What Missing Feature Do You Want Most In WorkFlowy?

Bold and Italic Have Arrived In WorkFlowy


Although we feel bad bankrupting all the people who bet all their savings that WorkFlowy would never get formatting (including my own dear mother (sorry Mom!)), simple formatting has arrived.

You can now use bold and italic in WorkFlowy. There are a few details I should mention: You can use the same shortcuts you normally use to start typing in bold and italic, namely, control/command+b and control/command+i. And you can highlight text and format it with those same shortcuts.

That is about it. We are hard at work trying to make WorkFlowy better for you, and we hope you enjoy bolding and italicizing your WorkFlowy documents.

Note for color lovers: We will probably let you choose colors for tags at some point, and maybe even let the tag affect formatting of the whole item. Not sure when it will happen, but we like the idea.

Re: Here’s how to become a WorkFlowy pirate ninja


We got the following email today, from Brian Crowe. It is in response to one of our email tips, entitled, “Here’s how to become a WorkFlowy pirate ninja”.

“A Workflowy pirate ninja”?

Are you ignorant of the Pirates vs Ninjas culture war that is so deep it has its own Wikipedia article?  http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirates_versus_Ninjas

My mind reels at very existence of such an unlikelihood, a child born of a pirate and a ninja, two sworn enemies.  Such a man (or woman) would be as peculiar as a cat-mouse or a cop-robber.

What an idea indeed!

Tip: Make the WorkFlowy Chrome App Feel Like a Normal App (Mac)

This WorkFlowy Tip comes from Shawn Bealey. If you have a tip you’d like to share, just email blog@workflowy.com

How I use WorkFlowy

I loved WorkFlowy from the beginning. I have a lot of ideas in my head, and they distract me. So, what to do? Workflowy solved this problem. Open a browser window/tab, jot my idea thought down, get on with life. Ideas are take form with 0 % effort and in real time. I am surprised at how fast and effortless the ideas are to jot down, put in to order, re-order and share – even with non members. This is a real drop in replacement for a personal, or even corporate wiki.

My Problem

I want a desktop app.  I am not a chrome user, but there’s a Chrome App that’s kinda like a desktop app. I want to have the app, but not feel like I am working in chrome, or even have to start chrome to get to the app (saves clicks)

My Solution

1) Start Launch Pad
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2) Filter for and Select WorkFlowy.
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3) Right Click on the Dock to choose your poison:

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For Extra Awesome, Open at Login 

You can start the app in a bunch of ways. Heavy Users should go ahead and choose to open at login. Moderate Users should keep this in their Dock at all times for quick access. Light users can start it from the browser app starter.

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Expert users can start it using the finder quick find (CMD + Space; type: workflowy; select Applications: WorkFlowy or by second use Top Hit: WorkFlowy

How to Use * and ** and ******* for Prioritization Awesomeness


This is a guest blog post by Brent KimberIf you’d like to contribute a guest blog post of your own, just email your idea to blog@workflowy.com

WorkFlowy’s tagging feature is great for categorizing things, but the search engine is really powerful too.  Here’s how you can use it for some super flexible prioritization.

I’ve started marking my To Do items with a simple * (star).   A search by * brings up all of my To Do items wherever they are in my outlines.  This  good tip is made better when   I started using *, **, ***, and ******** (any amoutn of *s really)  for denoting priority.

Try it, Seeing is believing. It is amazing to watch your To Do list quickly focus onto your top priorities simply by typing * then * then * again in the search box. Each successive * whittles the list down to the most important tasks.    Sometimes I will add enough *s to the remaining items until only my top 3 tasks show.   It’s magical.  It sounds simplistic just reading but it is awesome to see the less important tasks “disappear” off of the page with each additional * typed.  It’s a fantastic short cut.

Commentary from Steve, WorkFlowy’s Semi-Official Blogger: You can prepend another character for the KIND of
to-do – business, personal, house maint, etc. So, maybe H*** stands for “House, super important” and H* is “House, not important”.

The Long and Winding Road to WorkFlowy


This is a guest blog post by Maciej Lasyk, who used to run operations at the game development company Ganymede. It explains how he and his team went through a long series of software tools to help manage their projects, and eventually found WorkFlowy to help manage it all. 

If you’d like to contribute a guest blog post of your own, just email your idea to blog@workflowy.com

How we work with WorkFlowy

We used a lot of software tools on my team at Ganymede. WorkFlowy sat above them all, as a meta-management system. We used it both for little things that didn’t fit in other systems, and to structure our use of these other tools. In the rest of this post, I’ll describe all the tools we used, and how WorkFlowy fit in.

Waterfall is a beast

When I took over Operations team in Ganymede few years ago I faced the problem of managing our resources, documentation, IT infrastructure, roadmap and ideas. It was a really hard and interesting challenge. Back then we used classical waterfall approach for our daily tasks & projects. It was really killing us – we had so many interrupts and context switching, that it was really hard to stay calm and find a couple of minutes to focus on some particular issue or project.

