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Card-based productivity software

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Posted by MadaboutDana
Feb 2, 2016 at 08:21 PM

 

Just to add my two’a'porth. Yes, I love kanban managers, and use Trello extensively with my team. As others here have said, Trello’s major weakness is its lack of an overview function (covering all boards, not just the one you’re on at any given moment). Of course it does have such a function, in the form of filters, a powerful search function and so on, but really you also need a one-click solution for this (a GTD approach, if you like).

A combination of kanban board concept with a GTD concept would be very cool: currently I encourage colleagues to use Xccello, a Trello client that basically mimics the Trello web page but without all the browser chrome, and notice to my amusement that we all tend to keep the multiple board view open (on the left-hand side), making Trello resemble a more traditional task manager.

It’s about slicing and dicing: a traditional task manager handles tasks vertically: higher priority/nearer due dates go to the top. Categories such as Today, Tomorrow, Later and so on are extra trimmings (desirable, but not essential).

A really cool task manager would handle tasks horizontally as well, to show degree of completion, for example. But ideally, this set of horizontal categories should be highly customisable, so people can use their own sets of priorities. There are a number of online kanban solutions with “swim lanes”, allowing you to group cards horizontally, or by specific category, as well as vertically (usually the vertical categories are completion-related, the horizontal ones department/project-related). This is a very desirable model, but I’ve not seen a desktop/mobile app that really does this yet (for me, a task manager only becomes a major player if it has a mobile client as well as a desktop one).

Of course HyperPlan does do this, to an extent. But there are fairly significant constraints. IMHO, it might be better to allow users to specify their own categories (I agree, HyperPlan is already impressively flexible in this respect, but sometimes you want ultimate flexibility, combined with considerable simplicity).

Finally, I have come to the conclusion that most task managers suffer from a major shortcoming: they don’t attach high enough importance to (extensive) notes. Anybody who’s got complex projects to manage needs plenty of note-taking space! One of the few task managers that does this is TickTick, but unfortunately it doesn’t support rich text - a major shortcoming. If you’re taking extensive notes, you need some way to emphasize certain words or phrases (especially if you’re sharing them). Which is where Trello is actually rather good, because it supports Markdown.

Just my thoughts.
Cheers,
Bill

 


Posted by Stephen Zeoli
Feb 2, 2016 at 09:51 PM

 

MadaboutDana wrote:

>Finally, I have come to the conclusion that most task managers suffer
>from a major shortcoming: they don’t attach high enough importance to
>(extensive) notes. Anybody who’s got complex projects to manage needs
>plenty of note-taking space! One of the few task managers that does this
>is TickTick, but unfortunately it doesn’t support rich text - a major
>shortcoming. If you’re taking extensive notes, you need some way to
>emphasize certain words or phrases (especially if you’re sharing them).
>Which is where Trello is actually rather good, because it supports
>Markdown.

Bill, that is such an excellent observation. I agree completely. Extensive and easy to organize notes are essential for effective task and project management. They shouldn’t be an afterthought by developers.

Steve Z.

 


Posted by Andy Brice
Feb 2, 2016 at 10:22 PM

 

MadaboutDana wrote:

>Of course HyperPlan does do this, to an extent. But there are fairly
>significant constraints. IMHO, it might be better to allow users to
>specify their own categories (I agree, HyperPlan is already impressively
>flexible in this respect, but sometimes you want ultimate flexibility,
>combined with considerable simplicity).

There is a inevitably a trade-off between flexibility, power and simplicity. I have tried to provide a fair amount of power and flexibility without too much complexity.

>
>Finally, I have come to the conclusion that most task managers suffer
>from a major shortcoming: they don’t attach high enough importance to
>(extensive) notes. Anybody who’s got complex projects to manage needs
>plenty of note-taking space! One of the few task managers that does this
>is TickTick, but unfortunately it doesn’t support rich text - a major
>shortcoming. If you’re taking extensive notes, you need some way to
>emphasize certain words or phrases (especially if you’re sharing them).
>Which is where Trello is actually rather good, because it supports
>Markdown.

Hyper Plan has a notes field. But currently it only supports plain text. A number of customers have asked for rich text, so that is somewhere on the ‘wishlist’.

Do you have a particular preference? Markdown, HTML or something else? HTML is almost certainly easier it implement in Hyper Plan’s tech stack. Can you point me at some desktop software with a particularly good implementation of rich text notes (no point in re-inventing that wheel),

 


Posted by MadaboutDana
Feb 2, 2016 at 10:24 PM

 

Thanks, Steve. It’s the one thing that’s driven me away from some really excellent task managers, from OmniFocus (which does at least support rich-text notes, but has such a clunky structure in iOS!) to 2Do (brilliant, but again - not enough note space) to The HitList (extensive support for notes, but no rich text and slightly clunky format) to Things (again, just not enough note support).

I’ve spent a lot of time with LetterSpace (excellent for notes, but slightly limited as a task manager) and even Ulysses (again, excellent for notes, bloody clever structure - ability to view multiple notes simultaneously, aggregate notes etc., but not optimised for task management).

Finally, I discovered Trello. And after not being super-impressed, I’ve gradually realised what a powerful model it is, especially for collaboration. The ability to link cards in particular is easy to under-estimate: very useful indeed.

I’ve been trying to set up a HackPad server on my own in-house machines (HackPad was recently acquired by Dropbox, and the server code was open-sourced), but haven’t had much success so far.

I’ve also been experimenting with the Wiki function in Apple Server. It’s really rather good, but not suitable for task management. Same applies to Synology’s Note Station, which does have a task management function, in fact, but is rather slo-o-ow. The next version (6.0) of the Synology OS may solve this. And Synology do publish iOS apps, too, which are actually quite good.

We used to share tasks in our team on a Kerio Workspace setup. Worked rather well, but alas! Kerio Workspace was discontinued, and the ghastly SamePage produced instead (only available as a hosted service). The latter is a desperately inadequate replacement for Kerio Workspace, and we’ve abandoned it. We do still run a legacy Kerio Workspace server, but the SSL component is so out of date that modern browsers don’t recognise it.

Frustrating. Maybe I’ll put together a visual spec for The Perfect Task Manager, and contributors to this forum can look at it and make rude (or maybe even constructive) remarks!

Cheers,
Bill

 


Posted by Andy Brice
Feb 2, 2016 at 10:24 PM

 

Stephen Zeoli wrote:

>Bill, that is such an excellent observation. I agree completely.
>Extensive and easy to organize notes are essential for effective task
>and project management. They shouldn’t be an afterthought by developers.

If the notes are extensive, wouldn’t it be better to put them in Evernote (or similar) and hyperlink from the card?

 


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