Deep Links: Open links directly in Desktop and Mobile Apps

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January 17, 2019

john-towner-128480-unsplash

It is my pleasure to announce support for “Deep Links” in our iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows apps. This means that if you click on a WorkFlowy link it will open automatically in the app instead of in your browser.

An example may be illustrative. If you subscribe to the Daily Update email then every day a plethora of links to different locations in your WorkFlowy show up in your inbox (You may not have realized because it looks like a beautifully WorkFlowy document but every bullet point in the email is a link). Previously, if you clicked on any of the bullet points it would open zoomed to that item in your browser. With Deep Links enabled, the link will instead open in the app if you have it installed.

If you are using the iOS or Android apps this should work automatically as of the next update. Both mobile operating systems have system-wide support for Deep Links which means that if you open a workflowy.com link anywhere on your phone it will take you directly to the app. On iOS this works via a technology called Universal Links, and on Android it is called App Links. It’s very slick and I think you will love it!

On the desktop it is a bit more complicated because native OS support is handled by protocol (e.g http://) rather than by domain (e.g workflowy.com). That means that unless you want every link starting with ‘https’ opening in WorkFlowy (trust me, you don’t), we can’t automatically handle any of them. What we have done is create a new  workflowy:// protocol which is activated as part of installing or updating the desktop app.

For example, if you have embedded our Release Notes in your account, then if you click on the link workflowy://workflowy.com/#/eb2d662c4ba6 you will see a popup that looks like this

screen shot 2019-01-17 at 4.32.32 pm

Click on ‘Open WorkFlowy’ and it will open directly to today’s release (again only if you have our Release Notes embedded in your account).

Now as you probably have figured out, none of the links out there in the world use the workflowy:// protocol. Therefore we have added an optional feature where whenever you open WorkFlowy in the browser, it will attempt to also open it in the app using the workflowy:// protocol.

There are three things you need to do to make Deep Links work on your desktop.

  1. Install the desktop app (or make sure you have the latest update). You may want to quit and reload the app for good measure.
  2. Log in to https://workflowy.com in your default browser because this only works if you are logged in.
  3. Go to ‘Settings’ and enable this feature:

screen shot 2019-01-16 at 9.04.34 am

At present, Deep Links are more experimental on desktop than on mobile (which is why it is optional) and therefore we would love to hear your feedback. Please let us know if you find it useful or annoying or buggy or life-changing.

PS – If you don’t use the WorkFlowy Desktop app I would strongly recommend giving it a try. Having a separate app in its own window that you can switch to using cmd/ctrl-tab is a game-changer rather than having it sit in a browser tab between 20 other things. Moreover, the desktop app doesn’t need to spend time loading if you have a large account and it remembers where you were when you quit it. It also works offline so you can use it on an airplane.

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georgepage
2 years ago

Not working the the Android app. Just updated today.

Egor
Egor
2 years ago

Yes, great, and we need to open Shared Links (like https://workflowy.com/s/0987654321/1234567890) too

Will
Will
2 years ago
Reply to  Egor

VERY much so!

Also, Jacob, there is a huge problem with shared bullets now, which is why I came here to make a comment.

It used to be that if you shared a bullet with sub-bullet, the text of the actual bullet would be the headline of the Shared Link, just like it is when you click that bullet. However, now, it isn’t! That bullet only appears as part of the navigation bread crumbs.

That may be fine for a top-level shared bullet with very little text, but if it’s longer then it’s no longer legible to the reader. This is, with all due respect, awful. It makes shared bullets all but unusable!

It should be the same as it always was (and as it is if the workflowy shared bullet owner themselves clicks on their bullet)—the text of that bullet must be readable.

Not only that, the navigation breadcrumbs at the top are so small the person it’s shared with might not even notice it … and that text is smaller than the rest of the text on the page! Since the top-level bullet is the headline for the sub-bullets, this makes no sense at all.

Gerhard
Gerhard
2 years ago

Would only want to use it in the desktop app (mac) if and when tabs are introduced and links can be copied (from the drop down?)

Jacob Green
Jacob Green
2 years ago
Reply to  Gerhard

Can you tell me more about what you use the ability to copy links for?

Gerhard
Gerhard
2 years ago
Reply to  Jacob Green

I use the links a lot for cross referencing within Workflowy, e. g. I have a projects area and link to people and companies in the contacts area, or I reference information which is stored within a different context, where I want it to stay. I use the links in other apps, emails, as bookmarks etc. This is a very important feature for me, that I miss terribly in the apps…

kingsinger
kingsinger
2 years ago

While I like the idea of a Desktop App, I regularly use many WF bookmarklets like Workfindy, F/R, etc. So the desktop app doesn’t do what some of the stuff I need. If the desktop app adds native versions of this stuff or support for the bookmarklets, then I can definitely see switching.

Mark
Mark
2 years ago

I have tried using the desktop app multiple times, but always come back to the web option because of the ability to copy internal links. Without this feature in the desktop app I don’t think I would be able to move. Great to see that Workflowy is moving forward though!

Jacob Green
Jacob Green
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark

Can you tell me more about what you use the ability to copy links for?

Mark
Mark
2 years ago
Reply to  Jacob Green

Basically, similar to what Gerhard described above. I do a lot of cross-referencing within Workflowy. So, for example, I have a “quick list” of my most urgent projects at the top of my current list of ~70 projects. In the list, it shows me the project name and a link to the project. That way I can easily jump into my most urgent projects. Another example, are projects that are dependent on another project being finished. So, the project would have a status of #waitingfor and within that project, I have a link to the project that this is dependant on.

