Line breaks in bullets

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24 comments

  • Avatar
    Jeff

    I would also love the feature of multiple lines, i.e. embedded line breaks, in one bullet item.

    There are various reasons to do this. One more example is pasting in blocks of text with paragraphs, where you don't really want it as separate items, nor inside a note. The same goes for compatibility when pasting in OPML from other outliners that do support embedded line breaks - if they are actual line break characters, currently Workflowy collapses them all into one line. Interestingly though, if the OPML uses 
 escaped line break codes instead, as many do, Workflowy actually creates multi-line items when it's pasted. So it seems like Workflowy may already support embedded line breaks, but just lacks a way to actually enter them.

    Nearly every other outliner I know of supports this, so I'm sure Workflowy could too. Most work by using e.g. alt-enter to create a line break without starting a new bullet item. Similarly there are ways to paste text either as multiple items or a single one, e.g. holding down shift or alt while pasting.

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    Frank (Workflowy Support)

    > It could be that I just need some time to get used to it.

    This is always the case!

     

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    Spencer Scott

    Hello! I have been experimenting lots lately with using the notes feature in regards to achieving paragraph/line breaks within the Workflowy ecosystem.

    Starting to get the hang of wrapping my head around it to think of the bullet as the title, and the note as the contents, allowing me to press ENTER while inside the note to make line breaks. As well as copy/paste existing documents I have from elsewhere that contain line breaks/paragraph breaks/blank lines whatever you want to call them.

     

    However, as a song/lyric/poetry/screenplay writer as well. Their are still some things I can't quite get the hang of and would love some insight into figuring out a workaround or request as a future feature.

    1.  The fact that the notes collapse when not selected is a problem for my personal workflow: It means I can't have multiple poems (notes) selected at once if I wanted to display them all together and copy/paste, or replace lines, or even just look at to gain some possible insight into deeper meanings or themes.

    2. I also agree with OP that the somewhat fainter font of the notes section, while helpful in many other areas around workflowy, takes away from users experience who use that section as a writing space primarily.

     

    So the feature request (or workaround option) is either making the notes manually collapsible/expandable, OR allowing some formatting within a bullet to be able to press ENTER and make a line break, as opposed to new bullet.

     

    I effin love workflowy and will continue to use it for so so so many different purposes. And the above workarounds/features I long for do seem trivial I suppose, but would they be that hard to implement? I would really like to know. 

     

     

    Cheers!

     

     

     

     

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    Frank (Workflowy Support)

    Hi Spencer,

    Thank you for laying out your use case! It's not a matter of difficulty of implementation... but rather a change in the "classic" WorkFlowy structure/ dynamic.

    While understandably one gets line breaks in WorkFlowy notes, there are many WorkFlowy users who also do their song and script writing in bullets themselves. A trivial example would be this blog post where you'll come across the following screenshot:

    Bullets better allow one to slice and dice and shuffle information... and in the near future we may be implementing document views where the bullets are cleared...

    ~ Frank

     

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    mark

    Hi Frank,

    first of all thank you for your tremendous product! I absolutely love it.

     

    The Problem I have with using Notes for a "multiline thought" is that I only see the content of the note if the note is selected. If I want to view over multiple multiline thoughts I have to click and select each note.

    I tried your idea to use Sub-Bullets for "multiline thoughts" but this did not work for me since it implies a hierarchy which does not capture the essence of multiline thoughts.

     

    My idea would be to add a new Keyboard Shortcut (ALT + ENTER, like in Excel) to have the possiblity to add multiline in a bullet point. This would add the possibility for user who want it without disrupting the "classic" Workflowy Look&Feel for most ot the users.

     

    At the moment this is for me the only shortcoming of Workflowy - where the product feels very clunky for me.

     

    Anyway best wishes to you and the whole workflowy team! <3

    Best Regards Mark

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    Kristian Voss Bjerre

    I would also love this feature!

    I've actually found that it is possible with text made by the webclipper

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    Stuart Whittaker

    Been mucking about - here's a version of Jeff's custom-paste script that works with Shortcuts in MacOS (free!) using the JXA integration. Apart from Shortcuts being free, is also allows you to run the shortcut from the menu bar, a keyboard key-combination, or from the Services menu (i.e. you can select the text and right-click to run the shortcut via the Services menu on the selected text). This of course assumes you set the appropriate options (Menu Bar, Use as Quick Action, Keyboard Shortcut) in the Shortcut Details. Note you could also use Shortcuts to insert the previously discussed line-break snippet.

    It's a hack using the clipboard to transfer the selected text into the Shortcut and I am sure there is a better way which would include some error-checking.

