I've spent the last two years developing a todo app that would be a good replacement for Wunderlist (and Astrid, if anyone still remembers that).
The app will include with some major / critical features both those apps lacked: proper hierarchies / first-class subtasks, automatically-activated contexts (e.g. location), snooze for arbitrary durations, a robust implementation of recurring tasks, and an infinite calendar-like timeline to look ahead.
I went full waterfall on it, the spec is 266 pages long and took half a year just to write. I'm currently testing an Android alpha version, and, for me, it works ridiculously well, much better than Wunderlist, which sat on my homescreen since August 2013.
Without seeing what you have, a general remark would be that everyone and his cousin has clocked at least some time developing at least one ToDo app. It's a right-of-passage thing for a lot of developers, just like a Weather app is the same for UX designer wannabies.
BTW, what set Wunderlist apart is not the features first and foremost, but their bold in-your-face marketing rooted in very pretty visuals and a fake arrogance routine. Whether they had proper hierarchies / first-class subtasks was quite secondary.
I'm absolutely aware of the rite-of-passage thing, but I'm doing this because I NEED a proper, working todo app. My life will crumble without it. And I'm prepared spend my time and money on it. In any case, there's no going back to Wunderlist now.
As for marketing, I'm not worried. All I want is a working todo app, and it will be great if it turns out to be useful for other people.
Never liked there UX though, but the concept.
My 2 cents - "Tuskarr supports first-class subtasks" might be a fine description on HN, but an average user won't know what that implies
(Which reminds me that I should be doing the screenshots now.)
This sounds awesome, I'm looking forward to testing!
A nice wood texture (not even joking, was totally sold on the visuals in the early days)
20 year UX veteran, this is the first I've heard of this (o; Not a criticism, certainly made me smile, but I've not heard or seen this before.
(that said, I work mostly in enterprise, this might just be a mobile thing)
UX primarily starts with user research, then a metric shiton of postit notes, paper prototypes, a bit of testing and then some hi fidelity mockups
Its funny, because it true. :D
right of passage is probably more like the right of way :)
As Wikipedia says, "[rite of passage] is the Anglicisation of rite de passage, a French term innovated by the ethnographer Arnold van Gennep in his work Les rites de passage."
"Right of passage" may mean something similar to "right of way", and may be used my mistake when people mean "rite of passage" but there was never a switch in how "rite" is spelled.
Wow. It's nice to see extensive planning like that. I usually just throw anything that seems like an important idea into a text file on the assumption that it'll be fully hashed out during production at a later time. That method entails far less work, with the caveat of occasionally wondering if you're delusional from time to time.
In any case, good luck. I hope you kick ass. If Microsoft employs their usual design aesthetic, doing so should be very possible.
The app combines four intersecting concepts:
1. Infinite timeline with addressable days.
2. Recurring tasks that support this infinite timeline.
3. First-class subtasks, which have all properties of normal tasks.
4. Contexts, which hide tasks from the list based on certain conditions.
I simply couldn't create a working mental model that accounts for all possible interplay of these concepts without speccing it out in advance.
How many times did you make paper/cardboard mockups and user-test the interactions?
If you have this and an iOS version, then you have my money.
But I definitely think that there should be a legal way of protecting existing users of an app from "Our Incredible Journey". Maybe some clause that permits the authors to open-source the app.
Are there any examples of this in the industry?
Of course, the buyer may just ask you to remove that clause prior the acquisition.
Android essentially represents only a subset of phones and tablets. An app like yours is useless to many people unless it has desktop equivalents, as mobile-only access heavily restricts a user's ability to be productive where and when they need it. I might be an edge case, but I use Windows, OS X, an iPhone, and an Android tablet. Your app could be the most functional and usable todo app out there, but a competing product with 10% of your features is going to wind up being my choice simply because I get to use it across all my workflows. Platform support beats out the quality of the app, every time.
Based on your screenshots, the app is wonderful. I simply suspect you have focused too much on launching a 100% complete product instead of starting with an MVP. Obsessing over having a perfect product that launches too late to market, while your competition launches early and takes your cake, is all too common a scenario.
