Editing documents as easily as items

Having everything be a list was one of Workflowy’s defining features for some very thought-out, excellent reasons. One of them was blazing-fast super-smooth reorganization of ‘documents’ because they were just lists.

Now, I agree with Dynalist’s documents feature. I love the Ctrl+O shortcut. However, we lost some flexibility with the return to traditional folders and files.

How can we make documents super easy to reorganize and restructure? How can we make converting between documents and lists super easy at the same time?

I’m not sure, but I think it’s an important conversation to have (it tops my priority list, personally).

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It used to be the case that you cannot document titles directly in the title. Now you can. It used to be impossible to add a note to the document, now it can be done. So yeah, we’re trying.

You can also drag list to convert to a document, but not the other way around yet (sadly).

Some ideas:

  • Make it easy to find a folder or a document in the left pane (finding a folder is pretty painful right now)
  • Make Markdown/formatting behave the same for document title
  • Shortcuts to manage files faster (multi-select, delete, etc; see this trello card)

Definitely; appreciate all of the efforts!

Warning: This post is pretty long and confusing. Feel free to ignore.

My imagined solution goes a little like this:

You can enter a special ‘superman’ mode where everything is a list again just like Workflowy. The one difference is there’s a ‘super checkbox’ next to each item that determines whether or not the item is at the folder/document level or not.

In terms of code, you could add a button to the file pane. When you click this button, a special modal using almost all of the screen opens up. A superman list is generated from the user’s regular Dynalist stuff and displayed in this modal. The super checkboxes are ticked or not depending on whether an item was a folder/document or not.

When the user now checks a ‘super checkbox’, all of the parents’ super checkboxes get checked too if they weren’t already. Similarly, if the user unchecks a super checkbox, all of the children’s super checkboxes get unchecked.

The user can drag around items and edit them and expand and zoom and do all the things they can do in a regular list.

All of the edits right now are still in this special superman list. They have nothing to do with the user’s regular Dynalist stuff.

When the user clicks a ‘Done’ button, the user’s Dynalist stuff is updated/generated from the superman list. The superman list is discarded.

I don’t know how clear the above is, but hopefully it makes some sense.

I also imagine it would take quite some work, so it’s just a pipe dream. Still, I thought multi-item was a total pipe dream at some point, but it happened, so putting this out there!


If you keep a single document only, that is exactly how Workflowy works. A singular document which contains everything.

Dynalist builds on that by allowing an additional hierarchy, documents, to allow for further separation.

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I know, but being able to hit Ctrl-O is such a killer feature I want to use documents.

You could always use Ctrl + F. And use tags to define folders etc.

It matches too much. I only want a certain backbone of my content to be matched.

Hmm… I could use a single document and make whatever was previously a document a bookmark.

I’ve got it!

I use a singular list. Whatever used to be a document is now (a) tagged with #document and (b) bookmarked.

Now, when I want to view the backbone of my document, I can click on the #document tag and see a nice hierarchical layout.

I can also use Ctrl-O to quickly navigate to something in my backbone.

Thank you so much, @IbrahimQasim and @Erica !

The only downside is having to both bookmark an item and tag it with #document (or do the opposite).

For that, there’s a fix that’s both easy and useful in general (not just to the admittedly obscure issue in this thread): implement is:bookmarked for search just like is:completed and is:checklist!

@Erica Does this sound reasonable?


Thats exactly what I meant :smiley: Thats how I used Dynalist right at the start before I switched to using documents more. Enjoy :slight_smile:

Also, you can have @ tags as well, so @document, just in case you didnt know :slight_smile:

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@Yatharth_Agarwal, @IbrahimQasim, woah, interesting discussion going on!

It’s a little long but not confusing at all. At least I think I 100% understood it.

In fact, at one stage of Dynalist, we almost decided to make everything a list (on the backend), and only mark some of them as documents with a boolean flag. The UI looks the same; only the underlying data changes.

In the end we didn’t pull the trigger, but it was close. So I perfectly understand what you’re talking about. It’s not a pipe dream though, I can see it getting implemented if some people request it to better organize their documents.


That’s cool if it works for you. The superman model you described still seems pretty darn cool to me… maybe let’s not give it up so easily? :slight_smile:

Also, @JP1 brought up the is:bookmarked feature as well in here, what a coincidence!


@Erica Any update on this? It’s the only thing between standing between us and the most perfect document-item mashup!

Edit: Sorry about what I said here. (With such confidence.) I thought it was implemented for some reason.