Looking for a Few Good Outliners

Looking for a Few Good Outliners

What is Outlining?

Outlining, the process of making a point and then nesting sub-points under it, seems like a natural non-fiction writing process to me. I tend to do it unconsciously. 

What is Mind-Mapping?

I know many who don't like outlining and in fact many who detest it and favor mind-mapping, a process of making diagrams showing the inter-relationship of ideas.
Screenshot of mindmap software
My quick example of a mindmap.

I've used both, but I tend to favor outliners. 

TreeNotes is A Very Basic Outliner

My current favorite is a small text program called TreeNotes. But, I have not used it recently, in-fact, I had forgotten the name of it, but my recent post, not yet published, about using a table-of-contents in one's blog posts has me reflecting on the outlining and mind-mapping programs.

If I use mind-mapping programs, the end result is that I often want to see the mindmap as an outline, and so I am opposed to any program that does not export to different formats. 

Unrelated to this blog, I had a need for a mind-mapping program last year that might be used to output to other formats, specifically PDF. In that case, the mind-mapper I chose was Mindomo. 

 However, I didn't find it particularly satisfying to use, and I think if one must spend hours looking a screen, one should enjoy it. 

Flowcharting programs?

I am not a particularly graphic person, I find graphics a distraction, and so any program that expects me to drag-and-drop shapes simply slows down the thought process. 

While using Mindomo, sub-points would overlap each other and the resulting mindmap was particularly ugly. However, it would covert to a variety of formats that were acceptable even if I was not interested in making the graphic display appealing. 

In my mind, the display of items ought to be handled automatically. An extreme example of a type of program I would never use for writing is a flowcharting program where one drags different shapes around and then types the text in the boxes. 

Being a touch typist, the idea of removing my hands from the keyboard to drag and shape graphic elements on the screen is contrary to the creation process. I would do it only if I was forced to, and only after I had fully fleshed out the topic in some other format. 

Excel as a text-processor?

Similarly, I would not use Excel for note-taking or writing out ideas. I don't find that moving cells of text around in excel is intuitive, and I was surprised that Mindomo would send its output to Excel in a horizontal or vertical layout. I guess there are some long-time spreadsheet users to whom Excel is second nature. With familiarity and repetition, any complex program can probably disappear into the background of hte writing process. I am not there with Excel. For me, it is the means to an end, and I would not choose to use if I did not need to produce a spreadsheet employing some formulas and calculations. 

How do you find Apps?

So, in my search for a Table of Contents generator I used Google, but how does one find a good outlining program? I will write about my selection(s) later in another post. You might expect me to say "Google it", but I have another tool that few have heard about. 

Alternativeto.net - Crowd-sourced App Finding!

It's called alternativeto.net, and its a lot of fun. Here's an example of how one can use to find alternatives to any website or program. It is a crowd-sourced way to find alternatives to just about anything you can think of. 

Back to outliners. Once upon a time, now literally a life-time ago, there was a program Lotus Notes and there was a Personal Information Manager, LOL, now there's a genre of software that has disappeared. I guess i throw everything in Google Keep that I might have once put in a personal information manager (PIM). 

Nestled inside Ecco was a little outliner than became all the rage at the time. It was easy to learn and I believe, if memory serves me correctly, it had collapsing text sections, which is wonderful for writing and coding because you can hide the distractions and don't have to scroll forever. 

Looking for an Alternative to Ecco Pro?

So, for the purpose of this demonstration, I will use alternativeto.net to find a replacement for the long dead Ecco.

Ecco Lives?

News flash. Ecco lives. Kind of. I found this link. https://eccopro-32.software.informer.com/4.0/ I will have to check it out.

Screenshot of the very old Ecco software, loved for its outliner.

Alternativesto.net  Results for Ecco Pro

Nevertheless, onward with the example. In alternativeto.net, one puts that thing to which one is an alternative. (Sorry, seeking an alternative to your spouse will not come back with any helpful suggestions, it should probably be a software app or a website.

Screenshot of Alternativesto.net website that finds alternatives to most software.
Ecco Pro Results

Alternativesto.Net Alternatives for TreeNotes.

Screenshot of Alternativesto.Net Treenotes alternatives

So, I have lots of programs to look at with regards to outliners. I'll update you as to the choices I make. 

Day 15, Stay Safe, Dan

P.S. This post is using the Table of Contents add-in. I like it, but I probably need to make better use of the heading, subheading, minor heading, paragraph, text choices in Google Blogger.