Looking for a keyboard centric outliner app like Outlinely

Basically I want https://glamdevelopment.com/outlinely. The app is fantastic, has quick jump shortcuts for within the outline but also to other documents. Almost everything is adjustable with keyboards. I love it.

But the app seems dead. No update in over a year, the twitter is silent and their blog is giving a 502 error. I am still on the trial and would buy it without issues, but $50 is steep for an app that might be dead.

Is there anything else like it? OmniOutliner is another popular choice but from my experience, Omni products don’t really harmonize well with keyboard shortcuts. (I am also quite new to outlining and don’t need a heavy lifter like OmniOutliner)

1 Like

For the ultimate in keyboard-centric outliners, have a look at org mode for Emacs. Spacemacs is a nice customization of GNU Emacs.

Org mode has been around for years and has a lot of features, so there’s a learning curve, but start small and don’t try to do everything at once.

Ah yeah I know org-mode but I want something more GUI-ey (with sync) for this.

I prefer focused tools over text-based solutions that can be stretched to fit usecases

Check out Checkvist!
It is an outliner with a heavy focus on keyboard shortcuts. My interpretation is, that the “v” in Checkvist stands vor Vim.
It is only a web-app, but you can do everything via keyboard. And it is also a lightweight task manager (if you need that).
I also use this chrome extension for an even vimmier feel.

1 Like

Have you considered TaskPaper? Came across it on Setapp, it’s remarkably flexible and uses an open sourced plain text file format. Syncing across macOS devices is trivial (just save the document in iCloud drive). As far as I can tell there is no iOS client, but I have seen (not used) a third party iOS client called Taskmator.

As far as switching to external documents, I recently stumbled across Hook – did somebody on the forum recommend it, I’m not sure? Anyway, it lets you link files together using a keyboard short. Thereafter when you access Hook it shows you the list of links for the current document; you select and just double to click open it (also has a keyboard shortcut!). A very simple concept, well executed; I keep finding nifty applications.

1 Like

Outlinely wasn’t developed much in the last few years.But it’s not broken, and it’s a good app. There was a flurry of updates last summer and the summer before, so it seems to be a one-man app mainly worked on during vacation or between semesters. This is a niche product and doesn’t really support a lot of development (Mac outliners ranging from Cloud Outliner to OmniOutliner to Tao/Neo, to Opal, to OutlineEdit are all pretty much just barely hanging on).

Outlinely strongly, strongly borrowed its look from Dynalist. Dynalist’s free tier is surprisingly useful, but the yearly cost is $90-ish. You can play with a demo, which shows keyboard commands, here.

Dynalist came into being after Workflowy stopped being advanced by its devs for a couple of years. (They’ve since resumed support and developing, and have moved their look and feel to more resemble Dynalist, so it too now resembles Outlinely.)

Checkvist, mentioned above is similar, but its UI is much clunkier. It’s also the least expensive of these services, at around $36/yr.

1 Like

Another editor you might like to try is FoldingText. There is a connect with TaskPaper in that both were written by the same indie developer; maybe someone knows the story.

1 Like

+1 for Dynalist – the paid level also has Google calendar integration (add a date for an item and it appears on the configured calendar). Supports images, imported documents, etc. (Premier level.) The developers are working on a WYSIWYG editor to replace the current editing experience in Dynalist – which might or might not affect the keyboard-centricity of Dynalist. Best thing for me is that Dynalist syncs super fast and is available in browsers, desktop, iOS/iPadOS.

FoldingText was passed off to another developer a couple of years ago, then it was decided that that wasn’t working out, it was brought back in-house and removed from sale.

Omnioutliner has a crazy amount of user customizable keyboard shortcuts. Omnioutliner is relatively easy to use using just the keyboard, but I kept forgetting the keyboard shortcuts after a while. Org mode

ominkeyboard

That being said, org mode is highly capable as an outliner and by its nature is highly dependent on keyboard shortcuts. Org mode keyboard shortcuts tend to be more systematic, so arguable easier to remember - but there is a lot of them.

