60 Comments on “The New WritingOutliner Design”

  1. Pingback: The MindOutliner plan – for WritingOutliner users | InnovationGear

    1. Wolfgang Kunze

      Please don’t leave microsoft word. I love writing in ms word as it works perfectly with dragon naturally speaking and I use it for writing scientific manuscript. I left scrivener because it is too difficult to round-trip between word and scrivener. The standard for academic writing is ms word and I would not buy yet another mindmaper. I have imindmap and mindjet mindmanager. For serious writing I do word and dictate. Please don’t leave word. Writingoutliner is fine as it is, why not tweak it incrementally and focus on marketing to increase its visibility among scientific writers. A lot of us also have other add-in in word (endnote etc) that we rely on during the writing process. Marketing, incremental improvement! Thank you

      1. Edwin Yip

        @Wolfgang, we’ll not leaving MS Word 🙂 Actually I’ve done the upgrade for 64bit Word support already, and it’ll be available for testing soon.

  2. AJ

    Thanks for taking into account all the feedback. It appears to be a win win. Will there be any costs involved in the upgrade? When so you expect beta version?

  3. Graham Rhind

    I’m afraid this won’t work for me, because you have chosen to put everything into a single Word document. The reason I use (and will continue to use) WritingOutliner is because I can split very large (>2500 page) Word documents into individual chapters and easily and flexibly edit those. Word can handle the large documents but it is very slow and very hard to edit.

    I will have to pass, therefore, on any move to a single document and any move away from Word (which provides the formatting and power that simpler RTF editors don’t).

    1. Graham Rhind

      By the way, I use WritingOutliner in Word365, without issues, so I’m not sure I get what the problem is with the “single Word window” you mention in your first paragraph above.

      1. Edwin Yip

        Hi Graham, Word 2013 cannot work in the ‘single Word window’ mode, the new WordOutliner in development needs that option. Contrarily, WritingOutliner needs to work in ‘multi Word window’ mode….

  4. Tom Madison

    Just an FYI: I am satisfied with the WordOutliner 1.6.20 version and glad that it is based on MS Word.

      1. Christopher A Liccardi

        I’ve moved from Windows to Mac but hold on to my old pc laptop because of Outliner. If the move comes to a single word document rather than the current configuration, my concerns will be no different than those expressed by Graham. A single document loading into word with over 1500 pages becomes a nightmare for the smallest of tasks.

        Once my current project is complete, it will be near 2000 pages and I think the use of Outliner would make its use somewhat of a hindrance. Development for mac would be idea for myself as well as many writer’s I know who use both platforms. Outlining in some of the more complex editing tools is rather cumbersome based on how they are developed.

        Just my two cents.

        1. Edwin Yip

          Yes, what Graham said makes sense. You know what? After this round of communication, I think I figured out an approach to enhance the original WritingOutliner – in addition to the project database storage, store one more copy of the documents in a folder in the file system!

  5. Arjay

    Sounds like a better solution. I need to work within Word and your product is indispensable as I write structured documents (I don’t mind compiling). As for mind mapping, I hope you have a better paradigm for it than I have seen. Most mind maps people present are a spider web of confusion with curved lines, odd shapes and strange arrow heads. I have yet to see one that makes any logical sense but does look either expressionist art or a nightmare. Straight connectors, rectangular boxes, legible fonts, proper arrow heads and an outlining numbering structure would be useful.

  6. Richard B Kalloe

    The issue that Graham is referring to is a serious one for writers of large docs.
    If the newwritingoutliner will be an add in for Word please make sure that it seamlessly integrates with future versions of word, after all we still do not know what Microsoft got up into its sleeves. If we can still keep track and control over the writing process in that case I can live with the new adaptations.

  7. Andrew

    Single document wouldn’t work for me neither I’m afraid, the individual document model is one of the key factors for management for me.

    1. Edwin Yip

      Hi Andrew, the latest plan is to have a backup folder in the file system for each WritingOutliner project file to solve the ‘proprietary file issue’, and extend base on it, actually I’ve make some progress in terms of 64bit Word compatibility.

