Notes expanded by default

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16 comments

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    chunhui

    If the workflowy crews can add note expanded by default function, it will be perfect for people to use, this funciton will be very very helpful.

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    Robert

    This might be fine as an option.  But it wouldn't be useful to me.  I use the notes for the boring detail that I don't need to see unless examining that bullet for further information.  For me the whole concept of an outline is for hiding details.  However I can see that notes could be of more importance to others. 

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    David Schneider

    I'd like it as an option but not an automatic setting. I'd even like it if the notes preview of smaller text under the bullet text could be hidden (it's distracting, in my opinion) and replaced with a less intrusive icon or indicator that there is a note attached to the bullet...like a sticky icon out to the right of the bullet or have the bullet dot a different color or shade similar to how workflowy indicates if the bullet is shared or has sub-bullets under it. An example of this feature might be a settings menu option where you set your default notes display option to..."expanded", "preview" or "hidden".

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    David Knell

    I would use this as a writer. Bullets are amazing for outlining but not for writing fictional prose. The notes are great for that but can't be used for that because they're only open when active. It would be so nice to outline your novel using bullets and then write the prose in the notes, which (if you toggle them to "always open" in the Settings dropdown) will then show you your whole novel, chapter, etc all at once with both structure and content nicely shown.

    Please do this!

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    Henry James Todd

    Adding to the voices who would find this useful. I find I often have a few relevant URLs in the notes for an item, and with the current system I need to click once to reveal them and then again to actually use them.

    I don't think "always expanded notes" should be the default, but it would be nice to have the option.

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    Frank (Workflowy Support)

    Isn't having always-expanded notes just like nesting bullets below a parent list and keeping them expanded so that you have control of exactly how much you'd like to see?

    ~ Frank

     

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    Henry James Todd

    > Isn't having always-expanded notes just like nesting bullets below a parent list and keeping them expanded so that you have control of exactly how much you'd like to see?

    That would work! I suppose I've conditioned myself to see the notes field of an item as the appropriate place to put these bits of meta info because I see the item as a leaf node, but of course it doesn't have to be :-)

    I still think the ability to have more than a single notes field expanded/visible would be a good enhancement though. For longer-form writing in Workflowy I tend to put everything in the notes field of a single node and "format" it with markdown if needed (so I can easily copy/paste elsewhere).

    If I zoom in on a node for notes about a particular topic it I think it's a powerful feature to be able to use its descendant nodes as document headers (h1, h2, h3, h4 etc.) and their notes fields as body text. This works well today, and I can export as OPML and run it through pandoc to generate jira wiki markup, PDFs etc. The display of these sorts of notes within Workflowy would be improved by having all the notes fields visible simultaneously.

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    Frank (Workflowy Support)

    > That would work!

    Henry... this is music to my ears! I only use notes for a few styling purposes... but bullets enable you to break your data down into smaller units... which helps when it comes time to shuffling things around... and especially filtering/ searching... one gets more condensed/ specific search results. 

    Bullets might just grow on you for long-form writing too! I and many others have written books in WorkFlowy... using bullets. The ability to slice and dice your data is unparalleled. If markdown can be implemented in a simple .txt file, it can be implemented in both notes and bullets. I wrote my entire book in markdown. 

    Here's a blog post that might be of interest:

    https://blog.workflowy.com/2016/12/01/workflowymarkdown%e2%9d%a4/

     

    ~ Frank

     

     

     

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    Henry James Todd

    I think I see what you're saying here (although the image links in that blog post all appear to be broken) re: structuring longer-form text in WorkFlowy, and I'm not sure it's a good fit for the way I tend to work.

    If everything is a node: h1, h2, hN…, paragraphs, bullet lists, ordered lists, blockquotes, code examples, individual sentences(?) then it's a challenge to actually differentiate them when you want to export, right?

    From that article it appears you're solving this by tweaking CSS and using a browser plugin to alter the appearance of the content in WorkFlowy, while actually writing in Markdown (in nodes). I've come at it from a different direction, probably because I already use Pandoc frequently to convert between various content formats for work.

    I use the "export" feature in WorkFlowy, which gives the 3 options:

    1. Formatted text (in my experience this works ok for small lists for pasting into emails or Jira/Confluence)
    2. Plain text (interpreted as markdown, this is an endlessly nested unordered list with the top-most node as a plain paragraph; nothing is a header, nothing is normal body text, bold/italic formatting is discarded, everything is just a nested list)
    3. OPML

    Option 1 is useful for short bits of content. Option 2 (as markdown) is pretty much useless in my experience. Option 3 is where it's at.

