Looking for a New Note-taking App?

Last year I tried taking notes with Evernote, but it left me wanting. Evernote has some nice functionality, but it just feels….clunky…and bloated. I like that you can add tables and images, but…I don’t know. It just left a bad taste in my mouth. Since then I’ve realized even more the beauty of simple, basic note-taking. Thus, I switched back to my Simplenote/Notational Velocity combo, which I highly recommend. (Look for a post about Simplenote later this week).

Thanks to a my good friend Riley Jenkins, I found out about a new note-taking app on the block with great potential: WorkFlowy. At this point, WorkFlowy is only web based, but the creators have optimized it to work with mobile devices in web browsers. The web app’s key focus is note-taking and lists.

Key Features

Nested lists. Each item in your list can become the parent of a nested list. Simply click through to see the sub-content.

Indent. By indenting items automatically become part of the parent item’s sublist.

Expand/Collapse lists. Double click the title of the current list to expand/collapse all. Double click individual items to expand/collapse child items. Alternatively use the shortcut Ctrl + Down/Up Arrow or click the “+” or “-” sign to the left of the list.

Mark completed. Since WorkFlowy is task/list oriented you can mark items as completed. You can also toggle completed tasks as hidden/visible.

Tags. Use #tags to mark items for #today or as #important. Use @tags to label items for @Susie or @Dev. Clicking tags filters down items with those tags.

Create notes. Think of it as subtitles for each item. I’ve noticed these are useful as a kind of aside, reminder, description, details or for tags.

Share. Create a “secret” shared link and send it to a friend. You can also choose whether or not you want the viewer(s) to be able to edit or just view the content.

Export notes. In formatted or plain text. FTW!

Duplicate notes. ‘Nuff said.

How It Works

WorkFlowy works from a different perspective than most note-taking apps. Instead of having separate documents, all your lists are grouped in one view. The main view is a list of  all your lists, unless of course it is your only list and none of the items in that list have sub-lists. This is very cool because it keeps things simple and minimal. No extra clutter, no sidebars, no other views. However, your out of luck if you were hoping to organize/view things from the typical note-taking paradigms of OneNote, Evernote or Simplenote where you open a notebook or a group of notes or just one list at a time.

You can reorder your lists by dragging and dropping them. You can search through your lists using words, phrases and tags. It’s easy to navigate through your nested lists by clicking the “Home” link at the top or the name of another parent list. It’s nice to have that built in “complete” functionality so that finished items/tasks won’t show up in the list any more should you toggle them not to.

Sadly, WorkFlowy isn’t available outside the web, which is one thing I really like about the third-party apps developed for Simplenote. I can view my notes even when I don’t have an Internet connection. In my opinion, this is the way it should be since text based files take up so little room. Why not store them locally? The only hassle (from a developer standpoint) is making sure they sync appropriately.

In addition to local storage of notes, I think WorkFlowy could use some more shortcuts for adding notes to list items, completing items, toggling visible/hidden, etc. This would make the app experience much more fluid. I’ve found it a bit painful to go back and add notes to various items in a list(s). It just feels slow and tedious.

The app has a lot of potential and is really well designed overall.

Screenshots

WorkFlowy - Sample List

WorkFlowy - List Menu

WorkFlowy - List Tags

3 Comments

  1. Little bit late, but still… :)
    I’m working on this app now that also helps to easily work and organize notes with nested hierarchy.
    It will be released soon and if you interested please find it here – http://unit.ms/
    Would be happy if it could help you to solve your notes/lists taking problems.

    ps. hope it’s ok to sharing it here

    Reply

  2. What I didn’t like about Workflowy is you had to create an account and store all your data on their servers, so I just released Sublist for Android (coming soon to Windows 10, iOS) which has basically all the same features as workflowy but is even simpler to use: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ca.toadlybroodledev.sublist

    Reply

Comments, questions and feedback welcome.