Thursday, October 14, 2004

Brief Treepad Review - Handy for Outlining

Since the mid 1990’s I would typically create an outline in one word processor or another if I needed to bring a concept or project to life. I despise Word, although I know many disagree and proclaim Word as being a terrific application for outlining.

After playing with the latest versions of KOffice on Linux and OpenOffice on Windows, plus an old version of WordPerfect, nothing really felt right to me. I even thought about firing up my Macintosh emulator and using one of my old Mac outlining programs from the early 1990’s, but in the end that seemed just a little too eccentric – even for my taste.

Because of the nature of law school and the materials briefed and utilized, what I really wanted was some type of formal outlining program that would also work a little bit like a database. I found and tried a wide range of programs, some were free and open source, others were shareware and some were entirely commercial. I should note that out of fool’s instinct, I thought Microsoft OneNote would prove to be an excellent note taking and outlining program, only to blow $40 on something I will probably never, ever use again. It’s not a bad program and is in fact kind of cool, but it just wasn’t for me.

In the end I came across a program called Treepad. My one screenshot pretty much sums up how I use the program. On the left I create an outline as the class progresses along with matching up the topics and headings from the book. As I click on each heading, subheading and so on forth, it bring up on the right pane the contents of each node.

With Treepad I am able to create a highly organized outline that tracks the peculiar teaching style of each professor, while at the same time maintaining an equally applicable database to store my case briefs. I can easily mold and shape Treepad to work the way I work while at the same time creating a workable, manageable outline tree on the fly as I progress through the course.

Another nice touch that Treepad offers is an Export to Web function. One can export their project in the form of a website that can be viewed by just about any standards compliant web browser – even aging browsers like Internet Explorer work fine for viewing web sites created with Treepad.

Chances are if you have already settled into your first term in law school, you’ve probably developed a method for managing your workload and outlines. However, if you are still preparing to start school I recommend you download a trial copy of Treepad and take it for a test run. I opted to purchase the Business Version for $43.95, but the free edition is also a capable outliner without the bells and whistles. I should also note that version is available for Linux as well.

Treepad Screenshot Posted by Hello


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