BigPicture Benefit: Collapsible ‘Many-to-One’ Relationships Between Topics

Those who know and use mind mapping and concept mapping with other software tools may have run into a frustrating limitation of their software’s capabilities: the inability to easily create collapsible and expandable ‘many-to-one’ relationships between topics.

This issue was described in a post on Sociamind, a blog produced by Gooding Davies Consultancy Pty Ltd. The author, Alex Gooding, describes how several mind mapping software tools are designed to have many topics branching out from one, and not the other way around.  Furthermore, it’s very difficult to expand and collapse these many-to-one groupings. The only way he can achieve something close to this effect is by incorporating invisible topics and connections, as he details in his post.

BigPicture has been designed to be much more flexible, allowing users to easily create, collapse, and expand “many-to-one” topic relationships, as well as continuing on and going back to a “one-to-many” situation for sub-topics.

bigpicture many to one example 1


The above image demonstrates how BigPicture’s concept maps allow for topics to branch from one to many, back down to one, and then back out to many with ease – rather than having to create invisible floating topics and relationship lines as described in the Sociamind post.

Gooding’s other challenge was finding a way to be able to collapse one of these sub-topic groupings as a whole unit. He did an amazing job coming up with a “workaround” that involves some laborious efforts. Here, we show how BigPicture allows for a much quicker method:



Just place your cursor over a connection between sub-topics (in this case, the orange connector between the light blue and orange sub-topics), the red collapse icon appears. Click on the red collapse icon, and the orange subtopic and all its children collapse and disappear. It is as simple as that! And it is already part of BigPicture’s standard capabilities – no invisible topics, no extra effort, just a click of the mouse.

bp-many-to-one-collapse 2


Any and all combinations of collapsed and expanded sub-topics can be created just by clicking either the associated red collapse or green expand icons to bring the grouped topics out of, or into view.

bp-many-to-one-collapse 3


If you want to see just the orange topics you can easily collapse the others by clicking on the other collapse icons.

Interested in trying this out for yourself? Download the beta version of BigPicture for free and start experimenting with your own map, or check out one of our example files such as the Big Pharma Decisions to see it in action.

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