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Plain Text (as in .TXT) Outliner?

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Posted by Lucas
Mar 19, 2013 at 12:02 AM


The best solution I’ve found for plain text outlining is to use the crossplatform (Java-based) text editor jEdit.


Go to settings, click on ‘Editing’, then for ‘Folding Mode’ select ‘indent’. And for ‘Automatic indentation’, select ‘full’. That way, text folding is activated on the basis of indentation. To indent, you press tab, and then the next line will automatically be indented the same amount. A ‘Folding’ menu in the menubar allows for collapsing and expanding all folds.

Screenshot with 1 line folded:


Screenshot with same line unfolded:


Basic outlining is achieved in this way, although without any special features.

A far geekier but probably superior solution is this forked version of Vim Outliner:


(Vim itself also allows for indent-based folding, as in jEdit, but Vim has more of a learning curve.)


Posted by Steve
Mar 19, 2013 at 12:47 PM


How about Notetab?

http://www.notetab.com/text-editor.php  Point number 5 talks about outlines.  I have used it successfully in the past for outlines.


Posted by Lucas
Mar 19, 2013 at 02:47 PM


Just to clarify, the suggestion I posted above is for so-called one-pane outlining, whereas Steve’s suggestion of Notetab is for 2-pane outlining. Both are useful, but since the OP mentioned that he wants “Tabs for hierarchy”, I took that to be a 1-pane approach.


Posted by Prion
Mar 19, 2013 at 02:48 PM


MadaboutDana wrote:
emacs - especially in Orgmode - is perfectly ghastly, and I find it
>perfectly astonishing, in this day and age, that anybody could
>conceivably WANT to use such a thing.

I sympathize but I am not sure I agree.
True, orgmode/emacs has a very steep learning curve, which is the reason I don’t use it on a daily basis. But from time to time I fire up orgmode, marvel at the flabbergasting array of power functions crammed into a plain text framework and wonder why on earth the “other” tools feel so limited and unresponsive.
The user interface is a nightmare but the combination of functionality and snappiness is really amazing because usually one comes at the expense of the other .


Posted by Alexander Deliyannis
Mar 19, 2013 at 06:05 PM


I can think of at least two quite capable tools, both in Windows:

It’s been around for years; I believe I first heard about it in the original outliners.com forum. It’s basically a two-pane outliner relying on text files for content and Notetab-compatible catalog files for the outline (I think). I don’t know about actual development, but it says that it is compatible at least with Windows 7. I’ve never actually used it myself. I think that the reason is that it is not Unicode-capable.

It’s a modern and continuously updated, Unicode text editor with some very nifty functions, for both programming and text-oriented work, handling even .CSV files. Its outliner plug-in (included in the basic installation), shown in the above link, is very capable and flexible. Among others, you can use it both as one- and two-pane, concurrently if you want, and you can customise the character or regular expression which will be used to mark the outline levels. I use it often and find it lightning fast.

In respect to the discussion on EMACS org mode, I must say that if I had learned it at a more tender age, I’d probably still be using it. I personally don’t need the fancy GUIs and enjoy the DOS-like writing environment of Brainstorm, WriteMonkey and the like. But nowadays I doubt that I would find the time or patience to tame the beast.


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