Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

After reading Phil Wolff's blog entry about CV's, I decided to immediate convert my CV to OPML and start immersing myself in the microcontent of it all before I even started thinking about how to make it more intelligent. I started using Radio Userland's outliner, but found out that after a bunch of new entries, the top of the list "scrolled" off the top and couldn't be accessed in the window. I saved it and opened it with OmniOutliner. OmniOutliner at least dealt with the content, but I had difficulty editing the text. (Maybe I'm just not skilled yet. I've found both Radio's outliner and OmniOutliner to act funny why are you doing copy/paste) Since OmniOutliner is not native OPML, but exports, it's a bit of a pain. Also, to create links that Radio understands, you have to create extra columns and enter "link" in the "type" column and the URL in the "URL" column. This format can be imported from a Radio created OPML outline. Then, finally, I had to open the file again and set which sections to have expanded and collapsed since OmniOutliner's state didn't seem to save into OPML in a way that ActiveRenderer could understand.

So... I'm totally getting into outlining, but I can't find a perfect tool. OmniOutliner is nice, but still a little clunky, and editing acts a bit weird. I've tried NoteTaker from AquaMinds which LOOKS very cool and lets you mess with a lot of media types, but doesn't talk OPML so no go. I've also been messing with StickyBrain by Chronos. It is a fancy "sticky note" program that lets you index, categorize and search sticky notes which become your little pieces of microcontent. It's too disorganized for me and doesn't talk OPML. So, what happened to cool programs like MORE? (MORE was an EXCELLENT outliner that Dave Winer made in 1991.) Are we moving backwards?

Here is what I want:

Easy to use outliner that reads and writes OPML like a pro
The ability to import and deal with many media types
The ability for leaves to have multiple parents (MORE let you do this...)
Smart search/index
Easy linking between outlines

That would be enough for now, thanks.

Has anyone found the ultimate solution for managing and publishing your microcontent? Or, is that what we're all working on now?


Joi, it would be no problem to re-create MORE and do even more, but it'll cost money. To do it right we'd need a dedicated development team with two or three really good C coders, someone to do testing, doc writing, evangelism; and here's the key point -- sustained for three to four years. Users haven't been willing to pay for the software, so investors really can't be found. Perhaps some kind of endowment would work. Not sure. The software economy is pretty wasted now. That's why were were able to get so far in the 80s but haven't been able to get there in this decade. Not enough money to sustain development.

It's amazing that you can't get funded to put together a team to do something SO important. (I'm not doubting you.) It's amazing considering the fact that Microsoft has $40bn in cash. Dave, this is obviously an area you know much better than I do, but what do you think can change this environment? Can we create some sort of endowment just for software development? Does one already exist? How does this relate to what Mitch Kapor is doing?

Since you've tried OmniOutliner you must be on OS X. Brent Simmons (formerly of UserLand) has a beta of his NetNewsWire Pro application for news aggregation, blog posting AND outlining. He seems like a very responsive and resourceful developer, so you might try his unfinished program out.


I too, am also getting in to outlining. It started a week or so ago when I found a full version of OmniOutliner on my new 12" Powerbook (which I love.)

My needs are even less intensive than yours but I still have not found an easy or elegant solution.

All I need is a basic elegantly written outliner, OmniOutliner works fine for me in this regard.

I would LIKE it also to...
* import an image,
* understand urls,
* be able to create a column whose rows are separate from the other column's

That's it! And 5 have no luck on either the Mac or Win-Tel platforms.

I've bookmarked you site incase you find something that works for you.

I'll e-mail you if I find anything that meets my needs.



Here's what I wrote to the folks at OmniGroup... because outlining on Windows is much worse than on Mac ...


Hello, Ken (at OmniGroup, the people make OmniOutliner)...

THE STORY SO FAR... I started in personal computing in 1977 when I was only
14 years old. I saved up from my paper route to buy my first personal
computer (an Ohio Scientific C24P... 6502-based, just like the first Apple
computers). About a year later, I was selling Apple // computers, and then I
was the first Mac sales consultant for a Milwaukee-area Apple dealer.
Eventually, I moved to California where I worked for two Mac developers
(Haba Systems and ExperTelligence). I traveled around the country selling
Mac software to retail dealers and national accounts. Later, I moved back to
Milwaukee, got married and started a family. Along the way, I've been a
consultant for Keane, Arthur Andersen, Blue Cross Blue Shield and others.
Also along the way, I converted to Windows (in about 1998). I really had
to... that's were the money was (and still is) for me. I've done beta
testing for dozens of products, and I currently run my own Information
Security consulting business. I am very interested in personal productivity
tools, especially outliners.

