Do we DTP users really a need an outliner ?

This is my workflow :

  1. On my mob devices I use :
  • ScannerPro to scan any interesting documents/Images of interest
  • Day One as my journal : very powerful
  • Simple note in conjunction with nvALT on the Mac, everything is indexed within DT
  1. To annotate, highlight, read, etc I use
  • Skim on the mac
  • GoodReader on my iPad

Export/sync via Dropbox and Icloud

  1. All the above go into my topical DT databases

  2. I use Bookends and Mellel/Page as my reference manager and my writing tools

  3. I use a fantastic application for map views : Scapple

By curiosity I tested some outliners and other applications

Ny choices came down to three “outliners” and a “special” application difficult to classify

  • Circus ponies Notebook
  • Omnioutliner
  • Tree
  • Tinderbox (The special application)

Actually, it is conventional to compare them but they do different things and achieve different purposes, so comparison is purely artificial.

As a “heavy” DT user I came to the conclusion I do NOT need an outliner

  • I use Smart groups intensively (Same as Agents in Tinderbox), I have hundred of them in every database
  • I use RTF files all the time and structure them the way I like
  • I annotate everything when working on concepts
  • I add Scapple views as much as I can
  • For some topics I use Mental Case application as a brain exercise !

So you can use DT dynamically and statically it is up to you
For instance on any topical base :
You can have :
DB 1 you use as a repository
DB 2 You refine your work (Working on concepts, you add map views …)
DB 3 Final stage with all the tools ready for publication

So DB n are refined work and the “essence” of my topical base
Thats the way I work with DT, I have not found anything superior yet

So I discarded all these outliners, it only brings confusion in my workflow
Indeed Circus Ponies as my favorite is very nice if you do not use DT but most irrelevant if you do. Am I missing anything?

Now the only application I am considering buying is Tinderbox, but now that I have implemented my hundred smart groups in DT and structure my RTF documents in a way to take full advantage, I am wondering if its worth it all the more as the learning curve is deep, still I like this software …

In conclusion, you can use DT in a very dynamic way.
Lastly the doc in RTF are much more professional than any export document in an outliner.

I would be interested to have your comments on the above and why you feel you have to use an outliner or an application like Evernote, when you can have them all in DT


Thanks for sharing your thoughts… (except: " an application like Evernote" blehh! :mrgreen: )

It’s interesting to see how people approach this stuff. To my mind, you’ve got way too many apps in the process. But my mind is my own and you are doing things that I’m probably not doing. (I, for one, have no personal need or desire for mobile access to my data. I use it as it pertains to this job.) I also like to see how much I can make my applications do more than they’re advertised instead of adding more software to the mix (unless it’s really necessary).

As far as outlining, I’ve tried them but never found anything that suited me. I am a very non-linear thinker and rely on my own structures and symbology. Like you I love my RTF files (really only because it allows me to add emphasis without having to write Markdown code.) If I had a Markdown editor that let me style as I can in DT or TextEdit but it was creating the Markdown under-the-hood, I would probably opt for that because I’m a HUGE fan of plain-text due to the ease of manipulation in the shell.

So I’m just blathering now, but ahem, in summary - I do tend to keep DTPO open and actually use it exclusively for my Support duties (excluding inter-application stuff I need to work on). Cheers!

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My opinion is that outliner applications support a particular style of composition or note taking that not everyone uses. If you trialed outliners and their usefulness didn’t grab you, then I’d say stick to RTF or text and save the money.

You mentioned Tinderbox and smart groups in the same virtual breath, so I’m wondering if you were thinking they would somehow work together. They won’t. I love Tinderbox as a very special-purpose and powerful (and, yes, strange and difficult) tool - but without assistance from other applications it is lousy at easily integrating information elsewhere on your computer. I and others have posted scripts in the forum that can be useful in exporting data from DEVONthink to Tinderbox. Just search on Tinderbox in the forum’s advanced search panel.

I wouldn’t disparage Evernote. Evernote is important to me because its clients are equally useful across all platforms and sync seamlessly and transparently. DEVONthink to Go never did that. I create and collect a lot of reading material and notes on my iPad and it is simply too retro to work with DEVONthink to Go these days.

Sorry, korm. I love ya, man but speaking completely personally, I disagree. :mrgreen: I detest Evernote’s policies and philosophy so much that it’s the one piece of software I hate to have installed on my machine. (I also hate how they ruined Skitch 1.)

Check out Texts, a wysiwyg editor that saves its files as plain text in Markdown markup.

FoldingText ( is also excellent as a markdown-ish pure-text outliner.

For me, a more comfortable outliner function is one of my most desired features in DTP.

I am writing a lot (different kind of stuff, but very often project plans), and I would love to combine the research material (webarchives, pdf etc) and my texts in DTP.

I want to avoid using a bundle of software for my workflow and so working with an external text editor or outliner is not a good option for me.

I edited the styles of Apples text engine to fit my needs as good as possible (to structure my texts visually), but that’s not the same thing. (The same counts for the DTP workaround to use the folder hierarchy to simulate outline levels.)

So, yes, I need an outliner in DTP. It would enrich my daily work with DTP. And if it came with inline or foot notes (the way Scrivener handles them) I’d be more than satisfied.

Scapple has wonderful integration with DT, i almost can’t believe it. Thanks for the info smilingtiger.

On the other hand, I think outlining is another mode of thinking and taking notes. I wish omnioutliner has an integration as good as Scapple with DT. But that is not so.

For me, mind map is the big idea views, and interconnection between ideas.

Outlining is breaking down information into chunks, linear relationships, and a fast note taking method. It’s also easier to group, and organise information.

Normal note taking is a bit messy if you don’t outline first. That’s what I think. DT is like my final destination for notes.

Ryan, could you discuss a bit more how you integrate Scapple with DEVONthink – and how OmniOutliner falls short in that respect? I’m interested in your thoughts because I use both Scapple and OmniOutliner for note taking and outlining – but they both are very different, in my experience, and other than Quick Look, I haven’t found much integration with either of them and DEVONthink.

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I would also like to hear more on this.

Sorry, maybe integration is too strong of a word. I meant quick looks. I’m just excited because omnioutliner’s index will show “dirty code” or things i don’t want to see. Importing Omnioutliner will “explode” the hierarchy into folders.

While it’s only “quick looks”, It’s enough for me because i Index the scapple file and update index will show the updated mind map without me having to re-open scapple. This is huge for me because all my other favourite apps does not even show up in quick looks. Notebook CP, omnioutliner, etc etc is just a piece of file.

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Thanks for this , I never thought of indexing Scapple and using quick looks! Great idea and one which I will use :smiley: Cheers.

I think that OmniOutliner improves on this quite a bit. I’m able to import OO files and quick look works pretty well on them.

A heads up on a really weird thing that happened to me possibly connected to Ryan Fuse’s posting above, see Disappearing Application and files.