    With OPML, you can run it through Pandoc and directly convert to many useful formats like PDF via LaTeX, Jira, Markdown (with proper headers, and it preserves italics/bold formatting), Word etc. etc.

    However, you can't do this (usefully) if everything is a node, because outline nodes are treated as a hierarchy of headings within the document. It works wonderfully though if you zoom to the "title" of your document, and you treat the child nodes as headings and sub-headings providing structure to the body text, which is contained in the notes of each node.

    For example: https://workflowy.com/s/on-the-topic-of-long/jnd8myw1i9ZDj0AI

    That's a contrived example with shorter content than is really realistic but I hope it's enough to highlight something.

    Here's what both of them look like when run through Pandoc and converted to PDF: https://imgur.com/a/KP3uUxE

    To be clear, I don't write like this all the time in WorkFlowy. Mostly I write short notes and lists while I'm in a meeting or thinking something through. Sometimes though I use WorkFlowy to create an outline of a longer document, and it is at those times I wish that WorkFlowy had the option to display all notes fields as expanded simultaneously. Everything else about WorkFlowy, today, supports my way of working really well:

    • Superb outlining tool
    • Auto-saves everything and is available on all my devices
    • Exports to OPML for easy use with Pandoc

    The only improvement I can think of would be to the way these nodes are displayed within WorkFlowy's UI.

     

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    Henry James Todd

    Amusingly, I've just noticed that the "link share" view of the WorkFlowy link in my previous comment, when loaded in a private-browsing window to test, shows this: https://imgur.com/4JYHYgB

    That's it! That is the view I want: the notes field for each node expanded and visible simultaneously. It's possible when viewing a shared link, so am I just being spectacularly daft and bad at explaining myself? Does this functionality already exist for logged in users of the app?

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    Frank (Workflowy Support)

    Hi Henry,

    If I recall, when I wrote that specific post, the images were hosted in Dropbox... and Dropbox may have had a rare outage spell at about the time you visited the post... the images seem to be up and running now :-)

    Exporting has not been an issue with writing everything in bullets. The hierarchy is irrelevant when it comes to Markdown. You simply copy everything as shown in the blog post...

    You can export via plain text or formatted and ignore the formatting. Everything should be included in WorkFlowy via Markdown. The best scenario is simply expanding an outline and doing a direct copy-paste to a Markdown editor. You can use any number of Markdown editors online to convert your writing to HTML (Pandoc looked way to technical for me).

    All of your points are taken!

    ~ Frank

     

     

     

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    David S Clark

    @frank...you convinced me. :)  

    I was writing some kind of data in notes, but that stuff should just be the top node.

     

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    Frank (Workflowy Support)

    So it looks like 2 souls have been saved thus far...

     

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    David Knell

    @Frank


    > Isn't having always-expanded notes just like nesting bullets below a parent list and keeping them expanded so that you have control of exactly how much you'd like to see?

    Notes aren't bullets and bullets aren't notes. I write blog posts and novel chapters in WorkFlowy. Outlining is perfect in WorkFlowy, obviously, but writing the prose in bullets isn't ideal, in fact it feels really wrong. Maybe it works for you for writing your non-fiction books, but I couldn't stand it. I just can't stomach writing fiction or non-fiction prose only in bullets without ever being able to write on a blank page (while still in WorkFlowy) when there is such a perfect little blank page inside every bullet: the Note. 

    Even worse, exporting an outline (no matter the format) always involves either bullets or "-" so removing each one, individually, for each paragraph would be a nightmare. I don't want to have to use JavaScript to mass-remove them every time I want to move a draft into another program. It just makes so much more sense to write prose in a word doc or (in WorkFlowy) in Notes.

    I honestly don't see how you, an author, write your books in bullets in WorkFlowy without immensely painful exporting and reformatting. If it's not immensely painful, please explain how you do it. 

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    Frank (Workflowy Support)

    Hi David,

    The past of least pain for me is to copy directly from a WorkFlowy list into a Markdown editor. I typically use basic Markdown thingamadoodahs in WorkFlowy... 

     

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    Enonimus

    For those who still really want all their notes expanded, here's a solution:

    https://userstyles.org/styles/194227/workflowy-expand-all-notes

    For Chrome, install the Stylus extension to add this user style.

    You can enable/disable the user style at will while using Workflowy.

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