HandyFlowy Brings WorkFlowy’s Feature-Rich Desktop Goodness (and more) to iOS [+ Android]

DISCLAIMER: This is not an official recommendation from the WorkFlowy team. We do not make this app, and we do not officially support it. It may break at any time, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Frank, our volunteer blogger helped contribute to it, so we’re letting him write about it here.

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NOTE: HandyFlowy is on the way for Android!

Michinari Yamamoto and his team have knocked the ball out of the park with their dedicated WorkFlowy app, HandyFlowy. HandyFlowy seamlessly loads WorkFlowy to its interface and powers up your editing, navigating and searching on mobile by putting virtually all of WorkFlowy’s desktop browser capabilities at your fingertips… and then some.

Recently, rawbytz commented to me:

“As I’ve transitioned from beta tester to pure user… I’m really appreciating the power in HandyFlowy. I am much more likely to pick up my iPhone to interact with WorkFlowy, rather than waiting until I get to a PC or using some other capture method. This thing freaking rocks.”

We (rawbytz and I) chipped in and offered to put together HandyFlowy’s app store description – which gives a clear indication of how the app powers things up for us – and so I’m about to give you a show and tell in line with that. Keep in mind that everything that follows adds to and extends what we already have on iOS.

Scrolling toolbars

HandyFlowy boasts a set of scrolling toolbars, which allow easy access to a range of Edit and Search buttons. The Pro version allows you to customize the order of these buttons and which you’d like to include/ exclude from the toolbar. Here’s the Edit toolbar in action:

A shout-out to rawbytz for proposing the horizontal toolbar, and a thank you to Michinari for running with it.

Ease of editing

One of HandyFlowy’s outstanding attributes is the ability to move around your entire outline and not have your cursor bounce in and out of edit mode.

Here are some of the more significant edit features (buttons):

  • DELETE and DUPLICATE whole lists with one tap
    (I hear the WorkFlowy hordes errupt in celebration)
  • UNDO if you screw up… REDO if you second-guess yourself.
    (This is for me! I’ve got a feeling it’s for you too)

TIP: HandyFlowy’s hidden cursor swipes can easily eliminate 6 of the “cursor-moving” buttons. You can swipe:

  • horizontally below your text to move your cursor left/ right,
  • ⬏ or ⬑ (across & up) to move up a list… and
  • ⬎ or ⬐ (across & down) to move down a list

Ease of navigation

HandyFlowy has this magic little pop-out navigation panel. You can swipe to:

  • NAVIGATE YOUR HISTORY – Go back and forth between the lists visited and searches performed, just like on desktop
  • ZOOM OUT to a parent list
  • JUMP TO PREVIOUS/ NEXT zoomed-in sibling list
  • Go to your CUSTOM “START” LIST

Below I’ll demonstrate how quick it is to jump to the next zoomed-in sibling list by swiping diagonally up to the right on the navigation panel… and then I’ll go back to square one by swiping up to the “zoom out” arrow (instead of using the breadcrumb navigation links).

HandyFlowy has a slide-out BOOKMARKS panel, similar (in concept) to WorkFlowy’s starred pages menu. You can…

  • Bookmark any list or save any search
  • Nest bookmarks in folders
  • Sync your bookmarks to iCloud

HandyFlowy has another interesting toolbar that I’ve kept hidden in the above GIF’s…

  • On one side it shows a TITLE BAR, which when you long-press, copies the URL of the list you’re in to your clipboard.
  • On the flip side you have 4 buttons which will either (1) expand and collapse your lists ENTIRELY… or (2) expand and collapse your lists INCREMENTALLY:

VIEW MODE: That open lock button on the bottom toolbar, when pressed, locks editing temporarily – and you can scroll through your lists without inadvertent keyboard popups.

Ease of searching

HandyFlowy gives us quick-access buttons on the Search Toolbar for:

  • WorkFlowy’s SEARCH OPERATORS:
    • is:complete
    • is:shared
    • is:embedded
    • Last-Changed:
    • NOT (-)
    • OR
    • Completed:
  • Your SEARCH HISTORY
  • Your SAVED SEARCH list

Advanced features and customization

HandyFlowy serves up a smörgåsbord of advanced features and lays it on thick with customization options. There is a tad bit of a learning curve to get yourself familiarized with what can be customized – but once set up, you’ll have as much or as little clutter as you choose.

