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June 16th, 2008


I've found another tool that nicely rounds out my workflow for getting things done. It's so elegant, I wish I'd written it myself.

I used to make lists with 3x5 index cards. (I have much love for that physical medium.) Then I wrote a bare-bones web 1.0 todo list. These things worked, but they had problems.

The 3x5 index cards aren't convenient for making my annual self-review at work. I'm not interested in sorting through the ones I kept. Besides, I like tossing them in the recycle bin when I'm done with them. It's rewarding.

The web service is under-featured, and I can't write any company proprietary tasks on it because it isn't contained within our intranet.

Enter TodoPaper.

A colleague at work uses the Macintosh product TaskPaper to keep himself on task at work. He showed me how simple it was to use, and I was instantly hooked with the utility of it. I thought about writing a Windows version of the product, but then I found TodoPaper.

Pure Utility

TaskPaper and TodoPaper use the same document format and data entry techniques. The document type is a plain text file, and formatting relies on simple rules. (Simpler than wiki markup.)
  • Heading end with a colon.
  • Tasks start with a hyphen.
  • Tags start with an at sign (@).
  • Tabs can be used to specify hierarchy. (Collapsible, too.)
For example, the actual file in the image above contains exactly the following lines:
Secret Project:
- Basic element shape @done(2008-06-13)
- Programmatic generation of thrusters @done(2008-06-14)
- Home base coordinates
- Hit points @done(2008-06-13)
- Idle duration @done(2008-06-16)
- Wandering
- Target acquisition
- Chasing
It's beautiful because it's simple.  You can't waste your time getting wrapped up in the tool.  The utility of it encourages you to stay on task.  That's why I'm using it.

Why didn't I write my own?  Because Jordan Sherer already took care of the details.  In addition to the basics mentioned here, which is mostly what I really need, he made the presentation very customizable, supports tagging, filtering and searching of the tasks, and even has some expert level features, like a quick-entry dialog that comes up when you press a keyboard shortcut in any other application.

TodoPaper even has an online forum, and Jordan's very active and responsive to his users' requests.  I have every belief that he's going to continue to support and improve on the product.  The product and its workflow has sold me.

Full disclosure:  I should receive a free license to the application.  I'd have written a positive review for it anyway.



  • 5 Mar 2019, 22:27
    Welcome back to LJ.
    Even if it's just one post :-P

    People moved all over the internet.
    I stil like Plurk the best.
  • 4 Mar 2019, 06:13
    Good to see you checking in at LJ again, too. No, I'm not online anywhere like we used to be at LJ and Plurk. I really liked having a place where we could share our thoughts in a long-form post that…
  • 4 Mar 2019, 03:33
    Good to "see" you checking in at LJ... and taking steps to preserve your LJ and Google+ histories!

    Even better to see "you" and not your Dead Man Switch kicking in... again.

    Do you have a primary…
  • 13 Jan 2018, 18:54
    I "Searched" some of your archive looking for the fluorescent bulb post, but couldn't find it through 2009-02-06, and before that, LiveJournal no longer offers pages of your feed, just daily access,…
  • 10 Jan 2018, 18:22
    Ha ha! How coincidental, I was thinking about light bulbs yesterday myself. One of my Instagram contacts mentioned that the EU regulates the types of light bulbs people can use in their homes in…
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