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Would you like to see cloning/aliasing in OO4? Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Hey All-

We've been going over all the wonderful OmniOutliner feedback we've been getting and we'd like to get some more information regarding cloning/aliasing (the ability to have the same data in multiple places that all update when you change any instance of it).

We'd like to hear how you would use this feature in OmniOutliner. Details on things like what kind of data are you working with (tasks/to-do lists, writing, research, etc), and what having the clones allow you to do with your data. Basically we want to make sure we're on the same page regarding this feature should we implement it.

You can also email me this info at if you would prefer instead.

Please keep this thread on topic.



Last edited by DerekM; 2010-02-05 at 12:10 PM..
Hello Derek,

Thanks for your post; I look forward to getting this terrific feature!

I'm a history student from Moscow. At the moment, I'm using OmniOutliner to parse a huge pdf with a medieval text (around 1200 pages). I copy and paste chunks of text from Adobe Reader to OmniOutliner and try to classify them, trying to find an exact place in a tree of categories for each one. The truth is, however, that a fragment often should be placed under several rubrics at the same time.
I usually make lots of changes to the imported text (correct OCR errors, highlight words, add a comment to whole row, input data into columns etc.), and I would like to make these changes only once for each 'duplicated' row.

I don't know if this feature is easy to implement in terms of programming. But it is really a challenging task for a designer or a ui engineer. How would you show links to other instances of a row? Will there be arrows or buttons or whatever? Shall you probably introduce an alternative flat asset-based view with an ability to label topics with a drop-down structured list of labels extracted from the outline? I know that your company is one that is able to solve such problems in an elegant way.

This feature can really advance my research. I can't wait to get it.


PS: I'm currently exploring AppleScript to automate the clipping process. If you make those 'clones' accessible through the AppleScript object model, that will be beyond my expectations! In any case, I'll follow this topic and I'm ready to beta-test etc.
i would find this kind of aliasing/cloning extremely useful. As a teacher I have to plan whole course programs, and OO Pro is a great tool for this. If cloning were possible i could - for example - have repeating features for different lessons simply cloned, so that various items could be a kind of mini template within the document - saving lots of work
Would it be possible to make clones between documents? I have documents for each area of my life (where there are projects, goals etc). I would _really_ like to be able to have one file that shows all my projects/goals from all areas, and that update in both places / files. This might be tricky?

The reason I don't want to have all of it in the same time is just the sheer size of it. An area-file contains much more than just the projects, and it would be clumsy to navigate and hoist/unhoist through all this as it is now. I've given it a considerable amount of thought, and I landed on the conclusion that seperate files was the only way to go. Still, I miss the opportunity to show all projects/goals in one place when reviewing etc.
Here's one way that I would love to implement cloning. I sometimes have a general context in which a header with a number of subheads might appear - for example a specific punch list for a type of project or subproject. When I set up instances of that (let's say things to pack for a business trip) I would simply have that headline with its subs in each trip that I'm planning. If, when I am going down it, I remember something else that should come with me at all times, I can change it in one place in the outline and have the changes appear in each trip's agenda.
Same thing if I'm using OO to run projects in my work or in my personal life. A lot of what i do is iterations of a general plan and I get learning from the feedback that ought to affect the general and all of its other iterations.


Hey Derek,

Cloning would be a great idea. I am a medical student and use outliner to take lecture notes (1 file/lecture). I also have a master file where I link into it the PDF of the lecture presentation and also a link to the oo3 file that pertains to the lecture. I also have another file where I keep key info about diseases and treatments under sections (e.g. cardiology) - it would be great if that info updates automatically in that section from say another file or even lecture content.

Keep up the great work - OmniOutliner is an excellent tool for students to take notes on during class - no other software like it!
Cloning is, like, so 2006. We need smart folders.
I'm a law student and in documents I have to refer to the same cases over and over again, it would be very sweet to be able to make some kind of symlink to the refered text.

Regards, Berkz
I'd like to suggest "flexible aliases" and "twins." Making the terms up as I go, so let's see if I can explain them in a way that makes sense.

Flexible aliases. Take berkz's situation: I'm taking notes for class, and multiple classes refer to the same thing. Sometimes you want to review that material, sometimes reference, and sometimes edit. An option to do any of the three with a given alias would be great.

Review: you forgot the gist of Big Issue, so you just want to be able to glance over that part of your outline. No need to duplicate the entire body of Big Issue, as a hyperlink would be fine, especially if there's some way to get back. Even better, click the alias to take the portion of the outline that describes Big Issue, hoist it, then display that in a quick-look. (Being able to quick-look from Finder would be great.)

Reference: you want to be able to dig through Big Issue, maybe even make a few changes, but it doesn't need to be reproduced in today's notes. The best way to handle this would be click an alias to see Big Issue hoisted but in a new window or pane. (Panes and multiple windows of the same document would be great.)

Edit: the present subject relates to Big Issue enough that you want to clone the Big Issue material right here, to be able to edit it and have those edits show up everywhere. Standard idea of what it means to clone.

Twins. Twinning a row creates an exact copy, but edits to the copies are not reflected by the original; basically, just meta-data that certain rows are related to each other. Taken to an extreme, twins would allow me to create different organizational structures in the same outline. Say I have many facts that apply to multiple issues, and I want to organize those facts by issue. One outline would be:
-Issue 1
--Good Facts
--Bad Facts
-Issue 2
--Good Facts
--Bad Facts
But what if I want to organize by good facts and bad facts? Well, if all Good Facts were twins to each other, I could somehow see all the good facts together. And I could do the same with the same with Bad Facts. In fact, if I could create a row that acts as a parent to all twins, I can create a new outline.
-All "Good Facts" Twins (my inserted meta row)
--Issue 1 (automatically takes the name of the twin's parent row)
---a (automatic clone of the twin's children)
--Issue 2
-All "Bad Facts" Twins
--Issue 1
--Issue 2
This is the same as creating a new structure in the same outline and cloning a, b, c, d, w, x, y & z, but obviously far easier. I'm not sure whether it would be generally useful, though, or just for my particular needs.

Just a few thoughts.
Hi, here's how I'd use a cloning feature, if I understand the concept behind it - my apologies if what I envisage below shouldn't be called "cloning":

My main activities in multi-column OO files are sorting and filtering. OO doesn't handle "filtering" of tabular data as it is commonly understood (I'm thinking of MS Excel), but it does support sorting - although in a destructive form.
I would therefore like to "clone" my data in order to just display them according to my need at that moment.
So I guess my idea of cloning would be more like a "layer" of background data - the raw data and text and information you're actually inputting, and a number of different visualizations to suit different needs, i.e. filtered views, sorted views, or a view of, say, rows 12-15 and their sub-levels hoisted in a separate window, etc. At the same time I should be able to edit my data whenever I need and no matter what visualisation or window/pane I'm in.


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