OWL (Outliner with Wiki Linking) (2013)

Mid 2013, Dave Winer open-sourced the Concord editor : a new outliner ported to work in the browser. This was an exciting moment for me as I’m a big outliner fan and the browser was badly missing a decent outliner. I immediately started playing with it.

The resulting OWL (Outliner with Wiki Linking) embeds Concord in the context of a wiki-like collection of named pages and adds a way to easily create hyperlinks to these new pages. (Unlike the orginal wiki I’ve moved away from CamelCase, but I’ve kept the “concrete pagenames” convention.)

I am very happy with the result and use it for my own notebook / brainstorming tool. It combines two very powerful information / idea organizing tropes in an intuitive and easy to use way. Because Concord is just the in-browser editor part, I’ve had to add page-store management code for different environments. I now run OWL (everyday) in two contexts : on my Linux laptop and on my Android tablet.

For the laptop version, I wrote a small Python web-server which saves the pages to disk, and to which the user connects from the browser. For the Android version, I created a small Android app. to talk to the local file-system and embedded the HTML component in a “webview”.

I now use btsync to keep the collection of pages synced between the two machines, giving me the advantages of a single shared collection of notes, without a) having to be online all the time, b) having to run a publicly visible webserver that would need to check user credentials etc. or c) depending on a centralized cloud-service like Dropbox or Evernote which is easily read by the NSA.

The code for both versions is available on GitHub :

OWL for laptop »

OWL Android app ».