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Would you like to see cloning/aliasing in OO4? Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
Ye of little faith....which Omni products have delivered all of their features in 1.0, or 2.0, or 3.0, or 4.0, or 5.0, and provided nothing more than bug fixes until the next major release?
Of course they will add some features between major releases. It's been over four years of 'what features would you like to see' and 'how you you like us to implement ...'. Faith wanes after years of promise.
Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
And with Ken stating that they've already laid the groundwork for supporting these features in the outlining engine, it becomes much more feasible to introduce them part way through 4.x than if all related changes had been yanked out of the 4.0 code base.
Just because the foundation is in place doesn't mean the features are imminent. OG has been asking about what users would like to see in OO/OOP 4 for a long time, but that doesn't mean they will, or even plan to, deliver them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
Now, how you know that "most" were hoping for these features based on the responses in a thread devoted to asking what form those who would like these features would like to see, I'm not quite sure...talk about self-selection bias!
Read the posts in this forum for the last four - five years and you'll see that it's the most requested feature for OO/OOP. The example sited was to demonstrate how long OG has been specifically asking users about it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rogbar View Post
I second whp's call for patience. A careful reading of OG's statement suggests that while cloning won't make 4.0, it's not unreasonable to believe it will be in an early upgrade.
Well, a careful reading of Ken's comments shows that OG hasn't committed to cloning at all - they find it interesting but have decided that iPad development is more important. With OP 2 a top priority, and other apps being ported to the iPad, I don't expect cloning will see the light of day until 2011 at the earliest.
 
I posted this comment as a followup to my blog post, but thought it might also be of interest to people reading this thread…

Thanks for all the feedback on our plans for OmniOutliner 4!

I apologize if anyone was upset by my characterization of cloning as an “esoteric feature”! I certainly didn’t mean that as an insult: I simply meant that cloning was likely to be understood by only a small number of people who have a specialized knowledge and interest in outlining. Perhaps “advanced feature” would be a better turn of phrase.

We certainly understand that some of you really need clones in your outlines: over the 8 years that OmniOutliner has been shipping, we’ve received a few hundred requests for cloning. But to put that in perspective, we have a few hundred thousand people who are using OmniOutliner every day, many of whom have no interest in advanced features—even the ones already present in OmniOutliner! My impression is that most of our customers just want to write basic outlines. Many of those people would like to see their outlines at different sizes on the screen than in print, which is why zooming is by far the most requested feature for OmniOutliner 4. And many of those people would like to take those outlines with them on the go, which is why an iPhone OS version of OmniOutliner is our next most popular request.

Before this blog post, I don’t believe we’ve ever said anywhere that we were planning to bring cloning support to any version of OmniOutliner. Yes, we’ve certainly asked on our forums whether you’d like to see cloning and how you would use it—but in that message we clearly said that we were looking for feedback to help make sure we’re on the same page regarding the feature should we implement it. We did not say that cloning was definitely coming in any future version.

By the way, one of the things we learned from that feedback was that some requests for cloning would be better served by saved smart folders—a feature which, as I’ve indicated above, is coming in OmniOutliner 4.

Now, with this blog post I’ve gone a little further, indicating that true cloning support was in fact something that we were looking to add to OmniOutliner in version 4. And that enough of the groundwork has been laid that hopefully we’ll get back to it sooner rather than later. But if you absolutely need cloning support in your outlines today, then—much as I’d love for you to be using OmniOutliner as your tool of choice—I humbly submit that it would be a good idea to look for another outlining tool that already supports cloning rather than waiting for some potential future version of OmniOutliner. I wouldn’t want to hold you back from a solution which works today based on some vague forward-looking statement from me!

Once again, thanks for all the feedback!

P.S. — I should probably point out that when I said “say goodbye to the old Aqua drawer”, I simply meant that we were moving that functionality from a drawer to a sidebar, not that we were dropping that functionality altogether!
 
Good news on smart folders, I just hope I live to see it
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Case View Post
Before this blog post, I don’t believe we’ve ever said anywhere that we were planning to bring cloning support to any version of OmniOutliner.
...
Now, with this blog post I’ve gone a little further, indicating that true cloning support was in fact something that we were looking to add to OmniOutliner in version 4. And that enough of the groundwork has been laid that hopefully we’ll get back to it sooner rather than later.
So OG will now go out on a limb and state that you were looking to add it and that hopefully you'll get back to it.
Quote:
We did not say that cloning was definitely coming in any future version.
And you still haven't.