  8. Stephen Komor


    Good decision! Keep Word. It’s a great program on which to base your extensions for writers.

    Here’s an idea, but please don’t be insulted if you don’t like it.

    Code some hooks to connect WritingOutliner with ProWritingAid.

    Steve Komor

  9. Charlie Wilson

    I am ready for both products. Just let me know when and how much. I write speeches so the single Word document is not a problem. And incorporating a mind mapper in MindOutliner sounds like a winner.

  10. Mike Snead

    I am looking forward to the new version. As for MindVisualizer, I suggest also incorporating a good but simple outliner. MaxThink is the one that comes to mind. While still available, it was just not really updated for Windows. Great for easily capturing ideas and information in a hierarchical outline with minimal need for using a mouse while typing. There were also several other related tools, no longer available, that would be great adds to make MindVisualizer unique.

  11. frth

    I used to enjoy WritingOutliner when I was on windows platform. Since I’m on Linux, I can’t use it anymore and have to deal with one big .odt document, which is quite slow to mount but far less than a big .docx document on word.
    The very plus thing of WritingOutliner is the possibility to work with all the functionality of a mature wordprocessing software, and I think as well that trying to make it a standalone programm is not a good idea.
    Thus, why not making it a LibreOffice plugin then ?
    – Mac, Linux and Windows users would be able to use it;
    – No more bad suprise of Microsoft changing the way plugin can be handled, because LibreOffice is an opensource app.
    – Lighter documents expected, also…

    1. Bo Grimes

      Ordinarily I wouldn’t mention other software as an option on the page of a different project, but as Word only runs on Linux with WINE (and then poorly) I’ll mention that Scrivner has a Linux version. I use it on my laptop, but it has a steep learning curve, so maybe try Plume Creator.

      If this is an unwanted comment please remove it.

      1. frth

        Scrivener is indeed an interesting software, but I still prefer an add-in to a real elaborate wordprocessing tool, with specific functions (ie: in French, automatic non-breakable space before punctation). That’s why I enjoyed so much WritingOutliner, and suggest its descendant to be linked to a powerful tool like LibreOffice.
        Thanks anyway (and I don’t know Plume Creator, I’ll give it a try).

  12. terje

    Actually I am quite happy with the old writing outliner. Why not just improve on that one? I never faced any issues with it if I keep its working files out of Dropbox.

  13. Peter F

    Edwin, the single doc would work OK for me. What matters is that I can view and move the sub-sections (ideas) while I am drafting. I am a pretty visual person so the merging with mind mapping sounds interesting.
    [Thanks for the consultation]

    1. Edwin Yip

      Hi Peter, considering the performance problem we might have with the ‘single Word document’ idea, we’d better off enhancing the original WritingOutliner idea, please see my reply to Andrew above.

  14. mr.roberts

    well.. this is where i bow out it would seem. i’m not sure word outliner knows what it wants to be, but i guess i just don’t have the faith or the inclination to wait and see. ciao 🙂

  15. Bo Grimes

    I haven’t used WO as much as I thought because Word is bloatware. I liked the idea of a standalone application. However, if you do not go that route would it be possible to make it work with WordPad, which handles 90% of most writing needs? Currently I use Jarte (WordPad on steroids) as my primary word processor. If WO worked with either WordPad or Jarte I would buy it in an instant. I have been using Scrivner for Windows and YWriter of late, but I don’t like the interface nearly as much, and Scrivner has a 300 page manual which makes for a steep learning curve.

  16. Brenton

    I would prefer the new WordOutliner + MindOutliner to be standalone software, given that Word would use a single document and Microsoft could change Word in the future.

  17. Graham Rhind

    Terje has a very good point. WritingOutliner is, as far as I know, unique, and I use it daily. If it were to stop working in a future version of Windows/Word I wouldn’t know where to go to find a replacement. But for all of the other options which have been suggested I can think of dozens of programs that already exist and which do the same thing. My vote goes to supporting/improving WritingOutliner (even if you also choose to branch out into other plug-ins).

