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About to fundamentally revamp Writing Outliner

Posted in: Outliner Software by Edwin on November 16, 2011 | 47 Comments

This decision was hard to make, but I’m going to significantly change the design of Writing Outliner, with the intention to completely fix the problems Writing Outliner currently have.

The current problems

# 1 – Instability and low performance

Writing Outliner hacks MS Word too much – the major problem is that during a session (during the time you open a project file and until closing it) Writing Outliner uses only one actual Word document to do all the editing, that means when “switching” documents it will have to delete the old content in the current document window then  load new the content  from the new file (I know, this is dangerous, but Word’s API is too limited).

This cases noticeable slow speed, and most importantly, in rare cases, causes data loss (several users lost several hours of work, and they are angry, I’m sorry) .

And this problem is very serious, and I’ve spent a lot of time trying to fix it, however, with the design describe above,  there is no reliable way that I could find to fix it with the current implementation, thus the proposal to make a big change which will complete solve the problem (I’ll explain why below).

# 2- The None-human-readable file format.

Currently all files in a  project are stored in a single Sqlite database, the Sqlite file format itself is open, however, it’s not human readable.

The big changes to be made

1 – Open each document in separate Word document window, thus switching documents will not require Writing Outliner to delete old document contents (described above).
In other words, no data loss will happen caused by Writing Outliner itself, because Writing Outliner will not modify your original documents except during a text replace operation.

2 – Use folders in your computer as project storages, instead of the  .woprj (Sqlite) files. All your data will be stored in your folders and can be edited without Writing Outliner.

The benefits we’ll gain

A – More stable, as explained above. This is the most important thing.

B – Faster document loading – because the documents will be stored in the physical computer folders, no more intermediate layers.

C – Fully open and human-readable data formats – because the documents themselves will be stored in your disk as they are, and the document properties will be stored in plain text (JSON format).

A side effect to note

When Writing Outliner is enabled (it can be disabled on the fly), you’ll work in a single Word window, switching projects and documents will be done via the outline sidebar and tabs (which I believe will be more handy than switching documents using the Windows taskbar).

This is because the “show all windows in the taskbar”” Word option will be disabled.

At this point, you might ask how about the ordinary Word documents that are not part of any Writing Outliner project? They’ll be organized in a virtual project called “Other Documents” (Feel free to suggest a better name).

This will be a big change to Writing Outliner and all questions, comments and suggestions are welcomed.

Blog Update 1:  It’s not a complete rewrite, so most of the UI  will remain the same.

Blog Update 2:  Support for 64 bit  version of MS Word 2010 will not be possible yet.

Blog Update 3:  I presume the change will allow Writing Outliner work with other Word add-ins that are currently conflict with it.

Blog Update 4: Your existing Writing Outliner projects will be able to migrate to the new format. For now, please do data backup frequently – use the ‘Export all files to folder’ function.

Writing Outliner minor upgrade – version 1.5.19.768

Posted in: Outliner Software, Version History by Edwin on July 19, 2011 | 4 Comments

In the past few days I’ve been working on improving the document loading and switching speed, and introduced a new problem in yesterday’s release, so here is the quick fix before the next major release.

Fixed problems:

  • A problem introduced yesterday – after the documents are imported, if you don’t close the File Explorer Tab and edit the documents, changes might not be saved.
  • You might see the “SQLite Error 10 – disk I/O error” message after your windows system is resuming from sleep mode.

Speed Improvements:

  • Loading/switching documents are now faster, especially in MS Word 2007/2010.
  • Switching between documents that are marked as ‘track changes’ are much much faster now!
  • Highlighting the matches in a large document in a Writing Outliner project is now faster after doing a Full-Text Search.

 

 

[ANN] New release of Writing Outliner – v1.5

Posted in: Outliner Software, Version History by Edwin on June 17, 2011 | 8 Comments

A new version of Writing Outliner software for MS Word has just been released, this blog post summaries  what’s new in this release of Writing Outliner for MS Word.

 


Last chance to buy [Writing Outliner] + [MindVisualizer] for $69 only!

With the current [Writing Outliner] + [MindVisualizer] bundle promo, you can get both of these programs for $69 only, and this promo will end in a week!

Buy the bundle now!