  • CUSTOM COLORS for background & toolbars: knock yourself out. I go with white (#FFFFFF) – in sticking with WorkFlowy’s minimalist approach.
  • Text export options, including an “Export to Evernote” extension/ script.
  • Saved custom phrases & tags – a little bit of text expansion magic
  • Two WorkFlowy tabs with customizable “start” lists
  • View “last changed” or “completed” dates for individual lists
  • Sync User Settings to iCloud
  • URL Scheme support

Scripting features

The scripting feature brings JavaScript and CSS customization to the power user. If you’ve got the chops for this, you can create your own… or if you’re like me, you can simply load scripts that others have created. Here are but a few scripts I am aware of at this early stage of the game:

  • Export to Evernote
  • Word/ character count
  • 3-color text highlighter/ underliner
  • Scripts which allow us to make use of CSS styles. Yes… that means you can graft in your Stylish extension styles!
  • INLINE IMAGES – Wait… What?! Yep, you can get inline images on iOS. This inline images script was created based on this post I made back in January. In the GIF below (on iPad) you’ll see an “Inspirational Quotes” outline of mine that I’m tinkering with – which when I click on a tag in the header (or anywhere), I get all related quotes – along with inline images. You’ll also see, once again, how with HandyFlowy we are able to flip from one zoomed-in list to previous or next sibling lists:

And it’s a wrap

Some closing remarks:

  • Rawbytz and I were simply beta testers for HandyFlowy, although our suggestions were weighed heavily upon. We recommend this app because it ramps up WorkFlowy on iOS significantly and has made a marked difference to our mobile experience.
  • HandyFlowy offers an in-app purchase, which activates pro features and removes ads. I’d personally upgrade just to get rid of the ads.
  • HandyFlowy needs an internet connection. In my case, 4G does the trick when I’m out and about.
  • In case you didn’t see this part: HandyFlowy is on the way for Android!

Get EXCLUSIVE bite-sized  WorkFlowy  updates: tips, tricks & news about FREE online workshops with Frank Degenaar. Sign up here.

43 Comments

  1. Workflowy has become my central nervous system for digital information, and I’ve been wanting to expand my use of it on the iOS devices I own. This may be what I’ve been looking for.

    I’m currently playing with the extension features and can’t seem to get these to work appropriately. Most likely my ignorance, but wanted to chime in and see if others are having results. First, how do you add additional extensions? You mentioned the ability to add extensions and upload Stylish code. Second, I would specifically love to get the Re {Workflowy Re-Painter} functionality into this puppy. Now, I’m aware you have to have the Chrome painter extension installed for the style to work. Is there a way to somehow duplicate it’s functionality in the extension options on HandyFlowy? If you can’t tell, I know just enough about CSS and scripting to get myself into trouble and not enough to figure stuff out!

    A lot of potential here, I believe. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Keelan,
      The scripting features are a pro thing. You’ll have to upgrade via the in-app purchase. It’s a once-off “lifetime” purchase and unlocks all features (and gets rid of ads!)

      About the scripts… there is no centralized repository at the moment. This is all so fresh for me… but I will have a shared list or something decent up and running soon. I just use the scripts I’ve stumbled upon and been pointed to. Users like rawbytz can better explain the what and how. Rest assured, all of that is to follow shortly. Stay posted.

      Glad you like the Re {Workflowy Re-Painter} functionality. HandyFlowy handles both JavaScript and CSS… the Painter for WorkFlowy and Stylish CSS is a mix of the two… so it can most certainly be whipped up before an afternoon nap – by someone who understands such wonders. I myself have to ask… and sit tight :-). But the capability is all there.

    2. Frank, that all sounds great. I pulled the trigger on the pro version a few minutes after downloading this sucker. I’ve been playing with it ever since. Trying to wade through the how-to guide it provides, but not having much luck getting the gist of it concerning the extensions. I think you’re right about sitting tight and watching how this unfolds and expands. Hopefully now that the potential for these extensions is there, then a library of sorts will begin to develop.

      Definitely love Re {Workflowy Re-Painter}. I don’t use it in all my lists, as I’m a minimalist. However, I’ve got some specific lists where it makes all the difference for me. It’s been a big advantage on certain projects to provide that visual separation. And the colors are much better than the harsh ones in Painter.