    Also, I had to make sure the "Shortcut Input" in the Copy step was set to text, as below:

    Shortcut:

     JXA:

    function run(input, parameters) {
          let top = '<?xml version="1.0"?>\n<opml version="2.0">\n   <body>\n    <outline text="';
          let bottom = '" />\n  </body>\n</opml>';
         
        app = Application('System Events');  
        app.includeStandardAdditions = true;  
        let clipboardContentString = app.theClipboard();
        
       clipboardContentString = clipboardContentString
          .replace(/&/g, '&amp;')
          .replace(/</g, '&lt;')
          .replace(/>/g, '&gt;')
          .replace(/'/g, '&#39;')
          .replace(/"/g, '&#34;')
          .replace(/\//, '&#x2F;')
          .replace(/(?:\r\n|\r|\n)/g, '&#10;');
      
      app.setTheClipboardTo(top + clipboardContentString + bottom);
       
    }
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    Stuart Whittaker

    ....and here's a plain old Shortcut (i.e. no JXA) that will work using the share-sheet on iOS or MacOS. So you can simply select the text and share it to the shortcut, which formats the text onto the clipboard so you can paste into Workflowy directly. 

    https://www.icloud.com/shortcuts/dc2c0e10c41f496f989ff1ec7cf1537b

     

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    Jeff

    Stuart, thanks for these! I haven't played much with Shortcuts so far, so this will be a good intro.

    I should probably point out that these work-arounds (including mine) only work on unstyled plain text. So if you copy and paste bold, italic, or underlined text, the formatting will be lost.

    Supporting these would require converting from either an HTML or Rich Text clipboard (depending where you copied it from) to OPML with escaped `<b>` and `<i>` tags, which is significantly more complicated. So, to be fair to the Workflowy team, it's maybe not quite as simple to support as I said above.

    Even Workflowy's standard cut and paste doesn't handle bold, italic, and underlined pasted text properly - though that's not really a good excuse for not having multiple-line text! For example, if you load this in a browser:

    <!DOCTYPE html>
    <html>
    <body>
    <p>This is normal text - <span style="font-weight:bold;">and this is bold text</span> using CSS.</p>
    <p>This is normal text - <b>and this is bold text</b> using &lt;b&gt;.</p>
    <p>This is normal text - <strong>and this is bold text</strong> using &lt;strong&gt;.</p>
    </body>
    </html>

    Then copy and paste it into Workflowy, only the second line will be bold. Workflowy only responds to the `<b>` tag, though HTML5 encourages people to use the others instead, when possible. There are similar issues with italic and underlined. Workflowy only responds to `<i>` and not `<em>`, and underlined rich text doesn't paste correctly.

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    Grant Hallgrimson

    Not sure if this would work for you, I don’t write lyrics but I do all of my writing in the notes area.

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    Frank (Workflowy Support)

    Hi Jesper,

    Grant gave you the official answer :-) The note area can be activated by hitting Shift+Enter

     

    ~ Frank

     

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    Jesper Wilhelmsson

    Yes, I started to use the notes area but as have been noted earlier in threads on this topic the notes section closes automatically when you navigate away from it. That’s a problem for me. There are a few issues that if fixed would make the notes area more useful for me:
    * Don’t collapse the area automatically. A setting to choose manual collapse would be perfect.
    * Make it possible to change the font color and size so that it looks like the normal bullet text. If this is the text I’m supposed to read the most it doesn’t make sense to have smaller font and darker color (using dark mode).

    It could be that I just need some time to get used to it.

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    Kent C Myers

    It's funny that I'm always looking for a line feed, and I somehow forgot that Workflowy doesn't have one.  I guess it must be in Word (where I often have to turn off the automatic extra line at the end of a paragraph, every time it gets 'upgraded'. I have a fequent need to shorten my lines, or for example move a URL to a fresh line, using a line feed instead of carriage return.  I must be getting old.  Was I slipping way back to MaxThink?  I do use Workflowy daily and just forgot that I don't have one. 

    On another note, the list of keyboard commands is incomplete.  It doesn't have ctrl-Z to undo, for example, which is surely crucial!

    Anyway, put me in for a line feed command.  That should not be impossible. 

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    Kent C Myers

    Thank you Mark.  I'm glad to know that I'm not alone in wanting a way to advance to the next line within an item. (I  have yet to figure out the Note feature.  It's a whole 'nother level of complication that works against my practice of rapid drafting and rearranging with full visibility.) 

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    Andres Izarra

    Yeah Mark, thanks for that! I hope the Workflowy development team take note of this request of being able to insert multiple blank lines within a bullet. Also the word count feature within a bullet would be a great feature to count on. 

    Cheers,

    AI

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    Omar

    New lines within the same bullet would be a great feature to have! (preferably using atl+enter)

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    Stuart Whittaker

    Thanks for the tip Kristian - pasting the following into bullet text inserts a line break:

    <?xml version="1.0"?>
    <opml version="2.0">
      <body>
        <outline text="&#10;" />
      </body>
    </opml>

     

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    Jeff

    Stuart, that's great! I found that I had to paste it twice. I'm surprised it works, but it does create proper embedded line breaks. All the extra stuff gets stripped away. If you look at the exported OPML, it's as it should be. You could use autohotkey or something similar, to paste that bit of OPML, maybe with with alt-enter or control-shift-enter.

    It probably wouldn't be that difficult to make a little script so you can copy text from an e-mail or whatever, wrap it in the above opml, put the text into the one `text=` and add the `&#10;` at the end of each line. Then paste that as one bullet. I just tried that manually, and it works - Workflowy even correctly removes the actual line breaks from the OPML.

