Using OPML for Thinking, Writing, Publishing is a timely post by Amy Gahran on OPML, and also looks into the outliner itself and the cognitive processes and structures involved when constructing thoughts with an outliner.
Here are some great quotes from the post:
“…it’s a way to use XML (extensible markup language) so that you’re not just typing in text, but actually describing how various chunks of text (or data, or links, etc.) relate to each other within a hierarchy.”
“The end result is an outline that looks rather like a book’s table of contents (TOC). However, imagine that the actual chapters of the book are embedded within the TOC.”
“Working in an OPML outliner forces me to keep the structure of content in mind, which means I don’t lose sight of the big picture.”
“OPML is a good choice for complex “living documents” which are constantly evolving. Think FAQ lists and timelines here”
“A good outliner tool makes it easy to move items around – which can be surprisingly helpful for getting a strong, clear flow of ideas going.”
“…continue to flesh your document out in the outliner, or export your outline to a word processor or text editor”
Outline blog posts
The other point this post makes is publishing from an outliner to a blog post, this is something that I was querying earlier on…here is an excerpt (via clipmarks) of a post I made where I noticed the blog posts from these blogs seem to have been made in an outliner, then published to the blog…I’ve also included a tool that mentions this is exactly what is happening.
Then I noticed when Amy was talking about Koan’s blog, it seems she was using this tool, ActiveRenderer to outline her blog posts, and then publish the posts to her blog from the outliner (so the post is an outline itself)…if I’m correct about all this.
So by using ActiveRenderer you can outline content and publish it in this structure, so here is an example of a webpage using this tool, it so happens to be the ActiveRender webpage…actually this is a more blog like example
…I like the idea of collasping your posts, it’s like having an instant title index by date.
From the first example immediately above…if I grab that OPML file from the top right hand corner, I can view that in an OPML editor, manager, browser, etc…or even in an OPML search engine, see here…you can even use OPML2HTML…see the “Tools” heading in this post for more.
Outline in your sidebar
I wonder if there is a way to code an OPML file to whack in the sidebar of your blog as an outline…so if you are viewing an outline the bottom of the page might say, click here too see some code so you can put this outline into the sidebar of your blog
…if your opml file has a feed you could just re-syndicate that as usual, but that’s different than having the actual outline in your sidebar, which dynamically updates as well
RSS feed for an Outline (or OPML file)
Also I made a post about an OPML outline being great to make lists, but I want people to be able to subscribe to an RSS feed for a list, so they can keep up to date with new additions to the list.
Simply put, if I make a shopping list in an outline, and add a new item in my shopping list, how can someone be notified of this, is there a way for an outline to have an RSS feed?
This would only work if you added a new item to your outline, what would happen if you made changes, or restructured your outline?
Maybe RSS could notify you that a change has happened, but you would need to go to see the new version and compare it to the older version to see exactly what those changes are.
Can you import an OPML file into Word (Word does have an outline feature)?
Also can you make an OPML file from a Word document?
Is there an OPML outliner for mobile phones (not web-based, as that’s too expensive)?
I’d love to write outlines on my phone (on my train ride), then sync these up to my PC.
See this wiki on Outliners for more.
Outliners seem to be an advanced to-do or notes list, as you can categorise your notes and structure the categories into some sort of directory.
Not only that but you can pass them around via an OPML file, just like you can pass around a blog via its RSS feed. The difference with the RSS feed is that you can re-syndicate it to a website or place it in your RSS reader…you can also place an OPML file into your RSS reader (although the items in the outline have to be feeds), but you can also put an OPML file into an editor (and play around with it).
You can also view an outline on the web as it has an OPML file (on an OPML browser, OPML engine, etc…).