(Under "the concept" I mostly mean the approach where all non-snoozed or dateless tasks are shown in Today, and you swipe away the tasks that are not yet "ripe" to be done -- whereas in traditional apps you do the reverse - you select tasks to do by starring them during a review).
Now that I found out that the concept clearly works well at least for one user (me), the next step would be to validate the concept on a wider group of users. An Android-only soft-launch, or even a closed beta should be enough for that.
And if the concept is valid, we'll definitely develop for other platforms, the ones you mentioned. iOS and Android clients will be native, and the desktop apps (Windows and macOS) will probably use some cross-platform technology.
And thank you for the kind words :)
When you get around to desktop clients, ignore the seemingly negative consensus regarding Electron if you think it's the right fit for you. All the negativity I've read about it is from "purists" who aren't specifically singling out Electron; rather they are hating on all non-native implementations. I noticed the mention of Xamarin on your site; never heard of it, but I'd be weary as they seem to be oriented more towards mobile whereas you're looking for a cross-platform desktop solution which is where Electron shines.
If your goal were to be the gold standard for apps, you should be developing using native OS X APIs; the performance you get from a native implementation on OS X is astounding. However, if you do native OS X you're putting yourself in a position to do native Windows and possibly Linux apps, and the collective work required for native-everywhere obviously does not come easy or cheap - particularly if you are doing this as a solo project without assistance from a team.
Electron is a perfectly fine balance for most UIs that are fairly simplistic, which is going to be true even for the most advanced todo-type app. Extra bonus being that if you put in the effort to plan out the Electron app side-by-side with your web/browser-based app, you can share the frontend development between the two, resulting in less overall work.
I won't do that :) I stopped working on the spec the moment I handed it down to coders, and my total time spent on the spec since then is around one week. When the spec is written well, and you simulated all important situations in your head before encountering them in the wild, you actually don't need much extra time.
There's almost no tinkering happens on the app right now. I'm fixing critical bugs and smoothing out rough details that manifested after months of my dogfooding.
Regarding the desktop solutions: yes, going native would be perfect, but that is not feasible for a 4-man team. We'll go with Electron or Xamarin or, less likely, Qt - we haven't decided on the exact technology yet.
If you had released it earlier you might have been able to get some traction right about now when people are forced to leave wunderlist.
You want to move faster, then release the app. Customer feedback positive and negative will get you making changes quick smart and you'll get a good sense of initial demand. App development is a continuous process that requires constant input from users. No point in adding features no one asked for, you're just wasting your time.
As a wise man once said 'It's better to have released and failed than to never have released at all'.
[For heavy-duty use and project planning, I use org-mode. But there's still no really satisfactory mobile org-mode story.]
Currently I use OmniFocus, primarily due to the start dates which hide things until they're relevant, which so many apps (including Wunderlist) lacked. Sadly the Android support is poor and only covered by 3rd party clients that lag massively behind in functionality.
- Shut down Wunderlist
Now let's hope they procrastinate just like everyone else.
Why would you write a ~9k “loc” long spec over 6 month instead of coding it directly ? The only reason I can think of, is if you want to out-source the development. Is there any good reason to work this way on a one-man project ?
(before the obvious objection: exceptions are toy programs which you write to find out how to build something, in which you focus on the technical aspects. The technical aspects ('how does it work') don't matter for the end user (= your potential customer), they only care about 'what does it do'.)
Most colleagues of mine and a few managers see them as a waste of time ("you're over thinking this", or "we'll figure it out later") yet somehow the projects with a specification always end up being done more or less on schedule.
The thing about specifications is that you need to be open to changing them if you find it's not working out. Specifications are not synonymous with waterfall development, and it's harmful to treat and view them as such.
Planning is important, and cautiously thinking about your features before diving in can save you weeks later on. But spending 6 month in a tunnel, writing specs you'll spend at least a year to implement, is a huge risk : what if your users only use 30% of the features you designed, and lack a missing feature you didn't plan ? You could have figured it out way sooner have you built something earlier and released it.
