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Columned Outliner, like ListPro & Omni Outliner, that crosses the iPad/Windows barrier?

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Posted by OutlinerBill
May 11, 2012 at 02:05 PM


Hello all

I am new to this forum and although I’ve tried, can’t find an answer to meet my needs so perhaps I could ask you.

Having been seduced, then addicted to my iPad, my fully comfortable Windows world began to come apart as more and more of my workflows became fragmented across devices.

Two of my most favoured tools were ListPro and Microsoft Word in Outline mode, depending on whether I needed to emphasize Word’s text functionality or ListPro’s columns (oh, if only Word would do columns/tables in that mode). A wonderful thing, while I continued to use Windows PCs, tablets and smart phones, where both Word & ListPro were installed on all (although Word didn’t have outlining on my phone) allowing me the ability to work in my favourite programs on any device.

After getting the iPad, then later iPhone, though I find myself like the donkey between two bales of hay, starving from his indecision. On the one hand, I have decades of Windows knowledge, skills and experience and comfort and efficiency in that, on the other hand I have my complete addiction to my shiny iDevices.

When Omni Outliner finally came out, I was excited with the anticipation of being able to work in a columned outliner again - the makers of ListPro do not seem interested in creating a version for the iPad, which would have been perfect for me. Unfortunately, Omni Outliner is only also available on the Mac, which basically puts anything I do into their walled garden with only rudimentary export (and loss of columnar data in the process).

So after this context, my question:

Does anyone find themselves in a similar situation? If so, do you have any suggestion for how I can return to living in the synergetic bliss of outliner and columns while enabling seamless working across devices (both iDevices and Windows PCs)?




Posted by MadaboutDana
May 12, 2012 at 11:40 AM


Hi there, other Bill! Yes, as a matter of fact, I can be of some help here. I also am a long-term afficionado of ListPro, and have long bewailed the fact that Ilium Software don’t have any plans to transfer it to iPad. I too work in Windows all the time.

There is an answer. It’s not seamless, but it does work, depending on what you do on your iPad. It’s called List Master, and it’s the closest thing to ListPro on iOS (and Android, as a matter of fact - I’ve just dumped my iPhone for a Galaxy Note, which has caused some trauma, but much less than I thought it might).

Transferring stuff seamlessly between the different platforms is challenging. I use a range of tools, but my favourite include a variety of text editors (the most flexible on the iPad are - to my mind - Nebulous Notes and Daedalus, because they allow you to access any Dropbox folder), a couple of storage management apps of which the most magical is ReaddleDocs (gives you full access to a vast array of different storage types, including Dropbox, Google, SugarSync and loads of others, and has its own built-in text editor), plus the recently launched Microsoft OneNote app - very basic compared to the desktop version, but it quickly grows on you, not least because you can transfer huge amounts of info, including pictures etc..

I’ve had a love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with MobileNoter, another OneNote app (that does a better job of showing OneNote pages as they should be); it’s quite unstable, unfortunately, but does support tables. Microsoft’s own app supports tables, provided they’re created in the desktop version.

Columnar outliners in Windows is definitely an issue - the only one that’s reasonably flexible for writers is UV-Outliner. I’ve played with MyInfo (which I like), but much prefer Smereka TreeProjects (which allows you to tile your windows all over the place - very useful). I’m also experimenting with Liquid Story Binder - very powerful, but also mildly annoying. None of them interacts well with the iPad. Reluctantly I’ve decided that the only way forward is to continue to use various text apps to transfer data between the platforms, then cobble the data together in various info management apps depending on how I’m using it.

But List Master is your friend if you yearn for ListPro. No, it’s not elegant, no, it doesn’t preserve rich text. But it does pretty much everything else that ListPro does, and can import/export CSV files that are ListPro-compatible.

Other useful tips include TiddlyNotes, a lovely interpretation of TiddlyWiki that will synchronise with a desktop-based TiddlyWiki if you can work out how to get the synchronisation utility to do its thing - Sabine, the German programmer, is extremely helpful. I’m also looking forward to the appearance of Scrivener on the iPad - it’s in development, but not imminent. The developer recently posted a long blog entry on his efforts.

