Backlinks 2.0 – The Node Strikes Back

By

November 25, 2021
create new item

Backlinks just got an upgrade – You can now create a new bullet and a backlink to it in one go 🎉

With this addition, you can now quickly create backlinks to items that don’t yet exist, all without having to leave your current location.

Note

The feature is currently available in beta. To turn on beta, you can follow these instructions.

Why would I want to do that?

Imagine you’re in the middle of writing something and realize you want to dive deeper into a specific idea.

There used to be two options:

  1. You could continue with what you’re writing and try to remember to go back and create that item (high risk of forgetting)
  2. You could stop what you’re doing, zoom out of the bullet you’re currently on, navigate to another section, create a new bullet, and finally write down the topic so you can go back to it later (high risk of breaking your flow)

Now, there’s a third and much better option✨

You can invoke the ‘new create a bullet’ feature, select the location for the new item and continue with what you were writing. No more forgetting. No more breaking your flow.

How does it work?

  1. Start typing double brackets ‘[[‘ to create a backlink
  2. Use the arrow keys or mouse to select ‘New “X” in…’
  3. Search for the location of the new item
  4. Select it and done

You should now have a backlink to the new bullet you just created. The next time you create a new backlink, the last used location will be presented as a quick location. Also recently used locations will be shown first during the location search.

TIP – While not the intended purpose of the feature, you can use it to create an item in a remote location and simply delete the backlink. So for example – if you remember something important you want to write down but don’t need to link it, like a todo or a quick note, just delete the backlink afterwards.

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Miklós
Miklós
4 months ago

Is it possible to create a new item as a child of the current item?

What I try to achieve: in the note section I write a memo of what needs to be done. With backlink I would like to create a child item as a task. Later when I have finished the task I will still have the link to the finished item.

GregWms
GregWms
5 months ago

If I have an item that has in it multiple subitems, seperated by commas, I’d like to edit the ones done with a strikeout typeface. vs create a bunch of multiple bullets. Perhaps that control can be added to the RC pop-up?

Uri
Uri
5 months ago

Thanks! nice addition

A different yet important subject:
Many people consider workflowy as a task management tool as well, but there is a big drawback that you cannot set reminders on bullets.
Please add this feature.

Alasdair
5 months ago

Is this available in windows desktop app, as I can’t see it there? I’m on 1.3.7-2479

Alasdair
5 months ago
Reply to  Alasdair

the new item in setting isn’t in my version of the desktop, but when I enabled it in the web version it works in desktop. Is it meant to create these extra child nodes like this:

backlinks.png
Brinkmann
Brinkmann
5 months ago
Reply to  Rodolfo Lopez

Hey Rodolfo,

when i open the [[ then shows me only “Type to Link” not Create.

Rodolfo
Rodolfo
5 months ago
Reply to  Brinkmann

Hey Brinkmann, please make sure you have both beta toggles on, there is one for creating backlinks [[ and another for creating nodes with [[.

Brinkmann
Brinkmann
5 months ago
Reply to  Rodolfo

thanks

Perf
Perf
5 months ago
Reply to  Alasdair

It works perfectly in the macOS desktop app.

Rocky Kev
Rocky Kev
5 months ago

Glorious! I love these tucked in features.

It has a very ‘markdown’ feel that I love, and want more of it.

trackback

[…] been meaning to gush about Workflowy, my most recent software crush. Two days ago, the company announced improved backlinks a la VoodooPad (sorta), DEVONthink, Obsidian, and […]

Constantine
5 months ago

This is superb!!! Next suggestion: Option for unreferenced links, when Workflowy detects that there are links to a page/node that haven’t been connected to each other (Roam and Obsidian have this feature)

Ron Gross
5 months ago

This worked for me one time, was great. And then stopped working. The “New” options just don’t appear anymore. Odd.

Last edited 5 months ago by Ron Gross
Kristian
Kristian
5 months ago

YES! Thank yoy. Next I desperately want be able to shift click the item to open a sidebar to the right – to quickly braindump whatever is on my mind related to that item (without needing to leave my orginal working environment). And while at it, I sooooo much desire multiple sidebars (like in Obsidian). It brings so much better flow being able to work in different bullets side by side. Sometimes I need to see what’s inside a bullet to be able to work in another one. For example, research in one pane, writing a story based on that research in another, and new questions to investigate in a third.

David Ma
David Ma
5 months ago
Reply to  Kristian

Hi Kristian!

