Posted in: Uncategorized by Edwin on November 5, 2012
In the past week I have been working on migrating the entire Writing Outliner websites including the WordPress blog and the BBPress forum to a much better web server, so both of them are back to normal now.
Posted in: Outliner Software by Edwin on October 31, 2012
It’s a quite a long time since I announced the plan to revamp Writing Outliner, I finally got some news for you:
- The software is being completely rewritten, and the name will be changed to ProjectFolders, to reflect its ‘project-based writing’.
- Your documents will not be stored in SQLITE database anymore, but in a folder in your computer. This is for data security and avoid vendor-locking.
- For simplicity, all documents will be stored in a centralized folder. This approach has been proven by the famous Dropbox software.
- ProjectFolders add-in will greatly utilize a tagging system for file management, this approach has been proven by Gmail, EverNote, etc.
- The metadata (synopses, notes, tags, etc) will still be stored in a SQLITE database, so that these data will be for search-able.
First screenshot below, any comments are welcomed.
PS, I’d like to take this chance to ask my fellow Writing Outliner users, do you think the full text search and index cards in the current version of Writing Outliner very important and must have?
Update 1: Thanks for all the great feedbacks! Answering questions here:
- ProjectFolders will be able to improve Writing Outliner project files (.woprj).
- ProjectFolders will fully support unicode .
- ProjectFolders will be much more stable and more compatible with other Word addins such as Zetero, etc, all after all, this is one of the major issue of Writing Outliner ProjectFolders wants to address.
- Re. release dates, I’d say beta will be out in less than half of a year, you know, everything is being rebuilt from from ground up. Once the beta is ready, I’ll send email notifications to current users and newsletter subscribers.
- There will be a version for 64bit MS Word.
- Re the naming changing, I want it to be more understandable and shows that it’s not only for writers but also for managing project documents.
A new version of Writing Outliner software is ready for download now. This is a minor update with just one fix for the potential, critical data lost problem.
As announced in the previous blog post, significant modifications are being made to Writing Outliner software, and while Paul Yip (a new development member of the Writing Outliner software project team) was working on those changes, he finally reproduced the problem and he seems to have found the source of the problem and have fixed it, so we decided to release a new version based on the original version, before the significant changes are ready for download.
All Writing Outliner users are highly recommended to upgrade to this new version.
To upgrade, registered users please click the ‘Check for updates‘ link which can be found at the bottom of the left pane in Writing Outliner.
Trial version can be download here.
Posted in: Outliner Software by Edwin on November 16, 2011
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!
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?
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 🙂
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!
Posted in: Outliner Software by Edwin on June 8, 2011
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).
Posted in: Manual Authoring Software by Edwin on May 22, 2011
Some said that, software developers can only write good software if themselves are the end users of the software being developed, that’s very true.
As per my recent posts I’ve blogged about the new features included in the upcoming new version of Writing Outliner, and I’m now completing the user manual (or help document) for this outliner software for all kinds writers including academic writers.
And as I’m writing the user manual for Writing Outliner software, I am getting more findings and understandings about what’s good and what can be improved of this outliner software for writers. And this is more efficient than just hearing feedbacks from the users (this is also a key to write good software too, I believe).
Once the user manual is written, I might want to add to Writing Outliner software the ability to directly output html pages , PDF, or CHM help formats.