Design Feedback: Creating new pages via [[

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September 3, 2021

The problem

You’re in the zone, writing away furiously, but you want to create a new page and have it linked from your current location.

At the moment in Workflowy, you’d need to stop writing, find a location for your new page, create it, then go back to where you were, and then create a link.

Argh! Frustration!

There’s a new industry standard UI for this that lets you type ‘[[‘ to either link to an existing page or create a new one.

We’ve already added the ability to link, but we haven’t enabled creating new pages through ‘[[‘. Until now.

It’s a little more complicated in Workflowy because we don’t have “pages”, we have an infinite tree and don’t have a standard place to put things. So, this is what we’re thinking to address that problem.

Web and desktop app


Step 1 – The editor begins typing the name of their new linked page.


Step 2 – After typing three characters, the editor is shown suggested links, with the top result selected. They can use the keyboard to navigate the results.


Step 3 – The editor finishes typing and is shown the option of creating a new page. Selecting the ‘Create …’ option (using the mouse/keyboard) will make a new page in a top-level location called ‘Notes’. If the editor has already created a new page using ‘[[‘, the ‘Create …’ location will point to that location.


Step 4 – The editor selects the chevron to the right of the ‘Create …’ option allowing them to choose a location for the new page. The editor searches using keywords and can scroll through recent locations where they have saved new pages and starred pages.


Step 5 – As the editor types in keywords, we show potential matching locations. The editor can use the up/down arrow keys and choose a location by pressing ‘Enter’ or clicking.


Step 6 – The new linked page is created in the chosen location. The editor can resume typing.


Mobile

Step 1 – The editor begins typing ‘[[‘ to create a link or taps on the keyboard accessory.


Step 2 – After typing three characters, the editor is shown suggested links. They can scroll through and tap results.


Step 3 – The editor finishes typing and is offered the option of creating a new page in ‘Notes’.


Step 4 – The editor taps the chevron and searches for a location, selecting it with a tap.


Step 5 – The new linked page is created in the chosen location. The editor can resume typing.

Can you help us?

This is our first design draft, and we’re looking for your feedback. What do you like about our proposed design? What do you dislike? Are we missing anything? Let us know in the comments below.

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M B
M B
16 days ago

If people are asking for this, so be it. For me, if I wanted a wiki I’d use a wiki. I think better using an outliner, so I use Workflowy. However, with this, colors, kanban boards and all the other “stuff” being added I just wanted to put in a plea for those of us who like Workflowy for its simplicity. I don’t want to be distracted by things like this. If I want to type “[[” for whatever reason I don’t want a thing popping up interrupting me to link a page. Long story short – keep all the fancy features optional please. You have experimental features in the settings – perhaps add a new “Optional Features” section that’s dedicated where things like this can go? I’d go so far as to suggest that text formatting be an option too – that way you can cater to those who prefer a distraction free, simple setup as well as those who like to go the whole nine yards.

Simon Joliveau
Simon Joliveau
16 days ago
Reply to  M B

I agree with you but think the team has done a good job until now to keep the new features discrete enough so as to not bother people preferring not to use them. I hope it continues!
In this case, is it really likely that you would want to type [[? If not, you might never bother about the feature…

Miguel Serra
Miguel Serra
15 days ago
Reply to  M B

The new set of features are amazing, come on!

Aleksander Chamielec
Aleksander Chamielec
13 days ago
Reply to  M B

Although I like most of the new features I also agree that it would be nice to have a choice in the options to strip down workflowy experience to the bare essentials. For example I sometimes use text formatting but most of the time I find the popup just annoying when I double click the text or select it order to copy it for example. So currently I have disabled the text formatting popup with Stylish/userstyles extension for Chrome.

Shawn Robinson
Shawn Robinson
12 days ago
Reply to  M B

The whole reason I came back to Workflowy is that they have caught up with these types of features. This is still an issue that can slow down and does slow down how I work. I have bought into the building a second brain type of linking. I hate the term wiki, but being able to link thoughts is important and to do it in a way that is natural is what a good UX is about.

Robert
Robert
16 days ago

I love it. It is simple. If you just want to link like you can now, this doesn’t slow you down. If you want to drop nodes in a consistent location, that’s an easy default—quickly followed by the list of recently used locations. If you want to put it somewhere particular, it’s quick to search and do it.

Because of how backlinks create an index of where you’ve linked from, I’m starting to see the value of a list of dates that other notes link to, and the natural-language conversion of dates is a powerful part of that. It might quickly add complexity, but it would be great if that on-the-fly conversion could happen even while typing in the [[ menu. I would think after starting to type the link, the “hit tab to set date” popup would appear as it does now, for users to engage or ignore. Then, as you are proposing, we could then either navigate to an existing node with that name or create one.

Alternatively, maybe this could be kept out of the newly proposed interaction, instead offering the ability to turn a converted date into a link via something like the hover-menu that gives link options after a link has been created.

Thanks for soliciting feedback!

