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A historical list of outlining software

Jesse

December 07, 2020


Last update: December 10th, 2020

This is a chronological overview of outlining software applications. I will be updating this list incrementally.

ThinkTank (Mac/PC, 1984-1987)

Summary

Released in June 1984, ThinkTank 128 was one the first electronic outlining applications and the precursor to MORE.

Screenshots

thinktank128

Platforms

Mac/PC

Lifetime

1984 - 1987

Features

  • Expand / collapse items
  • Drag and drop items to re-order
  • Hoisting

More Reading

http://scripting.com/dwiner/outlinersProgramming.html

MORE (Mac, 1986)

Summary

Outliner with the ability to switch between the outline view, a tree chart view and a chart list view (which was suitable for presentations).

Platforms

Macintosh

Lifetime

1986

Features

  • Hide / unhide subordinate items
  • Drag and drop items to re-order
  • Tree chart view
  • Bullet chart view
  • Hierarchy-level-specific text formatting

Screenshots

more outliner

KAMAS ("CP/M"/DOS, 1984-1993)

Summary

The first outliner for the CP/M with basic keyboard driven outlining capabilities and an internal programming language. Probably the first outliner to introduce the convention of indenting out outdenting with tab and shift+tab respectively. The DOS version shipped without the internal programming language.

Screenshots

kamas

More Reading

https://web.archive.org/web/20020321122910/https://www.jlarue.com/outlinersredux.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KAMAS_(program) http://archive.today/2020.05.31-144922/http://blog.fogus.me/2020/05/20/8-bit-spiritua/

Out-Think (DOS, 1986)

Summary

Simplified version of KAMAS without its programming facilities.

More Reading

https://archive.org/stream/PROFILES_Volume_4_Number_1_1986-07_Kaypro_Corp_US#page/n19/mode/2up https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KAMAS_(program)

PC-Outline (DOS, 1987)

Summary

An MSDOS text outliner program created by Brown Bag Software and a competitor to ThinkTank.

Screenshots

pc outline

Platforms

MSDOS

Lifetime

? - 1987

Features

  • Move items
  • Mark / unmark items
  • Copy / move marks
  • Join / divide items
  • Sort outline level
  • Multi-window (up to 9, resizable)
  • Printing options

More Reading

https://www.danielsays.com/ssg-dossw-pco334.html

GrandView (DOS, 1987-1990)

Summary

First outliner supporting color. GrandView combined features of a traditional outliner with a spreadsheet (columnar metadata).

Screenshots

grandview

Features

  • Hide / unhide subordinate items
  • Drag and drop items to re-order
  • Hierarchy-level-specific text formatting
  • Named ranges

More Reading

https://welcometosherwood.wordpress.com/2009/10/10/grandview/ https://www.atarimagazines.com/compute/issue139/114_GrandView_20.php https://books.google.ch/books?id=Eq0wALnyM_MC&q=%22grandview%22+%22friend%22+outliner&pg=PA34&redir_esc=y#v=snippet&q=%22grandview%22%20%22friend%22%20outliner&f=false

Acta (Mac, 1986-1993)

Summary

Version 1.3 was bundled with Living Videotext's MORE in 1987 and Acta evolved into Opal.

Screenshots

acta 3

More Reading

https://archive.vn/AGWFc http://archive.today/2020.12.08-073941/http://a-sharp.com/acta/

ECCO Pro (Windows, 1993-1997)

Summary

Ecco Pro was a personal information manager software based on an outliner, and supporting folders similar to spreadsheet columns that allow filtering and sorting of information based upon user defined criteria. It was seen to have an easier learning curve than GrandView. At the same time, its novel and complicated mix of features may have prevented it from gaining mainstream adoption.

Lifetime

1993-1997

Screenshots

ecco pro 2

Features

  • Basic outliner functionality
  • Tags
  • Columns with meta data
  • Clipping tool to add highlighted text to your outline
  • Sync with PalmPilot

More Reading

http://archive.today/2020.12.09-052442/https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2007/jul/26/comment.guardianweeklytechnologysection https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecco_Pro https://www.mind-mapping.org/index.php?title=ECCO_Pro http://archive.today/2020.12.09-060302/http://www.fredshack.com/docs/pim.html http://archive.today/2020.12.10-045221/https://medium.com/@rice.doug/ecco-pro-in-the-90s-outlook-not-so-good-a5542ee440d7 https://web.archive.org/web/20080205164526/http://www.thenakedpc.com/dan/pims/ecco.html https://web.archive.org/web/20080202162758/http://www.eccorocks.com/

Action Outline (Windows, 2000-2012)

Summary

Simple two-pane outliner for Windows with a tree-like file explorer pane combined with a document viewer pane.

Developer

Green Parrots Software

Screenshots

Features

  • Basic outliner features
  • Ability to minimize to the Windows System Tray and easily pop up to paste a piece of text
  • Tabbed interface for opening multiple documents
  • Different text styling options
  • Tags
  • Printing
  • Rich media inside outlines (Images)

More reading

http://archive.today/2020.12.10-052846/https://www.actionoutline.com/

Opal (Mac, 2006-)

Summary

A succesor to Acta from its creator David Dunham.

Screenshots

opal

Features

  • Basic outliner features
  • Checkboxes
  • Formatting
  • Search

More Reading

http://archive.today/2020.12.08-074855/http://a-sharp.com/acta/history.html

ConnectedText (Windows, 2011-2016 [Discontinued])

Summary

ConnectedText brands itself as a "Personal Wiki". It has a very basic editor with an outliner option. It was somewhat unique in that it was one of the first PIM tools to generate a visual graph representation of your notes. There's also the ability to embed Python scripts that run on the page.

Status

Discontinued

Screenshots

connectedtext 1

connectedtext 2

More Reading

https://www.connectedtext.com/ https://web.archive.org/web/20190421085255/http://takingnotenow.blogspot.com/search/label/ConnectedText

UV Outliner (Windows)

VisualOutliner (Windows)

More Reading

https://www.visualoutliner.com/

InfoQube

Summary

Information Manager with support for multiple views, including an outliner. Free Windows app built as a successor to Ecco Pro. An outliner with columns, allowing search, filter, sort. Includes a rich text pane for larger content / web links. Fully portable. Tries to do everything which Connected Text can do and more but without the markup language so everything is done through a GUI and with tables of properties and context menus.

Screenshots

Features

  • Gantt Charts
  • Pull in data from remote databases
  • Integrated Calendar
  • Integrated Web Clipper
  • Spreadsheet Capabilities
    • Pivot Tables
    • Charts
  • Item Formatting
    • Rule Based
  • Markdown support

More Reading

MyInfo (Windows, 2000-today)

Summary

Bare bones outliner.

Status

Active

Screenshots

myinfo

Features

  • Basic outliner functionality
  • Multiple columns
  • Formatting
  • Embedding PDFs
  • Transclusion
  • Templates

More Reading

Accordia IT

Zoot

InfoSelect

Microsoft Word Outline View

UltraRecall

Cherry Tree

More Reading

https://www.giuspen.com/cherrytree/

Jot+

TreePad

Inspiration

The Brain

The Archive

More Reading

Vim Outliner

Mindomo (Web-based)

More Reading

https://www.mindomo.com/

Little Outliner (Web-based)

Workflowy (Web-based)

Dynalist (Web-based)

Checkvist (Web-based)

Roam Research (Web-based)

LeoEditor

http://leoeditor.com/

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