Oh, one final recommendation is Notebooks, another German iPad app that already has a Mac desktop client and will shortly have a Windows one, too. Because it’s HTML-compatible it’s a lot more flexible than many notebooks on the iPad. Try it out on the iPad - you’ll probably enjoy it (although the Dropbox sync doesn’t work too well - I use iCloud instead).

But there are still huge opportunities for programmers to build desktop-quality cross-platform apps for iOS: people have only just started to realise what can be done on iOS, and Apple’s own apps show that iOS does actually offer a genuine desktop alternative if you can find the right tools.

Oh, and if you’re frustrated by OmniOutliner (which I do like, but also find somewhat limited), you ought to experiment with the two HTML export options, which do preserve columns quite well; I’ve just produced a lengthy set of minutes using OmniOutliner, with minimal tidying required on the desktop. Of course a web page isn’t quite the same thing as an outline!

You might think about using Numbers as an outliner tool - it works much better than you might think, and can be exported to Excel (although the results are, well, variable!). I love Numbers (and its lovely search function)! And if you hate Excel (which, as a writer, I do), I can thoroughly recommend LibreOffice, the spreadsheet component of which supports rich-text writing in cells much better than Excel does.

One of the Other Bills


Posted by OutlinerBill
May 14, 2012 at 11:31 PM


Thanks Bill for this very helpful post.

I have gone ahead and purchased/downloaded ListMaster. I’m looking forward to playing with it a bit, but from what little I’ve seen so far, am impressed with the spreadsheet-like feel of it and the ease with which ii appears to export csv files.. something that’ll come in handy not just for import to ListPro, but also spreadsheets.

I’ve not yet figured how to use outlining on it, but even if it doesn’t support that it appears to be a useful tool in my kit - especially both as a universal app and its Dropbox support.

Thanks also for your wealth of tips on syncing and note takers. It seems that you also enjoy experimenting with the capabilities of different apps.

I certainly agree with you on the huge opportunities that exist for developers to exploit for the benefit of a huge population of Windows users who, nevertheless are seduced by Apple’s mobile iDevices - a market that I believe that the developers of Listpro (ilium) are ignoring at their considerable peril.

I hadn’t thought of Numbers as an outlining tool. I didn’t know it had that capability.

Thanks again Bill



Posted by Alexander Deliyannis
May 15, 2012 at 06:33 AM


OutlinerBill wrote:
>the makers of ListPro do not seem interested in creating a
>version for the iPad, which would have been perfect for me.

My understanding of the iOS pecularities is rather limited, but I was under the impression that just about anything that runs on the iPhone could run on the iPad—and that gave the iPad an advantageous starting point when it was launched. I now assume that I was wrong and that ListPro for iPhone http://www.iliumsoft.com/listpro/iphone does not work on the iPad. This makes me feel less jealous as an Android user!


Posted by MadaboutDana
May 15, 2012 at 02:09 PM


Yo’ welcome, Other Bill,

And Alexander: yes, ListPro does run on iPad, but it’s horrible. It’s also horrible on the iPhone, in fact, but on the iPad it’s particularly horrible because it makes no effort to use the screen space - all you’ve got is a magnified iPhone app.

The app I’m having most fun playing with at the moment is Notebooks (by Alfons Schmidt) and a very interesting - but rather unstable - app by an ex-Microsoft team called Tapos?. The advantage of Tapos? is that it shows two pages side by side, and can also split in half to show a web browser (or another Tapos? “book”, or a number of other things) in a split-screen view. It’s a very nice attempt to achieve multi-window working on the iPad.

Mind you, it doesn’t synchronise with anything - Alfons is promising a Windows Desktop app for Notebooks, which will be brilliant, and even Circus Pony Notebooks (which can also show two pages at a time) has a Mac client.

As I said before, there are serious opportunities here for Windows-iOS interaction, going well beyond the ridiculous hype associated with the mere possibility that Microsoft might, eventually, if the wind is in the North-East, the cock crows thrice and the cat walks widdershins round the graveyard, produce a version of Office for the iPad.
Yeah, right! Like I bet that’s at the top of Steve Balmer’s to-do list… (“must give Apple more traction in the enterprise…”)


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