Today we’re releasing a small change to the core WorkFlowy interface that we’ve been testing for some time.
Instead of plus and minus buttons to the left of each bullet, you’ll see little triangles, or as we call them, arrows. The arrows point to the right when an item is collapsed, and they smoothly turn to point down when the item is expanded.
This should hopefully look familiar and intuitive. The behavior for expanding and collapsing is exactly the same as before.
Why the change? When WorkFlowy was first designed, plus and minus for expand and collapse made a lot of sense. They were very common in other apps (like Windows Explorer), and… they made sense. What’s more logical than “plus” to show more and “minus” to show less?
Unfortunately, pluses and minuses can have many different meanings, and are more often associated with add and remove, which can be confusing. Plus, the world has moved forward on this since WorkFlowy was first designed.
Arrows in Mac OS 9 (1999)
Arrows have since become the standard across most apps. The transition started at least 20 years ago – with Mac OS 9 – and was pretty much completed 10 years ago, when even Windows Explorer adopted triangles in Windows 7. It is time for WorkFlowy to catch up.
Arrows in Windows 7 (2009)
We don’t make this kind of change lightly, because we know how much you rely on WorkFlowy, and distracting you with unexpected or unnecessary changes is the last thing we want.
However, new people who try WorkFlowy need all they help they can get to understand how this magical app works. This tiny change has turned out to be a significant improvement to help people understand how WorkFlowy works when they first try it.
Arrows also allow us to call out a unique situation that occurs when searching in WorkFlowy. Parents of matching items show in a half-open state, where only the children that match the search are visible. You can click the expand/collapse button to show or hide all children. An arrow that points half-way between open and closed is a great fit for this:
Sideways arrows to indicate half-open items.
For you old-timers, the arrows might take a little getting used to, but in time we think you’ll come to like them – as have most of the people who’ve tried them so far.