I’ve been using Fargo, the new outlining tool that lives in the browser, pretty heavily for the past week. As this semester winds down, I’m busy preparing to teach my summer session class and train about five research students in the lab for the summer. Both of those activities require a lot of thinking and planning, and because Fargo solves my biggest problems with other outlining tools, I’ve been using it fearlessly.
One of my observations over the past week is that I appreciate having an ambient writing space. By not having to think about where to write something, I’ve tended to write more. This may seem dorky, but I think there’s something to it. Also, having a scratchpad outline where I can both collect research fragments and string them together into paragraphs feels powerful.
It doesn’t hurt that Small Picture has added two power features over the past week, either. Both the ability to post directly to a WordPress blog and support for Markdown on export make Fargo an even more appealing writing environment. What I like about both of these features is the implicit acknowledgment that Fargo is not necessarily a final destination for ideas, that it is happy to help give birth to them and send them on their way.
Despite its strengths, Fargo is still young and has some rough edges. One minor annoyance is the way the dialog boxes that open when entering a link or exporting to Markdown don’t respond to the ‘Return’ key consistently. Maybe this is a limitation of programming an application in the browser, but it seems if I can dismiss one dialog with the Return key, I ought to be able to dismiss others. For example, I always seem to be able to ‘OK’ the Link dialog by pressing Return, but not the Attribute Editor dialog.
One issue I encountered while writing this very post is with cutting and pasting. I wanted to split a paragraph, so I created a new node, cut the text I wanted, and pasted it into the new node. No problem, except all of the links that were in the text went away. Toggling into non-render mode avoided this, but I doubt I’ll remember to do that before editing text.
Another complaint I have is that I can’t edit the attributes of more than one node at a time. I’d like to be able to select a few nodes and add an icon to them, as described by Jeffrey Kishner at imissmymac.com. This converts the stock wedge into something more visually descriptive. All of the icons in the Font Awesome collection are available, but right now they have to be assigned one-at-a-time.