DTP and OmniOutliner

According to manual DEVONthinkPro can import and export OmniOutliner files directly. However, in my brief experience this capability is very imperfect. The export to OmniOutliner command exports to version 2 of OmniOutliner, whereas the current version is 3.6.1. The import command does not seem to work at all for OmniOutliner version 3.6.1 - the filename is not highlighted as accessible and indeed is not readable - I no longer have any version 2 files to test. I use both programs regularly and it would be very nice to have a functional direct interchange as listed in guide.

Yes, that would be nice, but isn’t currently possible with OO3.

But if you have OO3 documents that you would like to be able to search and analyze in your database, you can ‘print’ them as PDF into your database from OmniOutliner.

While viewing your document, press Command-P to invoke the Print panel. Click on the PDF button and select ‘Save to DEVONthink Pro.scpt’.


Thanks for the clarification about printing to PDF, that helps.

However, why can’t DTP handle Outliner 3 documents? After all, it’s been out for a long time now. I use Outliner all the time, and before I bought DTP I saw that it could import/export Outliner documents. That was a big selling point for me!

If Outliner 3 had only been out 1 month, then I’d completely understand the situation. But, as you stated it, it makes the situation much more ambiguous. Is DTP going to support Outliner 3 documents in the near future? Has it “given up” on this capability?

It would sure be nice to know, since I use Outliner more than I use a word processor.

  • Mathew

There’s really a ‘Tower of Babel’ out there – almost every application has its own file format.

DEVONtechnologies does hope to capture data and at least partially render more file formats in the future. There are some avenues that look promising.

But it’s far from a trivial problem. We don’t have the resources to reverse engineer everyone’s file format and rendering code. Even Apple’s own Pages files are a proprietary format.

I’ve been giving kudos to the developers of Papyrus 12. They have added a hybrid PDF file format for their Mac and Windows versions. Although such files can only be fully edited by Papyrus 12 owners, the files are readable on any platform, as they are PDF files. I had a recent project that produced dozens of PDf files that went through many changes in response to reviews and suggestions. I bought Papyrus, because I can work with only one file instead of an original and a PDF version. So my project PDFs are exactly rendered in my DT Pro database, but can be opened in Papyrus and saved in the database, with all changes visible in the database. Another big advantage: I didn’t want to get stuck with perpetual management of revisions to those files. The teams that use them can do their own revisions in the future, whether they use Macs or Windows computers.

I think the problem here was the claim that DT could handle OOP docs, but it can’t.

I’ve just wasted a fair amount of time trying to get DTP to import an OO3 file, under the illusion created by the Help pages. These really shouldn’t claim that the app can do something it can’t (apart from anything else this must create a really bad impression for those who are new to the app). Surely it can’t be that hard to edit the Help pages to keep them up to date and save bewildered users having to go to the forums for an explanation the pages are there to provide.

Otherwise, best and season’s greetings to all at DEVON.

Hi, beelers and mcoad.

The Help documentation about file types is correct. See DT Pro/DTPO Help > DEVONthink Pro Help. Here’s an excerpt:

‘DEVONthink Pro Office is able to handle outliner files created by OmniOutliner and other applications in both OmniOutliner format and OPML (Outlining Processor Markup Language). When importing such files, DEVONthink Pro Office recreates a groups hierarchy; when exporting, it generates one OmniOutliner/OPML file out of multiple groups and documents.’

If you check the user documentation for recognized file types, .oo3 is not among them, but .outliner is.

A number of applications continue to recognize the older Outliner file type (.outliner) and there are many of those files ‘out there’, still in use. DT Pro/DTPO can import them.

OmniGroup changed the file type to .oo3 in the recent version of OmniOutliner. That file type is not documented as compatible with DT Pro/DTPO. DEVONtechnologies hopes to recognize .OO3 files in the future.

Note that DT Pro/DTPO can export the older OmniOutliner file type using File > Export > as OmniOutliner document. Such exported files are recognized by OmniOutliner 3.

Note also that OmniOutliner 3 can export as OPML (Outlining Processor Markup Language) and that format is recognized by DT Pro/DTPO.

The older OmniOutliner file type has been around for years. OmniGroup changed the file type to .OO3 without changing the name of the application, which does make for a somewhat confusing situation. The change is not merely in the file extension; it’s actually a different file type.

There are workarounds. You can, for example, export an RTF file from the database as a .outliner file, or as a .opml file, and both formats can be imported as .OO3 files in OmniOutliner 3. Likewise, OmniOutliner 3 can export as a .opml file and that is recognized by DT Pro/DTPO.

And of course a .oo3 file can be opened in OmniOutliner 3 and ‘printed’ to a DT Pro/DTPO database as a PDF document, preserving the appearance of the .oo3 file. To do this, in OmniOutliner 3 press Command-P. When the Print panel appears, click on the PDF button and select ‘Save to DEVONthink Pro.scpt’, then choose the group location to which the PDF is to be sent.

Think of the MS Word file change in Office 2007. There is a new version of Windows Word that saves Word documents in a new file format that’s not recognized by the Mac versions of Office. Although Microsoft claims the new file format is ‘open’, it will likely be months before Mac users will be able to read the new Word document file type. If we receive such a Word file as an email attachment, our only recourse will be to ask the sender to please re-save the file in the older file format. Fortunately, Apple participates on a ‘standard’ group concerning the new MS Office file types, and we can expect that when Leopard is released we can read (at least) the text of the new Word file type.

