Category Archives: Announcements

Dynalist & Obsidian

Hi Dynalisters!

As many of you have heard, for the past few months we have been working on the side on a new thing called Obsidian. Obsidian public beta was launched two days ago, and we figure we should let you guys know about it too.

Obsidian is quite different from Dynalist, as it’s a knowledge base that’s works on top of a local folder of Markdown files. It’s also not an outliner (as in you can’t zoom, expand, or collapse). The use case of Obsidian is more about deliberately writing down and revisiting notes, more than quick and friction-less brainstorming and capturing. Obsidian values connections more, whereas Dynalist values structures more.

If you’re interested in Obsidian, feel free to check it out! Its use case does overlap with Dynalist a bit, but not much, and we’ve heard many people having successes with using both for different purposes. As for Dynalist, we will develop and maintain it as usual; we don’t expect much to change.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach us via either our forum or the email!

PSA: checkbox revamp

Hi Dynalist friends! We have a PSA to make on this special leap day: we’ve recently changed how checkboxes work.

Before, when you make a checklist, all of the children automatically get checkboxes and there’s no way to remove the checkboxes individually. Now, when you add a checkbox, it’s added only to the items you specify, and you can always remove a checkbox from an item.

The shortcut to add a checkbox is the same as before: Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+C. There’s a new bulk convenience option to add checkboxes to all the child items (all levels) of an item. It’s accessible from the item menu. There’s no default shortcut for it, but you can customize it with custom shortcuts.

Unfortunately, this new change is causing checkboxes to “disappear” and some manual migration is needed.

Let’s say your list looks like this before:

Now it will look like this:

Migration steps

To migrate your checklists, please use the “Add checkbox to children” option (available in the item menu) on the parent item. This will add checkboxes to all the child items.

You can then go ahead and remove checkboxes from non-tasks under “parent” if you wanted to in the past but couldn’t.

These migration steps can only be done in the web app and desktop app right now, as the mobile app doesn’t have the “Add checkbox to children” option. Fortunately it’s only a one-time thing.

We deeply apologize for the inconvenience involves, as we could have designed it better the first time around. At this point, despite all the inconvenience during migration, we believe the newly gained flexibility in checkbox is well worth it. Thanks for bearing with us!

October update: custom mobile toolbar

Hi Dynalisters! Here’s what we’ve been up to in October:


  • [Pro] Customizable mobile toolbar.

    For years, we’ve been bothered by our evergrowing toolbar. Although it’s pretty big already, people always want to access more features from the mobile app.

    It has been a hard problem for us, because of how small the screen estate is on mobile, and how different everyone’s use cases are, but today I’m happy to present our solution: a customizable toolbar!

    With the customization UI, which Pro users can access in the toolbar, you can remove, add, and reorder options. We added the “Duplicate item” spare option, and there are more to come in the future.

    Finally, people with different needs on mobile can customize their toolbar, and we don’t need to crowd everyone’s toolbar. I don’t know about you, but I feel happy :’)

(Custom toolbar will be released in 1.3.6, which is currently under review.)


  • Sort by date in the note. Sort by date used to only work on the first date presented in the item title, and now it will look at the note for dates if the title doesn’t contain any.


  • [Mobile] Fixed iOS 13 auto-capitalization issue. This caused difficulities in focusing and creating items.
  • [Navigation] Fixed clicking on tags in breadcrumb doesn’t take you there.
  • [Misc] Fixed not being able to rename a document right after creating it.
  • [Mobile] Fixed Slide to Complete/Delete stopped working after dragging the bullet.
  • [Copy/paste] Fixed not able to paste some links.
  • [UI] Fixed read-only lock icon glitch in printed documents.


  • WYSIWYG editing!

    This is the “big project” we were so secret about last month. Sorry guys! Didn’t mean to tease anyone, last month we weren’t sure whether we can pull it off, now we’re a lot more confident. The bad news is that it’s not ready yet, and it will take some more time. We’re committed to it though!