Also, your time to market is way slower and you don't risk losing years of work by missing a deadline …
> Damn, now I need to move faster. My app must be ready by the time they close Wunderlist. I expected an eventual closure, but not that soon.
Or worse, what if different segments of users only use 30% of different feature sets? See also: Evernote's 5% problem 
Yeah but that's not necessarily in man-years. Maybe he worked on it an hour or two a day. Now we're talking around two man-weeks of planning.
(Not the OP.) At least for me, emphatically yes.
From your question, it sounds like you're only considering the communicative value of a spec. That's of course important, but I consider it secondary.
Writing a good spec forces you to think through what you're developing in an orthogonal way. You're thinking through flow, cohesiveness, design, some implementation, UI, etc. together at a high level.
I love having the time to write a spec when I'm building something nontrivial. I've found numerous problems that I wouldn't have otherwise by doing so, ranging from simple UI problems/contradictions to spotting unconsidered assumptions that would have lead me down dead ends.
A spec and the application should naturally co-evolve during development to some extent. But the spec also provides an anchor for what you're doing, as well as a map. It is very, very helpful if you Do It Right(tm), no matter the size of your team.
(OP here). This. A thousand times this.
Something else that was critical is that I could use Cortana to add tasks to lists while driving or without typing on the keyboard.
I think when I want to go deeper in organizing tasks, todo apps are often bad for that simply because a document format tends to do better once you're in the thick. It's better if those things are stored, tracked and organized with the work itself most of the time and todo apps tend to be outside that context.
Basically I don't give a shit about a walled garden to do app anymore no matter how good it is. I don't want a new app. I'd rather use something that puts my existing apps on steroids.
And somewhere in several years it'll grow big.
And Microsoft or Apple will buy it.
And someone will need to move faster to release his to-do, which is much better, of course.
I use WP8 day to day but dabble in Android, I'd love to give your app a spin...
What are the checks and balances if any to keep the astroturfing binge to a minimum and encourage discussions instead of traffic channeling bait.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/fowlerchad/ - CTO Wunderlist
https://www.linkedin.com/in/jsoltero/ - Accompli founder https://www.linkedin.com/in/christianreber/ - Wunderlist Founder
https://www.linkedin.com/in/pierrevalade/ - founder Sunrise https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeremylv/ - founder Sunrise/Design
They all got promoted really quickly and have large portfolios (including their original apps and teams) , but now with a mandate to fix the other similar core applications, too. If anything, this crop of teams and ppl now run huge portions of Office -- not the other way around. And they're the ones deciding strategic vision.
These acquisitions were also acquihires. The CEOs/CTOs have high leadership positions now (they went from Partner GEMs -> CTO/CVPs in about a year or so) and are trying to make all of Office better.
I think every time a MSFT article comes up, ppl get in an uproar. Give the company a chance and check your bias at the door.
That's what I thought of when you said it's just a rebrand and a skin with a new back end. I mean lets call it what it is, a new app by the wunderlist team that's more oriented towards integration with Microsoft's existing suite of products. So yeah, Wunderlist is dead. Long live its spiritual successor.
Taken as a whole, these sort of acquisitions/acquihires have not tended to go well for the users of the smaller teams original products. One can argue that their is or is not a net win, of course - but if you are a user of a service like this and really like it, chances are pretty good you aren't going to like what company X does with it after acquisition. Given that, it's pretty unremarkable to hear people say "so much for service X, now A has bought them". On the whole, they are mostly right. Sometimes you get an nice service Y out of it though! Often not a great replacement for the original, but nice nonetheless.
For example, I was a heavy Sunrise user. It worked wonderfully on syncing all of my calendars and showing them all to me in one nice feed with a slick interface. I didn't have to sync my various calendars to one central service and feed all of my calendars to one company. It synced them all to my smartphone, which was a feature I was looking for. Giving all my calendars over to Microsoft... no, thank you.
Thanks; I got a good laugh out of this one!
In terms of product - it's as simple to use as Wunderlist, but does have a few extra features. And they are cross platform like Wunderlist.
(I'm not affiliated with them. Just a happy user.)
