Converts a FreeMind XML document to a readable text document so that changes can easily be compared. Including pre-packaged Beyond Compare configuration.

The problem

FreeMind is a popular and free program to create mind maps. It supports the usual tree structures, formatting, icons, cross links, web links, and more. In projects with multiple participants it is a good method to collect all kinds of ideas in brainstorming meetings. The new ideas can be entered and marked directly into the mind map tree.

In order to track changes to the project documentation, these files should be under version control. Commit messages summarise the changes in a new revision, but for detailed changes, e. g. after a meeting in absence, the two revisions must always be compared. What is simple with source code files can quickly grow into torture with more complex document formats. FreeMind uses an XML format that contains structure and text as well as formatting. While there is some relationship between node entries and lines in the file, all those minor changes in formatting confuse the reader a lot.

The solution

Beyond Compare is probably the most advanced compare tool on the planet now. It can be integrated into many version control systems and also merge files and folders. It also offers the feature to convert files before comparing them. This conversion of FreeMind documents is what FreeMindToText does. Thereby the node structure is translated into a text file with indented lines. Icons are abbreviated and node IDs of cross links are resolved to their node text. In the end only the effective content remains and changes to text, order, structure and so on become clearly visible.

Besides the program file, there is also a Beyond Compare package available that includes the program as conversion helper for a readily configured mm file format entry. The bcpkg file is opened and installed by double-clicking on it. Afterwards, mm files will automatically be compared by their content as the screenshot demonstrates.

Compatibility: .NET Version 4.5 or newer Windows 10 Windows 8 Windows 7 64 bit Mono


These screenshots show the FreeMind document in two versions, and next to it the file comparison without and with text conversion.

Original version of the mind map
Modified version of the mind map
Differences in the raw XML files
Differences in the text content


FreeMindToText.exe7.5 KiBProgram file, version 1.0

BCSettings-FreeMind.bcpkg3.9 KiBFile format incl. helper program for Beyond Compare

Licence and terms of use

This software is “freeware”. This means that it is free of charge for private and commercial use. Further distribution is prohibited without my permission. The source code is not available. There is no warranty, not even or merchantability for fitness for a particular purpose. I am not liable for any damage caused through appropriate or inappropriate use.

Statistic data

  • Created on 2015-02-04, updated on 2015-02-18.
  • Ca. 120 lines of code, estimated development costs: 120 - 480 €