    If you want to learn more about why it takes so long for us to make up our mind, experiment with it, and to actually finish it, please scroll down to the very bottom of our post. We’ve prepared a more detailed (but slightly more technical) explanation for you.

  • Reafactoring. In addition to all the planning, experimenting, and migrating, we also needed to do refactoring before introducing WYSIWYG (and also some other long-awaited features).

WYSIWYG explanation (a.k.a. Shida’s rant)

This has been one of the most heavily requested functionality of Dynalist and for good reason. While the markdown format we use made writing formatted text easy without leaving the keyboard, it’s still quite unintuitive for many many people who aren’t familiar with it. The current editing experience has been criticized because it’s not possible to edit an item and seeing the result at the same time. This also means that if your item includes any kind of formatting, its content would “jump” when you focus your cursor on it, and that makes for a poor experience.

Unfortunately, since the beginning of Dynalist ~March 2015, this has been the way. At the time, browser technology was also an issue, which was why we opted for the simpler markdown approach. See “Why ContentEditable is Terrible” and “ContentEditable: The Good the Bad and the Ugly“.

Every single component of Dynalist functions around this idea of a “raw” markdown and a “rendered” version of it. As time moved on, more and more functionality was added to Dynalist which depended on this assumption, and more users started depending on Dynalist to organize thier work and life.

This ended up making a WYSIWYG editor an almost impossibility for Dynalist. Why? Because of the tremendous amount of work that involes the “Migration”.

Some of the difficulties includes:

  • Some people use Dynalist on the web, on the mobile app, and the desktop app. Heck some people even have multiple tabs open on multiple computers (like home and work). How does an “old” version of Dynalist, unaware of the WYSIWYG format, deals with the migrated data?- Many of Dynalist’s components has to be able to parse our data format (Automated backups to Dropbox/GoogleDrive, Google Calendar Sync, Version History, just to name a few). Those will need to understand both the old version and the new.
  • Version History should still have to read the old format, at least for the 1 year retention period.
  • What would happen to previously created “backups” of Dynalist, in OPML format for example? We’ll need a way to import them to the new system.
  • What if some users decide not to migrate to WYSIWYG, either by preference or maybe just not used to it.
  • What if some users are concerned the migration might not function correctly, and they lose data? What if it does have a bug and corrupts the data??? What kind of backups/confirmations/verifications would we need to have in place?
  • How do we make sure any migration doesn’t break Dynalist internal links? These links include the document ID and the item ID, which will be different if a migration involves creating a copy (for safety reasons).
  • Do we set a date after which we forcefully migrate everyone, or do we continue to support the old version forever?
  • And many more…

Here’s the good news. While we still haven’t finished discussions over these questions, we did commit ourselves to make a push to have it done.

During the last 2 months, we’ve been experimenting with WYSIWYG technology on the side to see if we can make it work for Dynalist. Our conclusion is that the web technology is good enough right now for us to make WYSIWYG a reality in Dynalist. We’ll still need to integrate this into Dynalist’s codebase, and figure out the migration process, but I’m glad to announce that WE’RE WORKING ON IT!

For those who prefers Markdown over WYSIWYG, I just want to reassure you that Markdown is NOT going away – we’ll figure out some way to have it supported.

It’s not clear how long this is going to take, but in our estimate it could take anywhere from 2 months to half a year, depending on how many obstacles we run into and the workload we dedicate to maintaining and improving Dynalist in other ways.

This is not to say that we’ll be 100% focused on WYSIWYG; keeping Dynalist up and running, fixing annoying bugs, and improving the product overall will still be taking a significant chunk of our time. You can still expect us to post monthly updates with bug fixes and new features. We might also post updates on our WYSIWYG progress, but no promises on that one.

Scheduled migration on 2019/6/1

Update: migration is smooth; it took us 90 minutes less than predicted. Dynalist is now also quite a bit faster! 🙂

Hi folks,

Because of the downtime we had last week (see the postmortem post for details), we will migrate to a new dedicated server. This will require some downtime for the migration.

