From Green Parrots Software:
You come up with this brilliant thought, or maybe your mother just sent you a recipe for her new chicken casserole. What do you do with this information? With ActionOutline you now have a place to put all your info and thoughts. A simple yet useful organizer, ActionOutline consists of an Explorer-like interface where you can store and arrange all your information in a tree outline form. Arrange items using your keyboard or mouse, cut and paste branches, place checks or tags next to listed items, search information, print data, export to the external file, or link to web or local files. With tabbed multi-document interface, ActionOutline lets you handle multiple outlines with ease. You can share your outlines on the network and collaborate with other users. Your outlines can be protected with strong encryption and password. ActionOutline can be your be-all, end-all solution to organizing your life. When you want it out of sight simply minimize it to your system tray where it's available for your next fleeting thought or item. The possibilities for its use are practically endless: to-do lists, recipes, project notes, personal contacts, bookmark lists, reports, term papers.
What's new in this version: Version 3.4 easily add pictures from your computer or Web sites to your outline notes.
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All versions:2.0 stars
out of 3 votes
Current version:2.5 stars
out of 2 votes
My rating:Write review
Results 1-2 of 2
"Abysmal - Don't buy - It's a disaster in every respect"
Version: ActionOutline 3.4
Is slick, simple, can confirm good export of the tree (from the review of Rebecca H), but of the tree only, without content (see Cons).
Can confirm good add-on of siblings (Enter key) or child items (Insert key); many (but otherwise much better) outliners do this in unnecessary, more complicated ways. The same goes for toggling between tree and content: Here it's by Tab key if you want (then, a tab in the content is by Shift-Tab key though); again, many other (otherwise much better) outliners do this in a complicated way. (So I advise to look out for an otherwise better outliner but to use a tiny free macro program to change key assignments if necessary and not possible to change them within the program(of course, within this program, key assignments can not be changed).
Many: Communication is desastrous, they only responded for the bought link, then never again; complains in the web (e.g. on bitsdujour) are responded with "unfortunately our spam filter, and of course we respond..." - have written with several account, no answer, never. Have looked up the owners, seem to be in Russia, with British P.O.Box. Of course, no forum.
Export to rtf (tree with contents of the items) is desastrous: Some contents items or contents of parts of items vanish, others (items/contents/parts of contents) are double in the exported rtf file, so you must control by hand, for perhaps dozens/hundreds of items.
Can confirm literal explosion of file sizes by importing even tiny jpg's. Was so in 3.2, is so in (paid update) 3.4 with "now pictures" - so what's new? MS Word, MyInfo and UltraRecall and many other outliners leave file sizes slick when importing pictures - this is extremely unprofessional.
Other Con: Primitive in its design, so it's possible to sort sub-items alphabetically (or numerically), but there is no way to have them rearranged afterwards but by hand. So there is no way to have alternative looks at your material, e.g. if you have a list of customers, you cannot re-arrange them automatically let's say by "open invoice", by town/area or such things.Since they pretend AO is for collaboration: Yes, you need the much more expensive network version for that, and then, again, the amateurism of this preposterous program will immediately show: Whilst other outliners (e.g. UltraRecall) will lock the item you're working on, for other members of the network, the AO network version will lock the entire file, those thousands of (e.g. customer, e.g. spare parts) items that might be in that outline in which you're working on a single item. So, there is no way that you work on a customer's item, and any collegue works on another customer's item: You work on a single customer, and all customers will be shut down for your collaborators. That's real collaboration ActionOutline-wise. Amateurs' work, as said. Again, I can't imagine any real life scenario in which such (!) a "network" application would be of any practical use for anybody.
Of course, being a very basic program, this program does not offer clones, i.e. you cannot have one entry in more than one subtree only of your tree (let alone having an entry in more than one tree = file), so you cannot do any "Getting Things Done" (by David Allen) system or any other "Task Management System"; of course, you could simply copy items into other parts or into other files, but then, any changes you make to the original or to the copy, is not updated on the other item, so you will quickly create total chaos when you unsuccessfully try to implement even a rudimentary task management system with this program.
