I was wondering again about easy data input paradigms, this time with text/writing/blogging in mind. The Freemind mindmapper has come along somewhat since I last looked, though being stuck in a tree is still frustrating. (I was planning on buying Tinderbox when I got a Mac, still not got around to it). I also had another look at Dave Winer's OPML Editor, this time on the iBook. It looks a lot better than on Win32, and the outlining does seem to work well for working with simple text structures. Works mostly keyboard-oriented (like the emacs outliner), definitely has potential were the junk ridded. I really must get around to making an outline-friendly HTML editor soon (trying this outliner served frustratingly well to remind me how redundant OPML was).
Heh, while hunting around to see if anyone had done a usable, web-friendly outliner since I last looked, I stumbled on this Doug Engelbart interview where he refers to outline processing as part of the stuff they were doing in 1968. I guess everything looks shinier second time around...
PS. In comments, HarishKumarM said:
Speaking of not wanting to be "stuck in a tree", I couldnt help wondering about what happened to Ideagraph. Wasnt it supposed to essentially subsume outlines?
It's odd that we still do not have a outliner/thinking-tool that is based on rdf.
This reminded me I'd not tried Martin Dvorak's MindRaider recently, billed as a Semantic Web Outliner, it is an outliner/thinking-tool based on rdf. I just had another look, it's very impressive. I need to spend more time with it, but first impressions are that it's got a lot to like. TWiki interfacing is very cool, the RDF I glanced at looks fairly reasonable (nits, but nothing major).
There are two things that put me off a little. The MDI interface is like too much for the way I personally tend to work. Until recently I'd drop little notes into a local Wiki (or this blog), but my Wiki's got to the stage where it needs a lot of gardening, so I've reverted to mostly text notes (Aquamacs emacs). What's lacking is the ability to tag/file these in a useful fashion (to get the benefit of SemWeb tech).Â Winer's got things half-right with his outliner, the basic editor window is comparable to emacs in outliner mode (I've been using org-mode), the rest of the system gets out of your way. The big front end of MindRaider is probably useful for organising and finding stuff in a big-picture kind of way, but lacks the immediacy for quick note jotting (at least for the way I tend to work). I'm not sure, maybe that's possible through the TWiki capbilities. Having a non-proprietary RDF datastore behind the scenes is absolutely spot on, although it would be nice to be able to address the model as a whole (this would probably fairly easily hackable, the persistence appears to be mostly RDF/XML spread across a few directories with some kind of custom XML gluing it together). Â
It's funny, the longer I postpone resuming work on IdeaGraph (simply haven't had time) the more the way I plan to do things change. Making things project/goal oriented is the biggest conceptual shift, but having a lightweight outliner I think could make a huge difference in overall usability. Dunno, it really calls for a self-contained outliner component that could be plugged in where needed, emphasising MVC separation a bit. With something like the MindRaider setup I could imagine the quick notes with minimal metadata (folksy tags, or similar categroy thing) maybe being saved/POSTed to a staging area (as microformatted XHTML) which would enable more sophisticated linking when the Big mindRaider interface was brought up.
Oh yeah, aside from those conceptual and UI shifts, I'd definitely go for a different dev process. A bit of up-front architecture would be needed to get a backend triplestore in place, but aside from that I'd try and do everything driven by immediate requirements - that outliner thingy being top of the list, then maybe search and publish-to-blog. Wherever possible reuse existing kit with loose coupling, but still try and get a consistent in-a-box feel.@en