I feel your pain. I use this workaround: on a windows machine there’s this shortcut: [windows key] + [Left/right arrow key].

This shortcut can place two windows next to one another in half the horizontal side. So I open two Workflowy tabs in two separate browser windows, use said shortcut and can see both windows simultaneously. Only thing that bugs me is you can’t drag and drop between them.

Hope this helps. Does this work for your purposes?

Cheers,
David

PS: when you use [windows key] + [up/down keys] your window gets either maximized or minimized. Super useful.

PPS: I’m sure there’s a similar shortcut combination for mac users.

Perf
Perf
5 months ago
Reply to  Rodolfo Lopez

But neither of those allows us to drag and drop items to move them from one pain to another, or to option-drag them to copy or to shift-drag them to make a new mirror to them. We are anxiously waiting for a WorkFlowy native panel feature like Roam, Legend, Obsidian, and many other note-taking apps have. Thanks!

Stuart Cliffe
Stuart Cliffe
5 months ago

Nice one! (I already used the previous beta lots) Thanks for adding another killer feature to a gem of an app. 🙂

Jakub
Jakub
5 months ago

Great, I love it!!! Thanks

toochevere
toochevere
5 months ago

The new features in general that have been added have been really nice, well thought out, and useful. This is one that I didn’t even know I needed until I saw it. Thanks!

jb300
5 months ago

ATTENTION : “VERY ADDICTIVE APP”

NOT A CONSPIRACY THEORY : “Workflowy might be the best app on the market; most simple/minimalist, versatile… you’ve ever seen…”

MESSAGE FROM THE FUTURE : “The intelligent notebook (workflowy) helped artists, craftsman, scientists, and every day people around the world for more than 100 years to create their best art, businesses, tech, lives…”

EARTH YEAR 2222 : All research done in workflowy (centralized) helped humanity connect to the AETHER again… free energy and workflowy for everyone…

TBC.

Johan S
Johan S
5 months ago

I have trouble following the GIF:s here. They are too fast.

Christopher Allen
Christopher Allen
5 months ago

I can see this could be a useful feature, but what I can’t understand is why you call these square-bracketed things “backlinks”. They’re very obviously just regular forward links.

Frank Degenaar
Editor
5 months ago

Hi Christopher, they’re called backlinks because where they link to, they also leave a backlink at the bottom of the page in a reference node… so you know from where the destination list was being mentioned.

Aaron B
Aaron B
5 months ago

This will actually soothe my desire for having multiple tabs. If I can grab a thought and place a stub elsewhere without having to navigate there via multi-click sidebar or search, it will prevent that interruption of flow that so often has me saying “what was it that I wanted to say again?”.

Perf
Perf
5 months ago
Reply to  Aaron B

Absolutely! We need to have a multiple panel feature as Roam, Legend, Obsidian, Logseq, and all the new-gen note-taking apps have. Thanks!

Michel Bühnemann
Michel Bühnemann
5 months ago

My ADHD brain is loving it!

Matt
Matt
5 months ago

As you are becoming a more normal To Do app, could – you please email stuff like this instead of disturbing us with this notice inside of the app?

Betty
Betty
5 months ago
Reply to  Rodolfo Lopez

“Showing beta users the in app message and regular Workflowy users an email” looks good. Maybe this time you mistakenly pushed the message to regular users. I’m not in beta but I got this in app message. I think that’s the reason Matt complained.

Perf
Perf
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt

On the contrary, I will blame WorkFlowy for being too shy and not always letting us know when they launch a new feature! Sometimes I have to come to the blog to see what’s new because new add-ons are not always communicated in the app. I wish they always did, even the smaller improvements so we can start using them instantly!

Geezelle
5 months ago

Ooh, please.. Stop spoiling us.. I’ve been waiting for this feature for quite a while now, no more adding the links as comments.

It was definitely worth sticking with you workflowy all through these years…

Last edited 5 months ago by Geezelle
Andres
Andres
5 months ago

Great resource if using WF for Zettelkasten. A word counter would now make the product perfect for me!

