“Isn’t Dynalist just a WorkFlowy clone?”

Since Dynalist launched, some people have thought that Dynalist is simply a clone of WorkFlowy. Now is a good time to openly address the confusion about the nature of Dynalist.

We have used WorkFlowy and we liked it. However, we think that there are a lot of things that could take what WorkFlowy is doing to the next level, so we built Dynalist. To some, it may look like a clone but we’re confident this will not be the case in the future.

So what’s different about Dynalist?

Documents

People naturally have an idea of where the high-level structure ends and where the real content starts. Documents gives them the ability to explicitly draw the line. And you know what? People are already familiar with the way files and folders work on their computers.

Faster navigation

Although navigating from one place to another is doable in WorkFlowy, it takes quite a while to get used to, at least for us. Until the starred pages feature was introduced, you had to zoom back out, search for something, then zoom into it. Even with starred items, you are still limited to cycling through a single-dimensional list of starred pages.

We believe that it should take just a single click or a few keystrokes to get to anywhere you frequently work at. This is the extra advantage of having a file structure, and Sublime Text or IntelliJ IDEA users know exactly what we’re talking about. If you prefer, you don’t even have to leave the keyboard for something that comes up as frequently as switching context.

Here’s how fast it can be in Dynalist:

Navigate to any document in Dynalist

Our ambition: views

The way we picture Dynalist down the road doesn’t look anything like WorkFlowy. We imagined “views”. Views are different ways to show the same information. Think Google Calendar: the “Week View” and “Agenda View” look very different, but they’re showing the same information: your events. The idea is that different situations calls for different views.

If you have used Trello, you know it looks nothing like WorkFlowy. In essence, they are both just hierarchical lists, despite Trello’s depth limit of 2 levels. Trello shows the content in lists which consist of cards. Yes, there are many fancy features like comments, file attachments, labels, votes, but deep down, the thinking is the same. Trello is effectively just another view that can be applied to a list. A mind map is also just a different way to show a list of lists. Isn’t that mind-blowing? This thought blew our minds too, and we want this, badly.

Here’s what our mind map view prototype looks like. You will be able to view any Dynalist document as a mind map like this without doing any extra work.

Dynalist Mind Map Prorotype

Small things that matter

There are a lot of other small improvements. The kind of thing that would make your day better. Maybe you want to insert images. Maybe you want to set reminders. Maybe you want to check an item with a single click, like in a checklist. Or maybe you want to write nice equations. Sounds like tiny things, but the need for them comes up so often that the frustration just keeps piling up.

We’re still young

We want to build something that would let the full power of the outliner model shine, and what you see now are only our first steps. Yes, we’re still far from where we want to be, but we’ll be there eventually.

  • Jessica K

    I’m loving Dynalist so far! I imported all my content from Workflowy and find Dynalist already fits my needs much better. I hope you guys are around for a long, long time, and I can not wait for these future updates! Everyone has different ways they best process information… and if you guys can pull off what you are envisioning I truly think you will revolutionize outlining and list making in general!

    • Thanks Jessica, we hope we will be around for a long time too, to support all the amazing work people are doing with Dynalist!

  • Sinisa Perovic

    As a long time Workflowy user I was intrigued by Dynalist and moved my lists here. Big mistake. Dynalist is slow, needs a decade to even load in my browser, saving is taking way too long while it’s rendering the whole app unresponsive, in a nut shell – awful. I’m going back to the roots at Workflowy as this was a very frustrating experience.

    • Hi Sinisa,

      Thanks for your interest and your feedback!

      First of all, I must apologize. In countries outside the North America, Dynalist can be quite slow, since we’re just starting out and don’t have enough money to make it fast enough for everywhere in the world. Is that the case for you?

      We just did something this morning that hopefully makes everything faster for the rest of the world. We’d be happy if you could try Dynalist again and see if there’s any speed improvements.

      Secondly, I’d love to learn some details of how you moved your WorkFlowy stuff to Dynalist. Did you use the “Import from WorkFlowy” feature? Or did you copy and paste it manually? If your WorkFlowy list is huge, your browser can freeze when you paste the list. That’s normal.

      In any case, we apologize for the bad experience. If it’s a misunderstanding, we’ll love to do something about it:

      (1) It’s best to use the “Import from WorkFlowy” option in the main menu, as it imports everything – checked off status, formatting, etc. It’s also faster because our server does most of the work, not your computer.

