Backing up Workflows

This workflow is now no deprecated after the introduction of Workflow 1.3 and it’s syncing and “Get my Workflows” action. You can find an updated version of this workflow here.

Until Workflow has its own backup functionality1, it’s really important to make sure you’re manually backing up your workflows. There’s always the possibility that you could accidentally change or delete a workflow, have to reinstall the app or even lose your device.

I’m ashamed to say that I wasn’t doing this, and had a close call when a workflow I sent from my iPad to iPhone didn’t work, causing the app to crash every time I launched it2. Fortunately, I was able to fix the problem but the thought of losing all my workflows motivated me to figure out a decent backup process.

Each workflow is simply a .wflow file, and the link that Workflow generates is just a web preview. When you add a workflow, you’re actually just downloading a very small .wflow file that opens in Workflow.

While Workflow does generate a link on demand that you could technically use as a backup, I prefer to have the actual workflow file itself, just in case there’s ever an issue with Workflow’s website (or they themselves suffer any data loss).

To that end, I’ve created a workflow to backup workflows to Dropbox. This does require a working internet connection, as it relies upon the link that Workflow generates. The way the backup workflow operates is as follows:

  1. View the workflow you want to backup and use the Share Sheet to copy its link to the clipboard.
  2. Exit the workflow and then double-tap the “Workflow Backup” workflow to trigger it.
  3. The workflow will use the link in the clipboard and modify it to point to the .wflow file.
  4. The file is downloaded, renamed using the format {Name of workflow} - {ISO8601 datestamp}.wflow3 and saved to Dropbox, under the folder /Workflows.

If you ever need to restore one of these saved workflows, you can use the Dropbox app to open them in Workflow.

Dropbox backup of Workflows

Some of my workflows are adapted for iPhone and iPad, so I’ve modified the backup workflow on each device to also use an appropriate /iPhone or /iPad subfolder in the /Workflows Dropbox folder.

  1. Another feature sorely lacking from Workflow is the ability to sync workflows between devices. 

  2. I was using Personal Hotspot on my iPhone but, for some reason, my iPhone decided to switch to a public access point while it was receiving the workflow. I’m guessing this corrupted it which, in turn, caused Workflow to crash. 

  3. For example: “Get iTunes Podcast URL – 2015-07-24.wflow”