Zavala, shiny new outliner app to track. Available on macOS iPadOS iOS

I am glad that someone still care to create outliner app, and it’s a good one too for a first release. Right now it can import and export OPML, not editing directly via Files per se.

It’s a free and open source app by Maurice Parker. Per stated in about page, one of the inspiration is Gruber’s tweet asking about outliner app:

I am trying to use this instead of omnioutliner on mac / carbonfin’s outliner on ios.


Interesting. I certainly like the idea. I don’t find myself needing to sync outlines that often (or even using them that often) but maybe if I had a simpler easier app, I might.

Worth checking out since it’s free, at the very least.

Update: Well… maybe.

I mean, it seems to work. In that you can type text and have it sync.

But, on iOS, there’s no tab key or other indent/outdent (at least that I could see). I’m not sure how to use an outliner without being able to easily indent/outdent.

There seems to be no guidance for “syntax” at all. Are you supposed to start lines with - or * or [ ] or does it not matter?

Whatever you use, there appears to be no support for using a line prefix, hitting return, and having that line prefix used again.

There’s a button with 3 lines between the ‘…’ button and the ‘Done’ button. I have no idea what it does.

I tried using *asterisks* around a word to see if it would do anything with it. It doesn’t seem to.

On the iPhone, I did a ‘swipe’ on one of the lines, and apparently ‘indented’ it. I thought to myself: “Oh! Maybe you swipe to indent/outdent?” So I swiped the other way, and apparently deleted the line. I did ‘shake to undo’ and it prompted me to undo, and I confirmed that I wanted to undo. It did not undo.

I think I’ll check back and see how this develops.

Currently swipe left/right is the only way to indent/outdent. AFAIK the dev is working on 1.1 for the next 1 or 2 months. He is quite active on, and there is GitHub issue & discussion if you are familiar with it.

I am discussing about other way on iOS to indent/outdent with Marius on this thread: @vincode also, I am thinking about iOS shortcut, inspired by [Carbonfin Outliner]( - space in empty line to toggle indent - backspace in empty indented line to toggle outdent

Yes, that’s why I put “to track” on the post title :smiley: . Currently the app is usable, but let’s hope it will be convenient to use in the future.

Developer here…

As was mentioned previously, you swipe to indent/outdent on iOS. Somehow you managed to delete a row by swiping left? Did you maybe outdent a row that had child siblings and it got moved left and down in the outline? Right now there are only two ways to delete a row on iOS. You can hit the backspace key on an empty row or use the row context menu.

There seems to be no guidance for “syntax” at all.

There is no syntax. All formatting is done using the edit menu on iOS. Bold, italic, linking, and other standard edit commands are available there. I believe that the trend to add Markdown and Wiki syntax to notes and outlines, just makes ugly documents. On iOS especially, those special characters are hard to get to. Markdown is very useful in other ways and in Zavala you can export your outlines as Markdown and Markdown syntax is supported in Imported/Exported OPML files.

The “More” menu is pretty common on iOS devices these days. It isn’t dangerous and you can find out that it is a menu by tapping it. In this case, it contains commands specific to the whole outline. Commands that apply to specific rows can be accessed by long pressing on the row.

I hope you give Zavala another chance and find it more to your liking. I take bugs very seriously and if you find any, please file a bug on GitHub Issues. You can find it by clicking Bug Tracker in the Settings on iOS.


I’ve been using the new 2.0 version of Zavala and I’m loving it! Great to have on Mac OS and iOS. Filtering and linking are done quite nicely. I can see using this outliner a lot. Filtering out completed items and/or notes for specific items is quite handy.

I agree. I have been looking for a simple outliner that can sync, allow exports. I have tried Omnioutliner, folding text, cloud outliner and a couple of online ones.

This feels like it hits the spot.

This is really impressive. I looked at OmniOutliner, a nice package but it was overkill for my needs. Folding text has potential, but lacks iOS support.

I contacted the Zavala developer with a question and received a response almost immediately. Sync between iOS and Mac is seamless. It’s a work in progress, but very close to an efficient, simple outliner.

I’ve been looking at the Mindnode outlining functionality too, aside from mindmapping, which is in some ways similar.

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