Big Improvements in a Great Outliner

by Michael Brewer

Related link:

I've used OmniOutliner for a while. I tried out the 1.x version and decided to buy it when 2.0 came out. I've used it for everything from outlining articles to making grocery shopping lists. So, I was definitely interested in the new version, especially after seeing a few screenshots of it.

The biggest change in OmniOutliner 3 is the ability to add attachments to your outlines. They've really gone all out on this feature; allowing you to attach files, e-mail addresses and URLs (typing them in turns them into an object), images and videos. You can even record audio that is embedded in the document straight from Outliner*. It gives you inline QuickTime controls that are accessed from a disclosure triangle and a link arrow that will open the recording in QuickTime.

They've also implemented styles. You can work with named styles* that you apply to words, rows, columns, or the whole document. They've also created something they call auto-styles. Basically, OmniOutliner observes the individual types of styling you've applied to different portions of your document and creates a new style based off of it and then applies it to all future occurrences. For instance, if you decide to make all of your second level rows "Blueberry" Hoefler Text Italic, OmniOutliner will recognize this and make the change to the style.

The first thing people will notice though, is that notes can now be displayed in line or optionally displayed in a separate pane as in earlier versions.

The latest version of OmniOutliner now provides support for custom export options. This is enabled by use of XSLT*. There is also a new option to export as a Word document*, although this is actually an HTML document (with a .doc extension) using the Microsoft Office and Word XML namespaces.

Printing has acquired a lot of great new features. These are the types of things that I seldom wished for in version 2.x, but now that I have them I wonder why they weren't always there. My favorite is the ability to filter what is printed on whether or not the row's box is checked.

There are a whole lot of other new features that I haven't covered. This is a genuine whole number upgrade and you're going to love all of the new features that Omni has sown in. I highly encourage anyone that uses an outliner or anyone that makes lists on occasion to check out what is new in OmniOutliner 3.0. Power users and developers will want to check out the Professional edition.

I do wish that the new utility drawer would open on whatever side of the window has room as Mail's does. Currently it's a minor annoyance to have it always open on the left – at least it moves the window for you. The one real problem I encountered was a regression from the previous version – 3.0 took around 75 times as long to open the same OPML file as 2.2.6 did. Assuming that is fixed, OmniOutliner 3 is an improvement in every way.

* These features are only available in the Professional edition.

What do you think of the new version?


2005-01-10 14:04:25
Do check out Notebook from Circus Ponies