Bug 70408 - Feature Request: Lack of Outliner Functionality
Summary: Feature Request: Lack of Outliner Functionality
Status: RESOLVED DUPLICATE of bug 38093
Alias: None
Product: LibreOffice
Classification: Unclassified
Component: Writer (show other bugs)
(earliest affected)
Hardware: Other All
: medium enhancement
Assignee: Not Assigned
Depends on:
Reported: 2013-10-12 18:17 UTC by Cougar Brenneman
Modified: 2015-04-27 00:29 UTC (History)
4 users (show)

See Also:
Crash report or crash signature:


Note You need to log in before you can comment on or make changes to this bug.
Description Cougar Brenneman 2013-10-12 18:17:46 UTC
FIRST: I discussed this problem in the Nabble User's group and received half a dozen responses from people who support this request. At the end of this feature request, I'm excerpting it. The entire thread on Nabble has the same title as this feature request.
When I was a full-time journalist in the 1980s, I became very successful using a dedicated outliner called PCOutline. When all the major Word Processers came along--MS Word, Word Perfect, etc, the lack of outliner functionality kept me with my archaic outliner until MS Word beat the functionality of PCOutline.

I used outlining as my main method of work when a full-time technical writer in the 90s (e.g., Fujitsu Software in San Jose). While working for a java house, I was so influenced by the negative developer reactions to MS, that I've been wishing to move to OpenOffice or LibraOffice ever since they came along. But you don't have the functionality that I need, and furthermore, the discussions of outlining on this forum seem to miss the whole point, from my point of view.

I'm a very motivated wannabe LibraOffice user who currently can't make the switch, because although I'm retired and writing fiction, the power of an outliner for writing in all genres is something I can't live without.

So my reasons are complex--sorry about that--but tl:dr will not allow you to understand them. Please take the time. I really want to quit Microsoft Office forever and ever and ever. Thanx.

The first functionality I need might seem mickey mouse, but it's the foundation for everything else. This is that in Word's outliner view, there's a button in front of every paragraph that I can drag and drop up and down. It's like cut and paste, but a lot faster. Combined with other features, it's extremely  powerful.

The second functionality I need is to be able to collapse things. In an article of 25 paragraphs, I can hide every line except the first line of the paragraph, thus allowing me to see the entire article of 25 paragraphs on the screen at the same time. This allows me to completely rearrange the entire article by drop and drag.

For editing a single sentence or paragraph, I insert a return between sentences, phrases, and even words, drop and drag these elements into a new order, and delete the returns. Voila! A much better constructed paragraph or sentence in a snap.

The third functionality is to collapse things within headers. For instance, if I've interviewed a dozen people for an article or if I've brainstormed 5 pages of random ideas for a blog or a chapter in a novel, I create headers for different topics and then drag and drop paragraphs, quotes, ideas, etc into the headers or buckets I've created. When one header becomes too full and fills too much of the screen, I collapse it, so that it hides all the paragraphs already there, which cleans up the screen. When I'm done with this step, I have half a dozen headers, under which are many different ideas, all of which are completely hidden.

So I drag and drop my half a dozen headers into the correct order. Then I open the first main header and create a bunch of subheaders. Once this is done, I reorganize all of the points in this first section into subsections or sub-buckets, collapsing them all as needed until everything is organized into a number of different subheaders. At this point, I can rearrange all of these subheaders into the best order that they belong in. I can even drag a subheader into a different main heading if I choose, where it will remain as a separate section.

I can repeat this process as many levels as I wish. This feature in MS Word is fractal to nine levels. From a chaotic mixture of confusion emerges order, insight, and wisdom--in one single step.

As a technical writer, I used to sit in a brainstorming meetings, write down every developer idea as fast as I could (including those I didn't understand at all), type it all sequentially, and then very quickly organize all of the ideas into a coherent whole. The developers thought I actually knew how to program. (Mwah-hah-hah!)

I could never have done that with LibreOffice as it's now configured or OpenOffice, either. Without my Word outliner, I would have been a shitty technical writer, and I would never have been able to write the developer guides I wrote.

As a creative writer today, I currently have a dozen projects that are percolating, as well as one major project that I'm focusing on. I just brainstorm for anything that comes up, drag the ideas into the proper buckets, and I never lose anything of value. (Yes, the word "never" is absolutely accurate.)

It's like having a Super Power that's available to everyone, but no one knows how to get it. Currently, this Super Power is only available in MS Word. Please make it possible for me to migrate to LibreOffice without losing my Super Powers. And please make these Super Powers available to the world. Doing so could cause the entire planet to evolve into better writers. You can help eliminate crappy writing!

Until you do this, LibreOffice is like Kryptonite to me. I can't come near it, even though I truly want to.

I beg of you: Please help poor little Cougar quit his addiction to Micro$oft! (Yeah, I know. Outliners do not eliminate the scourge of mixed metaphors.)

