Importing MORE Outliner Files into DevonThink

After a long time, I’m finally getting around to trying DevonThink. I’d like to know if anyone has found a way to import outline files from Symantec’s MORE outliner. I have quite a few files I’d like to put in DT.

I saw something about using the PDF print button to convert an outline file, but since MORE runs in Classic I don’t think that would work.

Does More offer any export commands?

MORE 3.1 dates to 1991, but as you may know it was one of the most important programs on the Mac and I’m sure there’s still some folks using it, but only under Classic.

I looked at all the Save As file options (there’s no separate Export command), and the most promising were:

Plain Text
Teach Text
Text With Line Breaks
Word 4.x
MacWrite II

I tried saving an outline in all these, and then importing to DT. The three text options were all about the same; the MORE file saved as plain text actually looks pretty good in DT, with the outline structure largely preserved through indenting. These all just went right in. DT couldn’t read either the Word 4.x or the MacWrite II formats, however.

What I’m wondering is whether there is an “Import File as Plain Text” function in DT, so I can get any file in, even if with some extra formatting codes, as long as it’s not encrypted?

I’ve got hundreds of MORE outlines and I don’t really think I want to go through converting all of them into DT, but I’d like to have a way to import them in the future (even if I had to clean them up a bit) when I switch to an Intel Mac that won’t be able to run MORE to export files.

It seems like it should be easy to just import as text. If I just put .txt at the end of the filename, would that get DT to do that?

The best outliner I used under Classic was Acta, which is still available (free), but the developer has now created Opal, which runs under OS X. According to the description on VersionTracker, Opal will open Acta and also OPML outlines. You might visit the developer page and see if some combination of Acta and/or Opal will open MORE files as needed.

I downloaded and tried Opal, but it doesn’t really have any import capabilities as far as I can tell. I also couldn’t tell if it had all the functionality of the old Acta, which I never used but which was also fairly popular.

I’ve spent most of this afternoon/evening experimenting with various import arrangements, because I’ve concluded that plain text isn’t really good enough; I need rich text and that’s STILL awfully hard to transport from one app to another on the Mac!

The best results so far have come from this process:

  1. Using MORE (in Classic), save MORE 3.1 outline in Word 4.x format
  2. Open Word 4.x file in AppleWorks
  3. Create new rich text document in DT
  4. Copy & paste entire text from AppleWorks

This preserves the text styling and most indents, whereas another method does a better job of preserving fonts and indents, but only preserves text styling in the first part of the outline:

  1. Using MORE (in Classic), save MORE 3.1 outline in Word 4.x format
  2. Open Word 4.x file in Word (X)
  3. Save as a rich text file
  4. Import rich text file into DT

Apparently, saving MORE files as Word 4.x docs does a surprisingly good job of preserving fonts, sizing, styling and indentation (I don’t know about graphics, which I rarely had in my outlines). What’s frustrating is trying to get all that back out of the Word format.

Since the handling of Word files is supposed to change in DT 2, is there any chance this might be resolved in the coming version, i.e. where DT could just import the Word 4 file and it would preserve all the rich text formatting?

DT uses the built-in converter of Mac OS X and therefore improvements will be probably limited to Leopard and to the latest file formats.

I don’t know if More is scriptable but at least the steps…

…are scriptable (see “Import” script in folder Extras > Scripts > Droplets of disk image for example).