Getting agile

Back then I took part in a few agile meetups here in Krakow / Poland (#omgkrk ftw!) and found that we should switch immediately to Scrum or Kanban. Later on, we decided to follow an evolution (not revolution) approach – so we decided Kanban is the only way (Scrum would be the revolution for us). It was a really great move – we had our Kanban board hanging on the wall, we met daily & weekly during standups and things started going smoothly. After a few weeks we switched to Jira / Greenhopper (nowJira Agile) instead of classical wall board. Why? We just needed some automation (Jira tasks triggered by monitoring system, integration with some other apps via Jira API). Jira & Kanban rocked 🙂

Our Operations interrupt driven workflows were not annoying us anymore as we used goalkeeper (a guy that for a whole week takes care of all interruptions, quick tasks etc so others are able to work on projects and much more specialized issues).  Kanban is about Continuous Improvement (after every iteration during standup we thought about possible improvements to our issues resolving processes),WIP (Work in Progress limiting and metering bottlenecks), time estimations and so on. But time was passing and our workflows were getting more and more complicated. It was really good, but we just felt like we were missing something.

Organizing notes and documentation

We used Jira together with Confluence where we kept our documentation, procedures etc. Those solutions are really great, but we still struggled with the issue of gathering and saving information. How many times we had to look up some particular issue in Google? After finding the solution we could write a new Confluence page, create some comments etc. But this took time – and plenty of it, to be honest. Additionally we were a really small team (4-5 guys) so we couldn’t afford such a waste on bureaucracy. We had to find a way to quickly save and share information and data and even more important – find it in a really easy, reliable and repetitive way.

Then we hit Evernote (Greg – thanks for that!). This was another killer software which helped us a lot. We could easily save whole webpages (via browser plug-ins), tag our notes, create information with rich text editors and later on – browse that on our mobiles. Moreover – Evernote changed our way of taking notes during conferences. We just took photos, attached those to notes and that was it – later we could just use text find option which highlighted search results even on those photos (background and asyncOCR involved). Man – that was really great. But… We found that we lost some of our velocity – we were working as hard as usual, but despite Jira and Kanban and even Evernote – we were struggling with some issues. The problem was that not everything could be saved as a Jira issue (mainly ideas or some jobs that didn’t fit into our workflows, so would probably be lost in Backlog forever). So such things were liable to be forgotten & abandoned. We tried to save those in a special page in Evernote, but it didn’t work out. Evernote is great, but it’s quite a massive application. Moreover we used Linux and there is no native Evernote app there (only NixNote / NeverNote that is way too slow), so we had to use Evernote webpage – which is not that handy.

Simplifying flows

One more thing; Everyone of us has a private life – we took part in some open source projects, developed some ideas or worked after hours on something completely different. And let’s be honest – it’s normal (and even recommended) to use the same management tools privately at home.

So what were we missing? Something really simple – for instance, when I got an idea, I usually saved it to Evernote. Later on, that idea evolved into some private project. But it’s quite hard to manage a project within Evernote – yes there are some “To-Do” checkboxes but those are so hard to use and don’t give you any possibility to create dependencies, trees etc. It’s just a normal rich text editor where you could put lists and checkboxes. That just doesn’t fit.

So I started taking notes in standard text files, which I saved on my Dropbox account, so I had access to those from any device I used. I arranged those into a complicated system of subdirectories (yes, I’m a sysadmin) and… got stuck. It was really horrible to find anything there. But at least I could check the tree of those projects with… shell command ‘tree‘ 😉 And why didn’t I use Kanban / Jira here? Because no one really wants to Kanban his/hers life. Our lives have that crazy velocity, go in so many directions and through so much mind tunnels that it’s just impossible to save all of that to Kanban board. We shouldn’t even try (maybe with some main activities, but come on – our lives consist of so many activities, ideas and possibilities that you could say that it’s a continuous and evolving brainstorm). So what happened next? GTD. And Workflowy.

Let’s get that done!

Getting Things Done is a stress-free productivity action management system (whoa that was complicated – I took it from Wikipage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Getting_Things_Done ). GTD is basically about writing down all your ideas and tasks and managing those in a really simple way. This was what I tried to achieve with my text files & subdirectories hierarchy. But GTD over text files doesn’t work. With Workflowy it simply kicks ass.

You have your page which is a clear and simple list of projects, tasks and/or ideas. Anytime any of those evolves into something more complicated – you just extend it into a new branch. you can collapse it in a very easy way, you can open branches in new tabs – and it’s all so simple and takes seconds. You can tag, share and collaborate. It’s like a meta – programming language for managing your daily routines, projects and ideas. Effectiveness by simplicity – it’s what we really looked for! Imagine, that right now I’m managing four data-centers, personal training plans, home works, my Fedora Project contributions, CTFs fights and much more with the help of Workflowy. Yes – still Kanban / Jira, still Evernote but Workflowy is on one corner of that triangle.

So, how the daily routine looked back then, after starting using Workflowy? It was very simple. Workflowy & GTD just wrapped any other management systems. I started my day with Workflowy / “daily” branch. I had that “Kanban” point on the list, that told me, that I had to check the Jira Kanban table. Later on (break, lunch, after work) I’ve rechecked Workflowy and moved on. Sometimes simple lists from Workflowy evolved into normal projects which we’ve put into Jira / Confluence.

Erm, Workflowy.. why? Once again..

  • simplicity
  • mobility
  • 100% keyboard steering
  • tagging
  • sharing
  • faving (starring pages)
  • Just watch this video 😉