 

New/improved features in this release:

  • New: Export Entire Project Data.
    You can now export all documents (with the meta data) from current project to a folder in your computer – you no longer have to worry about vendor lock-in – because with this new function you can save all your project data, not only the documents but including all the document properties (notes, synopsis, tags, word counts, etc) to files that can be read by other programs (MS Word, specifically).
    To use this new function, Click the Menu button then select ‘Export Project…’
  • New: Project-wide global replace.
    After doing a full text search, several options will be provided for replacing the matched strings in you project documents:
    Replace all matched strings in the entire project;
    Replace all matched strings in the selected document;
    Replace all matched strings in the selected branch;
    Replace the selected match string only.
  • Enhanced project compile option and operation:
    1 – New: Allow generating TOC at the end of the compiled output document.
    2 – New: Allow generating TOC even the ‘include document titles’ option is not checked, useful if you want to use different headings other than the document titles in the outline view in the compiled output.
    3 – Writing Outliner will show a message to inform the user if no documents meet the compilation options, when compiling a branch of your writing project outline.
  • New: New copy, cut and paste outline commands
    Now you can copy and paste documents within a project with these new commands available in the outline view.  BTW, you can also use these new commands as a compromised solution for ‘templates’, instructions:
    1 – Open a project and create a folder called ‘Templates’;
    2 – In the new ‘Templates’ folder, create and edit documents which will be the ‘template documents’;
    3 – Whenever you need to create new documents base on the ‘templates’, copy the desired source document from the ‘Templates’ folder.
  • Enhanced left outline view.
    1 – New: New outline view option: wrap document titles good for long titles;
    2 – Removed the right-most column in the left outline which used to host the floating button, to better use your screen estate.
    3 – New: New outline view option: Hide the document icons, so that you can have more spaces for the more important info in the outline view.
    4 – It doesn’t show the word count next to the document title in the left outline, for a cleaner view of the outline, if you need such info for the project documents, please use the Multi-column Outliner instead.
  • Enhanced Multi-column Outliner tab.
    New: Added new ‘Edit Document Text’ command in the Multi-column Outliner tab.
    Fixed: Settings of the Multi-column Outliner is not saved after reopening the project.
  • New: Enhanced drag-and-drop operation
    Now you can hold down the <Ctrl> key to copy documents within a project, or between two projects, during a drag-and-drop operation in the outline view.
  • New: Better Multi-column Outline export function.
    Now you can generate a MS Word table which contains exactly the same set of data as in the Multi-column Outliner tab.
    To use this new function, click the ‘Export To Word Table’ link which can be found at the bottom of the Multi-column Outliner tab.
  • New: Always open a project in a new Word window.
    Now WO always open or create a new project in a new Word document window, no more messages such as “Would you like to close the current project first?” This simplify things a lot and make the process more logical from the view point of the end users.
  • New: Allow closing a Writing Outliner project by closing the MS Word window.
    This is more logical and saves your time.
  • Use MS Word’s “File -> Open” to open projects.
    Writing Outliner can now open Writing Outliner projects using MS Word’s build-in File -> Open command.
  • New: Check for updates.
    Now if you click the ‘Check for updates’ link which can be found at the bottom of the left pane, a web page will open in your web browser and tells if you have the latest version of the Writing Outliner software, if you don’t a link will be provided for downloading the latest release.
  • Enhanced software problem report generation.
    All software contains bugs, and the software developers should try their best to avoid and fix as many bugs as possible. Writing Outliner includes a bug report generating function which contains technical info that will help the developer fixing the problem. And in the new release, this function has been improved a lot.
  • Updated underlying SQLite database engine
    Updated the underlying SQLite database engine which serves as the file storage for the writing project files.
  • Updated underlying MS Office add-in development engine
    The 3rd party software development kit on which Writing Outliner relies has been updated to its latest version.


Fixed problems in this release:

  • Fixed: The ‘export individual document to disk’ function doesn’t work if your document title contains a dot.
  • Fixed: Unwanted blank lines are being added to the end of the document after being edited.
  • Fixed: an incorrect message shows up telling you that the project file is being opened by other programs, when opening a project file that’s cloned by the ‘copy project file to…’ command.
  • Full-text search:
    1 – Fixed: Duplicated search results when doing a “phrase search” (a phrase search means several words enclosed by double quotes).
    2 – Fixed: After doing a “phrase search” clicking on a search result in the left outline, only the first word of the search phrase are selected in the MS Word document window.
  • And some other bugfixes.

