Zavala – a review

Zavala is an app, available for iPad obviously, but it’s also on iOS and macOS, that helps you create outlines. That is, outlines in terms of a tree of items, with indention to clearly state where an item is in relation to other items. You’ve done plenty of those, I’m sure, using bullet lists. Well, that’s what this is: An app to create bullet lists.

And I like it. I do feel that the best way to tackle this review, is to show you. So, here’s my outline (and review) of Zavala.

The exported outline:

  • Take screenshot
    • Remember to hide iCloud (that’s private)
    • Tag with Switch to iPad (hey, there’s a site, and that’s a link)
  • What is Zavala?
    • Short introduction
  • Who benefits?
    • Outlines are good
      • They can break things down into smaller parts
      • It’s easier to focus on the task at hand
      • Ideal for longer documents
        • Also as an overview
        • And for features, if you need that
          • Like completing things in your list
          • A nice feature is that you can go really deep
          • As in, really deep
            • Like this
              • And this…
                • And this
                  • And this
            • Luckily, you can open and close trees at any level, as seen above
              • Or, in the image below:
          • There’s basic formatting too
    • What I’m using it for
      • Outlining longer pieces
      • Fiction writing
    • Good things
      • Clean interface with collapse and expand support in the outline
      • Swipe to complete or delete
      • Exports to markdown, PDF, OPML
      • Can open files, too
      • You can share outlines
      • iCloud sync
    • Bad things
      • Janky interface with external keyboard at times
      • Dragging and dropping within the outline works less good with a pointing device
      • On that note, selecting vs. choosing to type is a bit weird
      • Inserting images work, but it’s really not ideal

In short, I like Zavala, and I’m using it for several projects at the moment. I think I’ll continue to do so, it makes sense to keep outlines for larger things on its own. That was the appeal of the Story Planner app, too, although I’ve since moved on from that in favour of this lighter approach. Zavala doesn’t really solve things like characters and locations for my stories, but those things work well in Ulysses, where I currently write them. Outlines are a different matter, though.

Zavala is truly a niche app, which I love. There’s room for improvement around the external keyboard support, that janky thing that happens as you select something to start to write isn’t particularly nice, but it only happens upon selection, so I can live with it. If raw outlines is your thing, give Zavala a go.

📌📌📌📌 out of 5 – Great!

Zavala is free on the App Store.

Zavala, in all it’s glory