A Personal History of Outliners


November 21, 2013

This is a guest post by Steve Stroh. If you’d like to contribute a guest blog post, just email your idea to blog@workflowy.com

Discovering the outline
I was introduced to outlining in grade school, and while that hierarchical method of organizing ideas made sense to my young techie mind… they were a pain in the @#$  to do on paper. Their most powerful feature, being able see the big picture, was also their disadvantage. When you spotted a change or addition that was needed, you had to REWRITE it. So, for me, outlines remained a nice theory until decades later I discovered the outliner in Microsoft Word – DYNAMIC outlines! Cool! But of course, you had to remember where the file was, and had to be at your computer.

The leap from digital to web
Years later, outlines became even more useful for me when I discovered them in Google Docs. It was extremely useful to have outlines accessible from any computer with a web browser (which is all of them). … but I was disappointed that a complex outline in GD was a fragile thing, and the outline structure could quickly fall apart. Still … it was a step up.

Goodbye Google Docs. Hello WorkFlowy!
A few more years passed and I discovered WorkFlowy. I don’t remember when or how I first found it, but as soon as I tried it, its intuitiveness of zooming in and out, quickly entering text and then organizing it later just… resonated with me. Workflowy immediately became one of my primary tools. My first email to Workflowy support was February 2011, so I’ve been using Workflowy nearly 3 years. Workflowy is as indispensable to me now as ever, as I begin to organize a huge amount of disparate information in preparation for a writing gig.

Why am I doing this?
When I saw WorkFlowy post about how they aren’t planning to blog, I decided to lend a hand. I think an active blog is an important signal that a company is thriving, and WorkFlowy is doing quite well as I understand it. I’m a volunteer, not staff. I work a day job, and passion gigs in the evenings, and I do this just because I love Workflowy. I’m JUST the Semi Official Blogger (S.O.B.) 🙂

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9 years ago

Love your work, and LOVE workflowy. I think there is still scope for Workflowy to move into the college student arena. Take me for example. I’m a final year medical student and have recently started to use WorkFlowy for organising complex and dense medical information in the form of lectures, clinical textbooks and research. WorkFlowy does what my brain can’t do: switch between disparate concepts/information/guidelines/research within seconds allowing me to review content that ordinarily would sit in subfolders in myriad places on my laptop. Studying for exams has become a seamless experience. If there we’re a way to copy and past images, I’d be able to study anatomy like never before, but I’m happy to wait until the day arrives. Until then, I’m happy to maximise my learning and retention with WorkFlowy. Keep up the great blog post! Cheers, Dwain from Australia

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