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Posted by MadaboutDana
Sep 11, 2019 at 08:12 AM


In common with others on the forum, I use outliner software for writing stuff. Inevitably, this means I’m also drawn to writing software (Scrivener, Ulysses, StoryMill etc.), much of which also supports outliner functionality.

I’ve just discovered a nice writing app that is also an outliner (albeit in the sense of two-pane outliner, rather than Workflowy/DynaList-style folding outliner). Unusually, it’s available for both macOS and Windows, and while it makes a fairly austere impression at first glance, it’s actually full of goodies.

The app is WonderPen (https://www.atominn.com/wonderpen - Chinese website), and I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now to draft stuff. Among the things the author fails to mention about it in his write-up on the Mac App Store is its support for split panes (you can display two different notes - or the same note - side by side or one above the other), its rather neat backup function (called snapshots, including a nice little timeline of when snapshots were created) and its very flexible hierarchy (you can have as many subdocuments as you like, in a NoteCase-style hierarchy, along with different icons if you prefer to differentiate between folders and documents; there’s a limited number of icons, but they’re sensible ones).

Also, it has a nice search function - and unlike some writing tools we could mention (Ulysses, I’m looking at you here), it also searches through the memos you can attach to any of your documents, subdocuments, folders etc. You can choose not to search through memos; it also supports search and replace. And it highlights search hits in documents (although not in memos, presumably because the latter tend to be very short).

It also supports character counts (although not word counts; and it doesn’t support targets yet, but personally I rarely use them). In fact, my only criticism is that it doesn’t support automatic substitution, e.g. it doesn’t turn computer-generated apostrophes/quotation marks into their elegant “curly” equivalent, which is a bit of a let-down for a writing app. However, WonderPen does appear to be in active development, and when I dropped the suggestion to the developer, he responded immediately (pointing out that he’d overlooked this aspect because he’s Chinese, but would check it out a.s.a.p.).

There’s an impressive list of export options (Word, HTML, PDF and even PNG!); it also imports text files. There is support for images in Preview mode (the editor uses Markdown), but images aren’t automatically imported into the WonderPen library that forms the basis for the documents (you can create multiple libraries). Of course there’s nothing preventing you from putting images in the library yourself.

So: a very nice little gem. Support for tags would be nice, but the excellent search function means one could use those in any case without necessarily formalising them.