I'm looking for a minimalistic mind-mapping tool that

  • uses a very simple, plain-text backend format (preferably markdown, but other comparably simple formats that I could convert easily to and from markdown are also ok),
  • is FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) and
  • is not cloud-based.

Bonus points given for

  • Web-technology based tools that I could install on my own server
  • LaTeX-Support
  • Supporting file links (this is an essential feature for me, but I guess it could be integrated with reasonable effort into any tool, hence only bonus points)

If it’s not a self-hosted Web app (which I’d prefer), Windows support is necessary, Linux support would be nice. I don't need Mac portability.

Some background: I want to use this as a knowledge base tool. This means that I want to maintain my documents for many years to come, which is why I need a really simple backend format. Ideally I'd like to be able to easily write the backend file by hand and then just view it in a mind-mapping tool.

I know of …

  • FreePlane, but it seems too feature-loaden for my application. Might be an option to write a good markdown to FreePlane converter, though.
  • WiseMapping, which looks really nice, but seems to use a database backend.
  • MindMup, which looks okay, but apparently does not support installing it on my own server.

5 Answers 5


Sorry to beat a dead horse here, but you really should look into TiddlyMap. It will do everything you want, and allows nearly infinite customizability, as it's based on TiddlyWiki. Quick searches from the TiddlyWiki home page for LaTeX, markdown, hosting, etc. will answer all the questions you have.


TinyMind is a VSCode plugin which integrates directly with the markdown preview, it doesn't use markdown directly but instead uses the common ``` code escape sequence.



If your only problem with MindMup is that you can't run it on your server, check out the desktop version. it saves to the same format and has most of the features that you can find on mindmup.com

  • Good hint, thanks! Going to check that out.
    – Eike P.
    Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 13:25
  • Have you used the tool yourself; can you recommend it?
    – Eike P.
    Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 13:35
  • I use it every day for pretty much all my mind maps, but I'm partial to it because I wrote about 40% of MindMup. Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 21:58
  • 1
    MindMup no longer has a desktop version from what I can find online. The new MindMup 2.0 is online only and the link in the answer returns a 404. There is a uservoice request for an offline version.
    – AnnanFay
    Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 10:52

Obsidian, a rather new (was not available at the time of asking) and very popular markdown-based note-taking application offers all kinds of plugins that do cool charts, tables, calendar integration etc., all based on markdown. Among them is a plugin for creating mindmaps based on markdown. I think this finally checks all of the boxes in my initial question!

  • purely markdown-based
  • fully standalone, offline application, no account or cloud communication required whatsoever
  • Latex support, file link support and an incredible amount of further features due to the integration within the powerful Obsidian ecosystem

Image copied from the plugin's GitHub page, linked to above: enter image description here


I would suggest taking a look at Freemind -

  • Free
  • FOSS
  • Java based so will run just about anywhere
  • Maps are stored in XML so can be manipulated by other code
  • Export to HTLM pages


  • 1
    As I said, I know FreePlane, which is a newer fork of FreeMind. I guess I'd prefer that. Still, at the moment, writing a good markdown2mm converter seems to be my best shot. The inverse (mm2markdown) already exists btw, see here.
    – Eike P.
    Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 13:28

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