The migration will take place from 8 PM on 2019/6/1 to 1 AM on 2019/6/2 EDT. We have chosen this time period in order to affect the least amount of users; we’re really sorry if you’re going to access Dynalist at that time.

During the downtime, you will not be able to load the Dynalist web app nor access our web pages. If you’re using the desktop app or the mobile app, changes will be only be saved locally. Once the new server is up and running, the unsynced changes will be synced to our server.

If you want to be able to work on your Dynalist documents during the downtime, please download our desktop app or mobile app in advance. Thanks!

March update: new mind map view (not a joke!)

Hi folks,

Last month we’ve been working on refreshing the mind map view (a Dynalist Pro feature).

The prototype has been there all the time (look at this jumpy screenshot from three years ago!). This time around, we made a bunch of improvements:

  • The nodes no longer jump around
  • Markdown and links are properly rendered
  • Zoom in and out with your mouse wheel to see the big picture
  • Breadcrumb on the top
  • Go back and forward in browser history
  • Mind map view is encoded in the URL

How to use

You can open the mind map view from here (Pro account required):

And voilà! You have a mind map version of your document!

If you need some Dynalist Pro trial time to give it a try, don’t hesitate to drop us a line at We’re happy to help!

Next steps

There are lots of improvements we’d like to bring to the mind map view.

To list a few of them:

  • [Done] Make it use the font you choose in settings
  • [Done] Switching document while in the mind map view doesn’t work yet
  • [Done] Display color labels and headings
  • Make items in mind map editable

It’s an experiment, after all, it’s by no means a standard outliner feature. So whether we would continue to develop things on this list would depend on how the mind map view is received.

That means, if you have any feedback or ideas on how to make the mind map view more useful, feel free to let us know! Thanks so much 🙂

December update + 2018 year in review

Happy New Year y’all!

The big news from December is that we released the new recurring date Pro feature (read about it here). It’s always been one of the most requested features since the introduction of dates, and we’re glad to have it ready before 2019.

Now that 2018 has passed, we thought it’s a good time to review what we did last year:

In 2019, collaboration and extensibility will be our two biggest themes. We want Dynalist to work better for teams, and we want it to work better for power users, who are improving themselves and changing the world. We’ll also be improving the mobile experience.

We hope you continue to enjoy Dynalist and recommend it to your friends. If you ever need anything, you can reach us by dropping us a line or post in the forum.

Recurring dates

Finally you can set recurring dates in Dynalist!

Note: this feature is Pro-only.

Recurring dates makes managing repeating tasks easy. When checking off a recurring date, the next occurrence will be automatically generated. You also have the option to update the existing item rather than creating a new one.

In addition to the commonly used daily and weekly tasks, you can also define your custom recurring tasks. You can even specify certain days in a week.

For a complete guide on how to use recurring dates, click here.

This has been one of the most requested features for a long time, and we’re grateful for your patience. Enjoy!

P.S. This is not the final version and we’ll iterate on it. So don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any feedback! If you’re interested in trying it out, just drop us a line to request some free Pro trial.


Ever wanted to sort things in Dynalist? Now it’s possible!

To use: choose one or more items and select the sort key and order. If only one item is chosen, its children will be sorted. If multiple items are chosen, they themselves will be sorted and their children will not be affected.

Sorting is available right now on the web app.

Yes, it’s coming to the desktop apps very soon. No, we’re not sure when it will be available on the mobile apps. No, it’s not a Pro feature. And yes, we will consider adding shortcuts for these commands for you power users. Leave a comment for any other question you might have!

Jump to any item: item finder

With Dynalist’s file finder, you can already jump to documents and bookmarks pretty painlessly.

Wanna see something cooler? Here’s our latest Pro feature: now you can jump to any item!

It’s exactly like how the file finder works. You search for the item, navigate the results if necessary, and press Enter. Voilà! You’re there.

The shortcut to invoke item finder is Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+O, which you can customize.

Note: This is a Dynalist Pro feature.

P.S. Since there are way more items than documents and bookmarks, you might run into some funky search results. If that happens, please let us know on the forum so we can tweak the search algorithm. Thanks in advance!