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Introduction to Microsoft To-Do (gunnarpeipman.com)
100 points by acidshards 186 days ago | hide | past | web | 66 comments | favorite

Since we're talking about todos, I built a screensaver todo list the other day, and it has helped me a lot.

my main issue with todo lists was that I forget to look at them. Once I'm at my desk I get my head stuck in work and forget to call dave or email chris or whatever. So I built a screensaver, set to 1 minute delay, which displays my todo list. It simply reads a text file from dropbox with some UTf8 icons at the start of each line.

Every time I go for tea or take a toilet break its the first thing I see when I get back. I wish I'd done it years ago

A screen saver todo is a good idea! Is it open source? Care to share it?

Heh, asking if the code is open source in this context feels like panhandling :)

Yeah, I can open source it. I'll reply back shortly

UPDATE: Here it is!


(uses WPF/.NET, GPL, based on a WaveSimScreensaver source by Sean Sexton)

Planning a few updates already, mostly just extra settings (change font size, theme etc)

Thanks! Do you know if it is possible to implement this in OSX?

Don't see why not? It's just a screensaver that opens a text file

EDIT: found this blog entry on creating OSX screensavers in Swift if anyone wants to give it a go



Nice, that's a new one. As an alternative, there are a number of Chrome add-ons that add tasks to your new tab page. That one works well for me as a good reminder before I steer off course.

Great idea!! Sometimes I don't look at the list or update it for a while when I get busy or negative mood funk.

Don't Microsoft own Wunderlist? My theory is that if you observe a large cluster of developers for long enough, todo apps simply manifest into being.

None as good as Lanes though, https://lanes.io. Obviously ;)

It seems they do, but are shutting it down; see related thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14154378

None as good as Lanes though, https://lanes.io. Obviously ;)

Hard to verify for me as long as the linked page doesn't work in mobile Firefox ; )

Solid point! I've made the landing page responsive so you can try from mobile now. However, still in the process of moving to mobile so features won't match web version just yet. Usability will be improved in a week or two.

It doesn't seem to work on MacOS / Chrome.

Edit: Actually the UI color was set white on white background and didn't show up. No idea why it was set that way. Quite a dangerous settings.

Looks good, but I'm experiencing a UI bug. I'll just post a screenshot instead of describing it, it's got to do with some font color being the same as the background color. I'm using Firefox in Win10 at work.

Screenshot: http://i.imgur.com/c6XTwLV.png

On first load the font theme should be dark by default. I'll add some validation and an alert if it's set to white and no background is detected.


On OSX Chrome 57 I'm getting this making it mostly unusable for me parse anything. Its going out of the page and without even a scroller http://imgur.com/a/SpgNy

Yikes, my media query game is weak. Will fix.

Trying out lanes now. It looks really nice, but how limited the basic version is is a killer for me, especially when there are so many alternatives.

Hey, maybe we can fix this. What in the basic version would you like to see?

The main one is the recurring tasks. having this would probably be enough for me to start using it full time.

Only allowing one friend seems a bit odd. A social feature without a proper social group. Although I can't see myself using this anyway so I'm not too worried.

I really like the idea of detailed insights and the goals, but these both make sense as paid features. They're the things that would make me pay if they could be proven to be useful, although I'm a sucker for statistics.

On a slightly unrelated note, it would be nice if we could click outside of a modal and have it disappear, rather than having to click X, like many other systems do.

Lanes looks really pretty, I love the design of the timer tab, and I'd really like to start using it. I've just followed you on twitter for any updates.

Click-away to close is added, will be live soon.

The cap on social features is a temp step while I design the process flow, so won't be around for long.

Let me have a think about recurring tasks. Catch me via Twitter or in-app chat if you don't see any move on this in the next week. Cheers.

Nice, it's great to hear a developer responding like this. I've pinned lanes.io in my browser I'll keep checking back.

One last thing, don't suppose you have an api? I'd really like to display my next task on my desktop status bar.

No API just yet as design still in flux, but stay tuned.

