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Seeking a more omnivorous Omni

Last updated on July 23, 2020

When I wrote reviews for MacWEEK magazine in the mid-‘90s, some of my favorite productivity applications (not apps, thank you) included QuicKeys, Now Up-to-Date, PopupFolder,  PopChar, TypeIt4Me, FreeHand, TypeStyler, Typestry, ClarisImpact, ClarisWorks, Stacker, PageMill, SendExpress, SttuffIt (for which I paid the original shareware fee in person), Common Ground, Arrange and a number of utilities from Now Software, AlSoft and Connectix.

But perhaps the one that was my favorite was In Control by Attain. (A competitor, Fair Witness by also-defunct Chena Software, had more features, but for some reason  I liked In Control better.) In Control was a multi-columned outliner, kind of a cross between an outliner and a spreadsheet, and I found it an incredibly helpful tool for organizing a wide range of personal and professional projects.

For those exclusively on Apple platforms, OmniOutliner is the heir apparent to In Control and has taken the concept to the next level while preserving the elegance of that classic Mac program. Unfortunately for those who use multiple platforms,, the software – like other Omni Group products —  is staying on Apple platforms. Developer Ken Case cites his devotion to producing the best software possible as a justification for not moving onto other platforms, and yet the company has had great success with its iPad app, selling 100,000 copies in the first three weeks (which is particularly impressive given its $20 price tag, about the same as, for example, Pages and Numbers combined).

I find it hard to believe that Omni Group couldn’t scale up to produce high-quality software on multiple platforms. Apple, for example, has cited the excellent, cross-platform Evernote (not a bad modern-day substitute for Arrange) as an example of a product that has had great success in its Mac App Store.  Also, if Omni Group’s idea is to service Apple users, it should keep in mind that, increasingly, more of them – particularly iPad owners – are living in a cross-platform world. But it is certainly the company’s prerogative to stay on the Apple platform, which has rewarded it greatly for its support since the days it was one of a handful of NeXT developers.

So, my search continues for a cross-platform, cloud-synced alternative to OmniOutliner. It is the One Mac App I would most like to see on Android and particularly on Windows although I realize I probably won’t find anything as elegant or capable. (The One Windows App I would most like to see on the Mac is Live Writer.) I would certainly be elated to see multi-columned outlines supported as an Evernote note type.  Until then, suggestions via comments or Twitter are of course welcome.