You can flag items in the tree, and you can format (bold, italic, color) items in the tree; this is a good point, but you cannot sort or group on these, let alone have items visible without doing an "expand all". So, if you leave all your stuff within a single tree = file, instead of spreading your stuff over several trees = files, you could try to flag and / or format your items in order to indicate various tasks there, or to make "groups", like "customer to contact", "customer with open invoice", etc., but then, in order to take action on these, you must do that awful "expand all", and then those flags or formattings will be spread over hundreds or thousands of open items; of course, there is not even a feature that will automatically flag or format a subheading of the tree if an item under that subheading is flagged or formatted, so there isn't any other way but do the "expand all" and manage then with thousands of open items: That will be a lot of scrolling down and up and down and up and down....
So what's missing here is a filter feature, by which you would only see the items e.g. flagged red, or the items formatted bold, or even, the items containing certain characters within their titles, e.g. the items containing "#1" - this way, you would even be able to group-on-the-fly items having one common trait in common, and by simply entering such "coded texts" into the titles of your items, you could brilliantly overcome this program's lack of "columns" / "attributes" or whatever you name them. Of course, then, it would be even better to combine two or several of such "user-encoded attributes", e.g. you could filter by "title bold, red-flagged, containing "abcd" and containing "#xyz".
But of course, all this is wishful thinking and will never come; as it is, no alternative grouping (i.e. except for the one you do manually, by tree / subtrees) / filtering whatsoever is possible with this program.
This is all the more so catastrophical since this program's search feature is as bad as it gets.
Search is not for several trees = files at the same time, of course; the usual "index searchers" (Copernic Desktop, Windows Desktop, X1, etc.) don't index this program's files, of course, so cannot find anything. So you won't have any list of hits (let alone of hits in several files at the same time, another reason for not doing more than one tree / file in this very basic program), since the search feature of this program only shows you one hit at a time. So, if in the above-mentioned example of insertings codes like "#184" into your items' titles, in order to have alternative groupings, you can search for such a code, but will be presented with exactly one hit, and then you press "Enter" to be shown the next hit, and so on. The same goes for names of customers: When a customer does phone you, you enter his name, and if that's "Mr. Miller" from company d, you press 3 times "Enter" in order to get away from "Mr. Miller" from companies a, b and c - during this time, and your visual checking those faulty Millers, your customer will wait on the phone....
The replace feature (yes, there is a replace feature!) in this program is very slow, really very, very slow, and it's buggy, but you can overcome that bug: If you want to replace "ab" by "ac", all goes well; if you want to replace "ab" by "cb", you'll create chaos (this program not going to the next character after replacing); so, whenever you want to replace "ab" by "cb", you must first replace "ab" by "a$" or something, then replace that "a$" or something by "cb".
It goes without saying - this program really being basic as it gets - that this program is neither able to search for something just in the tree, or just in the contents, nor to replace something just in the tree or just in the contents, but it will search (or replace) everywhere, which will be a real problem for at least every second search you'll do (let alone replace) - if you search for a specific item, and you remember some part of its title, on many occasions you will have dozens of faulty hits, all in faulty items' contents, before getting to the right item in the tree. Most of the time, you'll be better off by trying to remember where your item was, and then checking visually by opening various subtrees, than by visually checking dozens of faulty "hits", so after having put some content into this program, most of the time you will behave like this program as not having a search feature at all.
Thus, very bad search feature, not giving a list of several hits, and showing many unwanted hits from content when you only want to see "tree hits", and this one by one; slow, buggy replace feature; no way for filtering.
