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I haven’t seen a new outliner program for years, then suddenly new programs that can help lawyers organize thoughts and ideas in an easy to use outline format seem to be all over the place. Although some lawyers plan and save virtually all of their work in outline format, most of the time I don’t use outlining capacities of Microsoft Word for Windows or WordPerfect. So let’s take a look at ThoughtManager, originally an outliner for Palm OS handhelds that has been recently paired with Windows desktop version. THOUGHTMANAGER FOR THE PALM I downloaded a trial copy of the Palm version of ThoughtManager from the Web site of the developer, East Palo Alto, Calif.-based Hands High Software Inc. (All of the various HandsHigh Palm programs seem to be available on a 30-day trial basis.) The installation program running on my Windows-based PC prepared ThoughtManager to be installed the next time I hotsynced the Palm to the Desktop. Once on the Palm, I was able to register ThoughtManager by entering a code received from the developer. ThoughtManager works on the Palm exactly as an experienced Palm user might expect. Choose from a list of previously created outlines, or click on the “new” button to begin a new outline. Scribble or tap or type a headline, then a hard return to go to the next headline. Tapping an on-screen arrow will move the next headline to the right or left, if that is required, to indicate a new subordinate headline, or the beginning of a new headline in a more important position than the last. (“Scribble” refers to using the Palm’s Grafitti text entry by writing with the stylus; “tap,” the software keyboard that appears when you ask for it; and typing is what can be done if you connect the Palm to an external keyboard. These are the three methods used to enter information directly into a Palm handheld. Two indirect methods, downloading from a desktop or laptop computer using the Palm’s hotsync procedures and Palm-to-Palm “beaming” using the Palm’s built infrared serial dataport also work well. If you have a wireless Palm you can use radio frequencies to provide information to your Palm.) Of course, it is possible, as you build the outline, to rearrange the various headings, to change the levels visible in the outline, to expand the outline so that everything is visible, or to collapse the outline so that only primary headlines are visible, expanding only the particular major heading that interests you at the moment. ThoughtManager headlines do not have numbers, but they can, if you wish, have checkboxes, an innovation that I haven’t seen before. Consider a project checklist in outline format. When you’re finished with a specific item, tap the checkbox next to the completed headline to indicate the completed status. You can set a preference item so that if all of the subsidiary headlines are checked, the primary headline is automatically checked. At any time you can set ThoughtManager to make checked headlines invisible so that you can concentrate on the headline items that still require your attention. (A couple of more taps and the entire outline is, once again, visible.) Rather than seeing an internal “Find” command, the user is directed to the Palm OS “Find,” which shows a list of all Find-compatible files on the Palm that contain the particular text you are searching for. This is not very convenient if you are looking for a common word in a particular template, but it does work after a fashion. The user can attach a text Note or a Drawing to any headline. I found the Note capability convenient, but images on a standard Palm aren’t all that good anyhow. With more memory and the double resolution available on more advanced Palm-alikes such as the HandEra versions, the Drawing capability may be more useful. The program can export and import to and from the Palm MemoPad, although you will have to format your MemoPad memos correctly if you want the text to make sense in ThoughtManager. The ThoughtManager to MemoPad export works without problem, and would be useful if you wish to beam the information in an outline to others who don’t have ThoughtManager installed. If your Palm has the software and hardware required to connect to a printer, you can print your information. THOUGHTMANAGER FOR WINDOWS ThoughtManager Desktop for Windows is an enhanced version of ThoughtManager for the Palm. Still no numbering, but the checkboxes can be there or not, at your pleasure. The Desktop user can set the program to view the outline three (or up to nine) levels deep. Rather than relying on the operating system “Find” program, this version has its own Find command, to direct the user to text within the open template. We found the ability to attach drawings to a headline makes a lot more sense on the Desktop than on the Palm. The file list maintained by the program is divided into Handheld Templates, Handheld Outlines, Desktop Templates and Desktop Outlines. (In addition, as with the Palm version, data files can be separated into categories.) The Template/Outline distinction is in the eyes of the beholder — Templates are designed to be starters for Outlines. Outlines or Templates in the Desktop categories never go to your Palm. This gets a little complex, but it does work. For example, if you were to return to your alma mater to conduct interviews, you might design an outline to provide standard information about your interviewees. Save it as a template and create an outline for each interviewee, based on that template. Keep the template in the Desktop Template section of the file list, and the outlines for the individual interviewees in the Handheld Outlines section of the file list. Before you leave the office, sync your Palm, and everything in the Handheld Template and Outline sections is sent to the Palm. As you interview, the information on each applicant is available to you, and you can make changes or add your impressions as you go. Return to the office, sync the Palm again, and your revised outlines are back in your desktop computer. If you don’t get information about the interviewees until you get to the campus, make sure the template is saved in the Handheld Templates file list so it is sent to the Palm. Then create multiple outlines directly on the Palm. (A real keyboard will help a lot in this situation.) When you get back to the office, the outlines you created on your Palm will be transferred to the Handheld Outlines section of your Desktop file list. Of course, the Windows version supports printing. Template and outline files can also be exported or imported to Palm format, and also to and from Microsoft Word. The export got all of the text into Word, but without checkboxes, and I was unable to get Word 2000 to number outline headings properly. The latest version (Word XP) has better numbering capability and may be able to handle the problem, but I was unable to test it. The Word verison was enough of an outline so that subsidiary headlines could be collapsed and expanded using Word’s Outline View. VALUE The ThoughtManager Palm version costs $20. The Desktop version includes the Palm version and the conduit to transfer files between the two, at $40. If you already have the Palm version you can “upgrade” to the Desktop version for an additional $20. The Palm version is good, but the addition of the Desktop version makes an even more powerful tool. ThoughtManager Desktop is a powerful outlining tool in its own right, and except for the “free” modules that come as a part of Word or WordPerfect, the least expensive I can recall. If you find outlining an important part of your work, and can get along without numbered headlines, it is easily worth the $40 even if you don’t have a Palm. And if you rely on outlining a lot, this may be the killer application that will make you want to go out and buy a Palm. SUMMARY The ThoughtManager Palm/Desktop combinations are excellent outlining tools and work well together. If you often use outlines in your work, give ThoughtManager a try. DETAILS ThoughtManager for the Palm, Version 2.30. Price: $19.95. Requires Palm OS 3.0 or higher, 220 KB free space. ThoughtManager Desktop, Version 1.0. Price: $39.95 including Palm Version and Conduit. Requires Microsoft Windows 95 or later. Hands High Software Inc., 1290 Cypress St., East Palo Alto, CA 94303. Phone: (650) 473-9279. Fax: (650) 566-1738 Web: www.handshigh.com. E-mail: [email protected].

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