Rob
Rob
2 years ago
Reply to  Jacob Green

I too spend a huge portion of the day copying references from one node to another so I can click around. I use Rawbytz “clip to Workflowy” extensively, even _inside Workflowy_. I treat Workflowy like a wiki, basically.

Things rarely belong in just one place, plus when I’m looking at a daily entry about something I like to be able to click directly to my projects list. While starred entries work, it’s just not as efficient. An ability to embed nodes into one another would be a similar option, but I’d almost prefer not to have the full node, just a reference to be able to get there quickly and easily.

Argh
Argh
2 years ago

This new feature completely breaks the functionality of links in the Android app. Links that should open with an link-specific app now open in Workflowy, breaking the functionality.

And there isn’t even a way to get back to the Workflowy todo list, besides forceclosing Workflowy and restarting it. The system “Back” button at the bottom of the screen does nothing.

And in my settings dialogue there is no way to switch this nonsense off.

Disaster, please remove.

Argh
Argh
2 years ago
Reply to  Argh

Even copypasting the links out of Workflowy to use them manually in some other browser does not work. Just touching the link in Workflowy immediately makes Workflowy open the link in its internal browser. I have to manually type the link into another browser to use it. Crazy.

Jacob Green
Jacob Green
2 years ago
Reply to  Argh

That is definitely not intended behavior. Please email us at help@workflowy.com and we can get some specific details about what is going on in your case.

georgepage
2 years ago

Nope, not working in my android app, which was jut updated.

Jacob Green
Jacob Green
2 years ago
Reply to  georgepage

Could you please email us at help@workflowy.com so we can work with you to figure it out?

Janek
Janek
2 years ago

Desktop app is great, but… there is no right click context menu (copy, paste, search in Google…). Please!

Tom
Tom
2 years ago

I’d use the desktop apps if you actually had one for Linux.

Jacob Green
Jacob Green
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom

Does this one work for you? It is an AppImage
https://workflowy.com/downloads/linux/

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dfgdffhghdsfsfsdfsf
2 years ago

My current wish list for Workflowy:

– An option in the Android app to permanently hide the search field at the top (it comes back every time I start the app)
– The ability to create separator lines and then drag and drop them around
– “Symbolic links” between items, that is, being able to create a duplicate of an item, but in such a way that when I mark one copy as completed, the other copy is marked as completed as well.
– Text formatting support on the Android app (bold text from Windows is currently non-bold on Android)My current wish list for Workflowy

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dfgdffhghdsfsfsdfsf
2 years ago

– Minimize to tray for Windows app, with a nice black & white icon (Windows 10 style)

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dfgdffhghdsfsfsdfsf
2 years ago

– Being able to set a default size and position for the Windows app (e.g. I always want it to be snapped to right edge of my screen on every startup, with a width of 300px)

jamesr404
jamesr404
2 years ago

This is a HUGE time saver for me. I navigate to workflowy links probably 20 to 300 times a day, my whole system is a bunch of interconnected links ^^ (It’s just how my/our brains work)

Opening the workflowy links directly in the app is much quicker, and removes the need for using shared links everywhere just to improve the loading speed.

Thanks so much for having this idea and implementing it! If I notice any bugs, I’ll report them 4 sure 😉

mike m
mike m
2 years ago

Android peeps for whom this is not working – as of right now it seems to require the https:// in front of the link. So ‘workflowy.com/#/21jumpstreet’ opens browser, but ‘https://workflowy.com/#/21jumpstreet’ stays in the app.

Note before mass find/replacing – it may force links onto second lines if text and links are on same line.

Workflowy hq – short link formatting style for internal links please? This is better than third party link shortening services by lots and lots.

mike m
mike m
2 years ago
Reply to  mike m

Should have mentioned use case, it’s because with text on one side and link on the other I dont accidentally misclick with my stupid fat fingers if I want to edit title or add a note or something.

‘A thing i like – http://www.URLofsaidthing.com
‘A 2nd thing – http://www.etcetc.com

vs.

‘A thing i like
http://www.URLofsaidthing.com
‘A 2nd thing
http://www.etcetc.com

To me looks like

|-Safe Zone–| |-Clicky Zone-|
|-Safe Zone–| |-Clicky Zone-|
|-Safe Zone–| |-Clicky Zone-|

vs.

|-Target Zone–|
|-Mine Field-|
|-Target Zone–|
|-Mine Field-|

Relevant simspons here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJ_vPqQ5hNQ

trackback

[…] my recent announcement of Deep Links we were greeted by renewed enthusiasm to let folks retrieve links from the desktop app (and then […]

Armin
Armin
2 years ago

What about tel: links? It would be great to initiate a call on a mobile device based on a tel: link, e.g.

* Call Dr. Meyer (tel:555-1234567)

https://css-tricks.com/the-current-state-of-telephone-links/

Jacob Green
Jacob Green
2 years ago

If you format the number as “555-123-4567”, then the mobile apps will format it as a tel: link and you can click it on your phone to make the call

Luigi
Luigi
2 months ago

Apparently it doesn’t work directly on Safari. When I click a link I am always redirected to the browser which asks me if I want to open the link on the app.

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