We are in this for the long haul. We don't even go into acquisitions talks (we already turned down a lot of them), and we don't have an exit strategy. If you are interested in learning more please read our `No Exit philosophy` https://tentimezones.com/why-we-don-t-have-an-exit-strategy-...
Your reasons for the No Exit strategy resonate with my thinking when I flipped Airwindows over to a Patreon strategy, decimating my income (I'd grossed close to a quarter million dollars by this point) just so I could release all future plugins as free AU, Mac and PC VSTs. At that point, the tactics became flooding the market with VST versions of software that had been AU-only up to that point, and coming up with promises (such as an open-sourcing program under the MIT license, and I've also debated using the GPL) to motivate people to join the Patreon.
If you starve and die, you can't do any work. If you're incredibly poor, you can only work on that which you can afford. (no modeling of Neve consoles here, not properly!) If you have incredible access to capital, sky's the limit, but it seems compulsory to screw over your users because capital demands to be returned tenfold, and this puts HUGE pressure on any dev or creator to turn full-on evil.
I don't know the answer and I'm not doing that awesomely, but that's not so different from how things were going before: that market is shriveling, in part because people simply can't pay money for things any more. There are major players which are, I think, staving off total collapse by setting up the most heinous DRM treadmills imaginable and trying to latch on to all the credit cards they can, all while trying to race to the bottom and starve everybody else.
I can't target capital as a goal anymore. I'll beg if I have to, I'll accept ugly and scary poverty, but I can't be part of the system geared to leave all the users with nothing. It's open source and tool-distribution for me. The whole concept of being rewarded with wealth for valuable work has become a charade when it gets crowded out by 'rewarded with lots more wealth by helping Microsoft screw everyone over'. The link's broken. And this is a rather big deal in a world where that link's axiomatic.
Actually it was a big part of why I decided to use Todoist and become a paid user. I was using it on and off for a long time (been a paid user in 2010!) but seeing how you run things, made me stay this time.
Also, a shameless plug: I've built a Todoist backup tool, which can be used even as a non-premium user and which supports more processing friendly formats.
It's not perfect - there are a few parts of the app that annoy me and can't be configured the way I need, but of all the ones I've tried, it's the closest to what I need.
 If anyone from Todoist sees this, I'd be happy to go into more detail about what those are.
Cultured-Code's development schedule is indeed certifiably GLACIAL though. On the Things 3 (re)(re?)announcement front, I'm really surprised that they aren't switching to subscription pricing.
The owner of www.todoist.com has configured their website improperly. To protect your information from being stolen, Firefox has not connected to this website.
This site uses HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) to specify that Firefox may only connect to it securely. As a result, it is not possible to add an exception for this certificate.
I hope the next thing has all these features, i hear Todoist does!
There are some other knobs the mods can turn, but user flags definitely are used and useful. If you see something you feel is inappropriate for HN, flag it. Community curation is definitely a part of HN. I have seen the mods override user flags for contentious yet popular submissions, but that's been rare, in my experience.
Consider it as a lesson only to use open source apps so that a group of convinced users can at least hire a programmer to fix bugs or add new features.
Wunderlist was super useful - fast, all devices in sync, excellent browser version
starting to rethink using so many hosted services now - Zerigo is closing too in 10 days - that was another service a lot of time had been invested in setting up
it feels like the better a service is the more chance the team gets borged and the app shut down
Then I put my cane away because as much as I wave it at clouds, I will still use cloud services over having to host my own.
I can't help feeling that there is something rather dreadful about this state of affairs, however. It just seems like too many good things get acquired and shut down. That could be the fault of the market/culture/prevailing business models/app stores in not making it profitable enough for developers to want to keep going with their single app, and it could also be the fault of the acquires for shutting down good things.
I'm unsure as to the solution.
After all, it's one thing to expect everything to get cannibalized into, well, Microsoft I guess, and consider that an ideal world.
It's quite another to get used to the idea that all good things exist to be consumed and obliterated. I really don't care if it furthers somebody's stock prices or is a correct competitive move, to me that seems like entropy in a very obvious way.
And I have a feeling that when AI does kick in, its value system must surely be founded on resisting entropy… so it'll look at this sort of thing with a very dim view.
