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Hoping to migrate from Ecco Pro Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I moved to Mac several years ago but have to live with Parallels in order to keep using Ecco Pro, which I use in writing books. I would dearly love to move over to OmniOutliner or something like it and get rid of Windows, Parallels etc once for all. But there are some basic things I can't seem to figure out.

For instance, an item in Ecco can be assigned to multiple folders within a column, which is fantastically useful. "Washington was inaugurated in 1789" can thus be placed in folders about "presidential history" and "Washington bio." In fact, I can set things up so that the item is automatically entered in the "Washington bio" folder sheerly because the item mentions Washington.

Another thing I don't get in OO: you have a clipping service, but the clipped text goes into a kind of clipboard limbo without any sourcing attached. In Ecco, the Shooter (in the old days when it worked, sigh) fired clippings from the Web right into an outline *with URL attached.*

Then there's filtering. Where is it? If I have a pop-up column with the values Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, how do I tell the program: just show me all the items designated Blue? The word "filter" doesn't even appear in Help.

Am I overlooking these features somewhere in OO? Would they be so hard to implement? Without a way to quickly filter stuff, and to assign an item to multiple folders/categories/whatever, it's hard to see how I can use OO productively. But I'd love to learn I'm wrong, so any help would be appreciated. Many thanks for helping a newcomer.
Welcome. I, too, loved loved loved Ecco Pro, from Version 1 until I finally moved to Mac 3 years ago. It was Ecco that kept me tethered to Windows far past my patience for all things Microsoft. So I share your strong desire to find something that matches all of the remarkably useful attributes of Ecco, and I hope I can save you a lot of time by describing my extensive experimenting with what's out there for Mac users.

First, there is no one piece of software that does everything Ecco did. (And I'm not even referring to the Calendar and Address Book functions - I mean, just the Notepad functions.) I've tried pretty much every Information Manager, Mind Manager, Digital Shoebox there is. Quite a few of them are very good pieces of software: Circus Ponies Notebook, Evernote, MacJournal, Yojimbo, Notetaker, etc. All well-designed, useful programs, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. None comes close to Ecco.

I'm confident in saying that for outlining, nothing in the Mac world can touch OmniOutliner. It is rock solid, intuitive, reliable, and a pleasure to use. You're absolutely right it doesn't have Ecco's ability to assign one item to multiple folders, and it doesn't allow filtering based on columnar data (my two most needed features). Yet. There is a version 4 due out this year, and features like these have been discussed in these Forums, so I'm hoping that - at the very least - filtering makes the cut.

As for the heavier-lifting functions - such as creating a database of information and assigning items to different folders - I'm using DevonThink Pro. It can be configured as a 3-pane organizer, and any item in any folder can be "replicated" into another folder. Changes made in the document in one folder will be matched in that documents replicant in another folder. Just like Ecco. You can "shoot" web pages and other documents into it, without losing the source's identification. And, DT has a pretty powerful AI function that can figure out where to assign items on its own. It's quite a strong piece of software, and I use it in combination with OmniOutliner for the things I used to do in Ecco.

My hopes are the OO grows to include all the features we Ecco-ites are used to, but in the meantime, OO and DT together might just satisfy your needs and allow you to cut the last cord to Windows. I'm delighted I did and haven't look back in regret once.

Good luck ... let us know if you have any other questions.

Rogbar, thank you so very much for that gracious, thorough, informative and even prompt response. Wow! You just about said it all. I've been hunting around the Internet for quite some time, trying to address this very issue, and have mostly found that people agree with you. Isn't it remarkable that nobody's outdone (or even equalled) Ecco after all these years?

OO looks like a nice program but I suspect I need something a little more industrial-strength. Nonetheless, I've installed OO on trial basis and will now try DevonThink Pro as well. I've steered away from Devon because I haven't needed doc management (I use Zotero, a free firefox plugin, for this, and it's magnificent, works with Word for footnotes etc.) But I gather that DevonThink is also an effective outliner and/or note manager (really the latter is more important to me than the former) and since it's Mac native I will investigate. Meanwhile, thanks again for your very kind help.

PS--It will be interesting to look out for OO 4; if it can add the features we've discussed--which strike me as crucial--and they market the program properly, I think they can make a lot of hay. There are many Mac outliners/notetakers, as you know, but few powerful enough for the many writers and academics who rely on Macs.
How useful would it be if you had a script that would create another OmniOutliner document that only included the rows that met the filtering criteria? I can see at least two distinct styles of use such a filter feature might get, and for one of them it wouldn't matter that changes made to the derived document weren't automatically propagated back to the original source. In either case, it wouldn't be as nice as a supported feature, but a tool in the hand is better than none, right?

Note well: this is not a promise to write such a script, just a query to determine if I should post it if I do.
I think this would be nice, sure, though not sufficient for my purposes, especially if changes to one such document weren't reflected in the other. But it's a generous suggestion and a good idea, and i should think those already using OO would benefit.
It would be very useful for me. I'd like to be able to filter based upon the contents of one column or multiple columns. Ideally, invoking this script would open up a window like the one uses to create Smart Folders.

I make no assumptions anyone will actually make this, but it is pleasant to think about.

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