    It would be a lot easier if Workflowy just gave us a couple of hotkeys to type and paste embedded line breaks, but it seems like it's actually possible with some extra work.

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    Stuart Whittaker

    I only have to paste once, not sure why would have to do it twice, seems strange.

    As to scripts etc., that's exactly what I have done. I'm on a Mac, so use Keyboard Maestro to insert the break with a hotkey and also to copy-and-paste text from mails or whatever, inserting the line-breaks as required.

    Just by the way, using OPML snippets with scripting like that can fix a few niggles with Workflowy such as being able to change the default date format to whatever you want (i.e. ISO as opposed to whatever you call the awful format that is default - why oh why can't we change that) and still getting all the searchability as when using the default dates. 

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    Jesper Wilhelmsson

    Stuart, any chance you could write a tutorial for how to do things like that? That would be very much appreciated!

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    Jeff

    Stuart, how do you access Workflowy? When I'm using the desktop app, I have to paste that OPML code twice before the cursor goes to a new line. Same with Vivaldi (Chrome). With Firefox, I have to paste it twice at the end of the first line, and after that only once. With all of them, it ends up with just one linebreak if you look at the exported OPML, so that's all good.

    I found that adding an extra `&#10;` makes it work for the desktop app and Vivaldi/Chrome:

    <?xml version="1.0"?>
    <opml version="2.0">
      <body>
        <outline text="&#10;&#10;" />
      </body>
    </opml>

    I'm also using a Mac. I set up a keyboard shortcut of alt-enter with BetterTouchTool and "paste custom text" with the double linebreak as shown. I might do one for Firefox with the single one, and remember to press it twice the first time.

    ...use Keyboard Maestro to insert the break with a hotkey and also to copy-and-paste text from mails or whatever, inserting the line-breaks as required.

    Do you mean you have a script that inserts all the line breaks automatically? Or you insert them manually with the hotkey?

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    Jeff

    A few hours later... I now have a custom "paste" command, using BetterTouchTool (Mac only, not free, sorry...), that lets me copy multi-line/paragraph text (from the web, e-mail, or whatever), HTML-encode and convert it to OPML to paste into Workflowy as a single bullet with multiple lines!

    Here are some instructions for BetterTouchTool:

    • 1. Create a "named trigger" and name it something like "Paste as OPML for Workflowy".
    • 2. Select "Clipboard Manager / Java Script Transformer" action.
    • 3. Use this as the "Clipboard Transformer Function":
    async (clipboardContentString) => {
       let top = '<?xml version="1.0"?>\n<opml version="2.0">\n   <body>\n    <outline text="';
       let bottom = '" />\n  </body>\n</opml>';
       clipboardContentString = clipboardContentString
          .replace(/&/g, '&amp;')
          .replace(/</g, '&lt;')
          .replace(/>/g, '&gt;')
          .replace(/'/g, '&#39;')
          .replace(/"/g, '&#34;')
          .replace(/\//, '&#x2F;')
          .replace(/(?:\r\n|\r|\n)/g, '&#10;');
       return top + clipboardContentString + bottom;
    }
    • 4. Add the Workflowy desktop app (or your browser) to the Applications list.
    • 5. Add a keyboard shortcut, e.g. option-command-V for Workflowy.
    • 6. Select the "Insert / Type / Paste Custom Text" action.
    • 7. From the "Insert Special" menu, choose "Other > Insert Content from Clipboard".
    • 8. Under "Transform text before pasting..." choose the "Paste as OPML for Workflowy" transformer script.

    No warranty, use at your own risk! I am not a licensed JavaScript programmer, I only play one on the Internet. This work-around makes use of an undocumented feature of Workflowy, and although I think it's unlikely, it's possible you may find someday that your multi-line items aren't what they used to be...

    Maybe someone can adapt the script for some other method, or make a browser extension, for pasting into Workflowy. Or maybe the Workflowy team can just go ahead and make this built-in to Workflowy! It seems like all the mechanics are there already, and it just needs a couple of keyboard shortcuts to make it happen.

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    Stuart Whittaker

    Jeff - ah yes, when using a browser I have to enter the line-break twice. I use a Fluid web-app (https://fluidapp.com/) as it allows me to have the desktop-style app, but have multiple Workflowy windows open. The Fluid app only needs one line-break, as does the desktop. 

    I see the new "Updates" page mentions paragraphs are under consideration. I'm assuming they are meaning the ability to put line-breaks in bullet text, so it may not be long until there is an official version.

    I'll have a think about how best to share other snippets. 

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    Stuart Whittaker

    Thanks for that. I don't really care about the bold, italics etc. in my day to day, it's more about getting the raw text out of an application and into Workflowy with as little friction as possible (another gripe...why is cut-and-paste the only way...?). 

    If by any chance you use Apple Mail, this shortcut puts a URL to the mail as the first line of the bullet, and the selected text in the mail as the content. This could also capture the whole mail, if you tweak the Applescript bit to do that.

    https://www.icloud.com/shortcuts/d1c36767458a4fa7baf1382199f8fe0a

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