      (2) After importing your WorkFlowy list, you can break it down really easily. Simply grab lists by their bullet point to the left side (the file explorer). That converts list items to documents. The idea of Dynalist is to break down a huge list into smaller pieces that makes sense, like a project or a presentation. That way you don’t have to load the entire list when you only need to access the 1% of it. I feel like this can also help with your speed problem.

      Please let me know if that changes anything!

      • Sinisa Perovic

        Hi.

        It’s good to see you care about the comments, I appreciate this effort.

        I do come from EU and that’s maybe the reason for slow and often non-responsive app. I had no performance nor other issues with “Import from WorkFlowy”.
        I will be checking your progress in the future and who knows, maybe “I’ll be back” 😉

        Cheers.

        • Thanks a lot for the reply Sinisa. Feel free to contact us any time about your experience with Dynalist!

  • Do you have a plan on supporting markdown on notes?
    Sometimes we need add a piece of code on it.

    • Hi Justin,

      I believe we’ve talked via email. You can already use markdown in notes.

  • I stumbled on to this because I typed in omniflow by accident and I’m so glad I did! I use Workflowy everyday and I feel exactly the same. There are so many ways that the format could be incredibly powerful. I’d love to help out.

    One feature that would be killer is an ability to embed one portion of an outline into another portion. To even embed an outline into itself. It may sound like recursion or inception but it has practical utility. It would change how site maps are made and articles are written.

    Keep up the good work.

    • Hi Alan,

      Thanks for the reply and the kind words!

      Embedding outlines inside an outline sounds exciting. I’m guessing you’re suggesting putting a “pointer” to another outline under an outliner, so you don’t need to keep multiple copies of the same thing in sync.

      We’ll probably start with internal links and see how that works out (see https://trello.com/c/qhoW5a63/41-utility-for-quickly-link-to-another-item ). I think the potential of linking/embedding stuff is gonna be huge.

      Thanks,
      Erica

  • Stephen

    Excited for these plans to be realized. I’ve looked high and low for an application that can switch between an outliner and a graph. If you get this right, you will have addressed an outstanding gap in simple information management.

    • Thanks for the kind words! Right now I think the closest thing is Text to Mind Map: https://www.text2mindmap.com/ (I’m pretty sure you’ve tried it)!

      We think you should be able to switch between the different forms effortlessly though, it’s the exact same data, after all. It’ll take some time before we get there, but I’m confident that we will!

      • Stephen

        Thanks! The feature that would radically expand the capabilities of Dynalist (beyond Text to Mind Map) is the ability to “link” to nodes within other layers of the hierarchy. Full graph capability (like a wiki) rather than limiting usability by enforcing a tree.

        • Drew Mackie

          Count me in on this one!! expressing Dynalist as a network (rather than a hierarchical mind map) would open up so many possibilities.

  • JS

    I’m in the process of evaluating Dynalist, and I successfully imported all of my lists from Workflowy. So far I am loving the additional functionality. Howerver, I have run into some bugginess (could not navigate up in a list after checking off an item at the bottom) and slower loading times (I see the infinity icon every time I move from one list to another). If you can pull of the polished performance and feel of Workflowy with additional functionality that doesn’t get in the way, this is going to be an amazing organizational tool. Keep up the good work.

    • Hi JS,

      Thanks for the kind words!

      Re: performance, yes, we have a plan to do another round of performance optimization sometime in the near future. It could be your network too — the loading time will be greatly reduced in a desktop (it’s almost ready for beta test!). Sometimes one’s workspace can be quite large to download.

      Re: not being able to navigate up after checking items, I’m really concerned about this, can you tell us a bit more about it? I’m not sure I understand what you mean. Do you mean that after you check off an item, the scrolling doesn’t work? Are you using keyboard or mouse to check it off?

      Thanks!

      • JS

        Thanks for the reply. I am now unable to repeat the issue that I described, so I don’t know what the exact conditions were that led to this, but basically I kept seeing an issue where when I used the keyboard shortcut to complete an item at the bottom of a list, the cursor would disappear and you would have to use the mouse to click back into the list to continue keyboard navigation.

        On the topic of speed, I am using a fast T1 connection. The infinity icon briefly loads when switching between lists.

        • Re: the bug, normally the cursor should go to the next visible item. Please do let us know if you can repeat the issue — we’d love to fix it so that it doesn’t break the flow for keyboard users!

          Re: speed, that seems normal, the infinity icon loader should disappear under a second. We preload all your content so you can switch between them faster. The icon is there so that you know you’ve switched documents. But maybe we should shorten that loading time so it doesn’t look like an actual load.

          Thanks for the details!

  • controlsgirl

    love the vision!! the mindmap prototype is “mind BLOWING”. ha. but seriously.