Very nice. The design makes me really want to use it. Does it sync calendar and tasks with Exchange/Office365?

No sync with 3rd party APIs just yet, but planned.

I was greeted with:

"Hey undefined. Lanes has been updated. See what's new:"

love this kind of shit haha

Possible solutions:

A. Are you sure your name is not undefined?

B. Perhaps you can change your name to undefined to fix this issue.

:P I'll get on this.

This is built by the Wunderlist people, and that's now dead :(

For real? Wow, that's super lame (he says, while frantically beginning to code an 'import-from-Wunderlist' feature).

I think Microsoft released one for this new thing. I'm not sure if it's cross compatible.

Microsoft's To-Do lets you import from Wunderlist.

Dude this decision was by the Wunderlist team, they're all still at the company.

Can't scroll in Firefox or chrome for mobile

Doesn't work on chrome/android

I cannot scroll on Chrome Android

I've never quite found a TODO-app I like. They are all too constrained. Kinda like using jira/trello instead of a physical board with post its. It limits the creativity.

I use OneNote and just add things everywhere I feel like it. Different folders, pages and scattered across a single page. Full freedom, instead of a simple list.

try workflowy? It’s beyond awesome.

I can second that.

RIP Wunderlist, a shame they've decided to sacrifice a product with a good loyal following and brand for their own branded one, but alas. :(

It's the same exact ppl working on it. The CTO now runs a ton of teams at MSFT. They just cloned the app with a different backend and a few new features. The only thing that changes is the brand. It's like accompli. https://www.linkedin.com/in/fowlerchad/ - runs a ton of things now

Christian is an EIR - https://www.linkedin.com/in/christianreber/

The rest of the accompli and sunrise teams are around, too.

"The only thing that changes is the brand"

That's not quite true. Microsoft To-Do doesn't implement nearly the same set of features than Wunderlist does.

I used to love to-do apps and use them often, but after becoming a Google Inbox user I'll have a hard time switching. Having all action items in one place that are snoozeable to a specific time is huge for me.

One of my biggest asks from todo apps like this is that my todos be kept private. I need encrypted sync so that the authors can't just go and read them... so I'm basically left with todotxt and emacs org-mode as options and then using SyncThing to get todos to my server.

Not that those are poor or anything, org-mode is probably the richest tool around, just that I lose out on a lot of nice UI to get it.

To do lists need less "simplicity" and more artifical intelligence. Imagine that you were jotting down things to do for a personal assistant to organize and clarify for you.

* Text entry should be free form. I want to scribble a note to myself, or mumble something into my phone as it crosses my mind - I'm ADD, any step, however minute, between the thought crossing my mind and being recorded risks it being lost forever.

* Repeated tasks should be noticed and auto entered (always go food shopping, and do laundry on Sunday?)

* Tasks should be grouped automatically. Lots of "buy this" or "pick up that" and "meet there" can be organized pretty easily.

* Things to remember are different from tasks. I have to go food shopping - that's a task. Each item in that shopping list isn't a separate task.

* Tasks don't live by themselves. Phone numbers, email addresses, directions, instructions all need to be recorded, used and not lost because that tasks was marked as complete.

* Some to do items are never complete: Exercise, regular checkups, eating right, going to sleep on time. Your personal assistant would remind you about these things.

* Automatically breakdown to-dos into steps. You write down, "get coffee filters", your task assistant adds in "open Amazon.com, log in, search for coffee filters, hit buy now."

* Reminders and alerts and other ways of getting in your face is the principal 80% of tasks. Writing it down is simple and easy. Actually remembering, then doing the tasks suck.

* Done lists are great as well - don't just hide tasks once they're done, show a daily list of things accomplished. Get a seinfeldesque checkbox for completing all your tasks.

I built a list app with some of those features, but I ended up favouring simpler things.

