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Lack of up-to-date outliners

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Posted by WaryJerry
Jul 31, 2020 at 08:03 AM


1. I’ve read through all the posts and advice on here over several years, looking for a Windows outliner that is still available, without any luck.
I do not want a programme that is cloud based. I want all my mistakes to be visible only to me.I know that the cloud is supposed to be secure and private but as I was told when I was working in the real world ‘If you believe that you’ll believe anything my lad’.

I have looked at InfoQube and even used it, fleetingly in the past.
It seems that UltraRecall which I evaluated in the past is the only ‘live’ system available now in Mid 2020.
Does anyone have a modern outliner that is still being maintained in use now?

2. Much software seems aimed at academia where one has to work with publication and/or thesis submission guide lines. To be frank I had enough of that when I was younger.

3. For some years now I have been using a set of programs which although pricey competes on equal ground with MS Word and has been developed over several year by a small team who are really interested . Although it is designed around the needs of academic writing it can be used as a more general word processor.
The suite comprises a word processor, continuous indexing and most useful to me a referencing element which can be configured and not tied to the source being in a PDF or Journal. I use this for creating references which can be manually created. Much of my study involves printed sources, in some cases going back to when Caxton was a boy and thus are very unlikely to have an ISBN
That product is NotaBene. http://www.notabene.com  It works on Windows 7 and 10 and some earlier versions, and they have users working on Macs. It has been used for full length books.
I found this many years ago when suffering from Word frustrations and have used it for my own work ever since.
Unfortunately it does not have an outliner, as far as I know. It’s worth a look.


Posted by Listerene
Jul 31, 2020 at 02:34 PM


If you’re looking for a 2-pane outliner, try the open-source CherryTree. TreeLine is another option.


Posted by mdlynam
Jul 31, 2020 at 02:42 PM


Wow—- NotaBene!  I maintain a Friends account with them, though rarely use the software. 
The reason for my not using it?  Habit.  I just haven’t the need (yet) to devote myself to really learning it.  For text processing, I use Word; For biblio information I use Citavi (or EndNote), and for search, X1.

I should delve back into it… little reason not to! 


Posted by Amontillado
Jul 31, 2020 at 03:52 PM


WaryJerry wrote:
1. I’ve read through all the posts and advice on here over several
>years, looking for a Windows outliner that is still available, without
>any luck.

I’ve got hopes for the next version of Sheetplanner (Mac only), but I think my use is going to be more centered on it as a timeline tool than a traditional outliner. It doesn’t look anything like OmniOutliner, but it does pretty much the same thing with the same stream of keystrokes. I think it’s quicker to use than Aeon Timeline, and it can be a nice front end for Aeon, if you want to build Aeon’s grid. A CSV export from Sheetplanner can feed Aeon. For me, that’s quicker than direct entry into Aeon. In fact, a spreadsheet exported into Aeon is quicker, too, but Sheetplanner gives an advance view of what the timeline is going to look like, and may do all you really need.

For a current time-waster I’m working on, I decided to outline in a word processor. Any word processor, any platform, as long as it has reasonable style support and a navigator pane. It’s been strangely liberating.

Styles for headings create the outline in the navigator pane, or whatever your word processor of choice calls it. The document itself becomes the second pane of a two-pane outline tool.

For better focus on topics, I have three style sets that are mostly duplicates.

One puts a page break before every top level heading. Another one puts a page break in front of every heading. The last one doesn’t insert page breaks at all.

That lets me flip between one long outline, focus on top level topics, or a granular view.

I’ve also recently come to grips with the problem of putting too much detail in an outline. What I’ve decided works best is a mind map, wiki, or something for all those categorized ideas, and an outline that uses major headings for major breaks the story. Chapters, for example, but no categorization into topics and sub topics.

Minor topics are milestones along the telling of the story and don’t say how things happened or what categories events fit into, They are just story snapshots. That way I remain flexible when writing.

In short, categorize in a tool that’s meant for information organization, outline to produce a map for what’s going to be written in the sequence it will appear, probably creating no more than two or maybe three levels of hierarchy. Two is better.

By all means, please feel free to heckle. I’m just learning.


Posted by jaslar
Jul 31, 2020 at 06:56 PM


I’d have to give the nod to Notecase Pro (https://www.notecasepro.com/) over Cherry Tree. Notecase is very full-featured, under active development, good across Windows/Linux/Mac/Android.

Academic writing: do check out Zettl (https://www.zettlr.com/), a markdown editor. It has folding and navigation. Again, Mac, Windows, Linux

Another little utility is FromScratch, a very simple outliner that’s great for first drafts, or for hoisting in a separate windows, and consulting as you write in another program. Same three platforms.

All are run local, not in the cloud.

And of course, emacs, which can do anything and everything, but does ask for some investment of time.


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