Miro is probably the most famous mind mapping tool in the market today. It is essentially an online whiteboard for virtual collaboration, especially when you are in a work or team setting. It allows remote teams to share their ideas simultaneously across an infinite canvas.
It enables people, more specifically teams, to brainstorm on a project, jot down all their ideas. That’s why post-its or small text boxes work just fine to satisfy such use cases as mapping, diagramming, prototype creation or even running online workshops.
However, Miro is not designed to build a long-term, extendable knowledge base where you can organize and connect different ideas or knowledge pieces via logical links. Once you’re done with a specific brainstorming session, whatever happens next probably happens in another tool because you can’t really add much in-depth knowledge. This forces people to use tools that complement Miro to back up their conclusions – in return forcing them to lose place and flow across several apps.
In this article, we’re going to explore an alternative to Miro, in fact a free Miro alternative called Scrintal that is currently being developed with an enthusiastic community of creators, writers, researchers and many more, detailing its pros and cons compared to Miro in an objective way.
Before we dive into the details, let’s get to know Scrintal a bit more.
Scrintal is built as an online whiteboard where people can take notes, visually organize, cluster, and connect them with backlinks. Similar to mind maps including Miro, you start taking a note by writing on a card on an infinite spatial canvas. Unlike mind maps, you can write in the card as much as you want, add images, videos, pdfs – making it a visual knowledge base.
Let’s take a look at some of the basic features of Scrintal for those who would like to build a sustainable knowledge base.
Similar to Miro, your work is spread out across an infinite canvas. Scrintal users call this space a digital desk because it literally works like that. You create notes, visually organize and connect them with backlinks similar to how different web pages are linked to each other in a non-hierarchical form.
Unlike Miro and all other mind mapping tools, you can organize all information with tags and remove them from your desk to archive – and bring it back whenever you need them. It is almost the same as putting papers from your desk to a drawer to avoid clutter when you’re not working with them. Tags render resurfacing previously captured or created knowledge a lot quicker.
All cards, in other words pages, are linked to each other with a backlink. These work exactly as the links that connect different Wikipedia pages. It indicates a meaningful connection exists across your entire knowledge base. This is not the case in Miro or in other mind maps where all you can do is to draw a line from one box to another.
Scrintal’s text editor is a lot more comprehensive than the one Miro has. Not only is it possible to write so much more and add multimedia in your cards, but you can also add headlines, make quotes, basically utilize more extensive capabilities. This is one of the main reasons why you can build a long-term knowledge base on Scrintal.
When the information is distributed and easy to access online, it becomes difficult to keep your flow due to jumping back and forth between tabs or apps.
Scrintal makes it easier to keep your creative focus by allowing videos, PDFs, images or tweet threads to be stored in one place. So you can watch a youtube video or read a pdf and take notes at the same time.
This helps keep your flow staying in a single app versus task-&-brain switching across several apps.
First, Miro is a well-established brand with a strong financial base. The company raised $400 million late in 2021 which gives them the capacity to innovate.
Second, Miro accommodates a number of use cases of teams on a regular basis. It can perform company-wide tasks as well as serve specific department purposes. These range from planning and conducting meetings, brainstorming, mind mapping to designing design sprints, agile workflows and so on.
To make sure people get a head start, Miro offers a slew of templates to be easily applied to one’s workflow. That eases collaboration because team members don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
Another benefit of Miro is its integration with many tools that people use daily.
Miro, similar to other mind maps, is not equipped for building a long-term knowledge base due to three main limitations.
First, it’s not possible to add much content in cards to allow a deeper understanding of a topic. This limits the use cases to surface-level brainstorming, planning, ideating, prototyping etc.
Second, connections are not created based on a logic that makes them easier to find later on. This is one of the impediments to relating things to each other. Moreover, organization of info can be done only visually. Lack of tags and links make it difficult to expand a knowledge base and find the info you need at a granular level.
Since Miro’s biggest revenue stream comes from large enterprises, the price tag for some small teams might be overwhelming. This is the feedback we’ve heard from a number of Miro team users.
Even though it is still in alpha phase, Scrintal has a huge potential to become a Miro whiteboard alternative thanks to the flexibility it provides by combining networked note taking and visual mind mapping.
