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MindManager CPU and Memory Usage (Update)


Two months ago I blogged to request help in tracking down some rare performance problems with MindManager 6 for Windows.  I want to thank the 22 people who have reported performance cases to our customer support since then. Support have followed-up on these, and we have also held an internal "Performance Review", where we analyzed over 80 cases in detail.  A couple of people sent in technical advice, which is also gratefully received.

Some people have misinterpreted our concern as a statement that performance problems in MindManager are common.  This is not true.  Less than 1% of the issues raised with Customer Support relate to performance.  Since Jan 2005, we have had 250 such cases reported by 200 individuals. We have over 800,000 MindManager users. 

We found 6 general areas where issues had been raised, with a high proportion of the cases were from tablet PC users.  These areas were: handling of big maps, map opening speed, RAM usage, CPU usage when idle, CPU usage when moving the mouse across a map, and drag and drop of large number of topics and/or large attachments.  We mapped aspects of these onto 10 internal areas for specific improvement. We have started working on four of these areas:

  • Behavior on and after map opening
    After a map is opened, we spell-check it and validate all the links to files and hyperlinks.  This is done in background so that users can work in the maps as soon as they are opened.  With larger maps this process can take a while, and makes MindManager use a lot of CPU when apparently idle. We will change MindManager to largely avoid this CPU usage.
  • CPU usage when truely idle
    As I mentioned in my previous blog, we will reduce CPU usage when truely idle.
  • RAM usage
    By using a complex and clever technique for allocation RAM to map topics, we expect to be able to signifiicantly lower our usage of RAM.  This will help particularly with very big maps. 
  • Attachment and image handling
    This will help in map opening and drag and drop.

Things to watch out for:

  • Tablet PC’s and laptops go into a powersave mode when running on batteries.  They run more slowly, which makes MindManager and other programs take more of the available CPU.  To avoid this, plug into the mains or disable powersave mode.
  • Ink handling on tablet PC’s uses extra RAM and CPU.  Coupled with powersave mode, this can make a tablet PC sluggish.
  • The SAX BASIC scripting system provided with MindManager is intended for writing small macros. Larger applications and add-ins written in SAX Basic will be slow.  Serious development should instead use an industrial strength development tool.  [The technical reason for this slowness is that SAX BASIC always spawns a new thread to run macros.  The resulting cross-thread COM calls to MindManager are very slow, compared to same-thread calls.]

We regard this as an ongoing investigation, and are keen for anyone with performance issues to contact Customer Support.


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