Although I would love a smarter shopping list that tracks my purchasing patterns and makes suggestions based on what it thinks I'm likely to need

I must be dense or something but never in my life have I ever found todo apps useful. Note taking apps, yes. The odd shopping list on the back of an envelope, sure. The odd text document now and then while I work, sometimes. But taking time out to make a list of things to check off and then going back and checking them off. Sorry I have better things to do, and no I have not made a list.

A simple text file has always been far faster and more useful to me than any of these to-do apps. Lately it's migrated to a text file on dropbox, or using google docs or box notes for cloud sync.

There's also TaskPaper which is nice but only on Mac https://www.taskpaper.com/

I've been using Google Keep - it has a list of checkboxes for this, they hide when checked. The upside is that you can drag-drop reorder then and you can add to the list from voice on the homescreen ("okay Google add book my vacation time to the Todo list").

But it fails one power of plain text rule - I can't copy and paste into and out of it. Sucks when I want to send snippets of my shopping list to my wife over sms.

I do use Keep for notes. For todo's though, the web UI is nice but too slow and annoying to use. Nothing is faster than a text file.

If you want to quickly add new tasks to your todo.txt from the command line, I strongly recommend http://todotxt.com/ It is a fantastically lightweight solution and has an Android app for those times when you are not in front of a computer. The Android app just reads/writes to the same todo.txt file over Dropbox.

There is TodoPaper, which seems to be a clone of TaskPaper for Windows. http://widefido.com/products/todopaper/

Looks nice, and reassures me that if MS is spending money building a to-do app I wasn't so crazy after all for building my own :-) https://five.today/

Have not people forever been building to-do apps, and will continue on doing so regardless of Microsoft and others? It's like a rite of passage.

When you learn a new language, invariably you'll find a tutorial for how to make a todo app. It's the next step up from hello world.

I'm not immune from it. I'm making my third todo list app at the moment.

Maybe all the options out there highlight the fact that there's no perfect combination of features for everyone - you'll always find one feature in app X which is not in ap Y or available on platform Z. In my case, I wanted an auto-sorting todo list app on Windows Phone (Listage, in case anyone is interested - though admittedly I don't even use it myself anymore).

> When you learn a new language, invariably you'll find a tutorial for how to make a todo app. It's the next step up from hello world.

Very true—see: http://todomvc.com/

I agree, everyone has a slightly different style of working, myself included.

My Documents, My Downloads, My Computer... and now My Day.

I've found that nothing works for me like a written list -- it's the act of writing out the to-do that helps me remember it for some reason (I usually don't have to look at it again if I've written it, but I won't remember if I've typed it -- I've tried a bunch of different formats). Plus I take a weird pleasure in manually crossing items off.

The requirement that Wunderlist never met is the ability to VERY QUICKLY from ANY screen add a to-do without CONTEXT SWITCHING. Todoist was the only one that provided this 3 years ago with a sticky notification in Android. I was a paid user for 1 out of 3 years (not currently paying). I would pay if the price was closer to the LastPass pro price, $1 per month, $12 per year

I used the Cortana integration with Wunderlist for that. (It was Cortana that suggested Wunderlist in the first place.) If there is one thing that the speech recognition assistants can do very well, it's be a thing I can yell TODO items at and have track for me.

My todo app of choice is asana (http://asana.com).

You can start from a simple todo list... but each task can have sub-tasks, dates, attachments, etc. Meaning that you can add hierarchy and additional information if you need it.

It also has mobile apps, at least for iOS and Android.

I switched to Trello from Wunderlist a long time ago - The syncing was much faster, and the usability is brilliant. Creating new lists to work use a new system (currently 4 quadrant matrix) makes it very flexible.

Excellent! But being a Microsoft Launch, I would expect a Windows Phone version!

Does it have a public API?

Yes. More specifically, it uses the Exchange backend, which has several public APIs and is also supported by various vendors.

So for example your to dos show up in Apple Reminders and in BusyCal.

And of course in Outlook ;)

Howdy, Is the source available somewhere we can inspect it?

Sorry if I was somehow disrespectful - I'm unsure how my question warranted a downvote, I'm quite genuinely interested why - so happy for critical feedback.

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