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Would you like to see cloning/aliasing in OO4? Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Originally Posted by Brian View Post
I don't think there's any dispute that they'd be useful...
No disrespect intended, but a problem for years now has been that the OO team apparently has always just seen cloning as a perhaps "useful" feature. There must be a reason that after having been repeatedly requested since version 1 cloning still has not been implemented. All kinds of far-lesser-value tweaks have been added in 3.9 versions - and the "Pro" version exists to monetize such a feature - so I can only assume that the team fails to appreciate the real value of cloning.

Cloning is much more than simply useful, it is an essential component of truly professional outline processing. I do not say that to dis OO or the team, but the fact is that with cloning I would literally be living in the OO app, much like I did with MORE; today without cloning I often just use (and refer users of the 9 Macs I manage) to free apps like TextEdit.

...the main thing I think we struggle with are how they'd interact with the other features we have.
The short answer to that is that I would hope that Omni engineers would have a copy of MORE up and running on an old box to review cloning. Obviously the apps and code are not identical, but a good start would be to integrate cloning similar to the way MORE did 20 years ago. (If you do not have a working copy of MORE I can probably find a retired but operational old Powerbook running MORE that you could have.)

A couple of the questions I've seen folks discuss:
I will try to respond, but it has been decades since I used the feature so my comments will likely have some inaccuracies.

How would cloned rows interact with the level-based styles?
That answer is fairly easy. Cloned text takes the style defined by its new location.

How would cloned rows affect summary cells they descend from?
What happens if a cloned row contains a summary cell? Or can you only clone leaf rows, and not branches?

This is one of those cases where a feature appears to be simple - arguably, you'd want the app to react to a row you cloned in the same way it does to a row you pasted into several places. (With edits propagating, of course.)
Yes, it is like live Cut-and-Paste but with styles defined by the new location.

The code that goes into presenting a simple appearance is often not simple to write, though...
Perhaps. But cloning is an essential feature and after 5 years of OO development the cloning feature is much too important to continue to ignore.

Again, no disrespect is intended.

-Allen Wicks

Last edited by Allen Wicks; 2009-06-21 at 08:36 AM..
No disrespect taken, Allen, but I also can't help but notice that you declined to offer an opinion on the summary cell questions I asked. :-)

Again, we're not ignoring this; we just aren't sure how to integrate this into some of our existing features which we had and which MORE lacks.

I'm not on the Outliner team, and it's been a few years since I looked at MORE. If I remember correctly, it was a fine text-based outliner, but didn't have the sense of multiple columns that Outliner has, and didn't support the various forms of non-text data that Outliner can put in those columns.

Adding this feature would undoubtedly be valuable, but we don't think that we should sacrifice features that other customers find valuable to do so. The folks that use OmniOutliner in more of a Spreadsheet-y fashion (the folks that came up with the predecessor to OmniFocus, for example) probably wouldn't be very happy.
I can understand the caution about cloning. but you take for granted that the way styles propagate in omnioutliner is transparent to the user. I must say that after years using it, I still can't understand why some styles appear in my text... (by the way, I would like to have a way to clear ALL styles in a document with a stroke!)

why note a "cloning mode"? when activated some functionalitys would be lost. it isn't the most elegant implementation, but many of us would use it.


Yes to cloning, or some other way to link "items" across projects, folders, groups, etc. Very little in life is an island.

Frankly though I'd rather see OF merge with OP, fields for estimating and tracking time, chart where time is spent vs preferred vs planned, add some way of planning that helps to prevent overloading schedules.
For what its worth, I think aliasing/linking from a row to another row is a must.

No matter what you use OO for, it comes a time when you want to somehow relate a row to another row. No matter how pragmatic you are, information is relational one way or another, and it is going to come up no matter what you do (non-trivial stuff of course).

A simple highlighted text (similar to URL highlighting) that when clicked takes you to the linked row would do wonders! Another option would be if you hover it, or click on a dispatch triangle or something similar, you get to see the linked row right below/on-top the row with the link.

What is funny is that right now I needed this feature, so I came to the forums to see whether it was possible to do, and lo and behold I came across this thread.

My vote for this feature.

Just as an example, I was trying to use OO for handling features/bugs tracking for a software project. I have features and bugs rows in the same level, and in their sublevels you have the actual features and bugs. I would like to link a feature to a bug, etc...

Last edited by vano; 2009-08-05 at 11:59 AM..
RSS advised that 3.9 was released. I immediately checked for cloning, as I do whenever an update is released. Seeing that cloning was not added, I read about the new version no further. I've never tried OO, for want of cloning, an indispensable outlining feature for me. Repeat: indispensable.
I would love to see cloning/aliasing in OO4, this is probably the feature I'm missing the most
I don't know if it is a help but Google Sketchup has a graphic version of cloning. When you work on a clone (called a component in Sketchup) you are changing all other clones but you are able to right-click and choose "Make Unique" after which that clone gets a different name and is no longer connected to the others.
A clone can be changed as a whole (e.g. painted a different colour) and this does not change the colour of the other clones, but if you go into the clone and change individual parts of it this will have an effect on all other examples of that clone.
Regarding your question about level-based styles - I think they should take the style of the level they get moved to.
Clones should include a definition of how many levels they encompass. Any change within those levels should change all connected clones.
Regarding cloned summary rows - they should continue to calculate their children if the children are part of the clone and they will be the same for all examples of that clone. If the summary row is the only level within that clone then it should calculate children rows based on what they are in the particular circumstance and this could then be different from other examples of that cloned row.
I do have a wishlist for OO4 features in my head, but it'd take a bit too much time to expose it here. Part of it is something I posted a number of years ago to the OOuser mailing-list.
But that was then. I think OO3 wasn't even out, yet.

