World Outline for Poets


A picture named accordianGuy.gifEC2 for Poets was such a hit, I decided to continue the thread, and create an easy intro path for people who just want to create prose and poetry with the world outline. In this case it isn't such a stretch, because that's what the software was designed for.

It's a geeks tool, for sure -- because it's good for writing templates, style sheets and scripts. But it's also a designer's tool, and it's for planners, organizers, research and thinking and presenting. It's a pretty amazingly useful tool. And with the worldoutline software, you can easily share your creativity with others, in some pretty amazing ways.

But first you have to get started! And that's what this is about.

Dave Winer
New York City
June 2012

Install the OPML Editor

We edit outlines with software that you can install on your desktop computer, Macintosh or Windows, called the OPML Editor.

To install the OPML Editor, go to, and follow the instructions there.

Create an account

I've set up a new server for a few people to try out the worldoutline.

You need an invitation code, which I supply in the screencast. I'm doing it this way because I want to be sure people have an idea what this is before they open a window. It will actually be faster this way, if you can believe that. Once you have the invite code, come back here and go to the Sign-up page.

I give my servers names of American cities. I've set up an experimental sandbox for new users on a machine called Tulsa running on Amazon EC2.

Choose a username and password and the invitation code. When you click Submit, you will go to the Roots page. This is where all your top-level outlines reside.

Click the New Root button. The list refreshes and now you see an item called Untitled.

Screen shot.

Let's edit the new outline

Over in the right-most columns you'll see three icons, an X, picture of a document, and a small XML icon.

The X deletes the outline (with confirmation).

The document icon allows you to edit it.

And the XML icon links to the OPML source for the outline on the server.

Be sure the OPML Editor app is running on your machine.

Click the middle icon to edit the outline. Screen shot.

The editor comes to the front and an Untitled window opens.

First thing to do is change the title. Click the Title button in the button-bar of the window. A dialog appears asking for a title, enter something like My First Outline.

Enter a line of text, this will be the title of the first page on the site, so call it something like My First Page.

Indent underneath it, and type some text. Perhaps Now is the time for all men to come to the aid of their country. Just a couple of sentences. Here's a screen shot of my outline.

Click the Save button to save the outline. A dialog pops up asking for the password. Enter the password when you set it up the account on the on the server. If it's correct, the outline is saved, and the password is stored locally, and will be used every time you save an outline on this server.

One more step before we look at the result on the web.

Put the cursor on the top headline. Start in the Outliner menu at the top of the screen, choose World Outline, then Set type to, and finally Blogpost. A confirmation dialog appears. Click OK.

Save again. Then click the View button. If all goes well, you should see something like this screen shot.


Now let's go back to your Roots page on the Tulsa server, and set up your prefs.

Over in the right corner, at the top of the screen, there's a dropdown menu. One of the commands in that menu is called Settings. Choose it.

You'll see a place to enter your name, email address, organization and a link to you bio. Enter as much information as you care to. It will be displayed by templates on some of the pages on the sites you create with the worldoutline software.

The bio url is something that can wait, because the worldoutline is a good place to create a bio page and keep it current.

We're going slow here

I know everything on the Internet is supposed to be fast, but this process will be comparatively slow.

I want to introduce people to a very small set of features at first, because I want to see how it goes before deciding what to unveil next. You can always plow ahead, if you're adventurous, and poke around the menus, and use a search engine to search the various sites that have docs for this, and worknotes.

But it's also cool to do a bit, use it for a while, and then learn some more. I think that will build a stronger foundation all-around, for everyone.

There's a place to leave comments below, if you have questions or if there were problems with the tutorial. I will add more sections when it's clear that this much worked for most people who tried it.

Next steps

6/20/12: Editing World Outline templates.

6/21/12: Creating a Threads website. (Screencast)

6/22/12: World Outline FAQs.

6/23/12: The glossary. (Screencast)

Support, more pointers

For support, check out the new Frontier-user mail list.

And if you're an old-time Frontier pioneer, see

Ye olde outliner cribsheet.

A directory of Howtos at

BTW, almost all the sites I'm linking to here are worldoutline sites. :-)

Posted on Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 10:21 AM by Dave Winer.