For productivity methods less is frequently more. Simple approaches are more likely to be used and require less maintenance. This philosophy extends to the software that can be employed and it does not get much simpler than TodoPaper. Let’s review this little app.
When it comes to task lists it does not get much simpler than an outline text file. The editing of that can be done in a simple text editor. However, applying a custom todo program gives an extra level of functionality and this is what TodoPaper does. The input and output is essentially a txt file but TodoPaper, through some formatting of the text allows for comments to be added, hierarchies recognised and tags to be identified. These are fundamental building blocks for task management and it is at this level where TodoPaper resides. Pure and simple.
The interface is pretty simple . The user is greeted by a blank screen where tasks are entered. Projects are identified by the larger text & “:”, and tags by @. The only other notable presence on the user interface is the search bar where text can be quickly and easily found.
The interface can be slightly extended by viewing the document outline. This enables a listing of the projects and tags.
Features and Functions
The features available are also minimal. There are a few hotkeys than enable projects, tasks and tags to be added. Move lines are also available but by an unfortunate twist of fate the Ctrl+Alt+Up which moves lines up shared the same function as the rotate screen on my computer, so no line was moved but my screen was inverted.
After adding a task, hitting Enter will enable a new task to be entered. If the “-“, indicating a task is deleted, then the text is recognised as a comment. If there is no “-“, and the text is appended with “:”, the text is recognised as a project. When using the program I wonder if additional complexity is introduced when perhaps not necessary. For example, indenting would be sufficient to indicate subtasks and then by default the parent task is a project. But in this case, either a hotkey is used to trigger a project or editing of the text.
The search function works nicely, with a dynamic list changing as you enter the text string.
From the outline view, Projects and tags can be selected for viewing. However, when selecting the top most project all subsequent Projects were still shown. I don’t know why these were not filtered out.
The last noteworthy feature was the quick entry from another application – at least in theory. In principle it is a good idea but unfortunately I could not get it to work for me.
I appreciate the simplicity of TodoPaper and that for many this is what is desired. For me though, the use of the program was not as fluid as I imagined it should be. Also I had trouble with some of the features such as the line manipulation and the quick entry of tasks. It could be I am simply not doing it right, but surely it should not be complicated for such a simple program. I am willing to be schooled on this though!
I also wonder about the application of TodoPaper. For work purposes I would think the functionality too limited. For home/life application I wonder if the trends towards mobile are overtaking it as they too offer simple interfaces but with added functionality such as synchronisation, location awareness etc.
I think if a simple Todo list program is sought I would sooner recommend Abstractspoon ToDoList in place of TodoPaper, with the viewable fields pared down to the minimum. It also has the advantage of being free and with greater functionality if needed.