Delineato: The App That Reinvents Mind Mapping

Delineato is a beautiful new diagramming and mind mapping app, but in order to appreciate this app, you will need to forget what you know about apps in this genre. Forget the loaded toolbars, tons of options, and feature laden apps.

Delineato is the OmmWriter of brainstorming apps, complete with a track of Zen music to help keep you focused. In my recent comparison of several mind mapping apps, I divided the apps into two categories — minimalist and power user. But this app is in a category of its own.

Look and Feel

Apps can’t make you more creative, but the design of this app definitely forces you to get your ideas out with no visual interference. There is no toolbar and only one button for fullscreen mode. Clicking on the the title brings up the standard OS X document management options such as Duplicate, Move To, and such.

Other than, there is not much to the UI unless you right click, double click on a topic (more on that in a minute), or use the menu bar. All you get is a blank, unlimited canvas to start mapping out ideas. The default theme colors are pleasing, but selecting a different theme only changes the background if you begin your mind map using a different theme (a possible bug?).

So, while many mind mapping and diagramming apps are daunting because of the plethora of features, Delineato might just intimidate because you don’t know how to get started.

An example of a Delineato mind map.

An example of a Delineato mind map.

A New Take on Mind Mapping

Delineato provides a completely unique user experience among all of the diagramming and mind mapping maps I have tried. The first thing that is clearly different is the input method. There are no shortcuts for adding topics, notes, or any other type of input. For me, this was a little unsettling at first. I am used to entering and tabbing my why through a mind map, usually using Xmind or MindNode Pro. Instead, all input in Delineato is through the mouse either right clicking to add a new topic to the map, or double clicking to edit an topic.

This shot shows the dialogue for inputing elements.

This shot shows the dialogue for inputing elements.

Delineato’s website has a neat instructional video on getting started with Delineato

After my initial scorn at the lack of keyboard options for input, the experience of using the mouse started to grow on me. Sure it’s slower, but the experience was more immersive and required more focus on the task at hand. In a way it was more thoughtful. One thing I actually liked more in Delineato than other mind mapping apps is how connections between topics are made, it’s as simple as dragging lines between shapes and you can create as many connections as needed.

Editing a topic in Delineato.

Editing a topic in Delineato.

All in all, Delineato is like a free form diagraming app and not a pure mind mapping app. There is no predetermined structure, and no options for automatically organizing the topics. It does, however, provide guides for moving topics around and there is an option for a grid background. Users of traditional mind mapping tools might also miss some other features such as task management options, packaged images, no import or export of OPML files, and no hidden notes for discretely adding additional information to topics.

Final Thoughts

Delineato’s lack of common mind mapping / diagraming features will turn away some users — especially the lack of OPML import and export and the lack of keyboard input. However, you are a mind mapper who can accept an app a little outside of the normal paradigm, this app definitely rethinks the mind mapping app category in a good way.

Despite its lack of features, Delineato’s low price point (compared to other mind mappers) and the great minimalist experience it creates leads me to recommend this app.


An innovative app that rethinks the mind mapping paradigm.