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OmniOutliner 4 is finally available

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Posted by Stephen Zeoli
Jan 15, 2014 at 07:16 PM


I bought a copy of OO3 almost six years ago, so it has been a while since they’ve had a major upgrade to the venerable Mac outliner, but OmniGroup today finally announced the availability of version 4 today. Here’s the blog posting about it:


Here’s the gist of the improvements from that blog post:
[begin quote]
We put a lot of effort into this release, and it’s evident. It’s faster, stronger, and wiser. Mavericks (OS X v10.9) is a requirement, and that’s a good thing — OmniOutliner 4 benefits from a lot of improvements in the latest OS.

You’ll see a new, modern sidebar. When coupled with the cleaner inspectors, styles are much easier to use. It’s the same system we added to OmniOutliner 2 for iPad — easier to understand and a breeze to get the look you want. Not great with color schemes and Big Font Decisions? It’s easy with Theme Styling, — just head to Format→Apply Template Theme, and choose something that looks good. (You can do this with any existing document that has a style you like — OmniOutliner will apply its color, size, and font.)

And the most requested feature, text zooming, has come to the Mac! Quickly increase your text sizes (without worrying about changing your print or page settings) to easily see or share your on-screen outline.

…and much more! We added Smart Match (for when typing in a Pop-up List cell), new date parsing logic, column hiding, a Resource Browser, a fantastic new sidebar — hey, just give it a download!

We’re also growing our library of resources to aid new users. The latest is an OmniOutliner tutorial, Working in OmniOutliner 4, that covers all the basics: from outlining fundamentals to creating your own templates or themes. Available as an EPUB or PDF.
[end quote]

Honestly, the improvements seem kind of lean for something for which we’ve waited six years! And you have to have the Mavericks operating system or no dice. I have not yet tried it, but will, of course, buy a copy.

Steve Z.


Posted by Hugh
Jan 15, 2014 at 09:47 PM


Thanks, Steve. I’m sure I’ll upgrade: I’ll be confident that the new version will work as described by OmniGroup and will look very good. But I think your comment is correct: for an integer upgrade, the list of new functionality sounds thin. Speaking for myself, I’ll miss clones (when rival Mac outliners have possessed this feature for years).


Posted by Bernhard
Jan 16, 2014 at 08:51 AM


I own a copy of OO3 and it is (was) a good outliner but I’m not sure I’ll upgrade to OO4.

The list of innovations seems very small to me and I’ll think I’m not wiling to update my OS to 10.9 (even if its free) due to that.

So, I’ll have to look for some other outliner in the long run.


Posted by Stephen Zeoli
Jan 16, 2014 at 03:21 PM


After installing version 4 on my MacBook Pro, I was able to open the list of new feature “highlights”:

Zooming — Text can now be magnified on screen without changing your print layout.

A brand-spanking new UI — Yes, that’s right folks, we’ve totally redesigned the UI in OmniOutliner 4. Out with the old paradigms and in with the new.

Resource Browser — Use the new Resource Browser to browse recently edited files, choose templates, apply themes to existing documents, and import your templates from OmniOutliner 3.

Sidebar — We’ve done away with the old style drawer from OmniOutliner 3 and have created a new Sidebar that lists the Contents of your outline, Styles, and more!
Inspector redesign — OmniOutliner’s redesigned Inspector window is cleaner and fresher.

Styles — To be more in line with OmniOutliner 2 for iPad, we’ve retooled the way styles work to create a great cross-platform experience.

Theming — You can now apply the styles from a template (its theme) to your outlines.

Column visibility (PRO) — Have a document with a lot of columns that you only need to access every now and then? We’ve added the ability to hide columns when you don’t need them, and then make reappear when you want them back.

Smart Match technology — Pop-up List-styled columns benefit from the Smart Match technology we’ve used in OmniFocus. As you type characters in a Pop-up List cell, OmniOutliner tries to guess which item you mean—and the characters you enter don’t have to be at the beginning or contiguous. If you type a new value that you’d like to add to the Pop-up List, just enter Command-Return to add the value to that list.

Hyperlinks — URLs are converted into real links so you can click and open them in your default browser. What’s more, if you don’t want or like this behavior, you can toggle this off in OmniOutliner’s preferences.

Attachments — You can attach pretty much anything to an OmniOutliner document: images, video, audio, even other OmniOutliner files. Attached images autoscale to the column width, and you can attach audio clips which play right within the Outline. What’s more, we’ve added a new attachment popover to replace OmniOutliner 3’s tagging, so you can change the visibility of attached images, use alternative text rather than a filename, and direct how OmniOutliner 4 opens attachments.

Now that list certainly is not nothing, but its mostly features that make it easier to dress up your outlines. Nothing there actually improves the outlining function. Maybe they feel that’s all done, but of course they haven’t added cloning yet. I’d have liked to see improvements to inline notes.

Also, there is at least one major bug: The inspector pane does not open on my computer. I just get a slender bar that says “inspector” and nothing else.

I’ve got to say that I’m quite disappointed. Maybe I’ll change my opinion with more use, but I’m skeptical.

Steve Z.


Posted by Hugh
Jan 16, 2014 at 06:50 PM


Stephen Zeoli wrote:
Nothing there actually
>improves the outlining function. Maybe they feel that’s all done, but of
>course they haven’t added cloning yet. I’d have liked to see
>improvements to inline notes.
> >Also, there is at least one major bug: The inspector pane does not open
>on my computer. I just get a slender bar that says “inspector” and
>nothing else.
> >I’ve got to say that I’m quite disappointed. Maybe I’ll change my
>opinion with more use, but I’m skeptical.
> >Steve Z.

It sounds as if I should revise my forecast that OO4 ‘will work as OmniGroup describes’…

But it’s the absence of cloning that I find really disappointing. In my view, there are all sorts of reasons why cloning is desirable in a modern outliner. For myself, I’m a ‘tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em, tell ‘em, and then tell ‘em what you’ve told ‘em’ kind of writer, and so cloning is pretty important. I wrote as much in the OO forum yonks ago (I think, though I’m not certain, when we were still on OO2). But in my opinion even for common-or-garden, basic outlining cloning is helpful - for example when experimentally you’re moving a ‘node’ around, you may want to keep it in its old position for a bit, as well as in its new one. I’m persuaded that OG is composed of clever people who generally devise clever software, but even when they have other jobs to do and other apps to refresh, I find it difficult to understand why it would take them in excess of six years to find a way to make cloning work - in one of the applications that helped make their name - when lone-wolf developers such as the creator of TAO/Neo can do it far more quickly. Yet that appears to be the reality.

I’d like the OG to get past introducing this functionality, and start showing me features that I haven’t dreamed of yet. But no such luck. Perhaps in six years’ time?


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