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One thing I would like to see is a zoom view or at least the ability to view at various magnifications.

I am happy to see Len Case ask for what we would like to see in a "theoretical" OO 4.0- it is something I have been thinking about for a long time and this seems like the perfect invitation.

There appears to be two basic user camps for OO- the writers/ researchers and those who use it as a task/ project management system. I fall into the later category, so I can not say what is mssing software-wise for the writers. But, there are a number of things I would love to see in the next major release of OO for task management. Things get further complicated by the fact that I know Omnigroup is developing a Kinkless version and I do not know how the new software will affect/ change the user base of OO (maybe what I am writing should go into that forum).

Anyway, here is my list of features that I would love- no, need to see. This list has been developed through months of using programs such as OO, Mori, DevonThink, Merlin, Journaler, Yojimbo ... the list goes on and on. I have also spent countless hours scouring user forums and blogs (and I keep seeing the same group of people in each) looking for the perfect software solution. My conclusions are the following: 1. there is no perfect off-the-shelf solution (too many different people w/ different needs), 2. everyone is looking for the same basic set of core features (and the various companies are not delivering for whatever reason). For OO, it is smart folders, for Journler it is the lack of custom columns, etc.

All of the software I tested will have everything I need except one thing, and then the other software will have that one thing but will be missing something else that the first one had. It's a never ending cycle of trying to bend the software to do what I want it to do- I eventually give up and just do what the software wants me to do. I guess in that sense it is very similar to marriage, but that is another topic. If the various companies listened to what their users where saying, someone would be making a killing- I think the company that will make a killing is going to be the first company to come out with the software with the full set of core features.

What I envision is this- I would set up a basic outline (w/ custom columns) as my "database". Once the outline is set up, it would become almost secondary to the smart folders. I think that the smart folders should essentially become the program- smart folders, or a version of it, is where things are heading. Think iTunes, but with outlining capabilities.

Core Features:

1. Easy and intuitive outlining capabilities - OO is there and no major improvements are needed, in my opinion.
2. Custom columns- Again, I think OO is already there with the current columnar data types, but here are a couple more things that would further extend the existing capabilities.
- w/ auto-fill capabilities
- w/ non-destructive sorting (see: Mori)
- w/ the ability to add aliases (example: I could have a pop-up column with resources to assign to a task. I could assign a person, click on the name and it would take me to that person's smart folder that has all of the other assigned tasks). See: SailAlong Software ActionItems
- ability to add actions to- an example would be that the specific line would archive itself after it has been checked, or make private (see below)
- Privacy option per line- another checkbox?
3. Robust smart folders
- option to search by any column- this is where I think that strength of a program like I am describing would come from (in combination w/ custom column information).
- ability to edit smart folder contents (and would update info in the main outline)- smart folder would maintain the hierarchal structure and would editable

Secondary Features:

1. A floating palette for column "views"- this is where I think "sets" of user-defined columns should reside. Instead of being able to hide/suppress an individual column I think that you should be able to put together groups of columns (columns could end up in more than one group). I also think that this should be a hierarchal list.
2. Custom column views (similar to iTunes)- every "window" can be customized to show different columns.
3. Different views
- flattened table view- removes structure and allows total sorting by column
- iTunes (genre/ artist/ album)- also see: Merlin. This could replace the existing Utility Drawer?
4. Move to/ Duplicate to/ Clone to- see: DevonThink

Tertiary Features:

1. sync to Address Book- this feature would be great to use with the pop-up column type I described above when assigning tasks.
2. sync to iCal- for obvious reasons
3. able to network with other users on a network- this would be huge for our office
4. Export to OmniPlan

Anyway, there it is in a nutshell (a big one). There are many other little things I would like to see (and i may add ore if I think of any), but these are all of the key features that would make me very happy and productive. If anyone on your end is interested, feel free to contact me via email and I would be more than happy to have someone in our graphics department put together some simulated screenshots for you that would better illustrate what I am talking about.

By the way, I think that there needs to be a separate forum for feature requests. It is too hard to sort through all of the postings of people asking questions vs. those that are asking about features or have feature requests.

