A rather nice little app called Outline is going to release an import utility for Circus Ponies Notebooks. Outline runs on Mac and iPads and, here’s the really nice part, works with Microsoft OneNote. Outline originated as an iOS app that could read-write to Microsoft OneNote. Originally, OneNote was not available on the iPad and this developer put together Outline as a solution for accessing, reading and editing OneNote files. The interface is better and more flexible in some ways than OneNote. Another benefit of Outline over OneNote is the built-in ability to create a hyperlinked hierarchical Table of Contents to all notebook sections and pages.
Finally, Outline offers a very smooth export to PDF where OneNote just seems to make this task difficult.
Of course, Outline also works as a standalone app without using OneNote or Microsoft OneDrive and can sync via Dropbox, iCloud and Box. So, rejoice Notebook users, there is now an opportunity to breathe some life into your beloved notes. Although Outline is not free like OneNote, right now they’re offering a 30% discount for former Circus Ponies Notebook users. This is a great example of an indie developer seeing an opportunity and making the most of it. The importer is currently in beta testing and limited to sign up, but should be released soon.
Quirky But Solid Notetaking App Becoming Abandonware
For years this app has helped many attorneys prepare trial and litigation notebooks. This has been my goto app for trial notebooks mainly because of it’s tabbed interface and ability to print a hardcopy paper version of a trial notebook with chapter style pagination. The app adopted a notebook metaphor with formatting for each page and divider page employing an outline format. Additionally, the app could sort these outlines by a number of different features, including alpha-numerical, date created, modified and other meta-data. In short, I’ve been a big fan and user of this app over the years (here, here, here).
But, over the last year activity level at Circus Ponies dropped significantly with fewer and fewer updates (much like this blog #sarcasm). More recently, the website is completely down as of today. Recent twitter posts (here, here) have also begun to question the continuing viability of this really useful bit of kit. UPDATE: A quick check on the iOS App Store and the Mac App Store show that the Circus Ponies software pages are gone. It’s really a shame. About 6 months ago I began to get the feeling that this app was on it’s way out. To date, I have not found a solid replacement for it. OneNote, Evernote, OmniFocus’ OmniOutliner all come close but, ultimately, fall short. There is one potential replacement that is being regularly updated and, I’m told, is currently working a beta for a completely retooled application. I’ll hold off on saying what that app is until I get a chance to test drive the new version. Suffice to say that it is a significant paradigm shift.
UPDATE 2: A user over at the MILO Group received a response from Circus Ponies regarding Notebook as a continuing piece of software. The response was apparently delayed because Circus Ponies is no longer monitoring their support email address. They confirm that Notebook for the iPad is dead and that Notebook itself is “mature,” “stable,” and will only receive “incremental changes” in the future. So, if you can read between the lines, better start migrating anything important before an OS update breaks the Mac version and there is a long delay before an incremental update gets released. Given the the death of the iPad version and dicey future support, moving forward to a different app is advisable.
On a separate note, this is the first post in a loooooooong time. A combination of joining a new law firm and personal life have slowed down my blogging. That should change from hereon out and I hope to bring back some more long-form in-depth articles, reviews and tips and tricks.