Utopian outliner(s)?

I beg your pardon, but… I am asking here because I like very much Bike and TaskPaper and the forum…

In principle should it be possible to have -in a single file- multiple columns each of which is an outline?


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The horizontal relationship between elements in adjacent columns sound hard to define in any such scenario.

Perhaps adjacent files / windows are a better map ?
With inter-file links in some of the outline nodes ?

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“…inter-links in some of the outline nodes” is sufficient,
no need for “a horizontal relationship between elements in adjacent columns”

I’m not quite sure that I understand the request. One one hand I’m sure it could be built by someone. It’s computers after all! On the other hand I don’t think it has been built by someone, and yes horizontal alignment sounds like one of possibly many issues with building it.

Probably a long wait to get exactly that feature, and probably not in Bike.

Until then maybe you could explain a bit more one what you would use it for? Maybe a sketch of what it would look like. I agree with @complexpoint, it seems to me that opening two windows next to each other and some sort of linking might get you somewhat close to your goal.

When a question about a solution seems a little hard for others to follow or bring into full focus, it can be a symptom of the XY pattern.

How would you describe the problem to which these additional columns feel like a possible solution ?

It the context something like that of extended footnotes which you want to separate from the main narrative thread of a paper ?

Let’s say I am writing an Opera (which is what I am actually doing…)… in the first column I write the libretto (the plot divided into parts called Acts and -smaller- Scenes)
Let’s say in 1a the Soprano sings an Aria, where in 1b is the Baritone singing his -another- Aria, etc… I might assume that (for instance) the second column is dedicated to Aria’s type in other composers (my Soprano Aria refers to Puccini whereas my Baritone Aria refers to Musorgskij and a third column (!) to other formal types in the chosen composers (the ouverture in Puccini vs the ouverture in Wagner (!) )… in a first approach the footnotes idea is good, but… if you want to group footnotes by categories you need more columns or “tags”! The XY pattern is exactly what a composer fights with every day…

Once upon a Time there was a little app called InControl that almost did what I wanted…

My relatives always ask me what people do with my apps… and generally my answer is “uhhh, lists? Maybe?” Write Opera’s! Now I have a more interesting answer :slight_smile:

I do expect Bike to get “taskpaper” style tags. That is each row can have a list of tags. A tag consists of a name with an optional associated value. You’ll be able to filter the outline using logical queries that use those tags. Still at least 3+ months away.

Thanks for the additional details. I’m closer to understanding, but still not all the way there on what you really need. And maybe more important, what sorts of views you need. The purpose of all this structure must be that sometimes you want to see things one way, while at other times another way.

Generally I would think that by combining outlines and links you should be able to create pretty much any linked/webbed structure that you like. The resulting outlining might not be quite the visual representation that you want, but it should at least be pretty well structure and organized. You might be able to use scripts to generate different views from that structured source outline.

Do you have any links to InControl screenshots of what you liked, or specific features that InControl had. The name seems very familiar, but I’m getting no likely search results.

Maybe create a small representative Bike outline that contains all the information you need. Then explain the problems … what different visualizations you need?

back to the future…

I need more time to answer to the other your/mine question, please wait


to begin… a sort of Taskpaper like sidebar or “workspace” is coming?

I don’t have any timeline, but that’s definitely my plan, and I expect to continue working on Bike pretty much full time going forward. Row types (and headings specifically) were a needed part and they are almost here. Going forward the trick is I still have other big taskpaper features such as filtering, tags, stylesheets, iOS… order they all arrive is hard to predict.

this does not completely fit to my proposal, but you can see multi column development of a project (Rowling Harry Potter!)


the question is: may we imagine Bike doing that (multi column in a single file, where you can see the big picture)?
Not all these plans are spreadsheet like this anyway…

Complexpoint suggestion:

which I follow… for the moment (!)

Some outliners, such as OmniOutliner support multiple columns. I don’t expect Bike to support that approach directly in the UI.

There are three alternatives that I can imagine:

  1. TaskPaper style tags with associated value. I do expect these to get added to Bike something this winter maybe. I think these will work well for small associated column values, but not for longer values.

  2. If you have a more complex column value, then I think links are a better solution. You can link to another file, but you could also link to the same file. I think linking to same file would maybe be easier.

    I’ve attached a sample Bike file that demonstrates what I mean. In this example you have your “main” outline Topic one, two, three. You also have separate hierarchies of Column 1 and Column 2. Then for each topic that has a column value, you create a short link from the topic to the column value.

    It would be some work, but you could also write scripts to generate alternative views of this data. You wouldn’t edit these views, they would be generated and give you a different view of that data, then you would go back and edit the original outline to make changes.

    Maybe one benefit of this approach, compared to something like OmniOutliner is that the column values could be ordered as you like. Maybe you want to keep the order the same as the topics, but it wouldn’t have to be that way.

    Linked Columns.zip (1.4 KB)

  3. A last possibility is that you add the “column” value as children of the main topics. I’ve also include an example outline that does this. Here the column data would be more directly associated with each column topic. If you wanted a view of only “Column 1” values then you would need a script to generate that, but should be possible.

    Not really knowing how you want to view things I think I like this last approach the best. To me it makes most sense to group topics and column values close together. Another nice thing about this approach is once Bike supports TaskPaper like filtering you could filter to show only topics and their column 1 values for example.

    Hiearchical Columns.zip (1.3 KB)

I’m not really sure if any of these solve your needs, but hopefully they help some.

I just came across this video for Remnote. Seems to maybe support some of the things you want? I think the Tana outliner can do some similar things, maybe also the Logseq outliner too). You should check them all out.

I think if you really need these sorts of features then these outliners seem like good solutions. At the same time I think every new feature (and especially pretty complex ones like these) comes with at least two kinds of complexity.

  1. Just learning and using the feature… so you need to become somewhat of an expert. Not really a big problem if you really do need the feature, at the same time you will never really get to a simplifying solution.

  2. More important, even after becoming an expert, is that I think these tools allow you to insert complex data very neatly into your outline. This is great if you data is inherently complex, and you really need to model all of that complexity.

    The problem is that I think often people’s data isn’t that complex, but they know the “feature” and end up modeling simple data in complex ways. Or even if the data is complex, it can be useful to model it in a tool that requires some thought and simplifying assumption on that data.

To be clear, both of these arguments could be applied against Bike when comparing Bike to a plain text editor :slight_smile:

first of all, thank for your commitment!
second, I like the Bike and Taskpaper KISS idea
third, my experience tells me that when things or apps get too complicated I prefer to go back to pen and paper :innocent:

I wiil examine all your panorama but I do prefer stay with HogBay

these scripts combined with Hiearchical Columns for the moment would be the best solution…
@complexpoint: could you imagine some of these scripts? thanks

Imagine certainly, but unlikely to sketch anything this (Boreal) summer – too many other things on the boil, I’m afraid.

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Just the iOS app will suffice. No other feature request from me!

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“Just” is always a word to be careful of – it sounds like something small :slight_smile:

( If an iOS version does emerge, it will be after a huge amount of planning and work )

@amelchi maybe you should check out www.legendapp.com. It basically allows you to have multiple different views of the same document side-by-side. I suppose there’s a learning curve there to explore all the possibilities, but maybe it’s what you’re looking for. It’s markdown, but outlines made in Bike copy-paste ok. The app hasn’t been updated in a while, though, so I wouldn’t go past the free tier.

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