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Horizontal outlining

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Posted by MadaboutDana
Sep 13, 2013 at 05:47 PM


Inspired by Gingko - which I think is a brilliant start (the nice bunnies have told me that since there’s only one actual developer, it may take a while before a mobile app is available) - I’ve been looking for other horizontal outliners.

The more I think about it, the more sensible this seems as an answer to the issues so well described by Chris - data prioritization and internetworking.

Of course the only really great example of a horizontal/vertical outliner is Tree Outliner (http://www.topoftree.jp/images/0_overview.png); alas, only available for Mac. Last discussed in October last year (http://www.outlinersoftware.com/topics/viewt/4351/0/revisiting-the-pros-and-cons-of-horizontal-outliners). And there’s no sign of anything comparable emerging for Windows (apart from Gingko, of course).

One could argue that mindmapping apps are very similar in concept, but there’s something fuzzy and ill-disciplined about them that doesn’t appeal much to my (Germanic?) mindset.

Apple Numbers can be used as a kind of horizontal outliner, but it’s not really the same.

If anybody can think of something convincingly outliner-y that works vertically AND horizontally, why not step up and tell us about it?


Posted by Pierre Paul Landry
Sep 13, 2013 at 06:12 PM


Interesting, but there seems to be a lot of wasted screen real estate… Plus it does not allow for data columns…

What advantages do you see over a traditional outline ?


Posted by MadaboutDana
Sep 13, 2013 at 06:51 PM


You’re right, looking at it again I can see there are issues in terms of screen real-estate. In this sense, Gingko is actually using an even more exciting model; their columnar system is relatively efficient (not least because the columns scroll independently; that’s a big advantage over a standard column-based outliner like OmniOutliner or Ecco Pro). The other exciting feature of Gingko is the ease with which you can drag different items from one column to another, effectively rebuilding your outline on the fly. As Chris said - it’s the ability to focus on specific pieces of info and then link them (easily) with others that will make the ultimate outliner - the simple hierarchical tree is no longer enough. The Gingko paradigm seems very promising in this respect - you can view pieces of information at various levels of the tree alongside various other pieces of information that may belong to entirely different elements in the tree. It’s not the only way of doing this, of course (MyInfo, Smereka TreeProjects and InfoRecall all support an MDI interface, so you can compare elements side by side); but it’s a very elegant way. I suppose what would really do the trick would be a kind of three-dimensional structure that could be smoothly rotated through all three dimensions; for example, Tree Outliner would be even more powerful if you could hoist a horizontal outline and then view it as a vertical outline - and then allow it to lapse back to horizontal again. It would be more powerful still if you could view horizontal/vertical outlines alongside other horizontal/vertical outlines in any configuration - maybe by overlaying some kind of grid structure and dragging the particular tree into a column/row? If you could also scroll along the columns/rows independently, but with an option to create links (possibly defined/governed by formal/mathematical relationships) between separate outline trees, that could turn outlining into a truly dynamic concept - even better than data pivoting.

Just spitballing here, of course… ;-)


Posted by Stephen Zeoli
Sep 13, 2013 at 06:55 PM


A horizontal outline is essentially a tree diagram, I think. At times it is useful to see your information that way. I personally would not find it an advantage to ONLY be able to view my information that way. The nice thing about Tree Outliner is that it allows you to combine vertical and horizontal views in a single window or in multiple windows and tabs.

You may be able to replicate this functionality on a PC to some degree with Inspiration, the outliner/diagrammer software. The outline view shows the typical vertical outline. Switch to diagram with it set as a right flowing tree.

Steve Z.


Posted by MadaboutDana
Sep 13, 2013 at 06:55 PM


Mind you, I notice that Tree Outliner can actually swap between a horizontal and a single outline view (http://www.topoftree.jp/images/3_VersionsBrowser.png). That’s really rather neat.


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