For those of you who made it this far, thanx for listening.
-------------------Selected Responses---------------------------
Eric Beversluis
Oct 10, 2013; 3:44pm
Re: Feature Request: Lack of Outliner Functionality a Deal Breaker for Me
I've been using opml editor (on Windows, unfortunately) which seems to
do all these things. Once stuff is in place it can be copied and pasted
into a LO document, I believe. I've even been able to do a bit in Text
Pad with indents and then copying it into the opml editor creates a good
outline. I think Scrivener is based on opml and has all of the
functionality you mention. There seems to be a beta version of Scrivener
for Linux; it's well established for Windows and Mac; and I think once
the outlining is done the finished document exports to LO or M$ Word.
Oct 10, 2013; 3:50pm
Re: Feature Request: Lack of Outliner Functionality a Deal Breaker for Me
I am not a Macro person, but I wonder how much of this can be done with

I know one book writer that does a great deal of his work through macros
he created over the years.  He could not find any word processor package
that did what he wanted so he learned to write macros.  First with Star
Office, then OOo, and now using LO on his Linux system.  I do not
remember all of the things he wrote about in his "author's notes" before
he got into his e-newsletter, but one time he did talk about all of the
things he needed to be done and went out to find a package that could do
it through the macros.  The last "author's notes" was about getting OOo
running on a new Linux system.  That was when it was in the late 1.x
stage or early 2.x one.  Just about 2 years ago, I found out he switched
to LO.  He no longer writes/co-writes 4 to 6 books a year, but he still
does a few, now that he is in his late 70's.

Those who are really good at writing Macros, how much of the info below
can be taken care of through some type of macros? 
Oct 11, 2013; 1:40am
Re: Feature Request: Lack of Outliner Functionality a Deal Breaker for Me
In reply to this post by CougarB
Am 11.10.2013 00:09, schrieb CougarB:

> It's like having a Super Power that's available to everyone, but no one
> knows how to get it.

Without being a writer myself, I somehow understand your needs.

What I do presently is using a mind mapping software (I use freemind[1]
for that) for arranging and rearranging stuff. This works quite to my
satisfaction but when finished, the whole composition has to be
transferred to LibreOffice: this also works quite well but then it
remains static from this point on. So if I want to re-arrange it, I have
to do it again in freemind.

It's a workaround.

[1] http://freemind.sourceforge.net

The other posts were generally supportive, including posts that recommended that I re-post the feature request to Bugzilla.

Comment 1 Cor Nouws 2013-10-12 18:51:41 UTC

*** This bug has been marked as a duplicate of bug 68167 ***
Comment 2 Cougar Brenneman 2013-10-12 23:07:39 UTC
Here's another comment on that thread and my response to it:
e-letter <inpost@gmail.com>

There are many outliner tools out there, why use a word-processor when
a text editor such as Leo or Jedit can achieve outline functionality?

Alternatively, use LO writer styles and the navigator toolbar.
Cougar Brenneman <cougar.b@gmail.com>

I took a look at Leo, Jedit, and OPML, and frankly, none of them are as convenient as M$ Word. I'm using Word as both a word processor and an outliner, and it's extremely convenient to be working on a document as an outline, then move over to a word processing mode without losing the outline structure, and work with formatting and other elements that are convenient in that view, and then move back to outlining without losing my formatting and other tools that are available in Word. When I'm writing in outline format, I even want to just experience my novel as it will be read on the page, and then go back to using the outliner.

In Eric B's first post, he recommended OPML but stated that once the document was moved over to LO or OO, it was no longer in outline format and could no longer be manipulated as an outline. This is what I found in looking at every option that anyone here has recommended.

In http://cribsheet.opml.org, there are a lot of comments by people who also want to have their outliner also act as a word processor. There's no export facility in OPML that preserves the outline structure once you cut and paste the text into your word processor, and the users include many old-time outliner users who think that OPML is the best of the options.

The reason I'm currently sticking with Word is I need a tool that is both a word processor and an excellent outliner, such that I don't have to cut and paste, thereby losing the outline structure. I need to be able to constantly go back and forth between the two views--which is how Word handles it--as two views.

That's why I am not willing to give up my current use of Word. On the cripsheet page for OPML, you'll find ample evidence that I'm not alone in requesting this feature.
Comment 3 Cougar Brenneman 2013-10-12 23:37:45 UTC
This bug has been marked as a duplicate of bug 68167. I disagree.

I need to point out that while I agree with Mike--UCLAgeek from 68167--the features he's discussing are not the same features as I'm discussing, though they are related.

IN OTHER WORDS, these are similar requests, but not duplicates. Keep them together for convenience. But please read my request as different, because I'm highlighting specific different features.

The Navigator in LO bears some relationship to the Document Map in Word, though there are differences. I have looked at your Navigator as extensively as I could without installing LO, and I have to agree with Mike that it simply is not the same thing at all. In addition, the Navigator does not duplicate the specific features I'm requesting, such as the manipulation of individual paragraphs within the document by dragging their buttons. Navigator's ability to reorganize sections is okay, but it's nothing close to being able to reorganize paragraphs without headings. 