Is the confusion perhaps because OmniOutliner 3 shipped well over a year ago, at which point OmniOutliner 2 because no longer the “real” OmniOutliner. When people read that DEVONthink can support OmniOutliner files, they expect it to mean files created by, well, OmniOutliner, not a previous, no-longer-selling version of OmniOutliner.

I think DEVONthink should actually strike anything about support of OmniOutliner until they can support an OmniOutliner file that can be used natively by the currently shipping OmniOutliner.

It is different with MS Word. Since any Mac version of Word still uses the old file format there’s no confusion (or if there is confusion, it is part of a platform issue, not specific to DEVON). OmniOutliner is different because no one still uses OmniOutliner 2 files.

Hi, terceiro. Point taken. But I’m hopeful that it will become moot.

You might be surprised at how many people still have hundreds of the older files around, however.

So far I’ve been sent as email attachments two MS Word 2007 files. :slight_smile:

That’s a problem not only for Macs but for the many thousands of Windows Word users who haven’t downloaded (and are not aware of) a translation routine.

Progress – it’s wonderful!

With all due respect, instead of dancing around the issue in the forum couldn’t the documentation simply be updated to be clear. Other posts in the forum have requested clearer documentation or farming it out to the Take Control folks.

An application with such a learning curve as DTP(O) and the rest of your suite of applications needs dedicated documentation from someone who knows the software inside and out AND can write clear docs. Something with a bit of whimsy to engage the reader. I point again to “The Nisus Way” as a great piece of engaging and informative documentation.

Whimsy? OK.

I’m saying make it fun. Learning a new system can, despite some arguments, be a fun thing. It’s not all work. It ends up being work in the end, but it doesn’t have to be work learning how to do it.

Why should the user have to work so hard and search forums and scour the web and scrutinize documentation just to figure out how something works?

So, yes, some whimsy would be nice.

Sure, I’d go for whimsy! But as the above poster indicated, the most important thing is to have coherent and clear and accurate information. The “Outliner issue” is one example of pretty obtuse (at best) to just downright misleading information.

Here’s what it says in the latest manual (posted yesterday) regarding Outliner:

“DEVONthink Pro Office is able to handle outliner files created by
OmniOutliner and other applications in both OmniOutliner format and
OPML (Outlining Processor Markup Language). When importing such
files, DEVONthink Pro Office recreates a groups hierarchy; when
exporting, it generates one OmniOutliner/OPML file out of multiple
groups and documents.
• Extensions: .outliner, .opml”

Now this statement is probably true, but for the average person it’s also misleading. If DTPO can “handle” OmniOutliner documents then I’d infer that means version 3 (out for a long time now). Even if I magically learned (through the Forums) that it only works with version 2 outliner documents, then the statement still doesn’t conform with a regular person’s understanding.

When I import a Outliner 2 document I get something that looks like HTML or CSS. While “info” has been imported, I can’t use it! More importantly, it doesn’t conform to my inuitive reading that DTPO will bring in an Outliner document in a similar manner as an RTF or a PDF.

When I import an OPML file, then I get something completely different again: each item is made into a separate entry/file within DTPO. This is an interesting result, perhaps even very usable under certaiin conditions, but it’s certainly not what I was expecting given the documentation.

It’s very true that the manual says DTPO “recreates a groups hierarchy”, but that means diddly squat to me (and I’d guess several others). What I’m expectiing to be recreated is the document: just like an RTF or a PDF.

Don’t get me wrong, I can do workarounds with all of this (and a few have been mentioned earlier in this post). What’s frustrating for someone who is trusting the documentation to be accurate is that it essentially leads you down a path that ends up wasting a lot of your time (at best).

Like someone said before, either eliminate the Outliner stuff from the manual, or expand on it and tell us what it really does and why that might be useful to the average user.


“It was then that our intrepid user discovered that .oo3 files were not compatible with DTP, and all became quiet. Somewhere, in the distance, a dog howled.”

Whimsy: the trait of acting unpredictably and more from whim or caprice than from reason or judgment

Again, it’s not an exact science. Just make the docs more fun. That’s what I was getting at. It doesn’t, and shouldn’t, have to be a circus but it doesn’t, and shouldn’t, have to be a chore either.

Well, we had a manual (long ago) that was way more fun. People were upset because it was not exact enough. We dumped it and went for a documentation. Hard to satisfy everyone. But, we basically agree. We may have something in the future.

BTW: Have you had a look at the DEVONacademy?

BTW2: I’ve changed this sentence in the docs for more clarity.

I think changing the line in the docs was all anyone was asking for in this thread (other than outright support of oo3 files, which I understand is a technological hurdle).

The documentation could use some help though. I’ve read it and it reads like a 1970s high school chemistry book. All the information is there, but it’s kind of hard to sort out.

I would love to help with it, but I am still learning the program myself. I use it daily, but I still haven’t truly merged it into my workflow. The main obstacle for me is saving rich text pages in DTP. I surf with Camino, which doesn’t carry rich text over to DTP (another technological hurdle I understand). To save a page I’m having to open it in another browser (usually DA) to handle the text the way I want.

I could just surf with DA, but it’s not quite as mature as the other browsers on the market.

On that note, I’m excited that the Firefox alpha out there right now has Cocoa elements. I long for the day when I can access all that Mozilla goodness and FF extensions all rolled into a ball of code that fits right into Mac OS X and DTP.

OK, that turned into a ramble, but I think I got the important ideas across :wink:

This thread has been going on awhile, perhaps all questions are answered and issues resolved. But I thought I should report that in my experience, OmniOutliner 5.8.4 & DEVONthink 3.7.2 work together flawlessly. It’s a big help for my kind of research/writing work.