Jack Baty Daily

Daily notes from Jack about everything

Outliners with Notes

There are only 2 software tools I know of that usefully combine an outliner with long-form notes: Tinderbox and Emacs/Org-mode. Everything else is either an outliner that awkwardly lets me include a note with a node, or a long-form writing thing that allows for some basic outlining. A third group includes full-on outliners like Bike or Logseq, where every paragraph is always a node. I like those, but they're also too much outliner for me, if you know what I mean.

Some Markdown editors can make markdown feel sort of like an outliner. Emacs' markdown-mode is a great example. But if I'm going to use Emacs there's no way I'm not using the superior-in-all-ways-to-markdown Org-mode. A popular note-taking app that doesn't even fake it well is Obsidian. Not even plugins can turn that editor into something that feels right. With Org-mode I can manage small or large document outlines with ease. I can put notes and todos right inline, add metadata to any heading I wish, etc. You'll tell me, "But Obsidian (or [FAVORITE APP]) can do all this, if you jump through these specific hoops..." No thanks.

Tinderbox was born for this. It's a powerful outliner right out of the gate, with serious features like hoisting, aliases, custom attributes, etc. Each heading starts simple, and if you want to make it into a giant document with acres of text and subheadings, that's easy too. Like Emacs, it's loaded with scripting features that make it sing and dance if you go deep enough.

I just mostly wanted to bitch about Obsidian again, which ate the past two days while I tried to wrangle it into something that it doesn't want to be.

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