Joho the Blogoutliner Archives - Joho the Blog

July 9, 2010

Outlining in your browser

Dave Winer just linked to a bookmarklet — ijotEdit by Marc Barrot — that lets you write outlines in your browser. It’s OPML-based, of course. Very nice.

I have to admit, though, that I played with it with mixed emotions. I have nothing negative to say about it at all. On the contrary. And that’s the problem. For the past two months, my hobby has been writing an OPML-based, browser-based outliner because I couldn’t find free one that worked across Mac, Linux and Windows. I just two days ago got mine to the point of minimum usability, although it’s still full of bugs. But you can save and load the outlines you create with it, and it exports in RTF, HTML and text pretty reliably. The functionality is truly minimal: You can use the arrow keys to move lines or lines + children, but you can’t cut and paste structures; there are no tools for including links or graphics; it doesn’t do rich text; if you want to change the styles, you have to hand-edit the css file. But, hey, the little right and down arrows work! I could never get it to the point that I would share it with anyone else, and if I ever showed the code to an actual developer, the milk would come out her nose. But I got the arrow keys working in IE as well as Firefox and Chrome! (Well, the place I copied the key capture code from said that it would work in IE.)

So, why mixed feelings about Marc’s actual, real, working outliner? Simple: I lost the excuse for writing my own. I’m a hobbyist, so it shouldn’t matter. Oddly, it does.