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A Theory of Outliner Software Market Development

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Posted by Vincek
Oct 10, 2011 at 03:42 PM

 

I am new, so let me just say thank you to all who have posted and have helped educate me on outline software options and functionality.

Mostly by default and lack of knowledge of alternatives, I have been a user of ActionOutline for several years.  I considered using it to write a book and ran into many limitations, so I did some exploration to see what else is out there and found this forum.

Over the past few months I have also become a regular user of Evernote. Evernote is great for capturing information, but its lousy for manipulating that information into a hierarchical structure (that is inherently needed for a book).

Thus, what I have been hoping to find is a software organizer that has great integration with Evernote. No cigar… at least yet.

This has been an eye opener. There is no clear winner in outline organizer offerings. It is fragmented among dozens of confusingly similar and flawed offerings.

By my observation, Evernote has become a dominant player in a closely adjacent market. It has many powerful advantages—10 million users, a large pot of capital to expand, cross platform integration across desktops and mobile devices.

Why aren’t there outliner programs that have figured out the value of integrating with Evernote, similar to what Curio has done with mindmapping software (for Mac only). Evernote has opened its API.

My theory is that whatever outliner software develops a decent integration with Evernote will be cream that rises to the top. I would be happy with crude outlining functionality if only it integrated with the powerful capturing capabilities of Evernote.

 


Posted by Stephen Zeoli
Oct 10, 2011 at 06:15 PM

 

Vince,

Not to change the subject, but how do you like ActionOutline? I’ve always found its clean interface very appealing, but for whatever reason have not used it. It does not appear to have had much of an upgrade over the years. Is this why you’re looking for a new solution?

Steve Z.

 


Posted by Vincek
Oct 11, 2011 at 03:46 AM

 

Steve,

IMHO, ActionOutline is a very competent web 1.0 outlining program.

Plusses:
* Logical structure, easy to understand
* Many incremental improvements with upgraded editions over the years—color coding, import graphics
* Stable
* Aesthetically pleasing
* Advanced text editor

Minuses:
* UI not always intuitive; takes a while to get the hang of it
* Minimal search—only within one file and only see 1 item at a time

Suggested Improvements (but applicable to most programs in this class of software):
* Ability to search across files, notebooks, etc.
* Ability to use and search multiple tags
* Access across different web browsers and OSs
* Mobile/desktop integration
* Provide multiple views and options to reorganize data (not just hierarchical organization)
* Integrate (or at least import) data from Evernote

Vince

 


Posted by Alexander Deliyannis
Oct 11, 2011 at 05:41 PM

 

Vincek wrote:
>Evernote is great for capturing
>information, but its lousy for manipulating that information into a hierarchical

I’m not sure I would agree. As I’ve written elsewhere in this forum, IMHO Evernote’s tagging capability more than makes up for the lack of structure in the notebooks themselves.

Tags can be organised in a hierarchy of, apparently, limitless depth; ergo, a tag outline can be created. One can drag and drop information items to tags on the tree, as if they were folders. Having more than one tag per item is equivalent to cloning items within separate folders (even though the paradigm is turned on its head).

What Evernote is surely not good at, within the process of writing a book, is the kind of text editing provided by a classic one pane outliner, or a modern solution like Infoqube or Sense, i.e. being able to see the forest and the trees at the same time. But I have serious doubts that Evernote’s API is so flexible as to allow an external application to provide this kind of view/edit pane.

 


Posted by Thomas
Oct 11, 2011 at 11:12 PM

 

> It has many powerful advantages?10 million users, a large pot of capital to expand, cross platform integration across desktops and mobile devices.

10 millions is just a number of users who at least once logged in, you need to look at the number of active and paying users, which they indicated was above 400.000. That includes all the platforms together, ie. they don’t say how many are on Windows or Linux or Mac (unless we take for granted that the developer who would take on such task, would be able to produce a multi-platform program, though these are usually harder to make and less attractively looking as a product that only has one native platform). Then you take the risk of investing a lot of effort into something that depends on the current business strategy of the CEO or on the plans of investment companies (to sell to strategic investor). Because tomorrow CEO might decide they have to close a part of API, or implement one of your killer features directly in the program, or they will sell the company to Google and close the business because all the Google wanted was some technology the company owned or the talented employees and not the program itself.

Sorry if I sounded too sceptical about the business side, that’s nothing agains the idea on the whole. Outliners are, in my humble observation, a tiny market where most businesses are hobby operations on the side of developer’s main job, ie. “no big money” involved.

 


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