Ken, there is no decent outliner for Windows. I've searched high and low. As
a pervious user of outliner software on Apples and Macs (Living Video Text
ThinkTank, MORE, Acta, etc.), I know what a nice multi-column outliner
should feel like.

I'm sure you know all this already, so let me cut to the chase...

If you (Omni Group) are considering or developing OmniOutliner for Windows,
I'd love to help as a beta tester, documentation reviewer, etc. What ever it
takes to speed up that process.

If you are not working on a Windows version, I have to ask... why not? There
clearly is an out-cry of people who'd love to see it (and would certainly
buy it). If you don't have the resources, find a way to use the open source
movement to help you out. Hell, I'll code for free. And, you can have all
the rights (well, let's negotiate that in writing).

I've been searching so long for a decent outliner, I'm nearly ready to buy a
Mac (I've owned 10 of them, starting with a Mac 128K in 1984) just so I can
run your products. But, how is that going to really help me? I can't carry
two computers to my clients, and I really do need to keep my Windows laptop.
Further, how is it going to help the hundreds (maybe thousands) of users out
there who want to buy your products for use on Windows platforms?

Have you tried any Windows outliners? They suck. Please, try them. See what
I mean.

OmniOutliner is really the best. Share the love.

-- Clint

. Clint Laskowski, CISSP
. 1102 West Glen River Road
. Glendale, Wisconsin 53217-4166
. mobile: 414-807-8845


I am into outlining as well. Though I only started to use them for real a couple of years back, I had bumped into ThinkTank waaay back in my PC XT days (almost ten years ago). At that time I did not have as much use for outliners. Today, working with information everyday, I am always in a quest to find the greatest outliner.
Unfortunately I am locked in the windows platform -- it is a pity I cannot try OmniOutliner. In windows, I have gone through ActionOutliner, TreePad and, today, I use KeyNote ( a great freeware, better than most paid-for Windows outliners I have tried. It is not as polished (meaning goodlooking) as, say, OmniOutliner, but it is very functional. As my 5 cents, I will advise anyone to try it. I hope someone lets me know when something better comes up.

(BTW, I also have my eyes on a Palm/Windows Outliner called Bonsai, which has quite a fan base. As soon as I get a Palm I will check it out).

Thanks Ricardo. You have just pointed out a replacement for Treepad for me. I like Treepad but Keynote has all the features of Treepad that I found lacking.

Wonderful stuff!

Under Windows I use GemX-TexNotes. A two pane outliner. No OPML, but it can import from Treepad and keynotes or rtf and html. Its very fast, faster than treepad. And it opens every sub-tree and every document at the exact position you left it (not only cursor position but the position of the scrollbar). Tiny things but most comfortable for me. Editing Tables is with Version 3.5 a bit difficult (should be fixed in next version). Export only to html and rtf. Not enough configuration of toolbars. And no tabulators! I would prefer Treepad, but I find it too slow when opening or changing files. Not handy enough.

Just to freshen up what appears to have become a slightly stale thread, WE'RE STILL WAITING for a Windows tree-based outliner with an elegant, usable interface. Every now and then one finds oneself --from repeated experience-- looking for a utility to fill a clear and recognized need. And initially, one naturally assumes it must be out there, there must be others in the same not-properly-outfitted-boat, and so one goes off in Search of the critter, only to find many others searching similarly in vain.

The original Sidekick was a similar story. I was so highly relieved to find that this archaic but still oh-so-perfect-fit-versatile program would run on Windows XP.

I found "MyInfo" ($35 to be the best two-pane outliner for Windows XP. The most valuable feature is the columns in the left pane. You can remove the default columns and add your own. You can even make them pop-up lists so you don't have to type the same things over and over. And most importantly -- they're SORTABLE! Meaning you can sort the titles in A-Z order in any column, and then sort them back by the main topic column.

