Tuesday, August 5, 2008, 8:47:47 AM.

theOpmlEditor picture

About the OPML Editor Permalink to this headline.

The OPML Editor is an outliner, which is a text editor that allows you to control the level of detail that's visible, and allows you to reorganize text according to its structure.

Outlines are just lists of lists, carried on to as many levels as you want. The grouping is arbitrary and totally up to you. The outliner has commands that make it easy to browse and reorganize structured information.

Getting started Permalink to this headline.

First, if you haven't already done so, download and install the OPML Editor application.

To try out the instructions on this page, choose Open URL from the File menu, and enter this URL:


Here's a screen shot of the outline as it opens.

Controlling detail Permalink to this headline.

As you look at an outline, scan down the left edge looking for black wedges. Any black wedge can be expanded, it has information collapsed underneath it. To expand a line, double-click on the wedge.

The illustration below shows an outline with a headline collapsed, and the same outline with the headline expanded.

Reorganizing Permalink to this headline.

You can move a line using the mouse or with command keys. When you move a line, all the lines underneath it move also, whether or not they're expanded.

To reorganize with the mouse, point at the wedge of the line you want to move. "Drag" it to point at another line. Note that its wedge turns into an arrow, indicating where the line will be dropped. If you nudge the mouse to the right, the arrow now points to the right. When you let up on the mouse, the line moves to its new location.

You can also use the keyboard to regorganize. The following table explains.

Control-UCmd-UMove a line up at the same level
Control-DCmd-DMove a line down at the same level
Control-RCmd-RMove a line to the right (it becomes the last subhead of the line above it).
Control-LCmd-LMove a line to the left (it becomes the next sibling of its former parent).

Tab and Shift-Tab to move a line to the right and left.

Adding new lines to an outline Permalink to this headline.

To add a new line to an outline, place the cursor above or near the point where you want to add the line, and press Enter. (Mac users press Return).

Use the reorganization commands to position the line exactly where you want.

Type the text. If you want to enter another line, press Enter. When you're done entering new lines, click on the wedge to the left of the headline.

Undo Permalink to this headline.

Most editing operations in the outliner can be undone. The Undo command is in the Edit menu.

Two modes Permalink to this headline.

There are two modes in the outliner: text mode, where the insertion point is a flashing caret; and structure mode, where the cursor is shown as a black inverse bar.

You can toggle between modes by pressing the numeric keypad's Enter key. You can also use the mouse -- if you're in text mode, click on the wedge to return to structure mode; if you're in structure mode, click on the text to get the flashing caret. On Windows F2 toggles between text and structure mode.

The structure mode cursor is also called the "bar cursor" because it looks like a bar.

Selecting multiple headlines Permalink to this headline.

To select more than one headline, on Windows, hold down the Control key and click on the headlines you want to select. On a Mac hold down the Cmd key and click.

HTML editing Permalink to this headline.

The HTML menu has many common formatting and linking commands, so you don't have to memorize complex codes. And for the most common stylings, bold, italic, underline; and linking, it displays the markup in a visible way.

A picture named examples.gif

If you want to switch modes and see all the HTML tags, choose the Format Text command in the HTML menu, its keystroke is Control-` (Cmd-` on Macintosh).

A picture named examplesMarkupVisible.gif

The specific HTML tags that it generates are: <b>, <i>, <u>, and <a href..>.

XML editing Permalink to this headline.

The OPML Editor can also be used to edit any XML file in the outliner.

When you choose the Open command, and the file you're opening has a .xml suffix, it opens in an outline. One of two things happen:

1. If it's not an OPML file, you see the XML as it is stored in the file. You can edit the tags, of course. When you save, it saves as XML, it doesn't convert the outline to OPML format. Screen shot.

2. If, instead, it is an OPML file, the file opens as an outline and the tags are hidden.

Right-click menus Permalink to this headline.

On Windows and Macs with two-button mice, you can "right-click" on something by pointing at the object and clicking on the right mouse button. On one-button Macs, hold down the Control key while clicking on the object.

Right-click menus are also called "contextual menus" because what you see in them depends on what you clicked on. There are commands that only apply to songs, and those that only apply to users, and RSS feeds, and so on.

There's also a special menu where you can add your own commands that will always be there when you right click. To edit your custom right-click menu, choose Edit Right-Click Menu from the Developers sub-menu of the Tools menu.

Screen shots: Right-clicking on a song, user, RSS channel.

Comments Permalink to this headline.

The OPML Editor can be used to edit scripts, and if you're writing scripts you need to be able to add comments.

If you want a line and all the lines nested underneath it to be viewed as a comment, press the Shift key while you create the line. Note that instead of a wedge, the line has a chevron to its left.

Any text that's indented under one of these lines is also viewed as a comment. You can go on and on, but thankfully, readers can collapse the whole comment down to a single line. So if you're verbose, the code doesn't become less readable.

Comments play an important role in programming. They are bits of text that are meant for the programmer but are ignored when the code is compiled. Comments are also used in other ways, for example in Directories, a subordinate comment is the description of its parent.

You can also add comments at the end of a non-comment line by putting a pair of slashes before the comment. This only works for scripts, other kinds of outlines generally do not respect this convention.

Commands in the Outliner menu Permalink to this headline.

Expand -- Expands the child lines one level of indent below the selected parent.

Expand All Subheads -- Fully expands all levels of the child lines of a selected parent.

Expand Everything -- Fully expands all lines in the outline window.

Collapse -- Collapses all the child lines of a selected parent.

Collapse Everything -- Collapses all of the lines to the top level parent lines of the outline hierarchy.

Collapse To Parent - Collapses all siblings of the cursor line and places the cursor on the parent.

Toggle Comment: If the cursor line is a comment, make it not a comment; if it's not a comment, make it a comment.

Move Up: Moves the selected line (and all its child lines) one line up.

Move Down: Moves the selected line (and all its child lines) one line down.

Move Right: Moves the selected line (and all its child lines) one indent to the right.

Move Left: Moves the selected line (and all its child lines) one level to the left. This may cause the line to move jump to the next available slot at the next higher level of indentation.

Hoist: Change the display to make all immediate subheads of the current heading to appear to become summits.

De-Hoist: Reverse the last Hoist command on this outline.

De-Hoist All: Reverse all Hoist commands on this outline.

Sort: All lines at the current level are sorted alphabetically.

Delete All Sub-Heads: All sub-items to the current line will be deleted. Warning: this can't be undone.

Other topics Permalink to this headline.

Keyboard shortcuts.

Linking and The World Outline, Inclusion.

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