Does Birch make iOS more or less likely

Continuing the discussion from Birch 0.1.0 “Dev” release:

I think it’s unlikely that I’ll be doing an iOS editor. But I think it makes it more likely that you’ll be able to edit Birch outlines on iOS for two reasons:

  • First as I expect to continue supporting as much of the existing formats as I can you should still be able to use whatever your current workflow is. Ie edit TaskPaper in Editorial. It will be “lossy”, but that’s only a loss of you are using new features. If you are happy with current TaskPaper behavior, it shouldn’t matter.

  • But more important, it should be easy for Birch to read/write OPML without any lossy behavior. I don’t know for sure, but I expect that tools like OmniOutliner do OPML. So in that case you’ll actually have (I think) a better iOS experience since you’ll be able to do outlining things on both Birch on Mac and outliner of choice on iOS and have all the data round trip. I “think”. Haven’t actually tested all those tools and details of how they handle OPML yet.

If this turns out to be the case, then that will be great. OPML is well represented on iOS.

I notice that Jesse’s Birch code already contains a solid BML to OPML function.

All it will need is a few extra lines to write out the Birch key/value pairs as OPML attributes, and some decisions about the format in which to write out date values (pure UTC ? Taskpaper yyyy-mm-dd HH:MM ? something else ?).

(Worth checking what the OPML-consuming iOS apps are doing, or can read, if they are using date and perhaps duration attributes - I forget the details of what OmniOutliner was doing when last seen, for example )

And I personally find iThoughts much the best iOS outliner – not only does it read/write and sync OPML, it’s also now acquiring the capacity to filter branches and nodes by any project data (dates/completions etc) that they may have.

A very good iOS counterpart to xPath filtering of projects and tasks in Birch …

(And Craig Scott, the iThoughts developer, has an exceptional track record of supporting a range of outline and mindmap formats – I wonder if he would consider adding Birch .bml to the range of file formats read and written (with data attributes) by iThoughts on both platforms.