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Old 03-02-2013, 01:34 PM   #1
Graham
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Cloud-based outliner/brainstorm app

Writing on my new Chromebook I realised that I needed an outliner, as Google Docs doesn't have one built in, so I took a look for a web-based solution.

I stumbled across Workflowy, which is, well... lovely. It works exactly as you'd expect, but you can focus in on one part of the outline - which is great for creative writing. Transitions are fluid, soothing. There's a zen-like quality to the way you move in and out of your work.

If you're comfortable doing your outlining in a browser and having it stored in the cloud, take a look. You can copy and paste it easily to a local file, of course.

It's free to add up to 500 items to your outlines each month, and you can either pay for a pro account for unlimited access, or you can introduce others, Dropbox style, to increase your allowance.

For example, if you sign up through the following link, we both get another 250 items per month.

https://workflowy.com/?ref=10ceff5e

I think this is better than using MS Word's outliner, and would be a good way to do the initial brainstorming before laying out a storyboard in, say, Scrivener.

Are there any other tools people are using, particularly those which would work from the Cloud for my Chromebook? The main downside to Workflowy is that there's no offline mode, though this is coming soon, apparently, for Pro users.

Graham
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Old 03-03-2013, 12:58 PM   #2
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This is exactly what I've been looking for!

I have found that outlining in word processing programs has been overly complex and rigid. Yet, a good outline is essential for a good, well written document. At least it is for me.

This is the sort of outlining I've been looking for! Thanks.
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Old 03-03-2013, 01:12 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by GlenBarrington View Post
I have found that outlining in word processing programs has been overly complex and rigid. Yet, a good outline is essential for a good, well written document. At least it is for me.

This is the sort of outlining I've been looking for! Thanks.
Glad to point you to it. I've been using it extensively since yesterday and falling more in love with it the more I use it. Take a look at the tagging features for a quick, intuitive way to filter down to key parts of an outline. (Basically just enter # followed by any word in an item, and then click on the tag to filter your current view to just items with that tag.)

You could use that, for example, for tagging scenes by POV character and then collapsing the outline to just the scenes from the point of view of that character.

Graham

Last edited by Graham; 03-03-2013 at 01:20 PM.
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Old 03-03-2013, 03:21 PM   #4
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I cannot not even comprehend the skills it would require to use an outline to do anything. I generate out lines after the paper, not before. It is the only way it works for me.
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Old 03-03-2013, 06:28 PM   #5
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Well I outline the broad strokes . . .

I never go into enormous detail with an outline. But I've found it pretty useful for basic structure and placement of major concepts. So for me, being able to rearrange things while keeping the relative outline structure of the sub headings is pretty high on my want list.
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Old 03-03-2013, 07:28 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Graham View Post
Writing on my new Chromebook I realised that I needed an outliner, as Google Docs doesn't have one built in, so I took a look for a web-based solution.

I stumbled across Workflowy, which is, well... lovely. It works exactly as you'd expect, but you can focus in on one part of the outline - which is great for creative writing. Transitions are fluid, soothing. There's a zen-like quality to the way you move in and out of your work.

If you're comfortable doing your outlining in a browser and having it stored in the cloud, take a look. You can copy and paste it easily to a local file, of course.

It's free to add up to 500 items to your outlines each month, and you can either pay for a pro account for unlimited access, or you can introduce others, Dropbox style, to increase your allowance.

For example, if you sign up through the following link, we both get another 250 items per month.

https://workflowy.com/?ref=10ceff5e

I think this is better than using MS Word's outliner, and would be a good way to do the initial brainstorming before laying out a storyboard in, say, Scrivener.

Are there any other tools people are using, particularly those which would work from the Cloud for my Chromebook? The main downside to Workflowy is that there's no offline mode, though this is coming soon, apparently, for Pro users.

