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Often I want to organize data into a tree-like structure. However, I would not know how to do this quickly. Here are two examples:

Example 1 I keep track of my spending, and I am interested in total amount spent in each (sub) category. For example categories like this: Leisure -> Sport -> Materials Leisure -> Sport -> Courses

Example 2 I also keep track of how I spend my time. In this case I want to add up the hours in different (sub) categories. For example categories like this: Hobby -> Computers -> Programming

It should be simple to add and remove both data and categories, and it would be good if it is possible to get a quick overview of the data. I think a spreadsheet would be ideal. However, I am not an export on spreadsheets.

I consulted the documentation of the open source spreadsheet Libre Office Calc, but I could not see how to do this without having to learn a great deal about spreadsheets and scripting.

Another drawback of a normal spreadsheet is that is not made for tree-like information. You could make a table with columns category, sub 1, sub 2, name, value. An entry in this table could look like Leisure, Sport, Materials, Shoes, Basketball, $100. It is more natural to have a tree with categories, click on leisure, click on sports, click on materials and add an entry.

Question Does anyone know free software that does task I described here? Or example spreadsheets that are available on the web so I don't have to reinvent the wheel?

P.S. See also this question, which does not include adding up numbers for each level of the tree structure Hierarchy tree editor

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2 Answers 2

Outlining with Emacs org-mode

Emacs org-mode (http://orgmode.org/) should be able to do what you want.

  • It is an outliner software, so it naturally supports a tree-like structure with headlines, sub-headlines, etc.
  • You can add tags, categories and other metadata to each headline/bullet point
  • There are very comfortable features for clocking time spent on each headline
    and with a clocking report you can also sum up the clocked durations of each headline or a branch of a tree
  • it can create and handle tables with values, formulas, etc.
  • It is free and open source software, which is also maintained and developed actively
  • It has very powerful search and filter features and with the so called agendas you can create your own pre-defined views of the data.
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Mindmaps are able to visualize a hierarchical "tree" structure of data naturally.

I recommend the free and open source mindmapping tool Freeplane (http://freeplane.sourceforge.net/) - I am using it myself and it has a lot of very nice and useful features.

  • It manages and creates hierarchical structures easily and clearly arranged
  • It lets you use formulas to calculate values based on the properties of nodes
  • With the so called "attributes" you can easily add custom metadata like your categories to each node
  • It is free and open source software, which is also maintained and developed actively
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