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My Review of TaskPaper

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  • My Review of TaskPaper

    I have recently started using TaskPaper from Hog Bay Software on my iMac and MacBook. I have been mostly using GTD with paper-based systems (3-ring binder, or index cards) but recently wanted to look at apps so I could have some of my action items linked directly to Gmail (a lot of tasks come in through email) and to pull out actions by context from both project lists and action lists into single context lists. I really like TaskPaper http://www.hogbaysoftware.com/products/taskpaper because of its beautiful simplicity, the ability to focus on just the actions or project (like I can do with a paper-based system), and its good tagging capabilities.

    Right now the version I am using (2.2) is still in development and is available from the TaskPaper wiki page http://www.hogbaysoftware.com/wiki/TaskPaper. This version adds some nice features like syncing and saved searches. If you prefer not to use software that is still being worked on, you can download http://www.hogbaysoftware.com/products/taskpaper, the current, stable version.

    In addition to what TaskPaper does, I also like it for what it doesn't do. It doesn't have a lot of extraneous information going on. I don't need to know how many actions are uncompleted, I don't need due dates on my action lists. If something is due by a specific date it goes on my calendar or in my tickler file. (There is, however, an AppleScript to use due dates in TaskPaper if you really need them). I don't need to see all my other project lists when I'm working from a project or task list. I don't need to see toolbars, etc. when I'm focusing on just the tasks.

    Some of the features of TaskPaper I like are:

    • The data is stored in a plain text file. If for some reason I could not launch TaskPaper, I could still see my data through any text editor.

    • Items are easy to add. Type a dash followed by text to create an action. Type the name of a project followed by a colon to create a project. Notes are just plain text. An @ followed by text creates a tag.

    • Notes can be attached to a project or to a task.

    • Smart links make each context tag, such as @home, a link to a view of all items with that tag.

    • Access a TaskPaper quick entry window from any app with customizable keystrokes.

    • Use the Services menu to create an entry from selected text in another app (Turn this on in Services Preferences, it's called "New Entry").

    • Drag and drop a url to create a task with a link to the url. (I use this a lot with links to Gmail messages).

    • Link to a file from a task or a note.

    • Hide everything (toolbar, sidebar) and show only the action items.

    • I can syncronize my TaskPaper file between my iMac and my MacBook via a website.

    • There is an active, friendly forum with developer participation.

    • I can process the Inbox by dragging and dropping tasks and notes to projects and other lists, can also select multiple items to process. Can also use cut and paste for rearranging items.

    • TaskPaper has lots of keystroke shortcuts like Command-Command to popup a little search window when you have the Toolbar hidden.

    • Automatically append completed date to action item with the @done tag (Command-D). (Turn this on/off in the Preferences).

    • Use Boolean expressions in searches and save the searches. For example: @places and not @done.

    • Use multiple tabbed views.

    • Global search

    • Focus on one project or one list at a time or show everything at once. Just click on a project or select a tag from the pulldown or Command-L for the list.

    • Nest tasks, projects, notes, simply use the tab key to indent the items

    • Add multiple tags to items (for example, @home @today)

    and last but not least...

    • It's not too expensive!

    There is also a PC version called TodoPaper (link is on Hogbay's website).

  • #2
    Originally posted by marcia View Post
    There is also a PC version called TodoPaper (link is on Hogbay's website).
    That is a Windows version, not a PC version (there are other OSs that work on a PC). Of course, there is an implementation in vim called taskpaper.vim, which works in Linux, is simple and free, and has many of the features of the full Mac version (the link is on the same website). The downside is that all work is done within the text editor, but to a devoted Linux user this need not be a downside necessarily. And from what I could have seen regarding the Mac version, I do like it and might buy it if they ported it to Linux or a PC variant of BSD.

    Dusan

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    • #3
      Originally posted by dusanv View Post
      That is a Windows version, not a PC version (there are other OSs that work on a PC). Of course, there is an implementation in vim called taskpaper.vim, which works in Linux, is simple and free, and has many of the features of the full Mac version (the link is on the same website). The downside is that all work is done within the text editor, but to a devoted Linux user this need not be a downside necessarily. And from what I could have seen regarding the Mac version, I do like it and might buy it if they ported it to Linux or a PC variant of BSD.

      Dusan
      Maybe we should not call Mac software Mac software either because there are other OSs that work on a Mac Maybe we should call it Steve Jobs-ware instead.

      Seriously, getting back to Mac software (or Jobs-ware if you will) I really like taskpaper mainly due to its elegant simplicity. However, I am currently using omnifocus mainly because it syncs nicely between my iphone and Mac.

      But one thing I don't like about omnifocus is its clumsiness in sharing cross platforms with PC (excuse me I mean windows) users. For example you can export projects as text files, but you cannot import them back while retaining the original outline structure. So for me Omnifocus seems really easy to put stuff into, but difficult to share with others. I delegate projects and tasks a lot, so this is important to me.

      Taskpaper, on the other hand, makes it really easy to share projects and tasks with others even on other platforms via text files. Thats why, as soon as taskpaper iphone application comes out of beta, I will likely convert back to taskpaper on my mac and iphone.

      So even though omnifocus is really well made and the developers at Omni are top notch, I really am kind of a plain vanilla type of person, who appreciates simplicity, and who puts date specific stuff on the calendar (like David Allen recommends) rather than into my tasks. Thats why I share the OPs enthusiasm for taskpaper.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by cellmatrix View Post
        Maybe we should not call Mac software Mac software either because there are other OSs that work on a Mac
        By Mac software I consider that which works under MacOS(X), so I am referring to the OS, not the hardware platform. Also, one could argue that many Mac computers are PCs now they have given up PowerPC architecture.

        Dusan

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        • #5
          Originally posted by dusanv View Post
          By Mac software I consider that which works under MacOS(X), so I am referring to the OS, not the hardware platform. Also, one could argue that many Mac computers are PCs now they have given up PowerPC architecture.

          Dusan
          au contrare
          couldn't one argue that PowerPC is more pc? Given that PC is built right into the name!!!! Sometimes the most obvious points are the ones most easily overlooked, my dear Dusan.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by cellmatrix View Post
            au contrare
            couldn't one argue that PowerPC is more pc? Given that PC is built right into the name!!!!
            This is plainly stupid as you are comparing apples and oranges (CPU vs. complete hardware architecture), and furthermore as Apple has claimed that the similarity was coincidental.

            Ever since long ago, the terms PC or PC-compatible have lost any significance to me, despite their use in common speak. Apple's decision to switch to Intel CPUs reinforced this belief (aren't Macs sort of PC-compatible now). I still occasionally say PC when wanting to make a distinction from Mac, but as the key compatibility factors are the OS and/or the CPU family, I tend to use e.g. x86-64 Linux or x86 Windows instead.

            Back at TaskPaper, HogBay webpage about related products http://www.hogbaysoftware.com/wiki/T...elatedProjects too seems to define TodoPaper as "TaskPaper for Windows", i.e. not for PC. I do share your appreciation of TaskPaper's simplicity, elegance and a portable (i.e. plain text) file format. I have used taskpaper.vim in Linux for some time and I might eventually write a review of it in a fashion similar to this thread's OP.

            Dusan

            Comment


            • #7
              Dusan, despite my joking around, thanks for teaching me a little about the nuances of how software should be named.

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              • #8
                there is now an app for the iPhone!

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