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Old 05-11-2012, 02:04 PM
schferk schferk is online now
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Proper Outlining Is Fast Outlining in the Tree

(or The Final Rebuke to Asking for In-Outlining)

Off-topic: Sorry for having mislead you, Directory Opus does NOT offer 3 panes for lists but only if you use the 3rd one as a display pane (for photos, graphics, etc.). And in fact, it's only (?) Q-Dir that offers 3 regular panes but then, it uses the Windows Explorer in every one of them, or something derived from that nuisance, so I cleared that program rather soon since I couldn't bear its GUI, even though I would very much like to have a 3-pane file commander (as I have my 3-pane outliner now) since for distributing lots of files into several different folders (and not only into ONE second folder), having shortkeys for such distribution to more than one second pane would be great (but perhaps there are different shortkeys that could be assigned to different target TABS in some other file commanders, then - I know you can do it with the mouse, but do it with thousands of files, with a mouse, and you'll need a doctor).

There is a psychological aspect in Mark's asking for outlines within items. Please let me explain.

I remember some of these "MindMap (trademark of Tony Buzan) graphic outliners that has a special "get your ideas as fast as possible on the screen" mode, be it called "Brainstom Mode" or whatever - that's for overcoming problems the normal functioniong of the program is posing you (may I say, har, har?).

If you've already got many thousands of items in your monster db file, would you be willing to do another 500 or so, just for a little paper of, say, 40 pages? Of course not, you'd (consciously or inconsciously) have the fear to totally clutter your db with too many, too tiny bits. Hence the ubiquitous asking for outlining within single items. (And where do you put the limits between your two different "systems"? Chapter-wise? You'd have some, say 8 chapters for your 40 pages, then, i.e. 8 items, and 500 in-outliner headings / sub-headings within those 8 items? And here and then, you add an item, instead of your former in-outliner headings the higher heading of which gets more important, or the other way round, you delete an item, making it a (rather high-level) heading within your some of your existing in-outlines? And so on, ad infinitum. BTW, the ubiquitous asking for one-pane outliners is and always has been there in order to JUST have these "in-outlines" of various levels, i.e. to do away with this frontier "will it be an item with a sub-outline under it, or will it be some heading within another item's in-outline?

All this because your usual outliner (MI, UR) does neither facilitate your creating new items, nor jumping from one to the other, especially after having done some editing.

Unfortunately, UR is the worst program here since on not-so-fast comps (= old comps, or just netbooks / slates where the criteria are light weight and long battery autonomy, not processing power), and as I have mentioned in this forum before, not only it hinders your ways, keys-wise as on every comp (but which can be overcome by better and external macro key assignments), but it makes you WAIT after creating a new item, and after editing any item.

But where's the big advantage of outlining? It's to have your skeleton, and your bit you wanna edit / reflect upon - and ONLY that one, and, in the best of cases, that one in its entirety (i.e. if your bits ain't too long, it's just that bit you'll see on the screen, and all of that bit: perfect, considering the outline (= the tree) is just a tab away, or even better, your focus IS within the tree, you scroll thru the tree, instead of scrolling texts...) -, before your eyes. If you revert to in-outlining, you deliberately give up outlining's advantages:

Again and as in any "text processor", you'll have TOO MUCH on the screen, i.e. the last lines of a previous bit (= text under heading or subheading), and the next heading / subheading, together with its text.

And, ironically, at the same time, and again as in any "text processor", you'll have TOO FEW elements on your screen for not getting lost within your "big chapter" or whatever, and you'll have to do a lot of scrolling, not to avoid that effect, but just to not getting completely overwhelmed by it.

Oh, I know that you could minimize that effect by doing, as the developer, an additional subroutine catching any in-outline heading / sub-heading on the fly and presenting it in just another pane, between the tree and the in-outline, in order for you to click on those there, in order for that heading / subheading being scrolled to the first line of your in-outline pane. But then, developers are lazy, there's no such elaborate in-outline headings display currently in any contender to my knowledge, and besides, kinook thinks there are lots of panes within UR as it gets, so they rather will refrain from doing elaborate coding work in order for give you one more.

Thus, all you'll get, at the very best, here or elsewhere, is in-outline as you know it, the primitive way, the way that takes away from you any advantage an outliner might have over a "text processor". If you really need this feature, look elsewhere, look at Word with some of its numerous add-ins, and you'll get better in-outlining than you'll ever have within a real outliner anywhere.

So, in-outlining is then for masochists who love to get lost within (and in spite of) continuous, heavy scrolling efforts - that should be totally unnecessary in the first place.

Outlining is about neatness; in-outlines scramble that neatness. But you're right, Mark, in asking for a better way to do proper outlining... which can be done on the tree level.

Sorry for being a theoretician of outlining pushing the nerves of some people, but as you can clearly see, there are enough practical implications of my dogmatic views to make it worthwile for any smart power user to comply to them.

So the real problem is the psychological one: It should be possible to do 500 new items within an outline, in order to conceive just 40 printed pages. And for this becoming reality, two conditions must be met: It must be technically feasible, with greatest EASE for you; have a look at something like AO, creating, naming, editing multiple items simply cannot be realized in any easier way than here; and do SEPARATE outlines, do just one single outline for your 40 pages.

As soon as you're willing to do this, having 500 items in a single outline just for 40 or 60 pages, it'll be a tremendous relief, for everyone who currently, for the creation of every single additional item, is (consciously or inconsciously) asking himself, is that new item really necessary, or is it too much clutter, considering I got 50k of items already?

Of course, my advice isn't worthwile but within outliners that offer adequate exporting, i.e. export all your 500 bits in one flow, into your beloved MS Word. (With some scripting within that target prog (and with opting for numbering your items in the export), you'll even be able to automatically and correctly format your 500 bits' headings / subheadings with given Word formats (i.e. make Word check for the headings' numbers' length = indent level).

Believe me, it's a totally new user experience, to simply spread a 40 page text on to hundreds of different items.

(And remember, you'll have to type in every which one heading / subheading anyway, be it in the tree or within the text: my offering doesn't ask for any more effort than you'll currently have to apply.)

Enjoy.
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