    Incidentally, for those who want to move away from Word – great if you don’t use large documents, but bloatware or not, it is the only word processor I have ever used which can handle large documents at all, so for me there’s no choice.

  18. Steven

    Greetings, our genius friend.
    I knew you could do it. I think you’ll find having the only Word add in software of its kind an advantage as you go forward. I expect Word Outliner to have a faithful following of users once it is fully stable. Also, keeping a separate stand alone hybrid available for other platforms sounds like a good way to keep users happy and expand your user base. I too write large documents and Graham’s concern over document control is merited since Word is the industry standard for publishing large documents.

    1. Bo Grimes

      I like Word and use it, and I think people should use the software they like, but saying it’s the “industry standard”, implying they should use it unless they want to be left out, isn’t accurate.

      Word might be the chosen platform for writing large documents by most people (for all kinds of marketing rather than quality reasons), but it is not the industry standard for publishing them. Also any decent text editor (Notepad++, SublimeText) can handle huge documents far more easily. Programmers and developers use them all the time to handle millions of line of code (text), and publishers to create LaTeX documents. (In fact, if one knew how and wanted to, he could create an entire document in a text editor using XML (the under-the-hood markup of Word starting with .docx).

      The disadvantage to writers in using text editors is only a lack of rich text editing, which can be handled with something like Markdown or LaTeX (or even XML and HTML) just fine. If one wants to go that route, viewing and printing rich text isn’t a problem.

      LibreOffice can also handle large documents easily, and the advantage to developing for it as well as Word is that there are millions of people (especially outside the US) who can not afford Word and use LibreOffice, so you’re talking about expanding the customer base considerable.

      A standard writing cliche is “write for your audience”, but I have always thought a writer should write for herself and her readers will find her. So, all that said, I think Mr. Yip should develop for himself and let the users find him. There will always be a million and a half feature request. I was merely wondering if, since it works with Word, would it also work with WordPad.

      1. Graham Rhind

        I don’t disagree with you Bo – the more platforms and software supported, the better. But LibreOffice is one of the programs that simply can’t open files of the size and type I need to manage – very large and graphics heavy, very different from files containing only lines of code … I don’t know why, but only Word can manage them.

  19. Tunde A

    Edwin, it’s nice that you are building on feedback from both current and potential users. Here is an opportunity for two product versions – 1. an upgraded and enhanced WritingOutliner, and 2. WritingOutliner Plus (or other name) which you can be quite innovative with – maybe even a standalone). You’ll be surprised how many of us will buy both versions! A chance to expand to users with added or different needs, too. Great job!

  20. ALi

    Dear Edwin,
    Sorry for the late reply because of health and internet problems.
    Thanks for all your great efforts and caring for feedback. I have tried writing outliner, wordoutliner, mindvisualizer, and they are all great products. Still, the best for me was writing outliner if it was not for problems of instability and fearing to lose work suddenly.. However, exporting the project and backing it up on regular bases helps reduce this risk. My vote will be for:
    1-keeping MsWord as the base of any future development plan: This is the main asset of Writing outliner compared to any other similar program
    2-The idea of mixing mindmap with RTF editor is great : still, it doesnot make you actually work in MSWORD but move between MSWORD and mindmap program >>The best software I have tried that create such a link was Mind View but it have many limitations
    3-I may not quite understand very much what you mean by using a single word file as this is very much like what word already provides. The idea of outliner was to divide long documents in smaller parts(for easier management,editing,saving, planning,deleting, copying,etc..) while being able to easily compile them afterwards.

    I wrote these comments before your latest update which I strongly support.
    After more in depth communications with you kind WritingOutliner users, the latest plan is to enhance the original WritingOutliner instead, and to have a ‘live document backup’ – as raw .doc/.docx files in the file system, in addition to the project database file.
    In other words, we’ll enhance the original WritingOutliner with the above mentioned method to fix its so-called ‘proprietary file format’ issue.
    As for WordOutliner, well, since Microsoft has removed the ‘single Word window’ mode since Word 2013, we have no choice but to give it up as the moment, even I’ve put a lot of resources into it…
    Thanks again and I wish you the best of all

    1. Edwin Yip

      Hi Ali, I wish you are well now!