The program also allows you to add an icon or color coded flag next to each topic in the left pane, to indicate importance, priority, etc. In addition, you can also add a note to each topic title. It also has a cloning feature similar to MORE's. Last but not least, you can insert 'single click' hyperlinks in the records to link topics together, or even documents, etc. And did I mention that it isn't bloated, and is very well organized?

You can also customize the toolbars, and add/remove individual buttons. It even recognizes hyperlinks in the left pane topic list! It has other neat features as well -- so check it out!! The only thing lacking is a spelling checker. Another disadvantage is that the cloned topics can't have different titles. In any event, I don't know of any other two-pane Windows outliner that has customizable, SORTABLE columns. Do you?

I used MORE for many years when I was hooked on Mac's, and was even able to use the program with OS 9.2. But then I opened my brainwashed mind and tried a new emachine running Windows XP -- and have never looked back. I'm not missing MORE (or my G3 Mac) at all, as I like all the extra features of MyInfo. As well as the many other superior software programs that aren't available for the Mac platform. Also, I'm definitely not missing the frequent browser crashes that I had with OS 7, 8 and 9!

If you're still stuck in the single pane rut, NoteMap ($150 is the best single pane outliner for Windows, as far as I know. I liked it MUCH better than Inspiration when I was comparing the two programs.


I am a lifetime Mac User who swore by Omni Outliner (all versions) and who then fell in love with Circus Ponies Notebook. I have now switched to an XP machine at the office and was disappointed to see the sad state of outlining on Windows. At least, until I found's Bonsai product. It does exactly what I want: easy text-editing; low price; each item can either be a checkbox, progress bar or simple item; you can drag and drop the items; you can have a basic text note attached to an item; you can have multiple "tabs" (which in this case are really just open files that show up on tabs); HOISTING (they call it zooming); multiple columns so that you can have progress percentages, priority, and categories; and it's an XP product with an absolutely clean, simple, brilliant interface. Woohoo!!! I thought I was going to be stuck using WORD. You have no idea how relieved I am!

Troy Angrignon

I highly recommend checking out NoteBook ( which is an excellent outliner for the Mac. It actually originated from a common code-base with NoteTaker back when the author of each app worked together on a program called NoteBook for OpenStep. Each has taken their app in slightly different directions, although they clearly have a common ancestry. I personally like the way NoteBook has gone, and the author is very responsive to e-mails. Version 2 is due next month and will add all kinds of niceties to what is already a very powerful outliner (and yes it supports OPML).

Word 2004 for Mac has a Notebook View (different from the outline view) that is a very nice single pane outliner. It's more of a note-taking tool than an info database tool like Treepad. It has side tabs similar to OneNote, so you can have various sections of notes within one file. I do not believe this Notebook View is available on the current Windows version of Word.

My two cents worth... there's a really good extensive review of Outliners, mainly for the Mac, on
One of the products there, Tinderbox (, is really more than an outliner, and is currently in development for Windows

My two cents worth... There's an excellent and extensive overview of outliners, mainly for Mac, at:

Among the programs cited there, there's one, Tinderbox (, that's much more than an outliner. Development for Windows ( is now in progress

I presume you've seen the extensive review and discussion of outliners (mainly Mac) over at ?

One of the tools there is Tinderbox (, which is more than an outliner, and is currently in development for Windows (

Sorry about the repeated postings... they didn't seem to work first time.

This topic is still relevant after all these years. :-) I, too, am looking for an XP-alternative to Omni Outliner, and was surprised to find that, basically, there isn't one readily available. Thanks to all who've posted great suggestions for possibilities here.

....Still relevent.

Nothing on the Win32 platform comes close to OmniOutliner. You'd think that Omni would see the niche...


I've been using MORE (thanks Dave et al!) since the late 80s and still use it daily on MacOSX (in Classic). Sorry, but OmniOutliner doesn't even come close.

It is my #1 productivity application (in fact, probably the best app I have ever used - although, of course, nothing is perfect).

I'm really worried that Classic will be going away with Leopard (MacOSX 10.5) since it is no longer supported on Intel Macs.

I know MORE is available for download free now. Wouldn't it be great if we could get the source code and "carbonize" it.

Ashley Aitken.

Do a search on: OPML mindmap
or OPML "mind map software"

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