And no way for sorting by second word, by third word, or something like that, of course, and by which you could have alternative lists, not spread over several subtrees, but under just one subheading at least, which from the total absence of filtering / grouping now would be a big step into the right direction: If you had a list of your customers, all under the same subheading (so no permanent grouping possible), normally sorted by first word = the company's name, and then, if you had the possibility to sort by second word, you could sort by your contact:
You would have, in the tree, as an example,
RealCompany(The) Smith_Jennifer 2539 #3
British_Petroleum Smith_John 4285 #2
You could sort by first word = by company (the correct company name would then be in your content field); you could sort by second word, i.e. that would be your sorting order when "waiting" on the phone for calls; this way, you would search for "Smith", and all Smiths would be grouped together; you'd do perhaps 2 or three "arrowdown", and you'd have the content for the "right Smith" in front of your eyes, perhaps with some sub-items (= contact history, buying history, etc.).
You'd sort by the third word: That you would do when you want to go, physically, to these companies, when you (or your salesman) want to call them at their place, in order to plan trips.
You'd sort by the fourth word: That's handy when you want to see which companies it would be in your interest to contact (by frequency, by turnover, etc., etc.).
And so on for "unpaid invoices", etc.
Many other outliners offer "fields" or "attributes" or such elements for this, or / and clones, but you don't even need clones when you can sort by 2nd, 3rd... word in title or search with hit lists instead of just single hits for specific "codes" you do (SpecialCharacterNotAllowedHere)name would be company, (AnotherSpecialCharacterNotAllowedHere)name would be contact, etc.).
Nothing of all this is possible within ActionOutline, so this program's practical use is nearing zero. An example: They pretend it's good for your kitchen recipies' collection. Well, it is not: Ok, you can group by main groups, cereals, meat, whatever. But then, you would like to have an "offering" for a special ingredient or a special garnishing, whatever, not identical with your main (and only possible) grouping category: In this program, you will then search for that ingredient or whatever, dozens of times, dozens of single hits, and you will put your possible hits on paper, in order to do a second search after having done your first search with dozens of hits from which you don't need most.
The same goes for your drinks: You'll have main categories, "drinks with whisky", "drinks with rum", "drinks with gin", whatever, and then you want drinks with "Noilly Prat" in them, and then, you'll do a list of a dozen possible drinks from all categories, one by one, on paper, or several times since you relied on your memory, in vain.
And the same goes for every possible use of such a program. It does not really need clones, in fact, but it does need tags - and a feature that will group / show tags as groups, and of course, nothing whatsoever is in ActionOutline -, it does need sorting by other words then the very first one in the items' titles, or it does need a filter filter, by which you can filter items by a word / string of characters in the title, or AT THE VERY LEAST, it needs a much better search feature, that will display a list of hits, not just single hits one by one.
And it would be VERY helpful to have such features, offering a combination of two or more such factors, like in so-called "Boolean search".
"At the very least", I say, because having a list by search is a good thing, but having such a list by filtering is much better. Why? Because such a "search results list" normally isn't stable, i.e. you have a good look there, then choose from there... and then that list will normally vanish, and will have to be built up anew as soon as you want to do something with another entry of that list. So, when you want to call a dozen customers, one after another, that all share a common denominator (or even two of them, let's say "interesting" from their turnover and being in a certain geographic area), you would like to have a stable list (by sort, or by search), that remains on your screen, and in which you can select this customer, than another one, etc., and not having to rely on doing, again and again, the same search a multiple of times. So, such a search feature, instead of a tagging / sorting feature, would only be really helpful if that hit list remains (e.g. by option) visible on screen, instead of vanishing on first click on a hit item there.
So there are a number of features such a program could have alternatively, not necessarily concurrently, but ActionOutline HAS NOT ONE of these feature, and hence it will be USELESS for most people and for most uses.
And the literal explosion of file sizes after importing some tiny jpg's just shows the degree of amateurism of this too basic program. And then, when you "complain", in a nice, constructive way, there is no answer whatsoever.
So, don't buy this amateurish and overpriced product; I'm a disenchanted paying customer, not a competitor, and I don't lie anywhere thruout this burial.
Oh, I forgot: Their trial version is (for 30 days or without a time limit? dont' remember, but) for only 7 items under each item / subheading, which will make that you don't have a real usage experience, by this probably missing out all those missing features that will make your day so laboured once you'll have bought and try to do real work with it... whilst the ease of doing new siblings and children and of toggling between tree and content will be immediate, so they display the few good points and hide the real and many problems: by accident?