How to get the new version of Writing Outliner?

Trial version download link here, download now!

 

Full version download:

For the full version download link please check the email you received when ordering Writing Outliner.

And finally, the user manual for Writing Outliner has been completed!

And the user manual is authored by Writing Outliner itself 🙂

[screenshots] The ‘Global Replace’ function is based on full-text search

Posted in: Outliner Software, Version History by Edwin on June 15, 2011 | No Comments

The following are the screenshots of the new ‘global replace’ function in the upcoming version of Writing Outliner for MS Word on Windows.

As you can see in the screenshot, once you entered a string in the search box on the top of the left pane when a writing project is open, below the search box a new ‘Replace’ button will appear with various replace commands, for the example, the ‘Replace All Matches In Selected Branch’ menu command will replace all full-text search matches in the selected branch (be it a folder or a document with sub-documents).

 

Finally! I can release a new version of Writing Outliner now!

replace strings in a writing project

Writing Outliner with MS Word for writers

Upcoming: Global replace in a writing project

Posted in: Outliner Software by Edwin on June 8, 2011 | 2 Comments

A quick update about the development and new release of Writing Outliner – first version of the Writing Outliner user manual has been completed and I’m now working on the new ‘project-wide global replace’ function. After that the new version of Writing Outliner will be publicly released (in a few days I guess).

Upcoming – Copy and paste documents in the project outline

Posted in: Outliner Software, Version History by Edwin on May 1, 2011 | 6 Comments

In the upcoming new version of Writing Outliner software (for MS Word on Windows),

you’ll be able to duplicate/copy documents in a writing project, by using the new copy and paste commands.

Most of you have requested this feature previously.

screenshot below:

Screenshot of outliner software for Windows

Upcoming: You can now hide the document icons in the outline (enhanced project outline part 2)

Posted in: Outliner Software, Version History by Edwin on April 28, 2011 | No Comments

Sometimes you might want a more clean outline view for your writing projects,

In the upcoming new release of Writing Outliner you’ll be able to hide the document icons including the folder icons, the screenshot below illustrate that new outline view option well, I guess, it’s a checkbox titled ‘Show Document Type Icon’.

outliner for writing large Word projects.

Upcoming: Enhanced project outline (the left project manager), part 1

Posted in: Outliner Software, Version History by Edwin on April 18, 2011 | No Comments

The project outline has been enhanced

In the upcoming version of Writing Outliner software, the Project Manager Outliner (on the left) will be enhanced a lot.

Word wrapping outline nodes

For example, a new option called ‘Word Wrapping‘  will be offered, once this option is enabled the document titles will be wrapped at the end of the column, so that you can see the full document titles, without having to hover your mouse over the outline nodes. Check the screenshot shown below.

A wider outline view

You might also have noticed that I’ve removed the ‘floating icon’ that shows at the right-most column in the outline, this makes the outline view wider.

More to come

In the following days I’ll be still posting more screenshots that show the new features in the upcoming new version of Writing Outliner – the outliner software for all kinds writers,  stay tuned!

Outliner software for academic writing (screenshot)

New document compile option – Generate TOC at the end of the document

Posted in: Outliner Software, Version History by Edwin on April 16, 2011 | No Comments

In the upcoming new version of Writing Outliner for MS Word, you’ll be able to have your TOC (table of content) to be generated at the end of the output Word document, as shown in the following screenshot.

 

generate table of content for MS Word document

Screenshot of ‘Export all files from a project to folder’

Posted in: Outliner Software, Version History by Edwin on April 2, 2011 | 2 Comments

Hi Folks,

 

Sorry for delaying the release of the new version of Writing Outliner software again, here shows a screenshot of the new function in the upcoming release of Writing Outliner Software, so that you know it’s actually processed 😉

This new function allows you with several clicks to export all documents in a Writing Outliner project to a specified folder

And it will also generate an index document of the exported files, note the first column in the ‘Index Document’ shown in the following screenshot, each blue document title is a hyper link and clicking on them will lead you to the exported documents.

All meta data of each documents are also exported, ready for printing. I think it’s a good news to some of you who complained the printing quality of the Multi-column Outliner in the current version.

 

Outliner software screenshot