Originally Posted by JasonI
everyone is looking for the same basic set of core features (and the various companies are not delivering for whatever reason). For OO, it is smart folders, for Journler it is the lack of custom columns, etc.
Good points, I agree smart folders are a key feature. If they are configurable enough, they could also partially substitute for other needed functions, such as cloning and sorting (for me, non-destructive sorting is also very important). They are a way to get easy access to certain parts of your outline.

Hopefully some of these are coming soon, right now although OO has many virtues, it is severely lacking in the power feature comparison. It has a solid base to add to and potentially become the king of outliners.

Last edited by FredH; 2006-10-05 at 06:33 PM..
I agree. Although I keep a good majority of my lists, todos and project tasks etc. in OO, I am beginning to feel like it is too static. I can't get to the info I want easily- I have to work for it. I want to be able to set up a system and just have the information I need right at my fingertips.

The combination of smart folders and custom columns would allow for a much simpler outline structure and would also eliminate the need for cloning, if you set up the basic ouline properly. For example, if you have a specific task under a project heading, instead of assigning it to a resource by copying/ cloning to a separate outline (or, separate section of the same outline) for the person you are assigning the task to, you just set up a column where you are able to select the person's name from a list. You then set up a smart folder for that person and all of the tasks that are assigned to him/ her would appear in that smart folder. You could take it a step further by having a column where the project name is on a list (or pops up with auto-fill) and a smart folder that corresponds to all tasks that are marked with that project's name. One step even further would be that all parents in an outline become searchable metadata too- just by the very nature of where a piece of data is in relation to other data, in a hierarchal structure, says a lot about that data. It's a natural progression, we are not losing the outlining, but taking it to the next level of being able to manipulate, organize, and view it in new and meaniful ways.

It's time to make the data more than just a static outline- all of the elements are available to turn the outline into a dynamic informational organizer. So, again, I think that it all comes down to having very powerful and capable smart folders. I think that OG has developed a phenomenal outlining program and I'm sure that it will remain that way. But, I also believe that outlining has matured to the point that most improvements will only be incremental. By combining OO along with the technology of smart folders (not outling w/ smart folder capabilities), you actually develop a new type of program (yes, I know they already exist, but I think that we are only in this software categories' infancy). I guess what I am saying is that now is the time for a very capable and highly regarded software company to come in and do it right. No more of this mom and pop type software in this category- I want the real thing and I think OG can deliver.

- Sorry for the editorializing- just frustrated right now, but optimistic that things are heading in the right direction.
-I would like to see the ability to add an auto-updating table of contents that I can add even minor items to without harming the rest of the structure in any way. For example, i might want a ToC to only go 2 or 3 levels into my outline, but at the fifth level there might be one important nugget of info, i'd like to be able to note that on the ToC without the entire ToC shifting to become a five level ToC or suffering any other harm to its structure.

-The ability to assign any key combo I want to the shortcuts.
-A zoom feature with the ability to set and save custom zoom levels (for example, in word, I find that I like working with 140% much more than with 100 or 200.)
-Styles staying static the way I've fixed them in my template even if I paste in text that is styled differently. I dislike it when the next sibling I make is an amalgam of both styles.

Basically, it will hopefully be an outliner that has its default settings set up in such a way that it's not too difficult for a newbie to learn the basics, but that has every (or almost every) single aspect of it customizable for advanced users). Also, better documentation. It would easily become the best outliner on the market if it had all the power users, plus full customisability, along with it's already impressive gui.
and better searching abilities. sorry.
this is the last one. again sorry about not having it all in once post.

-the ability to lock parts of the document.
-the ability to export to ical or entourage (which a lot of mac users use as it has more features).
Biggest feature for me is the ability to hyperlink to anchors or other sections of the document.

...that and I wish it played nicer with spellcatcher.

...and I would like to see a range of templates included with the pro version.

Also, fullscreen editing mode would be nice too.

Also, I would like the ability to move the column entries in the style hierarchy (IE, so the style of columns overrides the rows.) and hide the notes column

While I'm dreaming, I'd also like a pony.

Last edited by jsg; 2006-10-14 at 02:35 PM..
My personal wishlist:

- wiki links inside the document and among documents (see DevonThink)
- a progress bar showing the percent of things done at a given level

Stefano from Italy
Originally Posted by jsg
While I'm dreaming, I'd also like a pony.
Smart folders + OmniPony = world peace

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