Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Just finished switching outliners...

So I'm switching outliners, from the more recent and regularly updated The Guide to the ancient yet still very functional KeyNote.

What is an outliner? Look at a file browser, like Windows Explorer. The left pane usually shows a tree view, where each folder can be expanded or minimized to show or hide all the subdirectories it contains. The right pane shows all the files in the directory selected in the tree view. An outliner uses this interface design with a text editor. In the left pane, instead of folders, traditionally has nodes. Each node has it's own body of text that shows up in the right pane when selected. Click here for a picture of "The Guide" that might help you understand it better. The nodes are hierarchical, you have parent and child nodes, and they can be maximized and minimized just like folders in a file browser.

It might help to think of the left pane as collapsible a 'Table of Contents', and the right pane is the actual text the table points to. Outliners are very important, I think, because they're so adaptable. You can use them for addresses, recipes, brainstorming, note-taking, shopping and to do lists, anything really. Outliners are built to organize a lot of information and that makes them very useful.

The Guide is the first Outliner I've ever used, and I've since tried many more while searching for a cross-platform replacement. The Guide is the best out of all I've tried (only free and open source, I didn't try any commercial ones). The only reason I'm switching programs is because I needed an outliner that would work in Windows and Linux. KeyNote is Windows only, as is The Guide, but The Guide doesn't work under Wine (Windows environment for Linux) and KeyNote does.

KeyNote is very similar to The Guide, in fact I think The Guide is loosely based on it. The transition won't be hard, but the copying sure was. I just finished manually copying each node of my main file from The Guide to KeyNote. Probably 300 nodes. It wasn't fun.

I'm doing a lot more graphic design and video work lately, and Inkscape and The Gimp seem to run faster on Linux. Not to mention Blender loves crashing when I try to use sound in the sequencer on Windows 7. So I'm using Linux for this work, and my outline has all my notes for it, so my outliner should run in Linux.

Oddly enough, I only have 3 windows-only apps I regularly use: Exact Audio Copy (doesn't work in Wine), KeyNote, and a post-it notes app. I switch back and forth from Windows to Linux so much that it's something I pay attention to when looking for new programs. In Linux I tend to use abcde for ripping. I just started using this notes app and the concept has proven invaluable so I suppose I'll have to start looking for a cross-platform alternative for that, too.

Other cross-platform outliners I looked at: JreePad--couldn't get it to run on one Windows 7 PC, although it would run on another. KeepNote would be my next choice after KeyNote, if it didn't hang every now and then, and...well, it's just not what I'm used to. If you could hide the trash can, that would reduce a lot of the clutter and I think I'd like it a lot more. Both decent programs though and I'll keep an eye on them in the future.

But the cream of the crop really is The Guide. If you run Windows only, you should check it out.


PS I was about to pass out sleeping while writing this, apologies for any and all spelling, grammar, and logistical errors.

1 comment:

  1. If you feel the need for speed, try VimOutliner:

    Runs on both Windows and Linux