Collapsed state of shared documents

This post raised a controversy over how should a visitor see your publicly shared documents: collapsed or expanded?

You can see the argument for both sides in that post. Alternative solutions were also suggested. Namely, use the collapsed state at the moment of sharing, or give owner the option to share it as collapsed or expanded (what should be the default is also a debate).

What do you think?

  • They should see everything as collapsed
  • They should see everything as expanded
  • They should see everything like how I see it when I shared it (regarding collapsed state)
  • I should be able to choose between collapsed and expanded (default is collapsed)
  • I should be able to choose between collapsed and expanded (default is expanded)

0 voters

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For my purposes, any option other than “everything as expanded” is okay. At the very least, I just want the option of sharing documents collapsed. I also know others want the option of sharing documents expanded. So I would say avoid the options “everything as expanded” and “everything as collapsed.”

Hi @Erica, thanks for taking this into consideration! :+1: :raised_hands:
I’m with @David_Rhoades: “everything as expanded” and “everything as collapsed” should be avoided since both use cases exist as seen in previous post (although workarounds exist for both too).
So if you’re planning a change, I would suggest either giving a choice to “collapse all” / “expand all” when sharing or give a “current snapshot of collapsed state”, which offers the best granularity for everyone (meaning you can still collapse all, expand all, or do something in between if you feel like so).
However, the latter make me wonder how future added items will be displayed after the initial sharing? eg in the case of a first-rank item with sub-items: will they be collapsed? Expanded? :thinking:
Thanks again :grinning:

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Initial share should show the way the sharer has set things up. This can really help present the information the way needed.

From the moment the sharee accepts, the states should be uncoupled.

Why not from the moment the sharer shares? That way the sharer has more control over the collapsed states.

Yeah, good point. In any case we need to default, expanded or collapse, lol.

Or we could have an option to “update collapsed states”, but my fear is that it would confuse some users.

I think we mean the same thing. See how WorkFlowy does it: you prepare how you want the outline to appear when you share it – once shared, you and the person you share with both can do their own thing without it influencing what one or the other sees.

Minor wording differences, I see. Technically there’s a time gap between when the owner shares the document and when the collaborator accepts the invite, so things could change during that time. For now we can assume it’s when the owner shares it.

@Erica, maybe something along those lines?

Regarding the option to “update collapsed states”, does that mean we would ‘push’ updates to the shared view? If so, what would happen in the mean time with the items we will add:

  • Do they still appear (either collapsed or expanded)?
  • Do they not appear until we push the update?
    In which case we could add a third option in the above image: “Expanded” or “Collapsed” or “When I push updates” (and have somewhere a button or menu option to push these)

Also, what would happen to what is already shared: would it update too with its possibly new current collapsed state? lol

Dynalist is still a beautifully minimal-looking software :ok_hand: and this might add too much complexity for the benefice (meaning that in the (rare?) case that you make changes to your (yet tailored-shared) document that are too important to be automatically all collapsed or expanded, you could still reshare the whole document).

I believe the ability to “share the document as it looks at the moment of sharing” covers most use cases: the ones who want it all collapsed (yay), the ones who want it all expanded, and those in-between. This would already be quite an improvement on the current functionnality!

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Only push updates regarding collapsed states. Content will always be synced to the viewer, just not in the same collapsed state until you re-sync. I hope that makes it clearer.

Yeah, very much agreed. So adding the text in cyan would be confusing to people who don’t concern themselves with this issue.

We’ll think about this and see how we can only make this option available without confusing people. Thanks for taking the time to make the mock-up and write the reply! :star:

I really want to share to people with “Initial Collapsed” state, cause I want to share a very large one, just like this:

I suggest you make the cognitive burden on Sharer, one solution might be URL string like: collapsed=Y

If this “collapsed state specification” can fix the problem, I don’t mind typing the URL string by myself, but I guess you won’t let me type it, either :smile:

Definitely, we’ll consider it.

Do you mind opening a separate feature post for it? Since this poll post is about changing the default behavior, which is kinda different from what you want.

I’m curious to see how many people are interested :slight_smile:

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I have started a new discussion, thanks for your suggestion. :slight_smile:

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as a presenter,

  • they should by default see it as i see it (then i know how it looks to them)

as a user,

  • there should be basic options to change how it’s viewed, cos presenter can make bad decisions

Hi @Erica

thank you so much for getting clarification on this topic.
Do you have an update for us what the current state is?

Just wanted to share first time a big manual and, like pimgeek showed in his example, it’s overwhelming to have every point expanded for the viewer who might just be interested in a small part or want to get a broad overview.

For the time being, is there a workaround I can make the state collapsed as default?
Everything else except expanded would be fine for me

Thank you so much

here you can find a workaround :smiley:

I would welcome if we could set this on a per-share basis. Right now, everything is being shared as fully expanded, which can be confusing for long lists.

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The current system of fully expanded is VERY confusing for people unfamiliar with Dynalist and who have no idea there is a “Collapse All” option to make things more manageable…

Sharing as fully expanded seems like the worst possible option…


It used to be fully collapsed when Dynalist started out, and many people told us it’s the worst possible option because people unfamiliar with Dynalist will not know how to expand the bullets, thus thinking only the top level items exist.

It looks like we can’t satisfy everyone, so giving the owner of the document the option is what we’re going to do next.

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Yes, Erica, that would be fine, but it should be configurable on a per-document basis. I think you mentioned earlier there are basically three options:

  1. everything expanded (current state – not good for long documents)
  2. everything collapsed (good for some documents, but not all)
  3. whatever state (possibly mixed state!) the document owner determined

I think that under 3, there can be further options A, B, C, so it needs to be more finely tuned than that. For example, in some documents I share, I wish to show some items expanded, but other items collapsed. There can be deeper levels in the document, too – I may wish to expand some levels of some items, and keep others collapsed. So, please make option no. 3 more nuanced, so that it isn’t “one or the other” for all Dynalist documents or, indeed, for all items within a single document. Thank you.

Update: you can now choose between fully expanded vs fully collapsed by changing the sharing options: 2020 May update (Public sharing improvements)

Admittedly you still can’t fully customize the collapsed state (e.g. to make them see what you see), but I hope this update is useful!