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Outlines of outlines

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Posted by Manfred
Sep 30, 2006 at 03:13 PM


Getting the Mac Rom legally should not be that expensive. All you need is a classic Mac. (I have seen them in the hall ways (to be thrown out as scrap) at my institution of higher learning. E-Bay might be a good place too. Downloading the Rom to the computer can be done with a freeware application. (And working on a classic Mac (residing on the PC) is fun.


Posted by Derek Cornish
Oct 1, 2006 at 04:30 AM


Thanks, Manfred. I’ll keep my eyes open for one.



Posted by Hugh Pile
Oct 1, 2006 at 04:25 PM


As a newcomer to this forum and a novice in these fields, I’m posting with some hesitation. But I’m a little surprised that this topic hasn’t created more interest. Maybe it’s been addressed before.

IME there are a few Windows programmes that provide “outlines of outlines” - after a fashion. Most are in the writing genre.  Liquid Story Binder is one (working in an RTF environment, so that can’t pose an impossible bar - I think the chapter outline works as a subset of the book outline). Idea Mason, as has been mentioned before, is another.  In the Mac world, apart from those listed, I believe Scrivener is another possibility.

Beyond writing software, personally I’ve achieved a result by embedding MS Word in Ultra Recall and using Word’s not-too-bad outliner. I’ve heard of Brainstorm being used similarly. I’d try doing the same with Notemap if it wasn’t so expensive. I believe that you can create an outliner of sorts in Infohandler using a category tree. And of course there’s MS OneNote. But few of these are simple and none has a really top-quality, order-your-thoughts efficiently outliner.

I share the view that a good “outline of outlines” would be a holy grail of personal information software. Before computers I’d go to a library to find information. That library would be arranged according to some well-understood principle - or “outline” - which would easily allow me to extract the sub-set of information that I wanted. I’d then re-arrange the subset of information in a second outline to enable me to compose.

Why, when there are dozens and dozens of pieces of personal information software in the Windows world, do none enable me to do this cleanly and simply?


Posted by Hugh Pile
Oct 3, 2006 at 03:56 PM


Well that was a conversation stopper ;>) Like announcing at a party that you’re a mathematician…


Posted by Derek Cornish
Oct 3, 2006 at 05:42 PM


Well said, Hugh. I simply can’t understand why it is so difficult to find such software, but probably the silence here explains the reason.

I was interested to hear about your embedding of Word’s outliner inside Ultra Recall. As I remember, clicking on a Word file in UR’s tree opens Word plus the file in a separate window, and this can be re-sized to fit the UR display. It looks very neat; sometimes the illusion of complete integration is almost as good as the real thing :-).

Zoot also allows linked files to be opened externally in this way (via “Insert file” or “file link”), and one can similarly “scale” down the Word window to fit the editor pane. But there is little real interaction between Word and Zoot. Does UR offer something more for Word and Brainstorm than this? I imagine there would be no problem also using NoteMap in this way.

But integration via file linking and launching is a poor second to having a rich-text editor with outlining facilities built into the editing pane of a two-pane notetaker. This would enable outlines and their contents to be treated just like other text notes. If this were to be combined with the data-organization, manipulation and searching capabilities of a program like Zoot it would integrate outlining into the whole creative process. I won’t hold my breath waiting for this to happen, however. 

Incidentally, I’ve been fiddling around with the desktop version of PocketThinker, a single-pane outliner, over the weekend (http://www.pocketthinker.com/). It is a lot like NoteMap - including having the NoteMap bug which deletes one or other attached “comments” when one merges neighbouring items. It’s more spartan than NoteMap in terms of features. But at $20 for the desktop and PPC versions together, however, it is a pretty good deal. Also, the developer seems active and there is a forum.

I managed to export a complex Grandview file to it and was surprised at how well it took the import, aside from a small glitch with spacing. PT’s native file-type is .opml. It’s import-export features are good (it imports to and exports from Word’s outline view) and it provides some integration with Outlook. It’s good to see people like PocketThinker and Bonsai still developing single-pane outliners.


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