So what is Bubbl.US?

Bubbl.us is a simple and free web application that lets you brainstorm or mind-map online. You do not require additional software on your computer and it does not matter what operating system you are using. In addition you do not need the latest and most powerful computer in order to use this free software. As long as you can access the internet, you can use this mind-mapping tool.

Using Bubbl.Us you can take your idea about creating that website, opening that business, planning a trip, etc and put it down in the form of a diagram that can be just for your benefit or to be shared and developed by your partners, friends or colleagues.

By using this free web application you can fully explore what is involved in developing your idea and making it a reality. You can start using this software by typing http://www.bubbl.us/ in to your web browser address bar.


A mind-map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea. It is used to generate, visualise, structure and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organisation, problem solving, decision making, and writing. (wikipedia definition)

When you start using mind mapping techniques, you will experience immediate benefits:

  • Mind-maps help you to memorise information easily
  • Mind-maps make things visible and clearer
  • Mind-maps reveal what is behind the information
  • Mind-maps are one of the best ways to organise your tasks and to-do lists
  • Manage and retain information more efficiently
  • Communicate information more effectively
  • Enhance thinking and learning

Why would you use this tool in Learning?

1. You would use this application to clearly lay out your thoughts on actions that will be required regarding a project you are undertaking either on your own or in partnership with fellow learners or colleagues.

2. By using this application you incur no cost, require no specialist software and can share your project online with one or more people.

3. The software is easy to use and should not present any problems for users or training issues for tutors.

4. All age groups could benefit from this application and any subject matter could be used as a mind-map.

5. It can be used by individuals or groups.

6. If you wished to set a group of learners a task to develop a project from scratch, each with their own area of responsibility, then each could add in their own sections with someone taking responsibility to co-ordinate the mind-map and link it logically.

7. It could be used to assist in the process of recording student progress and achievement (RARPA).

8. You can print the mind-map for your records, or use it to make a project road-map that you can post on your blog or website.

9. It could be used to build up a library of resources and planning techniques that could be shared online with friends and colleagues.

10.  It could be used by tutors to develop classroom and e-learning content.

11.  By learners and tutors to brainstorm and capture ideas.

12.  To deliver presentations and lectures.

13.  Utilise a powerful alternative for conveying complex information.

Mind-maps are said to be the most effective way to plan things because they follow your thinking better than any other method.

The great thing about a mind-map is that it shows you the relationships between separate entities in your thought process clearly. It is in a form which you can overview and comprehend easily, even if you're looking at someone else's map. We have seen out share of offline mind maps, but bubbl.us has brought the technology to the web, injecting it with sharing goodness in the process.

In a very clean environment you can add balloons under or next to each other, create/delete links between them and change the layout and colour in a jiffy. You can create a beautiful mind map in a few minutes, with lots of detail and value. The best part though is the ability to share them.

You're able to share and participate in other mind maps, bringing an extra round of creativity to the table. Effectiveness and productivity increases, since you can not only share your thoughts, but the trail of thought, linking, back-linking and so on between balloons. If you have a small project to manage I recommend you try this out.

4 ways to use Bubbl.us to explode your productivity 

1. Brainstorming ideas for business

Brainstorming is a process whereby one or more people come up with and record as many ideas as spring into their minds, whether they are ridiculous or brilliant. Every new idea can lead to another idea, which can eventually lead to the winning idea for your business.

The process of using Bubbl.us to brainstorm is quite simple. You designate someone who is familiar with Bubbl.us (and it only takes 5 minutes to get familiar with it) to enter in all of the ideas that they and everyone else comes up with. Once each session is complete, the session can be saved for future use, it can be printed out, and it can be saved as a jpeg or PNG or exported for use in a website or as an XML sheet.

2. Use for family tree building

With the ability to create multiple 'parent' boxes and 'child' boxes, Bubbl.us is a fantastic tool for creating family trees quickly and easily. What would be good is if it could insert images into the child and parent boxes; however, it is still a good tool for this activity. So for the genealogists out there, you could start collecting your family data from anywhere in the world and add to your family tree map from anywhere in the world - and invite other family members, wherever they are, do the same.

3. Creating flow charts

This is another extremely useful way to use Bubbl.us. You have seen flow charts in technical books and software manuals, and they are great visual representations for training employees to use software, follow business processes, or anywhere a yes/no situation might occur. And when processes or policies change, they can be easily updated from any computer.

4. For creating lists

I used Bubbl.us to create my Christmas list this year and it was a great way to visualise the list. I usually do this on a piece of paper which is then thrown away only to be done again the next year. Using Bubbl.us this way means I always have a saved copy of my Christmas list and I never forget anyone. Plus, I can easily add more people whenever I need.

