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The ultimate outliner

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Posted by Hugh
Jan 16, 2013 at 01:50 PM


Dr Andus wrote:

>Also, I wasn’t implying that the “ultimate outliner” would need to have
>a huge number of features. It’s about having the right kind of features,
>and simplicity can be one of the criteria (e.g. to have a
>distraction-free mode, such as Scrivener).

I think simplicity - or at least, an interface that’s more or less intuitively understandable - is extremely important, and sometimes under-rated. (See previous threads on Neo and OmniOutliner, for example.) Some developers appear to have a talent for rendering complexity simple, others don’t. That’s one reason why I put Ecco Pro close to the top of my list of all-time greats.

>Plus, to achieve general interoperability, one would need some sort of a
>community consensus between outliner developers, which I just can’t see
>arising anytime soon (especially as development gets abandoned).

In my experience interoperability seems to be slightly easier on the Mac platform (although some may disagree). Harmony (some would say uniformity!) of UI, and a degree of commonality of import and export formats, usually including OPML, seem to be more prevalent. Applescript may also help extensively. And there are a few efforts, via either or both developers and superusers, to build closer co-operation in practical terms (e.g. Tinderbox with Scrivener, OmniFocus and OmniOutliner with Devonthink). Apple’s attempts to enforce sand-boxing of applications occasionally appear to make co-operation between apps more difficult, however.


Posted by Stephen Zeoli
Jan 16, 2013 at 02:22 PM


Great topic, Doc!

This will probably not surprise anyone who has read my ravings, but just give me modern GrandView and I’ll be happy as can be. If I’m getting greedy, I’d add:

* Cross-platform, Windows and Mac
* No need for mind-mapping feature, but ability to both import and export mind map formats
* Fast, real-time search
* Word-like editing functions—that is, when writing, having the same experience as with Word, notably extended selection
* A committed developer who won’t abandon the application

That’s probably not all, but that is what comes to mind. Of all the ouliners available on any platform, my favorite is Tinderbox. If the promised iPad version of Tbx is even close to the Mac version, I will be one step closer to CRIMP heaven.

Steve Z.


Posted by $Bill
Jan 16, 2013 at 02:48 PM


Alexander Deliyannis wrote:
I am less interested in seeing more operational
>features being added, than in the interoperability of different
>applications. This is becoming more essential for me as more of my
>products need to be published online.

Perhaps more of this will come. Microsoft at least has created a framework for interoperable solutions in Windows 8.
“In Windows 8, sharing is a ubiquitous experience and a natural user expectation. Users often come across content in your app that they’re excited to share with friends or use in another app. As a developer you can meet this user expectation by using the Share contract which provides a lightweight, contextual and easy model for accomplishing app-to-app sharing. “

See:  http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsappdev/archive/2012/12/12/sharing-from-your-app.aspx

This is also interesting. It’s a video of the sharing across MS Office 2013, working from within Outlook.  Its not the solution for me but I am very impressed with the improvement in interoperability.


Posted by Dr Andus
Jan 16, 2013 at 04:10 PM


Stephen Zeoli wrote:
>* No need for mind-mapping feature, but ability to both import and
>export mind map formats

I’d have agreed with you until very recently. Actually I’m reasonably happy with how ConnectedText and Freeplane can be integrated via export/import. However, if they work so well together, then I get greedy and I’d just like a one-click option to turn a CT outline into a mind map and back.

In fact I’ve just realised that Freeplane can now be considered a de facto single-pane outliner with inline notes! Just right click on a mind map and select “outline view” and it produces a decent outline.

On top of that Freeplane can handle both internal and external links, including to documents in other applications, such as ConnectedText topics (which turns it into a simultaneous single-pane and dual-pane outliner, as you can still have the inline notes plus the externally linked CT note).


Posted by Alexander Deliyannis
Jan 16, 2013 at 04:26 PM


$Bill wrote:
>Microsoft at least has created a framework for interoperable solutions in Windows 8.

Darn; given my history with DOS/Windows I was hoping to keep out of Windows 8 and jump directly to 9.


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