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Old 01-12-2011, 10:50 AM
schferk schferk is online now
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Join Date: 11-02-2010
Posts: 151
UR as 3-pane outliner

UR does make a difference between double-clicking an item, and single-clicking an item. From this starting point, a lot of possibilities arise, and I'm glad they do.

Thus, it's possible to NOT expand an item, in the usual way of other outliners, but in UR you must double-click if you want this behavior. In UR, by just single-clicking, you do not expand the item in the tree, but you just display the the content of the item = text field, for example, and, and here the point of interest shows, at the same time, the item's sub-items = direct children (but not grand-children) are displayed in the related items pane.

First, to have this list on the right of your screen, and to the right of the text pane, is not really logical, once you want to use this list not in an accessory way but as an integral part of your working flow. But this is in no way a problem, since that list can perfectly be docked between the tree and the text, so as to show the the "level minus one" of the item selected in the tree.

This does not make UR a 3-panes outliner, but it came close... IF you added a rather tiny feature to it. In fact, the above-described workflow would allow users to LEAVE ALONE the sub-items in the tree, thus preserving the aspect of their tree, instead of expanding too many sub-levels in it; it goes without saying that users that want to use UR in the way I'm describing here, should refrain from using too many levels in their tree anyway.

But then, there is a real problem, even if people show some necessary discipline in their use of multiple levels: You never know if any of such an sub-item in the related panes list is parent of another sub-tree, or even to one more child only.

I know it would ask for much programming efforts to not only display the direct children in the related items pane, but the whole subtree of each selected item -

in fact, my other suggestion, i.e. to leave the original tree inchanged whenever you open an item = subtree in another tab (= instead of the original = source tree becoming by any expanding the "outsourced" sub-tree a total mess, in which searching for anything other, e.g. in order for displaying it in yet another tab, is a real pain, as it is the situation up to now, regarding that matter), would do this perfectly, and no real need any more then for my today's suggestion given hereafter -

but I think of a solution many people searching for a 3-pane outliner (but not wanting a convoluted graphical interface for this like in Zoot) could perfectly live with:

In fact, why not at least program the display of a little SIGN / SYMBOL before any direct child in the related items pane showing, in case, that the direct child in question has (one or more, even multiple) sub-items?

This way, people showing some discipline in constructing their different topics in their tree, could use UR as a 3-pane outliner indeed, and when they made the mistake to not flatten out some too tiny sub-trees / single grand-child, UR would thus REMIND them that here and there, there would be sub-items / grand-children they risk to overlook.

By "discipline" I mean that whenever it's not necessary to built up a whole sub-tree, people should flatten out their sub-tree, in the way of not doing AAA (= unnecessary parent item), AAAa, AAAb, etc. = unnecessary children, but AAA some thing, AAB ditoo other thing, AAC ditto and another again:

I want to say, minute "sub-trees" can most often be replaced by several parallel items in the way of "a," "ditto b", "ditto c", and this way, people could use flags or other symbols for their "topics", so that they would know clicking on them would then display a flat list of those topics' children, but in the meantime, when people need to rearrange many of their topics this way, UR should show then, by such a symbol, that they risk to overlook some sub-features not flattened-out yet.

If UR doesn't do this, the related items pane could not be used in the proposed way yet, since people would risk to overlook important information in their tree, proceeding like this; thus, they would unnecessarily have to open, by double-click = expanding the tree, every topic / subtopic in order to make sure there ain't any unseen sub-items.

Could you give your opinion, please, regarding this idea? I'm sure a lot of people would be very pleased by its realisation, even when the majority of the current users of a program don't bother to read, let alone comment on, any new feature, may it even greatly enhance the usefulness for other users, e.g. all those who are craving for a 3-pane outliner but do not want the bells and whistles and graphic overdose of Zoot, e.g.

(For readers not knowing the outliner market, it should be added that even if we amputated some of your fingers of your right hand, you'll have enough right fingers left to count the few stable 3-pane outliners existing world-wide.)
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