Honi soit qui mal y pense as they say, ho ho.
Just a detail: Most outliners allow for selecting more than one item in order to move or something; it goes without saying that this program forces you to do such operations one item at a time; and I could list many other such amateurish flaws if my memory didn't leave me here. And a last thing: if you encounter other "reviews" of this program, bear in mind the developers can write such "reviews" or pay people to do so.
On "bitsdujour", somebody with an English Name answers in their name, but that could be a real person... or that could be an avatar, a given name for the real owners which you check out by the domain whois info.
The offer a 30 day money back guarantee, but since they don't are accustomed to answer in the first place, permit me to doubt on that guarantee as well. Wanna file a suit in Moscow, in case of?
Updated on Jul 15, 2012
"Slick, easy-to-use UI, does exactly what I need"
Version: ActionOutline 3.4
This is an outliner, not an all purpose index-everything-in-one-file app.
1. It has a very clean, tabbed, 2-pane UI without a bunch of unneeded doo-dads.
2. The most commonly used functions (inserting and moving outline items) are accomplished with very intuitive single keystrokes, and the less common ones, even if slightly less intuitive, have a definite logic to them and again - very few keystrokes.
3. Unlike the vast majority of outliners out there, this one can export outline and notes to RTF - *and leave the outline formatted as an outline, with hierarchical indentation*
4. Supports linking to external files or web sites
5. Supports embedding images (see cons for limitations)
6. Tabbed multidocument interface (can have multiple outlines open at once)
7. A variety of easy-to-use and configurable formatting options for outline items to flag them, mark them as done, color code them, etc.
1. I wish it had a way to link to other parts of the same outline (kind of a bookmark-like feature). Not really necessary, just a nice-to-have.
2. It's very easy to copy/paste an image into the notes pane of an outline, but doing so has a HUGE impact on file size. Adding 3 JPGs, under 1MB each, to a 60K AO file resulted in an overall file size of 23MB!
3. Customer support is so-so. They did reply to feedback when I initially installed, and again when I accidentally replied to them instead of a colleague regarding an e-mailed year-end special, but they haven't replied to a couple of general UI feedback/feature request/tech support-ish kinds of questions. There's no forum, for users to help each other, and most google hits on ActionOutline are for download sites. At least it is so intuitive that it's pretty easy to figure out how to do what you want or to determine that it isn't possible.
Summary: An excellent little application. To me, it's worth $40 as it allows me to VERY quickly organize and reorganize my thoughts. It's far above the other free and non-free applications in this respect, and I don't find its price out of line compared to its non-free competitors.I came back to update that I find myself using this little app every day, all day, in my work as a software engineer; it's very, very useful to me, but obviously not for everyone.
BTW, to the previous poster who wanted to get a product key: they don't do product keys. When you register, they give you a link to download the non-trial version of the program. There is no key to enter to activate it, it's actually a separate build of the software. You can install it right over the trial version without uninstalling, though. The web site does not make this clear at all, but they did answer my question about it.
Updated on Nov 1, 2012
I use it mostly for creating task lists, test plans, feature lists, instructions, and other hierarchically-organized documents. I typically keep a number of AO files open at once - the separate files serve as another layer of organization.
I don't need advanced sorting or filtering, or subclassing or cloning of items (so that changing one causes others to change). I occasionally use the search feature or search and replace.
For me, this replaces notepad for this kind of activity (I have another notepad replacement, notepad++, for other purposes, that don't involve outlining). It is NOT an adequate replacement for tracking things that I would otherwise put in a spreadsheet.
I didn't try the network version, as it didn't seem to me to offer much added usefulness.
Updated on Nov 1, 2012I know I haven't been accused of it, but for the record, I have no relationship whatever to the company, Green Parrots Software. That appears to be a DBA name for a software company located in England and Wales, with a UK name (LogicProvider UK), "company number", address, and phone number on their contact page.