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News about WordOutliner – the ‘rewritten Writing Outliner’

Posted in: Outliner Software by Edwin on January 20, 2014

Update 1 (Jan 29, 2014): a little delay of the beta version release, need to get the new website up first.

Update 2 (March, 2014): I’ve done the new website (that was a lot of work), But regarding the new software there is one thing I did not expect originally – Microsoft has removed the ‘Single Word Window mode’ in Word 2013 (means there is no more ‘show all windows in the taskbar’), but I took for granted this can’t happen… So I need to change the new WordOutliner to adapt for it and it’s taking a little more time… Thanks for your patience, my friends!

Some updates about the ‘rewritten Writing Outliner’ (will be called WordOutliner, in case you didn’t know yet, WordOutliner will be much well-designed, and it’ll use the more open file system instead of SQLite databases as the document storage) .


Note: all existing and new customers will GET the new WordOutliner for free!

So buy Writing Outliner now.


The new name

The name of the ‘rewritten Writing Outliner’ will be WordOutliner – outliner software for (MS) Word .

The new website

The website will be moved to getoutliner.com (not very soon).  And, well, considering the new name above, I’m suggesting you’ll find XXXOutliner(s) on that new website in the future 😉 but I can’t reveal any details yet.

The ETA of the first beta of WordOutliner

The beta test version of WordOutliner should be able to be available for download by the end of this month (means before the lunar new year in my country),  I’m currently working on the ability of importing *.woproj files (the Writing Outliner project files) into WordOutliner.

But please note that, the corkboard and full text search functions (of Writing Outliner) will NOT be available the first beta release of WordOutliner, these features will be added soon after.

Some sitenotes

It’s been quite sometime since I announced the plan of rewriting Writing Outliner, aside from rewriting a software project itself is quite difficult, I had to (I’ll explain later) working on  another new product (a project that real take a lot of time!) in the past years, and it might be of interesting to some of you, I’ll announce it during the announcement of the first beta release of WordOutliner.


Writing Outliner now supports Windows 8 and Office 2013 (32bit)

Posted in: Version History by Edwin on March 31, 2013

New Writing Outliner with Windows 8 and Word 2013 support.

Writing Outliner v1.6.20.802 is available for download now, with the following enhancements:

  • Supports Windows 8 (32bit and 64bit).
  • Supports Word 2013 (32bit only).
  • Fixed the bugs that might cause MS Word would not run with Writing Outliner.
  • Bugfixes that pops up error messages windows.
  • The new SQLITE database engine which is used to store project files and other data.
  • And new versions of all the third party software components that should provide better stability.

And the upgrade is free for all customers! (The new version is coming a little late, sorry).

Here are the trial version and full version download link.

Some data security notes:

  1. It’s not recommended to put your project files in Dropbox,  because it seems that all reported project file corruptions were stored in Dropbox. 

    Although the SQLITE database engine which used to store project data has been updated and this problem might no longer exist, but it’s suggested that you store your projects out side of Dropbox.


Please let me know if you have any problems using this new version of the Word addin.

Help needed, if you like Writing Outliner and want it to move forward

I’m  the only developer of Writing Outliner, and if you have noticed, I barely promote Writing Outliner, well, there are some reasons, the primary reasons including that I don’t like or am good at marketing, and I don’t know well the community of the Writing Outliner users.

Well, this might sound unprofessional, but I want to be honest 😉

So I’m here asking for some help, many of you praised or said you love Writing Outliner, now it’s time to show your support 😉

What I need is simple, if you like Writing Outliner, recommend Writing Outliner to other people.

Your help will help Writing Outliner to move forward. Thanks.

And if any of you can and want to  re-sell Writing Outliner, that’ll be better 🙂 Please contact me privately, tell me what you need and what you can do.


What’s next?

Improving the stability and performance of Writing Outliner is the main task.

ProjectFolders Pre-beta demo video is now available

Posted in: Outliner Software by Edwin on March 27, 2013

I’m writing ProjectFolders – the succeed product of Writing Outliner, due to reasons I stated in this blog (new data storage, improve stability and performance, etc).

I know many of your have been waiting for news about ProjectFolders, and I’m behind my schedule, and I apology, but today I finally have something to show:

This video demo shows what I have right now.

ProjectFolders differs from Writing Outliner in the following manners:

  • All data are open – your files are stored as they are in your hard disk. 
  • Your document are safe, because ProjectFolders will not alter your documents at all – except renaming, copying and moving them across your project folders.
  • ProjectFolders is much faster, because of the new design.
  • ProjectFolders will open your existing Writing Outliner projects.
  • Other differences? You figure them out in the video, I don’t want to let this list grow too much, or you won’t read, will you? 😉

Questions and comments? Why not? That’s why I’m posting the news here in the blog.

And here is a screenshot, but I encourage you to watch the video demo.

ProjectFolders Pre-beta screenshot

The blog and forum are back to normal

Posted in: Uncategorized by Edwin on November 5, 2012

Quick news:

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.


News about the succeed product of Writing Outliner – ProjectFolders

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.
The new design will address the major problems (such as performance and data security) appeared in the current version of Writing Outliner, and suggestions made by current users.

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.


Worth reading: Pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling

Posted in: Outliner Software by Edwin on June 9, 2012

This article is worth reading for story writers:

About storytelling,  22 rules according to Pixar.

Writing Outliner v1.5.20.790

Posted in: Book writing software, Outliner Software, Version History by Edwin on December 19, 2011

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.

About to fundamentally revamp Writing Outliner

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.

Writing Outliner minor upgrade – version

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

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

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 🙂