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Cotton Notes - king of the "outliner" apps ****

29 May 2015

I find when writing a long piece that I want to use outline view – as found in Microsoft Word. As I do more and more writing away from the desk, out in the field, I want that same kind of functionality in my iPad. So I looked and after downloading quite a few writing tools I found Cotton Notes. Search ended.


This is the one! It only gets four stars though (for now) because it's not quite there yet but I believe the developer, Anthony Romano, is still fine tuning. He's packed a lot of ideas into this app, taking careful consideration that it works expediently in a workflow.  


The issues for me with this app are that the export options are a bit limited. As a project management tool or GTD it may have a place with some users – in that it combines those features really well. However I don't need them. I have other more accessible ways to management my projects – so for me this is just clutter. I suspect these features might also be responsible for sidelining Romano's attention away from what I believe is Cotton Notes premium feature - it's Outlining prowess - and in a niche of its own.


The key thing I'm waiting for is to be able to see a single view of all the content falling under a level so that I might copy/paste or export into a text formatting app  – you get the drift. At present text created in the outline is a separate chunk. Of course this is exactly what you want for capturing notes - but if you are writing a lengthy article, story or essay then you are using Outline mode to facilitate breaking the text into logical sections – chapters, parts, topics etc. In a writer's workflow, once your piece has been laid out you'll want to transfer it to some kind of word processor for final edit, and then into a page layout app for publication. If you're in doubt about the benefits of using several best-of-niche apps in a workflow then read my article on Setting up a Workflow.  


If this one peaks your interest, go ahead, download and support Romano. For the price of a decent cup of coffee you will supporting independent innovation, aside from gearing yourself up to new ways of working well.


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