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Gingko or Dynalist?

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Posted by Ken
Nov 22, 2017 at 03:48 PM


My manager has recently mentioned that she is wanting me to start working on documenting our polices, procedures and operations for our programs.  While what ever I put together will eventually end up in MS Word as we are a MS-based local government, I hate attempting any form of outlining in Word.  And, as I am more of a program person rather than a planner, I have to admit that writing up policies and procedures is not exactly my cup of tea.  I thought that some type of outlining program might help me both organize the subject matter(s) and to break it up into more manageable pieces so it is not so overwhelming.

While I am familiar with a number of the usual suspects, I wanted something that was web-based and could allow me to easily export my work (mostly just text).  I am not sure why, but Gingko initially popped into my head.  I am normally not a fan of that style of outliner, but it seemed a possible candidate.  Workflowy was off the table as I just never clicked with its minimal interface and lack of some type of tree or folder interface.  But, I remembered that there were a number of posts about Dynalist, and that seemed like it could be up to the task.  It seemed to address many of the things that I disliked about Workflowy.

Two questions.  First, is the main high level difference really just a horizontal (Gingko) orientation vs. the more traditional vertical/nested layout (Dynalist), with preferences based heavily on preferred features?  Second, is Dynalist, which is seeming to be my preferred choice at the moment, a very stable application?  I know a number of folks are using it and have been happy, but just wanted to check in before I begin anything.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.




Posted by Paul Korm
Nov 22, 2017 at 04:08 PM


I write quite few process narratives for clients, which are generally done in Word and include embedded Visio flowcharts.

You didn’t mention why you need a web-based editor—is it for collaboration with other authors or reviewers?

I think either Gingko or Dynalist would be helpful—but Dynalist does not “export to Word” —it exports as plain text so you would need to reformat the exported text, which defeats the point.  Gingko exports to Word, with a lot less reformatting needed.

Or you could consider Google docs, or even Office 365 in the cloud.


Posted by Stephen Zeoli
Nov 22, 2017 at 04:09 PM


I love Dynalist, but I just had a harrowing experience with it. I had one long list disappear as if deleted. I had opened the list (which was a node of a parent list) in the browser of three different devices in the course of 24 hours. The next day, when I looked for it in Safari my MacBook, it was gone. It was also gone when I looked for it on my iPad. Luckily, when I got to work on Monday morning and opened Dynalist in Chrome on my Windows PC, the list appear. I immediately exported it as an OPML file, and, sure enough, when I went up to the higher level, the list disappeared. I was able to restore it by pasting the OPML text back into Dynalist. I sent an email to the Dynalist support people and have not gotten any kind of response.

The result? My confidence in Dynalist is shaken, and my respect for the developers has diminished. I may continue to use Dynalist, but I’ll make frequent backups with OPML exports.

As for your project, if you’re going to be writing a lot of material, I’d choose Gingko over Dynalist anyway. Dynalist isn’t well made for crafting lots of body text, in my view. This also sounds like a great project for Scrivener, if you don’t need access to it through the cloud.

Steve Z.


Posted by Dr Andus
Nov 22, 2017 at 04:29 PM


Stephen Zeoli wrote:
>The result? My confidence in Dynalist is shaken, and my respect for the
>developers has diminished. I may continue to use Dynalist, but I’ll make
>frequent backups with OPML exports.

This is one thing I like about WorkFlowy. Nothing like that ever happened over the years that I’ve been using it, and the Pro version allows you to set up automatic daily backups of the entire file to Dropbox (which thankfully I haven’t had the need to consult yet, but it gives me peace of mind).


Posted by Stephen Zeoli
Nov 22, 2017 at 04:35 PM


In fairness, the Pro version of Dynalist does have a backup feature. You can backup to Dropbox or Google Drive (or both). It also does Version History (a recent addition), and I may have been able to restore the missing list that way, if I hadn’t been able to fix it the way I did.

Steve Z.


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