This is normal, why would you be shocked by it? Consider going for open source apps only that supports open standards. That is not full proof and not always convenient but it's a good way to avoid some of thse shocks and horrors.
Work has LinkedIn blocked, so I can't confirm easily.
isn't this what the developers behind them are hoping for these days?
EDIT: I just found out about the Volume Up+Q thing, maybe I don't need another keyboard. I would prefer it that way so I can swipe when typing new tasks.
OMG that is AWESOME
While Wunderlist allows you to see the "Today" view first it's not forced ... it's flexible enough to let people manage their To-do lists in a number of different ways. I have a bunch of general To-do lists in Wunderlist including open-ended ones and ones that I duplicate every week (marking the old version as done) and slowly modify. The "My Day" default does not work for me.
The other thing that was great about Wunderlist is the developers really paid attention to Mac and iOS users. I found that the Mac version was better than Windows in a few areas - specifically the ability to expand a note to a bigger view and a lack of buggy behavior when modifying a note (confirmed in Windows 10 but not fixed by Wunderlist, now we know why). In the new setup, Mac/iOS/Android will clearly take a back seat to Windows:
As many users realized, some platforms do not yet support To-Do, including Mac, iPad and Android tablet. List sharing is also not available. But Microsoft says these will roll out in time along with other integrations with Microsoft services.
Too bad. Wunderlist was a great service, the only To-Do app I ever liked.
Does anyone know an app that can do this? Todoist is very close -- you can write "task xyz in 2 hours" but for some reason cannot use "minutes".
The combo has been even better since I got my apple watch - you'd be amazed how quietly you can whisper 'hey Siri, remind me to blah in 20 minutes' to your watch...
For now at least it seems Google is putting work into Keep so I hope it won't disappear anytime soon.
Unfortunately having a todo/notes app that allows for account controlled sharing is tricky to do without some kind of service. Unless you want to get all ghetto and build something that works on top of something like Dropbox but that gets problematic as Dropbox isn't designed to be used that way.
I built my own test program that used a protected-shared Google Sheet as its data source but at that point you might as well just use Keep!
I think that's said about every Google thing at some point in time.
I guess at least when it's a todo-list app that's shutting down, there are a lot of alternatives to move to!
All I want is a todo list where I can assign tags. So maybe I would do something like:
* buy softener salt #shopping #home
* fix garage door weatherstripping #home
The downside is that its onboarding UX isn't great, and overall it's not as polished as some other todo apps.
I've done some work on it in the past and would like to find time to do more in the future.
On another note, I think that for most busy people mere to-do lists are passé. It's too easy for things to fall through the cracks, to create overwhelming lists where nothing is prioritized.
What you need is an auto-scheduling planner that turns your to-do list into a schedule in your calendar. And then if you don't finish things, they move forward in priority order until you get it done. Gives you smart reminders only when you have free time.
If that sounds interesting to you check out Focuster http://focuster.com
We're bootstrapped and having a great time listening to customers and building a product whose time has come.
Won't be touching this, have a lot of history in Wunderlist I'll now need to figure out how to move elsewhere.
I feel like I'll just go back to Reminders again, and try to stick with standard clients for these things...
For what they paid, they got a team that knew how to build a To-Do app, what the challenges are, and how to scale it.
So they bought not having to deal with a dev team that is building a to-do app for the first time.
They also got some existing users (which will migrate) for free, but I don't think they care for that.
But ok, I see your point. Thanks!
Workflowy came first, Dynalist is very similar, but is more actively developed and probably has more features at the moment, so I'd recommend that one.
I keep a "short term todo" list as the top item in my "personal" list, and longer-term todos grouped by category below that. The wonderful part is that I can add sub-tasks, or just notes, or groupings, with the same mechanism. All the information is right there and I don't have to think too hard about it. And I can use the same app for notes and other types of lists.
Both support things like tags and due dates, but aren't in your face about them. Personally I hardly ever use those features, though it's nice to know they're there in case I suddenly become more organized. Sharing too.
Obviously, this may not work for everyone, but for engineer types who love recursive structure, the simple hierarchical list model is pretty awesome.