As JohnAlt mentioned - the Spacemacs distribution is nice(you can use VIM shortcuts and who doesn’t love VIM shortcuts). Org mode truly does not feel like text being crammed into a solution it does not belong. But there is a steep learning curve. I feel it is far more useable than Folding Text. I gave up on FT when I found it difficult to control my headlines and folds.

Combine org mode with pandoc and you can move easily between org mode and markdown etc… The only thing I can to do is view and edit files directly in Org mode on iOS. But, it is just text with a bunch of markup, so it is not that hard to edit.!

1 Like

Do you know about Beorg?
Beorg allows working with org files on iOS/iPadOS. Not as full-featured as org mode (is anything?), but allows interactions with your files.

John, I only briefly tried it. Can you use Beorg to read any other files outside if its directory in iCloud ?

Doesn’t look like it.

I tried all of the recommendations here, thanks for replying guys!

  • Dynalist/Checkvist are pretty cool but web based. Dynalist has an app but it’s sadly electron powered so not kind on resources
  • org-mode / taskpaper are a bit too loose given that they’re just text. It’s nice to add things like tags, dates, etc but I want something with biiit more structure
  • CloudOutliner looks nice but doesn’t have a trial and I don’t subscribe to setapp so I can’t try it

So far OmniOutliner and Outlinely are still what fits my workflow the best I feel. I tried using both for a bit to see what sticks and I think it’s Outlinely after all.

OmniOutliner has very nice things like column support that I wish the other apps had but Outlinely has excellent keyboard control.
CMD-L to jump within the document to any subsection, CMD-Enter to zoom in and hide the rest and CMD-SHIFT-O to quickly jump to a different document feel very very intuitive (reminds me of sublimetext or quick open in emacs/vim). I wish every app had these quick jump shortcuts!

It feels like the developer is a very similar in thinking to me. I just thought “man I wish there was a way to quickly insert the current date” and started hacking something together with keyboard maestro, until I realized Outlinely already has that built-in

The price to get the app is $50 for the Mac app, then another $40 for the lifetime subscription on iOS :cry: Just wish the developer would be a bit more active to ease my mind that I’m not throwing money at a dead app

I tried sending the developer a message just to checkin but the mail bounced so there is that…

Your mail message to the following address(es) could not be delivered.
This is a permanent error. Please verify the address(es) and try again.

<outlinely@glamdevelopment.com>:
The e-mail message could not be delivered because the user's mailfolder is full.

It’s almost certainly a one-man shop. (No Glam Development on LinkedIn, so this is doubtless a side-project.) That said, it’s on both App Stores so you can always get a refund within 7 days (possibly longer, I don’t remember the refund rules), and there’s a downloadable Mac trial-version you can download for free for 5 days too in which you can stress-test it.

I own OmniOutliner Pro and bought it before they doubled prices a year ago. It’s a solid app but I really can’t recommend it for the price, or the fact that they’ve pretty much given up on new development for it as well. FWIW the two main contenders for me to replace it were Outlinely and Dynalist… but I haven’t yet.

FYI for the last few years Dynalist has made Xmas-time deals of 50% off for one year. If I could get that every year (or locked in for 3 years) I’d probably have switched to it by now.

Not really. I have Dynalist app open on 10.15.2 on my MPB all day every day and it barely registers in Activity Monitor.

1 Like

I’ve have the same issue as the OP. Outlinely is, more or less, the perfect outline app.

The problem with Dynalist is the pricey subscription (ugh) and they admitted in their privacy policy that they are capable of reading your stuff whenever they want due to lack of encryption. Workflowy, another outline app, does not have the latter problem but Dynalist is much more powerful and aesthetically pleasing.

Outlinely is my favourite but the price is off putting, I’m not too fussed about active development as long as it works.

Workflowy is somewhat less powerful and pretty than Dynalist, but I know people who have been using it for years without problem, only consternation a few years back when development slowed to an imperceptible crawl before resuming.

When Farhad Manjoo, now at the NYTimes, was at Slate in 2012, he wrote a bit of a love letter to Workflowy. I remember him tweeting last year(?) that he has been using it ever since.