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QotD: Outliner

Question: Do you use OmniOutliner, and if so, for what?

My Answer: I don't. People seem to like it, but for the life of me I can't figure out why. I have a to-do list in my email app (my "Drafts" folder), I keep my other to-dos in Stickies. When I need to actually create an outline, I create simple ones in BBEdit. What good is OmniOutliner? How do you use it?

I will say this: if OmniOutliner had a way to collaborate with a web server to keep a list of shared outlines (automatically, not via CVS or something), it would come in handy for FSS. That's for sure. And I don't mean in some hackneyed way: I mean honest-to-goodness working within OO, out of the box. Even if I had to install a PHP front-end and/or MySQL database to do it (two things every Mac these days come with).

You are encouraged to answer the Question of the Day for yourself in the comments or on your blog.

10 Responses to "QotD: Outliner"

  1. I use it for taking notes in a lot of my classes. I find it very good for creating hierarchy to my notes quickly without fiddling around with formatting.

  2. I used OmniOutliner for taking notes but found it too rigid. Plus printed output was terrible. In other words while I use one of these programs because it enforces substance over form, you had very little (e.g. not enough) control over the form. Looks like OO 3.0 fixes a lot of that, with styles and what not. I'm currently using Word's outline view, but Word is a total piece of crap otherwise; it does a lot of things (which I've turned off as much as possible) to be "helpful" but I always feel like I'm fighting it. Plus it's unstable and SLOW. Circus Ponies Notebook and its clone (forgot what it's called, but both descended from the same NeXT program) are also pretty decent.

  3. I use it to make grocery lists, that's about it. For my normal todo list, my wife and I use "usetasks.com" by Alex King. It's cool, and let's us assign tasks to each other.

  4. OmniOutliner (at least version 2.x) itself wouldn't be _that_ useful, but you have to see it in context with other tools: if you combine it with OmniGraffle and Keynote, it all starts making sense: structure your ideas and create a Keynote presentation, exchange data between Outliner and Graffle, create the final presentation in Keynote -> stun people with presentations that look better than anything you could achieve with PowerPoint and other tools.

    Version 3 will finally be able to serve as a real container for ideas - throw graphics into it,, collect whatever belongs to an individual project or concept. I like it that way...

  5. Emacs + Subversion + Webserver with DAV (like Apache 2.x)

    Considering you can manage just about anything that way, it works well for me.

  6. If BBEdit is more your style, pretty sure you can hook subversion into that as well, and the rest of hte chain is the same.

  7. I'm using it for todos. Text files don't cut it, because I have multiple columns (name, due date, priority), and it's very easy in OO to create a popup for columns where there are only a fixed number of possible items (priority in my case, "low"/"medium"/"high"/"holy shit").

    I tried to use iCal for my todos, but the interface's too noisy for that kind of thing.

  8. Question of the Day

    Q: Do you use OmniOutliner, and if so , for what? A: I use it for a number of "check lists" that I have a tendency to reuse. These are usually related to lodge functions or activities. I have...

  9. I don't use OmniOutliner, I use Circus Ponies Notebook.

    I used to use OO2, but found it wasn't really good at "to do" lists for me.

    I use Notebook for note taking (customer notes), and it's quite good at "to do" lists (for follow-up items, for example), because you can put checkboxes anywhere (inline) and put due dates on there, and then do a quick search and see everythign and when it's due.

    I looked at OO3, however it still doesn't appear to have this search functionality (super find, it's called), which is so critical to me.

    The other thing that Notebook has that I can't figure out in OO3 is a way to keep lots of outlines in a single document -- I support 10 sales reps with 100's of customers, and I have a page per rep, with each customer as a separate outline item in their page. The screen shots for OO3 made it look like this might be possible, but I'm unable to figure out how to do it yet -- in the 30 minutes of tinkering.

    But to answer your question -- an outliner can be VERY useful for some things, and for some people.

  10. OmniOutliner has always seemed like a cool piece of software and I'd use it if I could think of any use for it, but so far I haven't come up with anything.


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