Maciej
Maciej
16 days ago
Reply to  Robert

I hope for a feature to change the date format to something different, like a DD.MM.YYYY or YYYY.MM.DD

ydivho
ydivho
16 days ago

I now use tags to replace the link function, because tags can be filtered by search, but links are not good. If the links cannot be filtered, it is still inconvenient to find the information you are looking for, and it will feel very fragmented if the two are used together.

Nick Newbill
Nick Newbill
16 days ago
Reply to  ydivho

I throughly enjoy links but have recently discovered this annoyance. Most specifically I don’t need links being represented in the search and also do not prefer for them to be present in the left tree. I would only prefer to have them represented on the node they are actually associated with once that node has been selected (at the bottom and can almost be a faded font color). I treat it like “metadata” that provided useful information to the node or notes.

Last edited 16 days ago by Nick Newbill
ydivho
ydivho
16 days ago
Reply to  ydivho

我目前使用的标签类似于漫游链接的使用。我已经更改了应该用于创建具有链接的新节点,以创建带有标记链接的新标记节点,然后在标题级别实现链接。至于实现节点和 b 节点 该链接使用#a节点缩写-b 节点缩写分别标记两个节点以实现块级链接,但这种使用的前提是在主页上完成

Simon Joliveau
Simon Joliveau
16 days ago

It fits what I had in mind when thinking about this feature, so would be totally OK for me!

Just one thing, there should be a keyboard shortcut to activate the “chevron” allowing to change the location (maybe tab?)

2 things are not clear to me :
– why do you need the default Notes node?
– is the default suggested location based on the last destination used in absolute, or in the current node?

Derek
Derek
16 days ago

Long time Workflowy user here. The article mentions that Workflowy doesn’t technically have “Pages” but I have found myself frequently wishing it did. More often than not, I would like a given concept/person/topic to have its own dedicated page to act as a jumping off point. The use of “pages” is something I would really like to see in Workflowy.

waldyrious
waldyrious
16 days ago
Reply to  Derek

Let me add a counterpoint — as mentioned by M B in another comment, I love Workflowy for its simplicity in having a single graph so I can keep all my information connected where it makes sense.

The concept of a “page” IMO goes against the basic principle of an outliner, which is that any level of the tree can be hoisted and effectively become a page. You can even bookmark specific subtrees so they’re accessible in the sidebar as a jumping off point, to use your words.

If I wanted separate documents with their own trees inside, I’d use Dynalist or Checkvist or any of the other outliners that mix those concepts in. The fact that Workflowy keeps the graph concept pure is a major advantage it has over the alternatives, IMHO.

Stefano F. Rausch
16 days ago
Reply to  Derek

You can mimic the “pages” concept by using a root “nodes” node and adding topics as children. I use this approach for all my contacts, MOCs [ Map of Concept ] and other interesting facts. I don’t need to think anymore about where to put a new topic.

Nathan
Nathan
16 days ago

I think I like it. When can we try it out?

Felix
Felix
16 days ago

The creation of a new page while writing is perfect. The suggested workflow seems great and thought through. But: Are you also working on a solution for the “Backlink-Section”? Let’s assume I just created a new page by using the square brackets as described above…If I click the created link and navigate to that newly built side, it will show me a backlink (or more) at the bottom of the site. So far, so good. What Roam and others do there is, they also show unlinked items with the same keyword in it. If I wish I can click a button to link them all and within one click I build a kind of network between all those entries.

Stefano F. Rausch
16 days ago

The approach is very intuitive, and we should give it a go!

ydivho
ydivho
16 days ago

也许,您还可以提供在新节点上创建标签的功能。事实上,双链接与在工作流程中特定规范中使用标签非常相似。双链接只是标签的子集。单击标签来过滤这一简单。操作可以实现与漫游链接相同的功能,但 wfy 的标签过滤更灵活。除了显示防链节点(也标记节点),它还可以编辑未排序的节点,使其井然有序且合乎逻辑。漫游的创始人也非常聪明,知道链接是标签,他们已经统一了他们的功能,但大多数用户似乎只了解链接的概念,但他们不能理解,这只是一个产品的标签过滤和使用根据规则。双链是一个更具标志性的概念,它更符合用户自身想象中大脑的运作,但他不知道大脑组织的知识在很大程度上是混乱的。双链和标签只能帮助你快速找到知识,但它是无序的。双链和你的大脑一样凌乱。标签经过过滤后,可以编辑所有内容。它可以快速找到无序的知识,并允许您将其组织成有序的知识。这就是为什么我说漫游的双链链只是工作流程标签过滤的子集。

Sean Armstrong
Sean Armstrong
15 days ago

Love it. When will it be implemented?

Anton
Anton
15 days ago

This is a great solution!
But I have one request. Unfortunately, the Russian keyboard layout has no “[ ]” characters. Could you please add some other alternative to these characters? For example, the symbol “+” (or any other symbol). Leave “[ ]” but add “+”.
I really hope you’ll consider my suggestion

Feedback On Backlink
Feedback On Backlink
15 days ago

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Last edited 15 days ago by Feedback On Backlink
Francis Gigot
Francis Gigot
15 days ago

The positive point of Roam Research is the display of information on unrelated pages … This allows you to create new links … It’s amazing and very powerful. But I agree that Workflowy is not Roam Research … The power of Workflowy is its simplicity …

Darius Baria
Darius Baria
15 days ago

Why are you calling them ‘pages’? Wouldn’t ‘Create New Bullet’ using [[ make more sense? (Well, it would to me anyway! 😄 )

Last edited 15 days ago by Darius Baria
Darius Baria
Darius Baria
15 days ago
Reply to  Darius Baria

PS – Dynalist has pages (and folders, and checkboxes). I’ve tried Dynalist. But I use Workflowy as I love the simplicity (and power).