A look at the Bubbl.Us website and how to use it

Open a web browser window on your computer and go to your address bar and type in Bubbl.US and press the Enter button on your keyboard or type http://bubbl.us/ in the address bar and press the Go To or Refresh button.

Once there you can click the Start Brainstorming Now button, sign in to your account or create an account.

Creating an account is quick, easy and best of all it's free and by doing so you can save your mind maps for later use, editing and sharing and you get access to a wider range of programme features.

Once you go to this site this is what you will see

Diagram 1

Bubbl.US Diagram 1If you click the Start Brainstorming button in Diagram 1, you will have the opportunity to create an account by clicking the appropriate link at the top right of the page that opens.

You will be asked for a user name, password and email address. Once this process is completed you can start creating your own mind-maps immediately.

Some of the Programme Features and layout

Diagram 2

Bubbl.US Diagram 2In the centre of the page you will see the main bubble. This is where you will put your main idea or thought (Diagram 2).

Diagram 3

Bubbl.US Diagram 3Over on the left you will see a set of buttons (Diagram 3) that allows you to ...

Diagram 4

Bubbl.US Diagram 4Set your print area (Diagram 4). Zoom in and out, [you can also zoom by rolling your mouse wheel which is easier and faster]. Additional options include undo recent actions, centre your main bubble no matter where you placed it and unpin all which returns all your bubbles back to their default positions.

Diagram 5

Bubbl.US Diagram 5In Diagram 5 you can see that you will be able to access your account details, contact the Bubbl.US team and sign out.
You also have three tabs, the most important of which is My Sheets as this is where all your work is stored.
The Friends tab is a list of your contacts and the Collaborate tab is where your shared projects are kept.

Diagram 6

Bubbl.US Diagram 6You can share your projects with your friends. You can add friends by using the Find Friends Button or by typing in their email address (Diagram 6)

Diagram 7

Bubbl.US Diagram 7The centre bubble has several component parts as illustrated in (Diagram 7).

Diagram 8

Bubbl.US Diagram 8These can be accessed by moving your mouse over parts of the bubble. In addition you will see a help item appear below the word Help when you move your mouse over part of the bubble. (Diagram 8)

Diagram 9

Bubbl.US Diagram 9Lastly, the Menu button at the lower right hand side of the web page contains the following important functions (Diagram 9).

Send read-only link - Want to show your sheet to a friend but don't want them to edit it? This is the ticket. Clicking this sends a link to the email(s) of your choice that will show your sheet to your friend(s) without the controls.

HTML Embed Code - Outputs a snippet of code that you can insert in your website, blog, etc.

Export and Import - You can save the xml code for your current sheet to your computer, or import a previously saved code into Bubbl.us.

Editor Settings - Allows you to tweak some settings in how Bubbl.us runs.

An example

Bubbl.US Diagram 10

An example of how you might use this tool could be to lay out some of your thoughts if you were going to start up your own business on Ebay for example.

1. Here you start with your main idea of Ebay business.

2. Click the new sibling button - see Diagram 7 - to create a partners bubble.

3. Now create 4 child bubbles (see Diagram 7) under Ebay business; Product Sources, Initial Funding, Create an Ebay account and Website.

4. Now create the storage and transport bubbles under Product Sources, again by clicking the child button.

As you can see you can quickly portray a line of thought that can easily be added to and amended.

Other applications

There are other applications that can perform the same tasks, some are free and others have to be purchased

Key to Availability 

F= Free; ?=cost D =download;  H = hosted service;  OS = Open source; FT=free trial





Brainstorming/mind mapping tool




Mindjet MindManager


This is a powerful mind-mapping tool, but can cost up to ?200






Another free mind-mapping programme, although perhaps not as easy to use






Collaborative online mind mapping

Basic version is free






Mind mapping tool






Make mind maps together with your friends and colleagues - simply using your browser






Mind mapping software






Web service to share your FreeMind map






Visual information manager






Mind mapping tool from the creator of mind maps, Tony Buzan






For visual thinking and learning






Collaborative thought mapping tool




Further sources of information

1. Bubbl.US Basics Video: Brainstorming and Mind-mapping Online

2. Bubbl.US

3. Solution Watch

4. Videos of Bubbl.US use on Youtube

5. Killer Start-ups

6. Bubbl.US basics on Tech Bites

7. Simple, Effective Idea Organization with Bubbl.US

8. Blog: Brainstorming is a Breeze with Bubbl.US

9. Tech Bites' mindmaps

10.  Blog: I Found Bubbl.US

11.  PC Mag article

12. Review on Web Worker daily