML parsing and validation strategy). We also sped up the Outlook Linker by adding a workaround for a problem in Outlook relating to certain types of Outlook folder. Going forward, we can address the idling issue – and, in the process, see if we can get better at managing the interactions with MindManager add-ins. With your help – those of you who are experiencing this memory usage issue – we will find a solution.

Incidentally, some people have asked what happens to Windows crash reports, on the rare occasions MindManager might crash.  They go to Microsoft, and as of now we don’t get to see them.  However, our support team has some tools which help us in pin-pointing any such problems (for example Microsoft’s Dr. Watson.)

So the main thing we need to start to figure this out is very specific information from you, the users, who are experiencing this issue. The question is: What is the best way for you to get that information to us. We could address this in this blog, but I suspect that this will quickly get way too technical for most people. Or we could address it in the forums. The best way from our perspective would be for you to document as best you can the conditions under which the CPU usage spikes (with sample maps and preferably system configuration), and send it to us via our support center (support@mindjet.com). We have systems in place in the center to efficiently manage technical issues such as this. I promise that we will try to reproduce your problem, and if we cannot we will follow-up with you. Then we will have a solid set of tests for our solution to the problem.  I want to be able to verify that our fix really has solved your problems, and the collected cases will let us do that.

But I am open to your suggestions: You brought this issue to our attention, and I suspect you may have given some thought as to how we might best address it. We might, for instance, arrange a conference call/web conference in which we pull a number of people together at once to discuss this in real time.

9 Responses to “MindManager CPU and Memory Usage”

  1. Andrew Wilcox

    Just been in discussion with a supplier of business simulation games to major corporates. They want to include MindManager as part of the package for Preparation, Infomration Dissemination, Game Tool, Presentation (and who knows the corporates may then use MindManager in their normal business).

    BUT discussion is on hold until CPU problem is fixed. My contact has installed MindManager on his desktop and laptop, and the CPU of both machines has been overloaded by MindManager. He has un-installed the software.

    I had to send him a PDF of the map we created on line this morning.

    What is the timescale on resolving this problem?

  2. Stephen Cotterell

    After a long time in the sidestream mindmapping in general and electronic mindmapping in particular seems to be taking off. Maybe the tipping point into the mainstream wolrd is about to be reached? Yet, as I am a long time user of Mind Manager, we have found that the CPU hogging problem directly affects this possibility.

    Consider the way I work in front of clients and colleagues. For example, prior to the release of the latest problem laden version I would use Mindmanager live and interactively with others i.e. as a dynamic and useful tool that we could all share. I noticed that once people had hands-on experience of using previous versions of the software that they would download a trail. Some even bought copies for themselves!

    Now all of that free, experiential learning and marketing has gone as now I only use mindmanager when I am on my own. Please close your eyes if you do not want to read what’s coming!!

    However, I still need the interactivity when I am working with people. So, with my Tablet PC I have created a series of blank PowerPoint Slides. I then display this as a slideshow. Once in this mode I hover over the bottom left hand corner of the screen with my pen, select the drawing tool and start to create mind maps!! Obviously the functionality of MindManager is lost to me but at least I am getting part of the job done in real time!!

    I miss using Mind Manager in the real time world. Please give it back to me!!

    Stephen

  3. Andrew Wilcox

    Yesterday at Winchester Ecademy where I was presenting my ideas for Cabre’s latest product which of courses uses MindManager extensively : Event Recording and Instant Publishing on the Web. One of my friends said “I installed your MindManager trial on my desktop PC but it took up too much CPU time. So I installed it on my brand new laptop and had the same problem. Sorry Andrew I have uninstalled MindManager”.

    Inside I cried!

    I am pleased we have your attention Richard but when will we get the resolution?

  4. Andrew Ross

    I like the idea of the diagnostic tool. It would serve two functions: 1. simplify the mechanism by which the Mindjet engineers can collect information from the field; and 2. since it requires a user to actually download the tool, it will attract a particular user demographic, i.e.: those users who are affected by the issue and/or those who take an active interest in helping Mindjet improve the product.

    If we don’t have a diagnostic tool, then it would be helpful to know what information is useful for the engineers…If we should send a full stack trace or what? Perhaps Mindjet would like to suggest an example of the sort of information we should be forwarding.

  5. Jason R. Kaiser Sr.

    Just an idea….could your engineers write a small diagnostic program that we could install on our machines that would give them specific information relevant to this problem? I would gladly install it.

  6. Colin Walls

    I just wanted to commend Richard for his very mature response to this issue. Too many [usually larger] software companies make it so hard for their users to contact them, that they must never get any useful feedback. Clearly this does not apply to Mindjet. In the same fashion, such companies almost never admit to being at fault – they always know best. Again, Mindjet is bucking the trend. Thank you.

  7. Robin Capper

    I’ve seen memory consumption as more of an issue than processor use. As have plenty of memory seeing MindManager use 500-1000mb of ram/swap file isn’t a problem but imagine it could be on lessor machines.

    Maybe rather than Eric’s suggested email list could you consider a “Current Release Issues” forum on the Mindjet User forums. This aimed at performance/bugs rather than the more general current forums.

    For future maybe you could intercept or duplicate the crash reports so Mindjet does get the benefit of them. I use one other application that does this and they report that these greatly assist tracking of problems.

  8. Eric Mack

    Richard, thanks for opening up the discussion on this. Given the elusive nature of this problem, perhaps a simple e-mail list would allow for rapid discussion of the issue – at least until you can get a handle on the scope.

    I realize that this is a low-tech solution but I want to suggest a way that will encourage the greatest level of participation. Either way, now that you;ve blogged about this, let’s see what other members of the MindManager community have to say.

    Thanks again,

    Eric Mack