Graham
Hey, Graham:

I viewed the video, but, what's different about it than Word's Outlining feature? Everything I saw (in the video only) looks almost exactly like Word's outlining. Can you elucidate, please? I mean, in terms of actual features/mechanics?

ETA: Shrug. I tried it, and basically, it's 95% similar to Word's outlining feature, although all the javascript (I suspect) makes it look really cool. Functionally, though, at the end of the day, it's just an outliner that allows tagging, which seems to be the big deal. Given that you can do almost the identical thing in OneNote, (tagging), I'm not seeing the overall improvement over just using either Word or OneNote (or, for the more visually-oriented, FreeMind or one of the other mind-map programs). Just my $.02, though. Seems okay; I just don't see a really big improvement over other apps/programs. If you're the type of person who loves tagging, I can see how that might be useful for you.


Thanks!

Hitch

Last edited by Hitch; 03-04-2013 at 05:17 AM. Reason: Tried it.
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Old 03-03-2013, 10:15 PM   #7
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I am definitely going to get a Chromebook.

I have just been waiting for a shake out of their manufacturing processes, and whether or not Acer will give better battery life.

I am just tossed and twisted with the decision between the Samsung 3 and the Acer C7.
The first has better battery life, the other had a bigger hard drive.
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Old 03-04-2013, 05:36 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitch View Post
I viewed the video, but, what's different about it than Word's Outlining feature? Everything I saw (in the video only) looks almost exactly like Word's outlining. Can you elucidate, please? I mean, in terms of actual features/mechanics?
Hi Hitch,

Adding items, expanding and collapsing, and moving items around works exactly the same way as in Word - so you'll find actually using Workflowy very familiar.

The beauty of it though emerges from the following:

Each parent node in Workflowy has a larger button (leading bullet). When you click on that, the node doesn't just expand, it takes over the page, hiding all other nodes. This doesn't sound like much until you really get to work on an idea with it. It cuts out the distraction of the other nodes. A breadcrumb trail appears along the top of the page, so you always know where you are and can navigate back easily.

The Workflowy page has a search box which very quickly finds all related items, allowing you to drill down into a deep outline swiftly. Note it doesn't just find the search word, it filters the outline down to just those items.

You can also insert tags, by typing # followed by any word. Those tags then appear highlighted and clicking on one quickly filters the outline to just those items.

Because of the way the bulk of the outline disappears when you focus on a node, you only need to have one document in Workflowy. You don't go hunting for the right file, you simply open Workflowy and jump quickly to the node you want. (It's browser-based, so if you want you can bookmark a particular node, but it's very quick just to search or navigate down your tree.)

The page is wonderfully simple, without the clutter of a full-featured word processor. This, and the fluid, gentle transitions, really help you to focus on your ideas.

Because it's in your browser it's available to you everywhere you have an internet connection. I've been switching happily between the Chromebook, my Windows desktop and Chrome on my Android tablet, adding ideas as they arrive to whichever device was in easy reach.

Hope this helps!

Graham

Last edited by Graham; 03-04-2013 at 05:47 AM.
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Old 03-04-2013, 05:44 AM   #9
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I am just tossed and twisted with the decision between the Samsung 3 and the Acer C7. The first has better battery life, the other had a bigger hard drive.
I'm still loving the Samsung 3 but one thing to consider is that it is ARM-based while most of the Chromebooks to date, including the Acer C7, are Intel-based. While Google are working hard to implement what's called 'Native Client' on the ARM processor, at the moment not all applications are supported.

In practice, the only applications that haven't run for me so far are some high-end games, but I suspect I'll encounter others. In time this fragmentation should disappear.

So, at the moment, the long battery life and incredibly light design of the Samsung 3 comes with a penalty of slightly reduced compatibility. However all the standard applications run absolutely fine, and the device is an absolute delight to carry around and write on.

Lift lid. Start writing.

