A Backup Plan In Case All the OPML-Supported Outliner Web Apps Disappear
by kishner Wednesday, April 27, 2016

I am starting to feel overwhelmed with Workflowy. Like, it's hard to find things. I know there's a search box and tag support and the ability to star outlines, but at this point I feel that my entire Workflowy outline is one big dump.

I am starting to see the original appeal of Fargo.io, because at least there each outline is modular.

Maybe I have become too obsessed with having complete control of my both my data and my tools. If Dave Winer stops hosting Fargo or the owners of Workflowy sunset the app, what am I going to do? All I have is a bunch of OPML or text files in Dropbox. 

Worst comes to worst, I can use the Concord outliner. This is the outliner used in Fargo. Dave Winer released the outliner on github via the GPL license. A while ago, I cloned the app into a subdirectory of one of my web domains, so I have access to a bare-bones outliner on my server. 

Example 1 is a version of the outliner that saves the OPML to localStorage. It is possible to go into the Resources section in Developer Tools to grab the OPML, but I've adapted this index.html page with a section below the outliner to include a textarea with the OPML, as well as a form that allows me to paste OPML into a textarea and import it. (This overrides the value of savedOpmltext in the localStorage.) I can paste any "tabbed" outline or a Fargo outline into this outliner, but it doesn't carry link attributes, whereas if I import OPML, the links carries over.

This way, I don't have to use Workflowy or Fargo, or really any outliner that is not hosted on my own server. I just have to store a bunch of OPML files somewhere and swap one into this outliner when I want to work on it, and then export it when I'm done. It's inconvenient, but at least I feel assured that there is a backup plan in case all the web apps disappear.

  • Good plan. I also hope to at some point find the time to make a desktop outliner out of concord.

  • I use Fargo a lot. A sudden disappearance of Fargo.io would be a huge impact to me, but Dave has given assurance that won't happen. A secondary concern that has a high probability is breakage between Fargo and Dropbox. If Dropbox changes their API, Fargo could break and you would no longer be able to edit and save your OPML files, although I could probably open them by URL. My backup is that I have a local copy of the OPML Editor installed on my computers. The ideal solution would be to allow the user to specify the storage location for Fargo, either to local computers or to cloud storage like Dropbox, S3, etc.. 

    • I trust that Dave will continue to support Fargo, but he's just one guy and he's not going to be around forever.

  • Jeffrey, an outliner I have used in the past that supports OPML is the Java Outline Editor (http://outliner.sourceforge.net/). It runs locally on your machine (Java required, of course) and seems to work ok.

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