      Oh, and thanks for the work you and rawbytz do to provide communication and additional functionality. You save the rest of us a ton of time working through the weeds on this and putting the cookies on the bottom shelf!

    3. Keelan,

      Depending on the demand, I think a follow-up post on extensions/ scripts might just be in order. rawbytz will give me some pointers on that.

      It’s hard to know what’s happening on your end… but just tapping on the extension in the right slide-out panel, once installed, should do the trick. Surprisingly a reload is not necessary – but you might want to give that a shot. Which specific script(s) are you tinkering with? I’ve fully tested the “pre-loaded” scripts… and Between rawbytz and I, we’ve both used other scripts to our satisfaction 🙂

      HandyFlowy’s online help manual may need a revision. Just got through with the app itself and the app store description, which were not easy to understand until given a bit of TLC.

      I’m with you on fringe/ marginal use cases for coloring whole lists’ background colors.

    4. Porting Re-Painter will likely be a major deal, because it relies on a chrome extension too. I feel responsible for the extension/scripting documentation, as I’ve promised to edit it (frankly both Michinari’s coding, and Apple’s approving were much faster than I anticipated… OK, I wasn’t surprised by Michinari’s speed) My apologies.

      There is a “meta-extension” called ScriptMaker…. it’s an extension that makes creating extensions easy. You create a bullet in WorkFlowy… that will be your script title, and all the Javascript goes in the note. ScriptMaker installs it for you.

      I’ve grabbed some of the code from ScriptMaker, and created a beta version called StyleMaker. Same concept, but you put CSS (ala Stylish) in the note. Hopefully coming soon!

  2. For ios I have two desires: make the text bigger and have the ability to cut/copy more than one cell at a time. HandyFlowy doesn’t appear to do this. Or maybe I’m missing something. Can someone enlighten me? — ernie

    1. Hey Ernie,

      You did distill, rather quickly, one of the major features yet to be implemented.

      Your enlightenment is here: No, you didn’t miss anything. When I said “…virtually all of WorkFlowy’s desktop browser capabilities…” I specifically had in mind the lack of selecting multiple lists to that end. That would be really cool, though.

      Currently you can only duplicate. Let’s see what Michinari and his team have in store moving forward.

      Making your text bigger/ being able to “pinch to zoom” is on my wish list. Until then, you have all the other great things mentioned in the post, which I imagine was no small feat to put out.

    2. Thanks, Frank. Your book is fascinating and I highly recommend it to all Workflowy aficionados. It kinda scares me that I’ve become so dependent on this little app. What started as just another outliner to test and play with has become my calendar, to do list, address book, and database for just about everything, including drafts of long fiction. Keep up the good work. — ernie

    3. Thanks for the shout-out Ernie.

      Just right now clicked that I’m talking to THE Ernest Hebert 🙂

      What makes it less “scary” is the portable nature of OPML… so your information is not held hostage. Then there are some other nice details like daily Dropbox backup (Pro) for WorkFlowy in the form of simple text files.

    4. Ernie, on my project list (which is much longer than my time available list!) I have project code named “Presbyopia-flowy”… aka “embiggen” stuff in iOS. I got it partially working, but there are a lot of little details. When I realized the scope, I shelved it. It also has the potential to not play nice with other userstyles.

  3. I’m poking around with the highlighter extension. Anything I have in italics turns read in all of my lists, but that will not toggle on and off. Appears to be a permanent change, unless I quit the app and restart. The word count extension does toggle on and off as expected. May just need to iron out some bugs on the extension piece, or as you said, clean up the help documentation. I’m in no hurry, myself… just glad to see the potential here.

    I’d be interested in seeing a separate post on extensions and styles for it in the future, so you can put me down as a yes vote on that one. Thanks for your help, Frank.

  4. I haven’t got the paid version yet, just poking around first… I was looking for a Help button or user guide (other than the App-store description). Is the Help only available in the paid version or did I not poke around enough?

    1. Settings > Online Help

      That site lists all the buttons, etc… It’s an English translation from Japanese… so you can imagine the challenge. However, I will be revising that soon.

      I’ve put in many hours revising other details… so that’s on the way in due course. In the meantime, after tinkering for no less than 5 hours, you may post your questions here, ha! It took a considerable amount of time for myself and rawbytz to figure out what was what… many questions back and forth with Michinari – so improved/ corrected/ clearer nomenclature went into the app itself. So you’ve been handed that on a silver platter, so to speak!