Graham
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Old 03-04-2013, 07:39 AM   #10
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I had a Chrome book for a while... traded it for a Nook Color, still feel like I got the better deal.
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Old 03-04-2013, 04:08 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Graham View Post
Hi Hitch,

Adding items, expanding and collapsing, and moving items around works exactly the same way as in Word - so you'll find actually using Workflowy very familiar.

The beauty of it though emerges from the following:

Each parent node in Workflowy has a larger button (leading bullet). When you click on that, the node doesn't just expand, it takes over the page, hiding all other nodes. This doesn't sound like much until you really get to work on an idea with it. It cuts out the distraction of the other nodes. A breadcrumb trail appears along the top of the page, so you always know where you are and can navigate back easily.

The Workflowy page has a search box which very quickly finds all related items, allowing you to drill down into a deep outline swiftly. Note it doesn't just find the search word, it filters the outline down to just those items.

You can also insert tags, by typing # followed by any word. Those tags then appear highlighted and clicking on one quickly filters the outline to just those items.

Because of the way the bulk of the outline disappears when you focus on a node, you only need to have one document in Workflowy. You don't go hunting for the right file, you simply open Workflowy and jump quickly to the node you want. (It's browser-based, so if you want you can bookmark a particular node, but it's very quick just to search or navigate down your tree.)

The page is wonderfully simple, without the clutter of a full-featured word processor. This, and the fluid, gentle transitions, really help you to focus on your ideas.

Because it's in your browser it's available to you everywhere you have an internet connection. I've been switching happily between the Chromebook, my Windows desktop and Chrome on my Android tablet, adding ideas as they arrive to whichever device was in easy reach.

Hope this helps!

Graham
Thanks, Graham.

I tried it, but didn't quite love it as you do. I'll give it a go and see how it flies for me. I have OneNote, TW (Teamworks Project Management) for my biz and a CSR system (Custom Service--Desk), and of course Word and Freemind, so I don't know if I'll go crazy for it, but I'll see if it suits. Thanks again.

Hitch
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Old 03-05-2013, 03:45 AM   #12
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Good thinking about the Intel vs Arm approach.

Still HD320>>SSD16 on the two drives.
3 1/2 << 6 1/2 run time
Can run Ubuntu on Intel.
?? if can run on ARM??

Waited to see what HP and then Google would bring to mix.
in order - Educational machine and Pixel machine.
Pixel comes with a set of Linux OSs.
Is Pixel ARM? SSD?

what flavor? what flavor?

Eenie Meenie Minnie Moe
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Old 03-05-2013, 04:49 AM   #13
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Good thinking about the Intel vs Arm approach.

Still HD320>>SSD16 on the two drives.
As an example of what won't run on ARM, we're waiting for Netflix support, though it's promised:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-575...d-chromebooks/

Regarding the drive size, I've generally been an advocate of not worrying too much about this, as you can always use a 32 GB SD card, or USB drive, to bump up the storage cheaply, but I've realised since getting the machine that the size does affect how much of your Google Drive can be synchronised offline.

Google seems to do this by automatically deleting older files if the storage is full (I assume that they mean older Google Docs, so that the online version is still safe), which sounds draconian but is probably fine in practice.

On the Samsung 3 you actually only have about 10 GB of that 16 GB SSD free as ChromeOS itself has a footprint, so that's also worth considering.

But, then again, the SSD and ARM processor are the reasons that this Samsung device is so light, doesn't get warm, and is totally silent (which was very important to me).

Graham
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Old 03-05-2013, 09:07 AM   #14
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Quote:
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- but I've realised since getting the machine that the size does affect how much of your Google Drive can be synchronised offline.

-
On the Samsung 3 you actually only have about 10 GB of that 16 GB SSD free as ChromeOS itself has a footprint, so that's also worth considering.

But, then again, the SSD and ARM processor are the reasons that this Samsung device is so light, doesn't get warm, and is totally silent (which was very important to me).

Graham
The Google Pixel has twice the RAM (4GB), and twice the SSD (32GB).
It uses an Intel chip
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