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Reviews of OneNote vs. other outliners

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Posted by Cassius
Jul 25, 2012 at 01:16 AM

 

Jack Crawford wrote:
> >I have had a licence for Inspiration for longer than I care to remember,
>but find it a very frustrating program.  The UI and I have never got along and I am
>constantly feeling that I am fighting againt it.  It is not as intuitive as it should be
>for an educational app.
—-
Yes it is “clunky.”  I have a nephew (now an attorney) who hated it.  I had the same problem as you with respect to the interface, but I’ve “grown accustomed to its face.”
—-

>The other problem is its looks.  Fonts are not presented in the outline at the correct size (at least 2 points below what it says at the bottom of the screen).  When I asked Inspiration about this some time back, they acknowledged that it was an issue and was a hangover from porting the software from the Mac version.
—-
To enlarge fonts, just click on the “big” mountain in the lower left corner.

Other hints:
If in editing mode, click on the outline item and press ESC.  That puts you in outline mode and up-down arrows shift you from one outline item to another.  CTRL-arrow shifts you to outline items at the same level.

If in outline mode, the left arrorw puts you into edit mode at the beginning of the outline item.  CTRL-right arrorw puts you at its end.

It’s not GrandView, but I don’t know of a better, single pane outliner for Windows.  (NoteMap could have been except for bugs, including ones that lost content.)

 


Posted by Alexander Deliyannis
Jul 25, 2012 at 06:00 AM

 

Steve,

I’m posting here a note on XML export as it applies to all outliners and not just Bonsai. Also, because I think it would be useful for others who might have expectations from XML import/export.

XML is a universal format, much like ASCII or CSV. In brief, it includes the following info: hierarchy, fields names and values.

The format is as flexible as can be, to the extent that it provides no limitations or standards in terms of what field names one should use, or what kind of values can be included. Therefore, one outliner may call the tree items “nodes” and another “branches”. One may accept names 256 characters long, and another allow for full paragraphs of text in titles. So outliners are not able to recognise each other’s XML out of the box. Some kind of conversion is required, from one outliner’s XML format to another. For example, I have found tools for converting Freemind XML to Gantt Project XML. In theory one can convert any XML variation to any other, but programming knowledge or an (expensive) special tool will be required.

Some XML formats have become de facto ‘standards’ because of the popularity of the originating software. E.g. Microsoft Project XML can be read and written by a variety of software including Rational Plan, MindView etc. In fact, this goes for all Microsoft Office *x formats (.docx, .xlsx…) which are just XML documents inside a zip container.

In the outliner world, Freemind/Freeplane XML and MindManager XML are variations that quite a few programs and online services can read/write.

There is of course OPML, an XML variation which you will find can be read/written by many programs. The downside is that it includes very limited information.

You can explore any XML document with a program such as Microsoft’s free XML Notepad.

 


Posted by MadaboutDana
Jul 25, 2012 at 09:23 AM

 

Yes, like Alexander I felt there was perhaps a mild misunderstanding or misapprehension of XML in Steve’s otherwise excellent review of Bonsai. XML is a great intermediary, but does nothing at all without an interpreter (and/or an interpreting template, generally referred to as an XSLT). Bit like a very, very sophisticated CSV file, really. Well, not really, but that’s a reasonable analogy ;-)

I’ve just stripped down my iPad (getting gunked up with/slowed down by apps!) and reinstalled just my faves. Which has led to the rediscovery of one of my favourite outliners, ThinkBook. Under the hood you’ll find some very interesting XML (you can only see it in the backup files, which are pure text), with hooks and options for all sorts of future expansions. But the author is sensibly taking the whole thing very steadily, not adding in all the bells and whistles at once (so the diametric opposite of Bonsai). This will also mean he can create desktop - or indeed web, or Android, etc. etc. - clients (if he feels so inclined) that will interpret his XML for desktop/mobile users. But what it also means is that if you were a cunning sort you could design your own client that interpreted his XML files any way you wanted them to (e.g. taking advantage of his hidden XML hooks for “Due date” and so on).

 


Posted by Dr Andus
Jul 25, 2012 at 10:21 PM

 

MadaboutDana wrote:
>Yes, like Alexander I felt there was perhaps a mild misunderstanding or
>misapprehension of XML in Steve’s otherwise excellent review of Bonsai. XML is a
>great intermediary, but does nothing at all without an interpreter (and/or an
>interpreting template, generally referred to as an XSLT). Bit like a very, very
>sophisticated CSV file, really. Well, not really, but that’s a reasonable analogy
>;-)

I have to admit I’ve never figured out what the XML export in Bonsai is really for, as I was happy enough with the OPML export. But in the Global Settings there are two options for XML Export: “Include DTD reference” and “Include XSLT reference.” Does anyone know what these actually do?

 


Posted by Gorski
Jul 26, 2012 at 11:17 AM

 

Since an XML document can be structured in any way, the DTD defines what elements to expect in the document for it to be valid. It’s asking if there’s a reference to an external file defining that.

The exported XML file can also refer to an XSLT document that would transform the XML file into another format, say a Web page or a table.

You can still make use of XML files without those. Those are intended for the programming-oriented. If you were so inclined you could set it up to automatically transform that XML file into a more useful format for you, such as for a report or to more easily import it into another program.

We should point out that many programs now use XML invisibly. Word’s .docx format, for example, is really a zip file that you can unzip and see the XML hidden inside. Same with Excel’s xslx.

http://www.w3schools.com/dtd/dtd_intro.asp

http://www.w3schools.com/xsl/

 


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