J.D.
J.D.
4 days ago
Reply to  Darius Baria

The Dynalist UX is over-engineered for what it should do. And also Dynalist UI design is ugly. WorkFlowy has the advantages of being so much simpler, efficient, and beautifully designed in every single detail! Let’s wish they don’t miss that advantage, otherwise we should be looking in newer beautifully designed outliner tools such as Moo.do, Dashword, Craft, etc…

Mark
Mark
14 days ago

I would like to be able to select text and use the link dialog to search for and link to an existing page or create a new one. Your current proposed design would require me to frequently rename newly created links.

Fernando
Fernando
7 days ago
Reply to  Mark

This is a great ideia!

Anton
Anton
14 days ago

What if it’s possible to create a sub-item directly in the main node row? Without going to another line.
So that a new page is created as a sub-item, but placed directly in the row?
Sorry, maybe my thought is hard to understand – I don’t speak English well.

Immagine 2021-09-05 132535.png
Earl Richardson
Earl Richardson
14 days ago

Phil, I like this! One thing I’m not clear on: If we use this method to create a new page, then will future uses of the phrase show up on this page? In other words, if the page I create is “William” (like in the example,) then will any/all my future uses of that term (“William”) appear on the page as well?

Francis Gigot
Francis Gigot
13 days ago

If you put [[]] the backlinks will be indicated. If you don’t put in [[]] Workflowy will not find anything. There is Roam Research which displays the unrelated pages (Screenshot) … One click and we make the link .. It’s very powerful ….

Screenshot_20210906-194140_Chrome.jpg
Aleksander Chamielec
Aleksander Chamielec
13 days ago

I like it!
By the way – I think that the same mechanism could be added as a function to move a bullet. Move is a feature that would make my workflowy life so much easier:)

Steven
Steven
5 days ago

I couldn’t agree more, it’s such a simple feature that would save sooooo much time when moving bullets. PLEASE, WorkFlowy, I’m a paying user and have requested this along with many other users years ago.

Shawn Robinson
Shawn Robinson
13 days ago

I have recently moved back to Workflowy from a myriad of different places. It started with Dynalist, then Roam, then Notion, then Obsidian, then Craft and those are the ones that I want to mention. I came back to Workflowy and I am very pleased to find that you are working on this because this is a stumbling block.

I like what you have as is, it allows for quick page creation but also lets you place it where you want it if you want to take the time. It has been a bit brutal migrating back. But you have a great product.

I do wish that you had a solid migration tool as well. But I am okay now, don’t know what I would do with a tool at the moment since I am mostly moved in

Last edited 13 days ago by Shawn Robinson
Shawn Robinson
Shawn Robinson
12 days ago

Another use case that can take us to the same point is where I go through my notes and look for concepts that should be pages to link to.

right now I highlight the text in a paragraph, copy them, enter two brackets [[, hit paste, find out that the term does not exist as a bullet… and then do what I have to do to create it and come back.

Instead, it would be great to be able to highlight a word/phrase and then hit [[ which does not just erase what is highlighted but puts the brackets around it and jumps to step 2 or 3 above.

Kayfun
Kayfun
11 days ago

Just Great!! Please go on. Simple and effective

Andrew
Andrew
8 days ago

KISS
[[ to link is fine, & BTW it’s not a new industry standard, OneNote has been doing it for years (and creating new pages) as have wikis.
The proposal for making new pages in a new location is disruptive to thinking / creating.

If I want to do this I use existing WFY capabilities, I start a new line where I am, date it, add a tag such as #SideNote & write out the idea, where you think it should be moved to & any other tags without moving from my current work. The housekeeping is then done later when I am in a different work mode.

Fernando
Fernando
7 days ago

This looks great and it will be really a breakthrough towards the creation of your own wiki.
Any plans as well to provide us with a graphic view of the links between nodes and tags as gorgeously done in Obsidien?

Carlos Rebolledo Aguirre
Carlos Rebolledo Aguirre
5 days ago

Excelente!!! Que llegue pronto !!! 🚀

Steven
Steven
5 days ago

I like your suggested implementation method. What is just as important then, however, is that the one bullet to which other bullets are backlinking gets the highest weight in your search results/”Move to” dialogue. As you mentioned, WorkFlowy doesn’t have “pages” per se, so backlinking creates multiple instances of bullets with the same title. The one bullet which has the most backlinks (= the actual “page”) should therefore always be at the top of the search results in order to avoid confusion and allow for quick navigation. At the moment, that isn’t the case yet.

Tom
Tom
3 days ago

Yes! I love it! When can we try it?

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