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Ecco like features for future SheetPlanner

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Posted by Ken
Feb 13, 2018 at 04:54 PM


A big thank you to rogbar for copying that article.  It was a nice read, and a story that many of us loyal Ecco users found ourselves as minor characters.  I also started using it in 1993 and finally had to abandon it a number of years ago when my office migrated to Win7 and would not allow me to keep the software on my machine.

While I would love a reincarnation of the original program since I was familiar with its workings and would need no learning curve, I realize that is not really an option in my life.  While I am sure if I thought about it, I could probably come up with numerous things I loved about Ecco, I will try to highlight a few that come immediately to mind.  First, I loved the easy integration between the calendar and any tabbed pages that were created.  Most good programs offer some form of this today, but I really liked that Ecco had a calendar section and a task section with tasks that could carry forward.  Again, not complex, but well laid out.

Another thing that I loved was the ability to add columns to tabs.  This allowed me to look at data in a number of ways that worked for me.  I know that Airtable (and probably many others) seems to do this somewhat well, but setting it up always required my brain to go into “database” mode and think how I can get the view to look the way I would like.  My Life Organized also offers views and layout that work for me, but again, Ecco made it somewhat simple once you learned their “logic”.

While Ecco did not really have tags in the current sense, I do appreciate a program that offers good control and use of tags.  I think the biggest failure in using tags is Asana.  They took a very powerful feature and totally screwed it up by not allowing a tags section on the left hand column where folders/projects normally reside to allow quick filtering.  big mistake in my book.  If I cannot see my tags, how am I supposed to be able to use them?

I know that PPL has poured his heart and soul into creating the modern version of Ecco with IQ, and I am not sure that a second Ecco “clone” would be all that helpful.  What I might encourage is finding a copy of Ecco and using it for a bit to try and understand first hand why it was loved by many.  Programs like Airtable, IQ, Hyperplan and MLO, to name just a few, give me hope more than programs like Asana.  There seem to be a group of developers who understand what programs like Ecco offered, and then their are program and companies, like Asana and Trello, that are somewhat creative in their efforts, but seem to have a different focus (or lack of appreciation for past efforts).  New may be good, but old is not always bad or obsolete, and the wheel does not always need to be reinvented.

I wish you luck,



Posted by Jon Polish
Feb 13, 2018 at 06:00 PM


Agreed, and I am a huge Ecco fan. But for me InfoQube presents freedom and capability now lacking in Ecco. While SheetPlanner intrigues me, I will not be able to utilize it because it is Apple only.


Ken wrote:
>New may be good, but
>old is not always bad or obsolete, and the wheel does not always need to
>be reinvented.
> >I wish you luck,
> >—Ken


Posted by rogbar
Feb 13, 2018 at 07:36 PM


Hi Peter,

To answer your original question, here’s an incomplete list:

1) the outliner be rock-solid, not prone to crashing (Ecco was bullet-proof, and I really pushed it. DevonThink is also crash-free.)

2) the ability to filter an outline based on values in one or more columns

3) the columns whose values are filterable would include text, numerical, date, drop-down, etc.

4) the drop-down columns should allow the user to select more than one choice. This was a hugely useful feature of Ecco, and it’s amazing how few other apps have copied this.

5) if an item that satisfies the filter is not a top-level item, the filtered outline would show the selected item’s parent items in place, but grayed-out. This would preserve the context of the filtered item, without making it look like the parent items satisfied the filter also.

6) the filtered item should also include the item’s children. Currently, OmniOutliner doesn’t allow this, so if you did, it would be a huge plus.

7) having tabbed views - as you’re planning - is extremely important. In other words, the ability to keep different views of the same outline visible at all times, switching between them just by clicking on the appropriate tab.

8) each tabbed view can have its own column structure, different from the others.

9) the ability to save a tabbed view so that when I open a document for a particular project, all the different views that I want are automatically displayed before me, and I don’t have to manually create the layout I created yesterday and need again today.

10) it’s important to be able to name and save filters, so they can be easily re-applied

11) the ability to insert image files into items (or notes), and the ability to re-size them on the fly. Ecco could do that, OmniOutliner can’t.

I’m sure more will occur to me ... but in the meantime, thanks for asking, and thanks so much for developing this. Can’t wait to try it out.


p.s.: Do you have an email address where I can send you a screenshot or two from different Ecco configurations?


Posted by SheetPlanner
Feb 13, 2018 at 09:36 PM


Thanks. I am definitely thinking about it for v 1.5.


Paul Korm wrote:
Folders are tags, or tags are folders.  (As also implied in the Guardian
>column @rogbar quoted).  Not a bad idea.  Tinderbox produces the same
>kind of view in its attribute browser.  It’s a popular feature.  I see
>no reason why the feature would drive anyone nuts.  Go fo it.
> >SheetPlanner wrote:
>>One feature I am thinking about for a future SheetPlanner release is
>>ability to view columns and column choices as folders.


Posted by SheetPlanner
Feb 13, 2018 at 09:37 PM


Thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated.


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