Story Hack

Freeware Outliner for Authors: TextTree 1.3

*update 3/7/2013 * I finally got the download link fixed.

Merry Christmas, everybody. Several years ago I wrote a little outliner program to make following Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method of writing a novel easier. I put it up for sale and have been selling a copy or two here and there ever since. As it ends up, somewhere in the last two computer crashes I’ve lost the code for the latest version. And it doesn’t look like I’ll be returning to the idea anytime soon.

So I’ve decided to release it as freeware. Thanks to all of you who have supported TextTree in the past.


Text Tree Windows Installer (1.5 MB)

Screen Shots

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(click for larger)

Program Description

Text Tree is an outline based writer’s tool.  It is designed make structured, understandable documents easily and quickly.  Text Tree has been found useful for story writing, FAQ creation, novel planning, manual writing, software support, biographies, and lesson planning.

What really sets Text Tree apart from other outliners is its export abilities. In other outliners, you make a outline of everything, then you have to cut and paste or go node by node to get your information out. Text Tree allows you to quickly export all or part of the information in your outline. For example, if you are organizing information to be displayed on the web, Text Tree can generate an html file with a table of contents to your information.  You can see an example of raw html output from Text Tree in the Text Tree Manual.

For novel writing, lesson planning, or biographical work, the text file exports are more useful.  In fact, Text Tree was originally written so that I could have a tool that would help me follow the snowflake process of writing a novel. If you are unfamiliar with the snowflake method, it is a process in which you distill your project to a single idea, then expand the parts of that idea, and then expand those parts, etc. until you get to the nitty-gritty details.  You then use the nitty-gritty details to write your work.  Text Tree help you expand those ideas in an outline, then allows you to export all that information, or just those nitty-gritty details.  For more information on how to follow the snowflake method with Text Tree, please watch the flash tutorial.

Text Tree also can import/export files from other outliners, including noterrific and Treepad lite.


You need at least Windows XP with Java installed.

Java be obtained here for free.

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4 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Snowflaky « Notebook Pages on May 28, 2010
  2. Pingback: Arriving at My Perfect Writing Tools « Quirk on December 30, 2011
  3. Pingback: Wednesday Whirlwind | DarcKnyt on February 8, 2012
  4. Pingback: NaNoWriMo Countdown: Outlining Resources - Dj Matioka Blog on May 19, 2014


  1. DarcKnyt, December 7, 2009:


    LOVE this program! Thank you Bryce!!

  2. Vanessa (DarcsFalcon), December 7, 2009:

    I think it’s awesome that you’re doing this!

    And for the record, TextTree rocks. :)

  3. Bryce Beattie, December 7, 2009:

    Thanks, you guys.

  4. Roslyn Schleker, December 19, 2009:

    I am very interested in this download, do you think it will work ok on Windows 7, 64 bit?


  5. Bryce Beattie, December 19, 2009:

    I assume that it will. If you give it a try, please let me know if it works.

  6. Joanie Raisovich, January 31, 2010:

    The link to the flash tutorial for using it with the snowflake method is broken.

  7. Flynt, February 8, 2010:

    Thank you for this program.

    This is exactly what I’ve been looking for to help keep track of things that was slowly but surely being spread across 16 different Word documents.

  8. Lou Prado, February 18, 2010:

    Thank you for this fantastic editor. It helps me manage my random thoughts like nothing else. I am actually using it to write a software specification. I use this tool every day and want to show my appreciation. Please e-mail me your mailing address and I’ll send you an amazon gift certificate.

  9. Horror Reviews, March 13, 2010:

    Good program, will give it a look tomorrow :)

  10. Alex, April 1, 2010:

    I’ve been looking for a piece of software that will give the flexibility of TextTree for a very long time. Back in 1989 there was a piece of software called ‘Framework’ (not Microsoft!) that ran under DOS which was provided free by the Open University which provided a similar flixible way of putting ideas down. I’ve been looking for something similar off and on for years. I just loaded TextTree on my laptop running windows 7. I’m very happy to have discovered your web site – thank you!

  11. windows tricks, April 27, 2010:

    Mmm it seems to work in Windows 7 as well. I activated the Windows 7 compatibility mode tobe sure not to incurr in any issue.

  12. 1st birthday dress, October 7, 2010:

    Thanks, specially to release it as freeware. It’s working fine in WinXP and Win7, but I’m not able to use it in Win2008 Server, it just crashes, weird, don’t know why….

  13. Noah L, March 25, 2011:

    I used Text Tree to outline my own zombie horror novella and I have to say that it was a big help. Now I’m using it for the sequel :)

  14. Toumas Katz, August 21, 2011:

    Having always been a pen and paper outliner i have to say a huge thankyou for Text Tree not only has it saved several reams of paper but also shaved at least two months of my normal development time for a novel. Thank you

  15. Bryce Beattie, August 22, 2011:

    Glad you find it helpful!

  16. Margo, September 1, 2011:

    I downloaded it a while ago, but didn’t realize the template did not work. And I thought I saved the work I created but it was gone when I opened it back up. How do I register it so I can use the templates/

  17. William, October 11, 2011:

    That’s a super cool move to release it as freeware, your helping people from all over the world get that one step closer to releasing they’re novel.

    This is an awesome piece of software and something that I will definitely be implementing in my writing and meeting plans.

  18. Hazel, February 6, 2012:

    Hi, I like your word cloud picture. Can I add that to my Facebook site? Thanks, Hazel

  19. Sabri Zain, February 17, 2012:

    I use Noterrific as my outliner on my PocketPC when I’m on the move and Treepad as my outliner on my PC (when I also want to incorporate links, images and document attachments for websites). Unfortunately, I couldn’t share files between the two – not until TextTree came along anyway! This program is a god-send, so many thanks indeed. I’ve had no problems so far importing and exporting Noterrific files into Treepad. However, imported Treepad files exported into Noterrific sometimes have text mark-up scripts embedded in the text when read in Noterrific if the original Treepad node has any form of formatting in it (such as bolds, underlines, etc). Any way of easily cleaning up this ‘rubbish’?

  20. Karin, April 1, 2012:

    Hey, any chance this could become compatible with Mac?

  21. Bryce Beattie, April 2, 2012:

    It was written in java, so yes. The problem is that I haven’t touched development on it in a long time. Like 4 computer crashes ago. If I can dig up an executable jar file, I’ll email you and post it here.

  22. Eric, April 3, 2012:

    This thing is awesome. I’m using it like crazy now!

  23. Yonathan, May 27, 2012:

    Just downloaded the software and will use it for my creative writing. Thanks brother!

  24. Hossein, September 4, 2012:

    thank you for this share, this is exactly what i want, but if there’s mac version of this software please let me know.
    thanks again

  25. Ascal, January 13, 2013:

    The download link for the installer doesn’t seem to be working

  26. fredrik, January 16, 2013:

    Hey, the link to download “text tree”does not seem to work or am i doing something wrong? Looking forward to test the program. All the best to you. Fredrik

  27. Bryce Beattie, January 16, 2013:

    I’ll see what the deal is.

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