      Don’t worry, I will reduce the complex part of the communication between WritingOutliner and MS Word, I’m sure things will get better.

      Take care.

  21. Ed King

    Since beginning online about two decades ago {SIGH}, I’ve always looked for niche programs to enhance my functionality. This is one of those that is truly a gem. However, with the recent release of robust MS Office programs for IOS, I’m starting to write on my iPad more and more (and dictating without using Dragon). Fearing a negative reply, I almost dread asking if this upgrade might be usable with those applications. Thanks SO much for a great program!!!

  22. Allan

    I must admit that I’m not entirely sold on this new idea. I can understand why using one document is easier, but as other have mentioned, it does lead to certain issues.

    1) Word doesn’t play nice with large documents.

    2) Pictures can result in cascades going through the document when inserted. One of the advantages of keeping the parts separate that you can isolate and manage such things.

    3) By keeping them separate you can use separate headers and footers for each part. As far as I know, a single Word-file does not allow you to change headers along the way.

    (admittedly, this will also be an issue when compiling multiple files into a single document)

    4) You would still need to compile the final document in order to remove the inserted tags.

    5) And speaking of tags, I don’t want to be looking at meta-data while writing.

    I do like the idea though, of keeping to a native format. An issue with the current use of a database is that you can’t access the data without the plugin.

    A compromise might be to use multiple Word-files, tied together by a lightweight database.

    But that still leaves the issue of how to compile everything into one document. Especially if you have multiple versions of one-per-document kind of stuff, for example headers with different content across the various files and footers with page numbers.

    Would it be possible to have an in-build PDF-export function? That might bypass some of the limitations of compiling to a single Word-document.

  23. Daniel Ernst

    I liked the original Outliner over word without it. The only stand alone writing programs I found to be user friendly, (to me that is), are Write it Now, and Scrivener for windows. Scrivener though is a little more complicated. I agree with others that being able to separate out chapters or whatever you want to is also important.
    Soooo, What I would like to see is a program that does both, Stand alone and seamlessly integrate into word. It would keep its own copy of the document that can be edited while not changing the one in word and the can replace the word document when editing is finished. It would also keep copies of the old documents before the changes and label them in order. This function would set the number of copies by user input. I would like to see a profound correction editor in the stand alone version with all the bells and whistles of the best ones out there. I would also like to see the current versions of the document be saved in a tree format that has all the chapters and separate parts in the order the user sets up. The only imbedded data in the word document would be the links to it outside word but able to display it in word as long as the outliner program was running. Possibly outline could also set itself up differently in word from a user selected type of document such as business, novel, ect…

    Too much? Well I can dream can’t I

  24. Amba

    Hi Edwin,
    I was using Scriv for a while after running into issues with Word on a thesis – doctorates are much longer (!) and now I found the end point of Scriv functionality as it just won’t play nice with Endnote, and of course, we get that for free.

    One of the nice aspects of the software you have created is that I can use it to make 100,000 words work with the reference software, which Scriv couldn’t handle, and so I have switched. This is critical because there is a HUGE student market who are bound to Word for the final document and bound to reference software, without any reliable way to get Word to behave – you seem to have solved that. Therefore whatever you do with Word, please consider us! By the way, I can’t seem to get Outliner to show the title, character count, etc., as a window in Word – only if I output the file does the rest of the metadata show up. Any clues from you (or other users) as to what I might have set incorrectly? All the boxes are ticked to ‘show’ but the only field that I can read is synopsis…

    Keep up the extraordinary work,

  25. Dave

    Hi Edwin,

    How about an update blog on what you are doing and when you might have a new version of WordOutliner.


      1. Dave

        Hi Edwin,

        Can you give us an update on the status of WritingOutliner? Is it weeks away, months away, years away?

        Best Regards,


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