This is key to what I use M$ Word for. This function alone makes a huge difference in the ability to deconstruct a single sentence or a single paragraph and create something more powerful/poetic/concise/clear/insightful.

In addition, I don't want to be moving things around on a separate window any more than Mike does. I agree with Mike, but the features I mention are different. This is not a duplicate.

Comment 4 Owen Genat (retired) 2013-10-13 13:56:38 UTC
Setting Importance to "Medium" and Severity to "Enhancement" in keeping with the title of this bug being an enhancement request. I have added a clarifying comment to bug #68167 and at present cannot see a sufficient distinction in this report from that in the corresponding bug.

If this bug report (#70408) is requesting a different feature, then it needs to be made clearer exactly what that feature is, preferably by pointing to a Microsoft page that illustrates the feature in question.
Comment 5 Cougar Brenneman 2013-10-13 14:36:19 UTC
Owen, I don't know of a page anywhere that tells how I use my outliner and why the lack of one is a deal killer for ME. My bug tells you why I can't use LibreOffice, and it's different from why Mike finds it inconvenient. For him, it's not a deal killer.

I'm also not copying the entire conversation on Nabble, but it's relevant, and I explain more there.


The following, for instance, is not normally relevant to a feature request, but on the other hand, it indicates the high priority that this feature, as I've described it, is for me.

I wrote: "I had a Linux partition on my last computer, but I found that I had to duplicate resources by having them on both partitions. When I ran out of space and had to replace the partition, I resented Linux, because I was only using it for ideological reasons, and I could not leave Windows behind until I had a fully functioning Office suite, with an integrated outliner. So in reality, the lack of outliner functionality is a deal breaker for me for everything, including whether or not I use Linux."

I also described a short project that I had just completed where LibreOffice would have required approximately 492 clicks to accomplish what I accomplished with 63 clicks using Word. LibreOffice would have also taken twice as long, and given the extra effort, I would have taken more shortcuts and done a less effective job.
Comment 6 Jorendc 2013-10-13 21:47:22 UTC
Hi Cougar,

(In reply to comment #5)
> The following, for instance, is not normally relevant to a feature request,
> but on the other hand, it indicates the high priority that this feature, as
> I've described it, is for me.

Please see it from a broader (our) point of view. We have a huge bug database with approx 6000 open bugs. If everyone is going to mark his bug as 'the most important of them all', that wouldn't work out that great.

So, I think Owen did a good job here and marked this report as an enhancement request. This is the way we handle feature requests in our bug database. Since this is clearly a feature request, Owen did mark it as such.

Kind regards,

PS: 'critical bugs' are for crashers/data loss/major freezes and non working major components.
Comment 7 Cor Nouws 2013-10-14 21:09:37 UTC
Hi Cougar,

(In reply to comment #5)
> Owen, I don't know of a page anywhere that tells how I use my outliner and
> why the lack of one is a deal killer for ME. My bug tells you why I can't
> use LibreOffice, and it's different from why Mike finds it inconvenient. For
> him, it's not a deal killer.

I love proza :)
In this case, pls state what functionality you miss for example:
 "a button to move X "  "a view to see Y"  "a shortcut to etc"

If that is not possible, your important requests is a very strong support for the other issue and will me marked as such. Thanks,
Comment 8 Timur 2014-11-18 20:32:46 UTC
This is still unconfirmed. Sorry for not reading details, but outlining is requested in OpenOffice in 2002, so just think how important the details are. 
There are at least 7 similar requests. Please consider marking as a duplicate of Bug 38093 or Bug 38262.
Comment 9 Cor Nouws 2014-11-18 20:44:16 UTC
(In reply to Timur from comment #8)
> ..  Sorry for not reading details, 

Simple brief proposals are better read ;)
Comment 10 Mike Kaganski 2014-11-22 07:17:40 UTC
i#3959 has 11 dupes; there are so many similar requests for LO, too.

While this one MAY contain some additional details, it is more important for reporters to make their main goal (here, a decent outliner functionality) more visible. That is achieved using duplicates mechanism: if a request has many dupes, it (among other things) indicates relative importance of the request. It becomes more visible; chances are that it will find its implementor.

When there will be some initial effort to improve the status quo, it will be the time to file new reports on specific deficiencies.

Having this in mind, I close this as duplicate of Bug 68167 again. Also, I list some related requests in See Also section for reference.

*** This bug has been marked as a duplicate of bug 68167 ***
Comment 11 Mike Kaganski 2014-11-22 07:19:22 UTC

*** This bug has been marked as a duplicate of bug 38262 ***
Comment 12 Mike Kaganski 2015-04-27 00:29:23 UTC

*** This bug has been marked as a duplicate of bug 38093 ***