Call me a skeptic, or a cynic, or even a realist. As it turns out I may have actually been an optimist when I predicted 2011.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WrongSizeGlass View Post
So OG will now go out on a limb and state that you were looking to add it and that hopefully you'll get back to it.
It sounds like you're close to understanding my message—except that I'm not trying to go out on a limb.

I'm saying outright that we've never indicated that any future version of OmniOutliner will add cloning support, and that we're still not indicating that it will come in any future release. I believe there are a lot of other capabilities that are much more important to the vast majority of our customer base. So if cloning is something you need in your outlines—again, much as I’d love for you to be using OmniOutliner as your tool of choice—I'll once again humbly submit that it would be a good idea to look for another outlining tool that already supports cloning.

Cloning in a simple outliner is a relatively simple problem. Cloning in OmniOutliner is a much harder problem.
I have yet to find an outliner which supports cloning and also supports multiple columns with calculated column summaries. If some of the row's values are calculated based on its position in the outline, what happens when you clone that row to a new location? Do you want a new calculated value, or were you hoping to bring across the value from the original?

Context-dependent row styles are already one of the most confusing areas of functionality to understand in OmniOutliner, and they're an area we'd like to make simpler. But what happens when you add cloning to the mix? If you make a single word red in a clone, should that word be red in all of the clones? What if the clone's position indicates that all its text should be red already? Or green? Or red when negative and green when positive?

And cloning gets even more complicated when you add multi-schema support into the mix: What happens when you clone a row from a position where it has columns A, B, and C, and put it into a context where it now has columns A, X, Y, and Z?
Most requests for cloning tend to have simple examples in which none of these questions matter (e.g., one-column outlines with no formatting), but if cloning is ever going to work in OmniOutliner we feel it's important to come up with satisfactory answers to all these questions and more. And some of the answers might require the addition of other new features (e.g., letting you specify how to map columns of clones between different schemas).

In other words, cloning isn't just a simple feature which we haven't gotten around to implementing in OmniOutliner yet. It's a research project which might not have a satisfactory solution for some of the outlines which OmniOutliner supports. We've already spent a lot of time thinking about it, so we have some ideas about how to solve some of these problems, but we don't know yet whether those solutions will feel right to those of you who are actually requesting the feature.

And while clones are one way to solve some problems, there are other ways to solve some of the same problems while also introducing totally new capabilities which clones don't support:
For example, many people have indicated in this thread that they'd be just as happen to see hypertext links within an outline. That would be much easier for us to implement—we already support hypertext links—and would probably benefit at least as many people while being much easier for most people to understand. (Thanks to the web, everyone now understands hypertext links.)

Some people in this thread have also indicated that they'd be just as happy to see their problems solved with saved smart folders, which could filter the existing outline and present a collected set of results in that folder.

Some of the cloning use cases would also be solved if we were to implement spreadsheet-style formulas within cells, which would let you reference another cell's value and use it in another context—much like cloning, but without causing ambiguities about exactly what that means. And adding support for those sorts of formulas would enable all kinds of new outlines which currently require a spreadsheet, like an outline which tracks variances from a baseline budget.
Some early outliners solved a set of outlining problems by providing a cloning feature, which has made it a familiar solution for those of you who have experience with those outliners. But is cloning really the only solution to that set of problems? (Or even the best solution?)

Last edited by Ken Case; 2010-02-28 at 01:28 PM.. Reason: Fixed a typo
 
Ken,

Thanks for your thorough and thoughtful reply. Much as I'd love to have cloning in OO today, I do understand that it's a very tricky one and that there may well be other needs more important to more users.

That said, I would offer this thought to your statement that "I have yet to find an outliner which supports cloning and also supports multiple columns with calculated column summaries."

Ecco Pro did it almost twenty years ago. Not being a programmer, I don't know if the means by which Ecco did this are applicable to OO, but they certainly demonstrated it can be done.

Good luck with it.

/rb
 
There might be something special about us, users of outlining apps. These apps are such an integral part of our work that we might react as strongly as if spell-checking were taken out of a mainstream word processor. At the same time, outlining remains in something of a niche. Many apps do outlining, often for a specific purpose. But the ideal outliner isn't there, yet.
And it's quite possible that the 4.0 version of OO won't be it. In some key ways, it's even possible that MORE 3.1 was closer to the ultimate outlining than OO will ever become. Part of the reason is that the market for the ultimate outliner is either dormant or simply too small.

