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A look back at the old outliners

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Posted by Foolness
Sep 16, 2012 at 03:33 AM


Just found out about this link: http://www.psychinnovations.com/directory/outliners-mind-maps

Many are mentioned here before for obvious reasons but what surprised me was how many names there were that I hadn’t known/hadn’t remembered.

Sadly the actual list is better use for future proof of concepts than anything as many are basic outliners. A few are old links. A few are paid software.

The names that caught my attention are Notetab (mentioned here before) but since it didn’t interest me then, I had no idea it was a HTML editor.

There’s http://nelements.org/ which caught me by attention because of the recent Mindmap collaboration request thread. (No offense to the examples listed but I have no idea how you could do finance on Mindomo or Mind42. When I think potential online mindmaps my thoughts go to services like SpiderScribe that combined the elements of mindmaps with a dashboard interface of Netvibes and Wunderkit.) Then again, I don’t use collaboration tools and I wasn’t a fan of SpiderScribe either. Just throwing out why this caught my intention because as a software the colored bubbles do look dated and underpowered compared to the competition but as far as web mindmaps go, the closest comparison I could think of is Bubbl.us and that one has a singular color lay-out. Another interesting look it has is how similar it looks to Pearltrees albeit less complicated.

Finally, there’s a bunch of outliners named there that surprised me in that they had metadata/bibliographical forms based on their screenshots. FreshOutline and Treeline are the two that caught my attention. (Both are mentioned in this old thread: http://www.outlinersoftware.com/messages/viewm/4179)

Another aspect that surprised me (but only if you’ve been looking for Linux outliners) are the names underneath there:

POSIX (Linux, BSD, *nix)
hnb - Hierarchical notebook (ncurses-interface)
TuxCards Open source outliner for Linux
Riot - ncurses-outliner, using mbox as file-format
KJots [1] - Free and simple to use outliner for KDE on Linux. Tree structured, it refers to nodes as ‘books’ and notes as ‘pages’. Book view shows a TOC and view mode for all entries. No word wrap.
KnowIt Open source outliner, KDE-based
Gjots2 - Python/GTK/GNOME nice outline editor. Data compatible with KJots.
Zim - A desktop wiki and outliner

The names are definitely in the forum but there’s no one topic listing them all and if you do a quick google search for linux outliners, Zim by far is the most popular with Tuxcard probably coming behind because of the association with the Linux mascot.

Doing a quick search, Riot and Knowit are the ones who appear to not yet be mentioned.


Posted by Franz Grieser
Sep 16, 2012 at 09:45 AM


Thanks for the pointer. There are a few on the list that I haven’t had on my radar any more.
And: Yes, astonishing how many outliners are available for *ix systems.



Posted by Alexander Deliyannis
Sep 16, 2012 at 07:04 PM


Great resource; it would be good to know when the page was last updated, but I couldn’t find it.

Re Linux in particular (and at least some other *ix systems):

There’s also Notecase which is cross platform; it’s probably the most powerful GUI-based two-pane outliner for Linux. Another one is the programming-oriented Leo, based on Python, running in Windows and Linux. Same as OutWiker, introduced to this forum by its developer.

Along with Zim which is the outliner based on the text editor Vim, there’s EMACS org-mode. Both work in the console. I think that the latter has had more exposition here, courtesy of JB, including some online references.

The number is significant, but with the exception of the ones above, I am not sure all are actively developed; and, unfortunately, *ix software often requires a background in IT to actually set it up…

By the way, I just saw the Wikipedia entry for outliners http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outliner


Posted by Foolness
Sep 17, 2012 at 03:46 AM


Normally this is true but since outliners and PIMs are sparse in Linux, most general distro makes it easy to install the actual widely used notetakers/outliners/wiki. Most of the ones mentioned just so happens to not be widely mentioned but they are only useful as proof of concept not actual mature/ongoing software.

hnb for example could sure use a direct cloud sync as there’s already a commandline looking web service like Holly https://hollyapp.com/ that could bypass the complication.

I didn’t really want to list all the well known PIM software for Linux such as Notecase as this is a specialist forum and I’ve taken for granted that most have heard of these but if we’re mentioning the commonly used software on Linux:

-Tomboy is still the most widely installed applet in Ubuntu-based distroes and it’s a pretty powerful yet simple wiki to start

-RedNotebook is more powerful than Notecase but since it’s beyond two pane, it’s more of a competitor to Outwiker albeit RedNotebook is supposed to be a journal

-Lyx is pretty simple enough to install and it’s trying to learn the simplified Latex that provides all the complications but it’s the closest Linux software to having Scrivener’s corkboard

-Basket Notepads is often compared to the OneNote of Linux but it is the most unique. For this reason, it is closest to the most powerful. For one thing the free space allows it to be a two pane, three pane, four pane outliner. The price is that it’s not compatible with every version of Linux but it’s also very exclusive to Linux. 

-Nevernote is the unstable clone of Evernote. It needs work but it at least seems to have an ongoing development due to the Evernote fanbase

Finally power for power, Treesheets is also available on Linux although you need to compile it.


Posted by jimspoon
Sep 17, 2012 at 03:27 PM


Don’t forget Pierre’s list.



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