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OmniOutliner 3 for iOS

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Posted by satis
Feb 18, 2018 at 03:58 AM


I really have trouble with the idea of swallowing $90 for Mac + iOS outliner apps, especially when the iOS one is in such woeful shape (and $10 more than it would have cost a few days ago if one had bought the previous version, with free upgrade). It’s a shame that outliners like Tree have disappeared, apps like Opal were never updated with features after they came out, and products like Dynalist and Workflowy don’t do columns (or image attachment? not sure).

So much in this cross-platform space is half-baked and overpriced, it’s sad.


Posted by MadaboutDana
Feb 19, 2018 at 03:32 PM


Yes, Outlinely and Cloud Outliner are the only two reasonably priced cross-platform outliners (in AppleWorld), although you could do worse than check out Scrivener’s outlining abilities, which are actually very powerful.

I did try using Todoist as an outliner for a while (it’s quite a capable outliner, as it happens), but found the various tricks required to format it/remove checkboxes just slightly too annoying in the long run. But for those with slightly more patience, it might serve - not least because it’s got a very good tagging system and a powerful search function.

The new iOS version of OmniOutliner is slightly better than the old one (I only use the Essentials version, myself), but it’s not a big step forward; all the real goodies are reserved for Pro users. What also strikes me as seriously strange is that OmniOutliner still hasn’t made up ground on rivals like Outlinely - you can’t, for example, do something as simple as strike out text; nor can you selectively add checkboxes to specific items - either all of them have a checkbox, or none (this isn’t true in the desktop app, by the way; but as soon as you sync with the iOS app, your individual checkbox settings are nuked and everything is given a checkbox. Now just how professional is that? Please note I did raise this issue a few months ago; a pleasant but “neutral” response was received).

Bear does have outlining on its roadmap, apparently…


Posted by MadaboutDana
Feb 19, 2018 at 05:05 PM


Of course there are some amusing workarounds.

Editorial for iOS is a good outliner. But you need an equivalent on the Mac to turn it into a viable cross-platform option. FoldingText will do the job very nicely. In principle, SmartDown will also do the job, but hasn’t been updated for quite a while (mind you, neither has FoldingText, although there is now a variant of the latter for Atom).

Findings on the Mac is a very good outliner, although dedicated (alas, despite my efforts to persuade the developer to open it out) exclusively to science experiments. I don’t think Findings for iOS is much of an outliner, however - but don’t take my word for it, I haven’t used it.

Agenda is an outliner, although not a multi-level one (well, not quite true - you could argue it’s a two-level outliner, in that you can expand/collapse categories in the left-hand navigation bar; you can also fold notes in each project from the title line). This should be useful once Agenda for iOS appears.

It surprises me how few Markdown editors support folding: you’d have thought the slight interface tweaks necessary to view/hide headings at different levels would be fairly minor (but then IANAP). FoldingText still does this best, by the way, in that it layers folding by hierarchical heading (so top-level headings will assume second-level headings are part of the text block they should fold, until they reach the next top-level heading).

Another folding Markdown app is Write! (https://wri.tt), which is rather good, but doesn’t do headings as well as FoldingText. But it does fold headings! However, there isn’t an iOS version (although you can use it to complement Editorial on iOS). It’s a very nice app; one of the few that supports an always-on-top setting, so it’s ideal for making notes on stuff (and also has a special “compact” mode for precisely this scenario). Keep-It is one of the only other apps I can think of that does always-on-top, but sadly it doesn’t fold.

Finally, the latest versions of TiddlyWiki fold each Tiddler (if you switch the function on). TiddlyWiki is, of course, very broadly cross-platform, although it’s best to use something like Qwine if you’re running it on iOS.


Posted by satis
Feb 19, 2018 at 05:59 PM


Editorial/iOS does outlines well? Interesting.

If Bear gets decent outlining I’ll take a second look at it. But right now, for my non-shoebox file writing, I’m pretty content with Ulysses (which I get at a slight discount for having been a current customer at the time they switched to their subscription model).

FoldingText seems both interesting and overkill for me. But I had an old version of TaskPaper and decided to see how it’s progressed so the other day I paid for the upgrade and will start playing with it soon. Unfortunately, since I bought/upgraded directly from the developer I won’t be able to save files directly to iCloud (and thus be able to use an iOS app like TaskMator with it).

Since OmniOutliner Essentials came out for Mac last year I’ve used it for some notetaking but I’m really not in love with it and so I don’t want to spend the extra money on Pro. (For years before that I was using Opal, which still works but is not being updated.)

For long-form writing I purchased a license for the desktop version of Ginkgo. I like it, but its current beta-ish state has me a little concerned about stability and overall usability so I’m not migrating into it yet either.

So I’m still hunting around.


Posted by MadaboutDana
Feb 19, 2018 at 10:41 PM


Also, desktop Gingko doesn’t have a search function - d’oh!

But you can use Dropbox with Taskpaper/Taskmator - that works fine. And the latest Taskpaper is a very good outliner - it’s just a shame that Taskmator doesn’t yet support folding. Guess what? Editorial can act as a Taskpaper client, too, and *does* support folding!

Ain’t life sweet?


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