Radio UserLand Kick Start: Modifying an Outline

Modifying an Outline

This is part of Chapter 8 of the book Radio UserLand Kick Start by Rogers Cadenhead, published by Sams Publishing

Radio's outliner can be used to open and edit any file in OPML format. Although these files are normally given the .opml filename extension, that's not a requirement -- Radio will open any OPML file.

The outliner can open local files and files published on the Internet. Choose the menu command File, Open to load a local outline or File, Open URL to load an outline using a URL. Outlines opened from a URL can be edited and saved locally, which does not alter the contents of the original outline.

The outliner functions in two editing modes: selection mode and content mode.

Selection mode is used primarily to work with existing items without changing their text. Items can be moved, sorted, deleted, and the like. In selection mode, the currently selected item is displayed with white text in a black box. In Figure 8.6, the outline is in selection mode and "Microsoft Bob" is selected.

Outlining in selection mode

Figure 8.6.

Outlining in selection mode.

In selection mode, the arrow keys select a different item, moving the black box around. The up and down arrows go up and down within a group of subheads, never leaving them to go to an item at a different level. The left and right arrows go up and down among any visible item regardless of level.

A mouse also can be used to select items. While in selection mode, click an item's triangle icon or click anywhere in the whitespace to the right or left of the item.

Content mode is used to make changes to the text of existing items and add new items using the keyboard. In content mode, a cursor blinks at a position in the outline.

To switch from one mode to the other, press the keypad Enter key. On a Windows laptop or another computer that lacks a keypad, press F2 to switch modes.

When an OPML file is being edited, these two modes are pretty flexible. If text is entered while the outliner is in selection mode, Radio deletes the selected item, switches to content mode, and places the new text at that position.

Many of the commands to move an item will work in both selection mode and content mode. For example, the Up, Down, Left, and Right commands can be used in either mode.

The standard cut, copy, paste, and undo functions work in either mode. They're listed in Table 8.2.

Table 8.2: Standard Editing Functions and Shortcuts

Menu Command Windows Mac
Edit, Cut Ctrl-X Cmd-X
Edit, Copy Ctrl-C Cmd-C
Edit, Paste Ctrl-V Cmd-V
Edit, Undo Ctrl-Z Cmd-Z

To delete the current item, use the cut command in any mode or press the Delete key while in selection mode.

In Radio, the undo command wipes out the last action taken while editing -- it can be used to put items back in an outline that were deleted, remove a typo entered with the keyboard, and the like. This feature can correct only the last action.

Several commands on the Outline menu affect one or more subheads of the current item.

  • The Outline, Promote command causes all subheads of the item to move up one level, becoming siblings instead.
  • The Outline, Demote command causes all siblings below the item to become subheads of that item.

Figure 8.7 contains two outlines with the same items indented differently.

Promoting and demoting items

Figure 8.7.

Promoting and demoting items.

The outline on the right contains a few errors that could be fixed with promotion or demotion. The outline on the left shows the effect of these corrections.

With "Asahi Shimbun" selected, the Promote command moves all of its subheads -- "Hokkaido Shimbun" and "Yomiuri Shimbun" -- to the left.

With "South Korea" selected, the Demote command moves the two siblings below it -- "Dong-a Ilbo" and "Seoul Shimbun" -- to the right, making them its subheads.

Both commands have shortcuts: Ctrl-[ and Ctrl-] to promote and demote on Windows and Cmd-[ and Cmd-] to promote and demote on Macs. They work in both editing modes.

These additional commands manipulate subheads and work in either mode:

  • The Outline, Delete All Subheads command deletes all of the subheads of the current item.
  • The Outline, Sort command sorts the current item and all of its siblings in alphabetical order.
  • The Outline, Make First command moves the current item above all of its siblings.
  • The Outline, Make Last command moves the current item below all of its siblings.

Caution: There appears to be a bug in the undo command for both the Windows and MacOS versions of Radio. When Delete All Subheads is used to remove all subheads, undo does not bring them back.

The last two commands on the Outline menu affect two subheads at one time.

  • The Outline, Join command merges the current item with the sibling below it. If the item has subheads, these will be unaffected.
  • The Outline, Split command splits the current item into two items, making them siblings.

Before splitting an item, go into content mode and place the cursor at the spot where the item should be divided.

Remembering these commands is likely to take some practice; the Radio outliner is one of the most sophisticated of its kind and has a lot of "power user" features for people who have been expressing themselves in outline form for many years.

Radio also supports a more intuitive way to manipulate an outline: By using the mouse to select an item and drag it to a new location.

An item can be dragged anywhere on the outline and released, placing it (and its subheads) at a new location.

Clicking and dragging can be used to change the order of subheads and make an item a subhead of another item.

As an item is dragged around, arrow icons appear in place of the other icons (see Figure 8.8). The direction of the arrow shows what will happen if the item was released at that position. In the figure, the arrow is pointing downward to indicate that "Yomiuri Shimbun" would become a sibling right below "Asahi Shimbun". If the arrow were pointing down and to the right (compass southeast), "Yomiuri Shimbun" would become a subhead of "Asahi Shimbun" instead.

Dragging an item around

Figure 8.8.

Dragging an item around.

More than one item can be selected at a time before being dragged:

  • To select consecutive items, hold down the Shift key while clicking the first and last item to be chosen.
  • To select non-consecutive items, hold down the Ctrl key (Windows) or the Cmd key (MacOS) and click each item.

Chapter 8:

  1. Introduction
  2. Understanding Outlines
  3. Writing an Outline
  4. Modifying an Outline
  5. Viewing an Outline
  6. Using Links in an Outline
  7. Summary

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