(Not affiliated with either product, just a happy user.)
For me, Wunderlist is well done in offline access, super fast sync and a battery-friendly Mac app. I sometimes work in some place that does not allow internet connection, e.g. warehouse where phone signal is screwed, or some meeting rooms just block the signal due to their privacy.
In many years I still cannot find an alternative. May be Evernote(?)
Using Reminders and Notes for this feels clunky and awkward, and using a more full-featured todo app makes it hard to just get right to making a quick & dirty list.
Plus usually todo apps have weird design choices. Like, having a checkbox ticked for completed items brings more attention to them than to the remaining items, even though it's the remaining items that are most important to the user. Strange and unhelpful UI/UX choice, and it's so standard that even MS's new To-Do app does this!
So we decided to make an app that fills that niche, Accomplish. We've barely started marketing it yet, but I have high hopes for this app because it feels like a very much untapped and overlooked market.
Not sure what will replace it. Almost certainly not Microsoft To-Do, though. Seems too opinionated for a todo system and lacks critical features.
Full of enthusiasm I SSHed into my VPS (Ubuntu 15.04 - haven't upgraded yet) and ran sudo apt-get install task and bingo! It was there. I could add tasks and list them in the remote shell, modify them.
Then I went to https://freecinc.com and followed their awesome 1 minute guide and finished the steps except the last one task sync init which would have made the syncing, to other clients, possible. This is when I got Taskwarrior was built without GnuTLS support. Sync is not available. Landed on https://taskwarrior.org/docs/taskserver/troubleshooting-sync... and I could figure out I had to install it from source (though it was the minimum recommended version) and then also install many dependencies for the sync feature to work from source.
I am ashamed to state that after some more tinkering I still couldn't make it work and I gave up. This is one reason self hosted services are not picking up. I know it's just an excuse for lazy and non-adventrous fellows like me (a developer at that) but I tried and I failed. Sigh
Just in case others find the app interesteing: check out https://taskwarrior.org/tools/ and you can always use Dropbox anyway (which may not always work as one may expect it to).
edit: as of now I am trying https://inthe.am/getting-started
Wunderlist refugees flee the Empire of Microsoft for refuge at sites like https://todoist.com/
What a disappointment. I didn't even know they had been bought by MSFT.
- an open source self hostable implementation, even if they offer a paid instance to ease your life.
- an open format in which you can get your todos entries
- an offline client that will still work even if the online instance closes
Started to use it because of some HN comment suggested it and I am so happy to started this.
The only todo system that really stuck with me over time.
Good luck to you^^
I'm really glad i exported it out:
Does anyone have a recommendation for a similar app with shared lists? To-Do doesn't handle this (or a bunch of WL functionality for that matter)
I've been a happy Wunderlist Pro customer, but there is no way I'll be switching to this new To-Do application just because Microsoft decided to replace one with the other.
It's kind of funny and sad at the same time from my perspective. Microsoft actually paid someone so in turn they could make me angry and as a result lose me as a paying customer.
They break so many of their own rules i sometimes wonder if that was what made Duarte leave
It isn't multi-user, but does introduce features around tying tasks to larger goals, progress tracking etc. It's also currently just a web app, but at the moment I'm working on native iOS/Android apps.
Wonderful. More things that can be lost with a single password.
Importing all tasks in Todoist was quick but To-Do is trying to import for last hour and looks like it is going to fail.
Looking at their other products, I don't think Microsoft is able to create something as easy to use, reliable and good looking as Wunderlist.
* Material design
* Apple-like design
* Dropbox-like design
Even when I goto Dribble, its the same thing, different colors.
And the worse thign is, even when I am designing something. I conform to that norm!
Ideally, all Android apps should use Material Design, and all iOS apps should look like they were made by Apple (does Apple have a name for their design?).
It's one thing about keeping a consistent UX vs following what, due to its nature, becomes a "standard" UI
Oh, well. I'll keep using Google 's reminders.
I'd plug this in. Very well made .
I know have to help my wife migrate from Wunderlist. This will not be fun.
Hate jumping to multiple apps for such a basic need.