The purpose of this page is to describe basic principles to build easy to use Menus for a rich mind map software called Freeplane !

You can refer to Menus: work in progress to follow and collaborate in the design of the new FreePlane menus structure.

Rules to organize Main Menu

Main menu is the main bar of menus which gives access to all software features.

  • (MM1) A Main Menu entry is created for each kind of operation (File / Edit / Display ...).
  • (MM2) The Main Menu should be in a logical order inspired by other softwares best practices .

Rules to organize Commands in menus

A command is available in menu, it executes an action.

  • (CO1) In a Main Menu entry, items are grouped by type of operations (all commands to move nodes are at the same place).
  • (CO2) Items are ordered logicaly (items used first at the beginning : ie "Create Node" then "Edit Node" then "Delete Node" or "Print Preview" then "Print". If no logical order can be found other rules can apply:
    • the most often used commands can be set in first position
    • order can also be set from particular to generic (ie: "Fold selected node" then "Fold all nodes of map")

Use of Sub Menus

A submenu is a menu entry which opens an other menus.

  • (SM1) Submenus are created to simplify long Main or contextual menus (i.e. more than 20 items in the menu).
  • (SM2) Submenus should be limited to 3 levels (i.e. 3 clicks before displaying the wanted command).
  • (SM3) A Submenu should contain 3 items or more.

Rules to organize Contextual Menu

A contextual menu is a menu displayed only in a specific context (i.e. while on a node or on the map background).

Rules applied to build contextual menu :

  • (CM1) in Contextual menu, order should be the same as in Main Menu (consistency for end-users). For instance Node Contextual menu is yet a copy of the Main Menu structure
  • (CM2) Contextual menu should contain only very frequently used commands
  • (CM3) 3 navigation levels are the maximum allowed in contextual menu.

Node Contextual menu's benefits

  • Limited mouse movements, don't need to go to Main Menu => quick access
  • Simplified menus displaying only most used features => easy to use
  • Available and fully fonctional while working on a map in full screen mode.


  • (TB1) The rules for toolbars are the same as for the Contextual menu: same order as Main-Menu, only frequently used commands.


In this page :

  • MM means Main Menu.
  • CO means Command.
  • SM means Sub Menu.
  • CM means Contextual Menu.
  • TB means Toolbar.
  • XX# means rules number # for subject XX.