A latent desire to digitize some class notes into outlines has turned into a quest fort the Holy Grail of Outlining. Seeking the holy grail of outlining. Every outliner I've encoutered thus far has Sucked Quite A Bit, but I haven't looked extensively yet...
I would be content with a simple desktop outliner, but here's my ideal tool: a Web-based outline management application. I see it storing outlines in some sort of object database or as static XML files with a dynamic outline-based directory. It should be able to output each outline as HTML (with the ability to expand and collapse hierarchies), text and raw XML. Editing can be performed three ways:
- a Java viewer/editor applet with a tad more functionality (simple formatting like bold and italic?)
- a more advanced desktop application with close ties to the Web backend to provide seamless editing
Why do I need all this crap? Eh... need is a strong word. I've been accumulating this pile of illegible paper notes on each class in outline form. I figured I'd type them up on a regular basis and make them publically available on the Web in ASCII for my own benefit, so that I could drop in a computer lab and print out whatever I need, rather than hoping against hope that I'm carrying the right notebook. Well, ASCII's nice in theory and all, but rearranging a plain-text outline is a pain in the ass. A real outlining tool is a step in the right direction... however, I can either a) post the outlines in the tool's proprietary format, thus rendering them unreadable from a lab if I can't download the outliner or b) export the outline as text and hope I don't need to change anything while I'm in the lab.
If this isn't the ideal case for a Web application, I don't know what is. However, I'm no Web programmer... to build it, I'll have to learn PHP or Perl or some such. I've been meaning to for a while, but I'm not sure the time would be justified at this point. Ah well. A pipe dream, as always.
Found the Hypertext Kitchen while researching outliners. Useful-looking site.