First, you can build a personal knowledge base in Scrintal with connections based on backlinks, tags, and partly thanks to the ability to capture and store any file, image or multimedia in one place.
Seeing the big picture overview of your thoughts and zooming into details allows people to track and show the thought process to back up all their conclusions. It speeds up the feedback loop among team members when building something new.
Second, people can upload videos from Youtube or Pdfs, consume the content and create new ones across the entire knowledge base. This flexibility empowers people to create knowledge a lot quicker, in multiple spaces simultaneously. It sets Scrintal apart from not only Miro but all other Miro alternatives helping knowledge workers limit the number of apps they use.
Third, Scrintal offers an additional layer to organization thanks to tags which are lacking in Miro. Since it’s text sensitive, finding exactly the information you captured or need can take less time on Scrintal.
All these above make Scrintal a more comprehensive software for a large range of workflows including deeper research, planning, project management and so on.
Last but not least, Scrintal is currently free as it is still in the early development phase. So it provides a good opportunity to give it a try without making any payment. By combining multiple app’s work in one, you might get more value for the money you invest even when it introduces pricing tiers.
First, it is still in the early development phase and it is far from being a 17.5$ billion valued company. So it might take time to develop new features because the team doesn’t simply have an army of developers.
Some of the key functionalities that Scrintal is currently missing are: collaboration, integration with other tools, availability of templates (where Miro is quite powerful), wide range of sharing options, functionalities that accommodate enterprise customers (i.e. enterprise-grade security, controls, and compliance).
Scrintal is already working on implementing a simultaneous collaboration function together with creating templates which seems to become live soon. It would not be realistic to expect all the features Miro has developed over the past few years in such a short time.
So if you’re used to everything Miro has to offer today, you might want to wait a little longer for Scrintal to catch up to become an alternative to Miro.
Here’s a few use cases for those who might have used Miro and are struggling with the note taking or PKM elements of the tool.
Business executives, teams can share a whole thought process and how they arrived at specific conclusions with others. This way teams can run projects and create value for their clients faster with rapid feedback loops from their teams.
Startups can prepare for investor pitches by outlining every possible question/area they need to cover before their meeting or conduct SWOT analysis with detailed information.
Anyone who conducts the process of doing research would benefit from not only a high-level overview of a mind map but also from having all the knowledge base in one place. This group includes but is not limited to researchers. An example could be a research on crypto currencies or Web3 in which you can outline the whole research over the infinite canvas, add relevant videos and research papers in pdf under relevant sections.
Students can use the online whiteboard as a timeline that shows the courses, sessions, subjects and so on. Seeing everything at a glance this way helps what to prioritize next. They can even add color codes to manage their work (red: not started/haven’t read; green: read/did).
The same feature can be useful when preparing for exams since students can see a clearer picture of what they need to review and in case there are any materials I haven’t read/watch (compared with the folder-ing system) for file management.
What qualifies Scrintal as a better alternative to Miro in this case is its ability to add so much more information in your knowledge base and study the material on the same platform.
Scrintal could become the best Miro board alternative provided that the team behind Scrintal chooses to follow a similar path to what Miro had done in 2018.
Miro is a fantastic online whiteboard that has already proven itself among millions of users. It serves a wide array of use cases that appeal to teams and enterprises. The value Miro provides has increased substantially since the Covid-19 pandemic fueling the remote/hybrid work trend.
If your goal is to brainstorm on a subject and collaborate seamlessly with your team without having the need to build a collaborative knowledge base, then Miro is the best online whiteboard solution you can find in the market.
However, if you are trying to minimize the number of tools you are using, gain the ability to see the big picture of your thought process and zoom into details in one place, Scrintal would be a better choice.
In our opinion, Scrintal is not just a free Miro alternative; it is Miro combined with a powerful note taking tool that allows people to build a personal knowledge base – this is the main difference.
If getting involved with a product at an early stage and seeing your feedback implemented in the product you use sounds interesting, then you can give Scrintal a try. The only downside is that its waitlist exceeds 20.000 people today so you might have to wait a while to get access.
Check this board to learn more about the waitlist and how you can get faster access.