Mainly, I want OO4 to work with my iPod touch. In fact, I've been thinking about buying OmniFocus for this very reason. But it doesn't seem to be as convenient as an outliner as I'd want it to be. I'm getting a bit closer to the whole GTD way of thinking, but I'd like something more akin to OO in terms of processing.
I can just see it. It's unlikely to be released, but I daydream about it.

See, I think and work through outlines. Much of what I do ends up being outlinable. Reading notes, presentation slides, random ideas, tasks, lists...
OO is my favourite outliner. I spent three years using a Windows machine as my main computer and the lack of an OO-like outliner was a big issue, for me. NetManage Ecco Pro was a fascinating concept, but it was hard to integrate in my workflow because it didn't play well with "modern technology." I eventually settled on OneNote but it didn't fit so well in my workflow because it "doesn't play well with others," even with Microsoft products such as Word, Windows Live Writer, or Powerpoint.

Which is a basic point: a tool like OO needs to fit in a workflow. OO3 hasn't changed that much in the three years during which I was unable to use it. But it's still quite useful. I can "get by" with OO3. Because it fits in my workflow. Especially now that I can use CarbonFin Outliner online and on my iPod touch. Not ideal, but much better than what I was able to get during my PalmOS days.

OO3's import and export options are quite good. In fact, the .docx export almost "saved my life" as I was trying to get lecture notes into PowerPoint. If this export option were available as an add-on to OO Standard, I'd buy it. (I ended up using a trial version of OOPro to get the .docx for further processing.)
I'm getting a kind of déjà-vu and I'm guessing these are things I've discussed in the past (apart from the .docx export, which only came recently).

But there's a broader context to all of this. Evernote is almost a killer app, on several platforms. If it supported outlines in the way OO does, I'd switch to it in a heartbeat.
Then, there's the whole "task-management" side. There's a wide-array of products out there which do GTD or other forms of task management. OF addresses this very directly and is compared with Cultured Code Things, Toodledo, Remember the Milk, Midnight Inbox, and TaskPaper. I've been looking at all of these quite carefully. As is often the case, all these products have advantages and disadvantages. None of them fits as my ideal tool. Where OF has a significant advantage, for me personally, is that it does support outlines. It's no OO4, but it could enable me to aggregate several of my more task-oriented outlines. The GTD features looked very compelling but they're also the ones which make me torn between different tools. Contrary to OO, OF seems to be a way to "take over" part of your workflow instead of helping at different points of the process. For me, as an outline-lover, OF is too constraining. I want to be able to do the braindump as an outline, transform some parts as projects and goals, and keep the rest in outlines. Sure, those remaining outlines could be related to the "Information" part of the GTD model. But OF didn't seem to make this easy to manage, when I tried it.

As others have been saying in many contexts, some of us don't necessarily need a full-fledged GTD. We could probably a form of Kinkless-GTD if it were well-integrated in our outliners, but that's not necessarily the main goal.
Similarly, those of us who are obsessed with outlines could probably use mindmaps. They go well with outlines, for several reasons. And mindmapping tools out there aren't yet ideal, for the kind of processing we do. But that shouldn't be the focus either.

A strength of outliners like OO is that they're really efficient for the kind of realtime processing required as you're thinking through diverse ideas. There are many outlining tools which lack these basic things. The fact that you can create siblings and parents with the return key, the fact that you see the whole outline as you're editing, the fact that there are keystrokes to move items around... All of these distinguish outliners like OO from many tools which aren't nearly as convenient. The lack of any of these is pretty much a deal-breaker, for me.

TaskPaper is an interesting case. It's probably the simplest tool to use. It does support some limited outlining features. And its file-format is simple enough to make it fit in my workflow. I really wish TaskPaper could have OO-like features. If it did, I'd probably use it as my main "thought-processing" app.

So, the "pie in the sky" concept for my ideal outliner (which is unlikely to become a reality within the OO4 framework) would integrate features from a variety of other tools. OO3, Evernote, OneNote, OF, TaskPaper, CarbonFin Outliner, and MindMeister. I don't know that it'd necessarily include things like attachments, elaborate style management, handles in text exports, multiple columns, and so on. These are literally distractions for me as I use OO3. I end up spending quite a bit of time getting rid of these than taking advantage of them. Makes for a frustrating experience through which I keep going because I love OO for other reasons. But that's probably just me.
My ideal outliner certainly has other OO3 features such as a variety of import and export formats or convenient outline navigation and editing.

Yes, it's all a dream. But what recent events have taught us is that dreaming is a very efficient way to think.
Great post Enkerli. I also am having a hard time finding which programs to use that match my way of thinking. I'd love a powerful note taking & outline app like OO combined with the powerful task/schedule app of OF-- for me these things need to either work seamlessly together or be the same program.

Why do our ideas/notes/outlines need to be separate from our to-do-lists/calendar, etc? Maybe I'm missing something, but I'm obviously not the only one.

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