    2. cflat7, slide out the right menu (or tap the 3 dots) tap the gear (top), scroll to the bottom to Online Help (under construction, but still useful)

    3. One of the slightly confusing things at first was distinguishing between the main global Settings Menu (Gear icon) and the Settings for Tab1/ Tab2… i.e. General Settings VS. customization options for the 2 different tabs. Maybe that should be changed to Options/ Customization (Tab1/2)…

    1. So if it isn’t making calls to a WF-api, then it must be somehow “intercepting” our keystrokes and gestures, and passing them on to Workflowy “on our behalf”?

  5. One feature that I wish for (but may be missing) in both Handyflowy and the Workflowy app – when using a bluetooth external keyboard, I can’t go up or down to switch between liness. Has anyone else figured out how to make interaction with the app(s) mostly an external keyboard based experience?

  6. Awesome tool! Thanks Frank and Rawbytz for bringing it to us and helping along with it. So a question: is there any reason why the shortcuts for Indent/Outdent are a combination of 3 keys vs Tab/Shift+Tab?

    1. You’re welcome Ksenia 🙂

      Are you talking about the buttons in-app or keyboard shortcuts with an external keyboard?

    1. Sure. Michinari’s team has started development on their Android app for HF. They asked me if I wanted to test out Android… I don’t own one. So if you’re up to it, I could pass on your details to him.

  7. Dear Frank, looking at the HandyFlowy screenshots in the app store, I surmise that there is a Workflowy list on HF. Would you consider sharing this or making it a public list?
    Cheers, Floor

    1. Hi Floor,
      The lists see in the screenshots are nothing more than the description you see in the App Store itself.

    2. Hi Frank, I see, thanks for your reply. It would still be of intereset though, as an easy reference guide within WorkFlowy…

    3. The Japanese team created that particular list, so I don’t have it. Copy paste directly from the App Store into your own list, maybe (on desktop)?

  8. Finally! This may tempt me back to using Workflowy which I had abandoned due to ios neglect. This looks like a real contender to having full mobile Workflowy access over Workflowy’s own awful native app.

  9. For anyone still monitoring these comments (via RSS) HandyFlowy has been released for Android on Google Play store. Really liking it and well worth the price for the enhanced usability of WorkFlowy that it provides.

  10. So I’m not fully understanding how Workflowy and Handy flowy work together. Do I need to download both programs? If so then which one do i open to get them to work together. Having only heard of either program in the last 24 hours it’s all new to me. Do I need Handyflowy to use Workflowy on my Android? That seems to be one of the advantages and yet I just downloaded Workflowy on my phone so I’m confused as to the advantage of Handyflowy if i download workflowy or viceversa. Thanks for your help.

    1. The choice is yours, you can use either App, they do not depend on each other. The WorkFlowy Android app is a bit limited, as it’s just a web frame. What HandyFlowy aims to do is extend and improve usability for mobile devices.

  11. Dear Frank, are you probably having any idea on whether HandyFlowy’s Developer Team plans on allowing users to using HandyFlowy offline? I really like HandyFlowy a lot and bought it almost instantly after having seen your blog post about it. The only thing that keeps on disturbing me is the lack of offline use ability (for instance for using HandyFlowy during a long distant flight).

    1. Hey Eberhard,

      For getting down notes offline, you might want to either revert back to the WorkFlowy app itself, use WorkFlowy on your laptop (Chrome desktop app) for its robustness (carry-on hand luggage) or try out the Japanese Team’s app called MemoFlowy. MemoFlowy interfaces with the online WorkFlowy app (when you’re online)… but while you’re offline, you have the ability to continue taking notes (although not with the same outlining powers). In that sense, you’re better off using the offline WorkFlowy mobile app itself. I don’t understand what’s involved (or whether it’s even possible), but I can safely say that for the foreseeable future, HandyFlowy will not come out with offline capabilities. From what I (think) I understand, they can only pull WorkFlowy’s interface in to their app while online.

    2. Thanks, Frank! Your speedy reply is very much appreciated and it in fact clarifies my initial question! So far I use to be using WorkFlowy’s native iOS app while on the road and can actually live with that. Nevertheless it would be so great to having HandyFlowy’s extended capabilities available even while being offline. Let’s see what future will bring. Maybe one day that’ll be possible. Thanks anyway, and please keep on your excellent work keeping this interesting blog going!

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