Last edited 5 months ago by Andres
Cafe655
Cafe655
5 months ago
Reply to  Andres

WFx has a word count mechanic that might fill in the gap until the mechanic goes native in WorkFlowy

BrunoF
BrunoF
5 months ago

This is an awesome feature. Much more important than markdown or code formatting for me. In fact I fear markdown/code formatting/colors may break what I like most about Workflowy. I use it to hold information, add info on the go, not to beautify content and present it externally. So markdown would probably break super important existing functionality such as [[]] and (())

Brad Konia
Brad Konia
5 months ago
Reply to  BrunoF

Markdown is not just for external content. It would be extremely beneficial for formatting notes, making them more readable and useful. The double bracket or double parenthesis syntax would not conflict with Markdown, as neither of these is valid Markdown syntax.

Perf
Perf
5 months ago
Reply to  Brad Konia

Markdown syntax is a horrible nightmare. Let’s hope WorkFlowy never goes that way. WYSIWYG is the way!

Perf
Perf
5 months ago
Reply to  BrunoF

Markdown is horrible,! Take into account that the vast majority of the people (non-tech nerds) hate Markdown and loves WYSIWYG. If WF ever goes the MD route it will be a huge mistake favoring a small niche of geeks instead of the overall population of normal people who likes to wee what they write as it is.

Jonathan MICLO
Jonathan MICLO
5 months ago

Thanks so much for this new feature… Tried Notion these last 2 months but definitely prefer workflowy 👌👍

Petre
Petre
5 months ago

workflowy … why would you add this instead of markdown support ? Why would you add this instead of code formatting? … I don’t want this, and I really would doubt anyone would … I hope you researched well into how many people really need this feature, I really don’t think it would make me more productive in any way this backlinks… Please add also the things that are actually useful

Betty
Betty
5 months ago
Reply to  Rodolfo Lopez

I just want to express that there are people who don’t want Markdown. WF is already WYSIWYG. Why is there a need for Markdown? Maybe an “Export as Markdown” feature is enough. The most important thing to me is for WF to keep what it is now. My worst fear is new features making WF slow.

Cafe655
Cafe655
5 months ago
Reply to  Petre

I understand the comment if this is not a feature you have a use for, but many people have been asking for this exact feature for quite a long time, so the team is actually being pretty responsive to user requests.

Perf
Perf
5 months ago
Reply to  Petre

Please don’t hear this! Markdown is the worst thing that could happen to WorkFlowy! Normal people love WYSIWYG. MD on the other hand is so f* annoying! Markdown apps are all trying to achieve WYSIWYG! WorkFlowy has always been like that, so don’t go the backward step into MD!

Rob
Rob
5 months ago

This is great, thank you!

I write daily notes, using the date autocomplete feature. It’s good bein bacle to backlink to these. My biggest use-case for this would be to put notes in that have a future date on them and have the same autocomplete functionality but it doesn’t seem to work with date autocomplete – is this planned?

Vitali Bondar
Vitali Bondar
5 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Let me suggest a solution to this problem. It’s not very neat, but it works.
I create “daily notes” ahead of time, each one named with a date stamp. As a result, I have a note for each day.
When I need to link to that note, I type [[ and start typing the date I want. In this way, I create a link to the corresponding note in the “daily notes”.

07778112-D612-40FE-AF88-A14A18B9519F.png
Vitali Bondar
Vitali Bondar
5 months ago
Reply to  Vitali Bondar

Links to Daily notes

DFBFA44B-11C4-4161-A73B-78991D82C554.jpeg
Chris Brandt
Chris Brandt
5 months ago

Looks cool, but I can’t get it to work. I’ve got Labs turned on, but i’m not seeing the New option in the backlink menu

Chris Brandt
Chris Brandt
5 months ago
Reply to  Rodolfo Lopez

Yes, I did. Is it just the Labs toggle that I need turned on?

Here’s a screenshot

Scratchpad-WorkFlowy.png
Chris Brandt
Chris Brandt
5 months ago
Reply to  Chris Brandt

Sorry, found the Backlinks Lab toggle.

Chris Brandt
Chris Brandt
5 months ago
Reply to  Chris Brandt

But it’s still not working 🙁

I just get No matching locations found. No New option.

What am I missing?

Dan
Dan
5 months ago
Reply to  Chris Brandt

Same for me: Labs is on, Backlinks are on but I just see “No matching locations found”

Dan
Dan
5 months ago
Reply to  Rodolfo Lopez

Ah that was it for me too; didn’t see the second toggle at the bottom. Thanks!

Chris Brandt
Chris Brandt
5 months ago
Reply to  Rodolfo Lopez

That was it. Working now.

klc
klc
5 months ago

Faaaaaaaan Tastic.

Frank Degenaar
Editor
5 months ago

First!

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