+1 on the ECCO-like outline + columns
Realize that, at the core, ECCO is “just” a clever UI on a flat file, where every “folder” is literally just another column. That turns out to be an amazingly useful abstraction. ECCO views (each in a tab at the bottom) are “just” a set of columns you want to see and, importantly, a filter of what rows you want to see in that view. Because every column has a type, just clicking on a cell can present you with a type-specific pop-up, e.g., date, folders (as item list), and so on.
Beyond the very powerful basic outline-with-columns, ECCO pioneered a large number of very innovative features, some which I have yet to find in any other app since - and it’s been decades:
- no-server sync: sync ECCO docs across multiple machines - and users
- simple toolbar customization: virtually anything you can do in the UI automatically creates a little square button in the upper right, which you can right-drag into a row (above the columns).
- the folder view on the left, which shows all the folders, not just the ones shown as columns in this view. This makes is easy to “link” items to any number of other folders.
- the floating clipping button, which relocated itself to the app with focus. Thus, you can clip from any app by selecting what you wanted to clip and clicking on that button.
- ability to use the hierarchy of folders as structure, e.g., choices within the parent folder
- ability to put any row in the outline into any folder, with options for how that is shown in the view. e.g., an indented item in the outline can be linked to a folder, and the outline parent(s) shown in light green, for context.
- probably many more I’m forgetting
IMHO a weakness in the ECCO paradigm is that, while rows can be added to any folder, you cannot link rows to each other. Nor can you link folder/columns together, except by parent/child hierarchy. Usually not a huge problem, tho.
It’s a crying shame that when MS Outlook came along, many people thought they were equivalent, or at least found Outlook (and later OneNote) to be better for them. ECCO died. But, it’s still available as free/shareware. It runs just fine on the Mac via CrossOver.
All that said, ECCO != Tinderbox. IMHO it’s worth looking at other tools just to think of different ways of working - and maybe “borrow” some ideas…