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At last -- my review of ConnectedText as an outliner

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Posted by Dr Andus
Oct 25, 2012 at 12:13 AM



many thanks for the review. If by any chance you’re (or anyone else is) totally bored now and don’t know what to blog about after this ;-) a review series I’d be interested in is a comparison of outliners/writing tools for the latter stages of writing, i.e. transitioning from a basic outline to a first draft.

Mostly I’m thinking of single-pane outliners with inline note capabilities, and perhaps some tools for fiction and non-fiction writers. I have looked at this category recently and was surprised how thin these are on the ground (or rapidly ageing and being abandoned) and how poor the integration is across the writing process.

In the “outliners with inline notes” category the only ones that seem to be still developed are Inspire and UV Outline (and perhaps CT, if we include its “editor with folding” feature). The oldies include Outline 4D, LexisNexis Notemap 2, and Maxthink.

Having adopted Outline 4D for this purpose, now that my outline is filling up (13k words), I’m starting to feel that the next stage in writing would be to turn to a 2-pane outliner, to break up the outline again and start working on smaller sections (unfortunately Outline 4D doesn’t have hoisting).

So my ideal tool would be one where you could start out working in a single-pane environment to create a basic outline. Then, by a switch of a button you could turn on the inline notes feature, and start adding flesh onto the skeleton.

Then when the annotated outline grows too big (over 10k words), I would like to be able to switch very easily to a focused view, either by turning the single-pane outline into a double-pane outline with the inline notes in the second pane, or some easy hoisting feature.

Finally, one would want to export it and keep all the headings, so they would be recognised in MS Word for instance.

Scrivener, CT, and Outline 4D can do much of this (NoteMap also looked good), but none of them can do it from start to finish as smoothly as I wish. Inspire can possibly do the whole thing but I just can’t handle it from a usability point of view.

Okay, don’t worry, I’m just joking about the review series, but if anyone has any further thoughts or suggestions regarding this process, I’d be interested to hear it.