The comment about NetManage EccoPro (now hosted at Compusol.org) does get me. When I was in exile on XP for a few years, it was described as an appropriate replacement to OO. I tried using it for quite a while and did manage to integrate it in my workflow, to an extent, but it still didn't do some of the most important things I wanted and needed to do, especially in terms of producing documents for both classroom and study use. For a while afterwards, I was using OneNote. But that still wasn't ideal. When I came back to Mac OS X, OO was among the first things I installed. And I still like it (though I've switched a significant chunk of my note-taking to Toodledo). Far from perfect and showing its age in terms of "computing paradigms." But still useful.

Over the years, I've probably spent inordinate amounts of time looking for the ideal outliner. From the description of upcoming features, OO4 isn't it (at this point, I really need seamless synchronization and an innovative approach to outline entry; I don't need cloning, but I do need seamless sync). TaskPaper would be much closer if it had import/export features (which seems so easy to do, given the format). And I can just imagine how much of a dream outlining on the iPad could become. If only we had the ideal app...

--
Hopeful in Montreal (aka Alex)
 
FredH,

But cloning would let you put something right where you want it, rather than having to make smart folders that just collect things all at the same level.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Case View Post
I'm saying outright that we've never indicated that any future version of OmniOutliner will add cloning support, and that we're still not indicating that it will come in any future release. ...it would be a good idea to look for another outlining tool that already supports cloning.
Thank you, that is pretty clear, especially after having been led on regarding cloning "coming soon" since v1. With all due respect I too will be clear: I will not upgrade again unless cloning or something fully equivalent is added.

Quote:
I believe there are a lot of other capabilities that are much more important to the vast majority of our customer base.
With all due respect that just points out a serious ongoing flaw of primarily looking to existing users to evaluate the need for new features. There are many potential new users IF the feature was available. And, cloning is a hugely powerful tool that staff and users would LOVE once they learned how powerful it is by really using it.

Quote:
Cloning in a simple outliner is a relatively simple problem. Cloning in OmniOutliner is a much harder problem.
I have yet to find an outliner which supports cloning and also supports multiple columns with calculated column summaries.
Agreed, there are features in OO like some calculations or logic that would be difficult or impossible to integrate with cloning. The solution seems simple: rather than denying the power of cloning to all potential users, instead document certain features as incompatible with each other just like spreadsheets do with an illogical formula.

Different users can then use the same app in different ways, making for a larger potential customer base. E.g. I seldom use OO because of lack of cloning but have never felt the need to use calculated column summaries. Calculations or columns can simply be invalidated and red flagged when cloning is implemented; or conversely an attempt to clone from or into an invalid area can be invalidated and red flagged.

Quote:
Context-dependent row styles are already one of the most confusing areas of functionality to understand in OmniOutliner, and they're an area we'd like to make simpler. But what happens when you add cloning to the mix? If you make a single word red in a clone, should that word be red in all of the clones?
That is pretty easy. If only the word is red, then the red stays with the word. If the red word became red because it is context-dependent like a style, then the color becomes whatever the style of the new location determines. Look to the way MORE did it 20+ years ago.

Quote:
...red when negative and green when positive?
Calculations can simply be invalidated and red flagged as previously discussed.

Quote:
Most requests for cloning tend to have simple examples in which none of these questions matter (e.g., one-column outlines with no formatting), but if cloning is ever going to work in OmniOutliner we feel it's important to come up with satisfactory answers to all these questions and more.
I really, really disagree - - and I have many thousands of cloned-outline pages and decades of real-world experience to support my opinion. (a) Users who want cloning will happily forgo multiple columns and calculations for outline parts cloned as a trade-off and (b) formatting was answered above; a clone simply takes the position-dependent format of the new position.

Quote:
...we have some ideas about how to solve some of these problems, but we don't know yet whether those solutions will feel right to those of you who are actually requesting the feature. ...And while clones are one way to solve some problems, there are other ways to solve some of the same problems while also introducing totally new capabilities which clones don't support

Some early outliners solved a set of outlining problems by providing a cloning feature, which has made it a familiar solution for those of you who have experience with those outliners. But is cloning really the only solution to that set of problems? (Or even the best solution?)
With all due respect, yes cloning is the best solution to suit the need for a cloning feature. It should have been implemented with v1. Just invalidate cross usage of cloning with calculations and columns, and let clones take the styles of their respective locations. Save the "other ways to solve some of the same problems while also introducing totally new capabilities" for whoopdewhoop new features down the road and implement clear succinct cloning ASAP.

Please and thank you.

-Allen
 
"I have yet to find an outliner which supports cloning and also supports multiple columns with calculated column summaries."

Ecco Pro did it 20 years ago .. brilliantly.
 
 


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