Skip to Content
Skip to Table of Contents

← Previous Article Next Article →

ATPM 10.09
September 2004




Download ATPM 10.09

Choose a format:


About This Particular Outliner

Belkin Media Reader Review

iTrip Review

iTalk Review


Also in This Series

Reader Comments (3)

Stephen R. Diamond · September 7, 2004 - 17:24 EST #1
Outlining is sufficiently important that it may legitimately dictate platform choice. It did for me. So the claim that no extant Windows outliner surpasses any product for the Macintosh on any important feature might be very important if it is true or based on solid knowledge of the allegedly inferior platform. Is it?

The claim's vagueness leaves some wiggle room, but I think it is easy to find Windows outliners unmatched on the Mac for some generally useful features.

This is my list, containing only reliable, well-implemented features whose importance cannot be easily controverted.

1. The ability to perform mark and gather type operations, "remembering" the _order_ in which topics are marked and reordering accordingly. This feature is vastly important, because in outlining order is as important as hierarchy. Yet on every Mac outliner I'm aware of, reordering must be accomplished in a separate operation. (This wasn't always true, as MindWrite had this feature circe 1985.) BrainStorm on Windows has this valuable feature.

2. In graphical displays ("concept mapping"), the ability to use three dimensional displays to show hundreds of levels. Axon Idea Processor.

3. The ability to use a concept map to organize one's entire disk. Personal Brain.

4. Outlining capabilities merged with the ability to construct elaborate facet analyses to classify data. MDE InfoHardler.

So, I'm wondering: are these features too trivial to count or are there Mac outliners with matching capabilities of which I am uninformed, despite this excellent series?
Ted Goranson (ATPM Staff) · September 7, 2004 - 19:41 EST #2

I have a personal interest in knowing what is available -- indeed, I think that is what characterizes ATPO readers to judge from the feedback. The Windows world of outliners is difficult to fathom; Windows developers just don't seem to be as interested as their Mac brethren in having an informative web-site that actually tells us much about what their product actually does. And muddling through demos with no guidance on a hostile platform isn't enough fun get around to do.

I'd like some help with this because I think it would make a good column if indeed there are interesting non-Mac capabilities out there. I've personally communicated with a few Windows developers with this challenge and would like to do the same with you. The problem of course is that Windows folks don't know what the Mac benchmarks are.

So here's what I propose. Wait until the October column on Tinderbox. That's the extreme in terms of Mac outliner sophistication, plus what you can already read in ATPO on still-working legacy Mac outliners. If you or any friends know something on another platform that may still be interesting to ATPO readers, I'd like your help in preparing a column.

But I'd like to stick with applications centered on or that leverage outlining. Being able to display a concept map of your hard drive may be cool, but it is not what ATPO is all about. Fair enough?

I'm rather sure the Mac is safe on any "gathering" challenge, and almost certainly so far as metadata management. (Wait until you see Tinderbox's cascading prototype hierachies.) Based on every query to date, I think display coolness of Windows information management applications (especially concept maps and general modelers) will be superior, but based on my surveys of actual outliners, no.

We seem to have all the outliner juice on the Mac right now, for what ever reason. Let's see.

Best, Ted
Stephen R. Diamond · September 8, 2004 - 11:22 EST #3
Sounds good, butI remain a little baffled by the comment that the web sites of Windows outliners are relatively uninformative. I would have made the same comment about Mac sites.

Take Tinderbox. One reason I'm eager to read your next column is that the web site tells me so little about what Tinderbox actually does. Maybe Tinderbox is an unfair example because of its sophistication, but I recall searching without succeess for a list of features of a staple like OmniOutliner. By way of contrast, on, you find a straigtforward summary of the features of this Windows outliner.

Add A Comment

 E-mail me new comments on this article