The Tudumo Times



16.4.08

On supporting online GTD and to-do list applications

Today I received a comment on my previous post asking if Tudumo should support  Remember The Milk (RTM) - partly as a solution to multi-instance Linkssyncing.  I thought I'd answer it here so you're more aware of my roadmap.

On the face of it, it could help the business case for Tudumo and be pretty useful for the many people who already use RTM.  RTM is one of the most successful web task applications, so it wouldn't be a bad choice, if I were supporting only one app.

However, I get similar queries every so often - for Remember The Milk, BaseCamp, Google Calendar, even a project management system that a user sells!  For the record, there are also calls for Palm support, Windows Mobile support, Outlook, Mac, iPhone, Lotus Notes - you get the idea.  Even if I were only supporting one app it would mean differences in data between Tudumo and the target website and likely some limitation in what the API will let me do.  All of that doesn't feel right to me.

<vapourware alert>

I'd prefer to have a default Tudumo online service that has a focus on syncing between Tudumo instances and which can be a gateway to all the online service providers.  This reduces the amount of code I need to shove into Tudumo to maintain every possible sync target.  It also increases the quality of the sync between Tudumo instances because the peg and the hole are both round.

</vapourware alert>

Google App Engine excites me because it should be able to handle high-load sync with ease and should never cost me very much to keep running.  That ties in nicely with my wish of providing the sync service for free and having run as well as possible.  While my current server could likely handle it fine, with Google I don't have to think about "what happens if".

I could add other reasons but the vapour level is really getting to my head...

18 comments:

  1. Thanks for the full response :)

    Thinking out loud, it certainly gives interesting pause for thought, since for my (niche) use-case I often switch between Linux and Windows and I see from the Google Group that Tudumo doesn't run under Wine, but does save its data as an XML file (I run it from a USB stick) possibly opening up other clients based on this data source.

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  2. I've just been using the trial and it's a really beautiful application, the best GTD app I've seen - but unfortunately, I'm on too many computers (including macs) that I need something with online sync or my to-do system falls down*.

    "I'd prefer to have a default Tudumo online service that has a focus on syncing between Tudumo instances and which can be a gateway to all the online service providers. "

    I really do hope you end up developing the online component and I agree with the above: I would prefer to see a standalone tudumo online app which works like the desktop version but syncs to it (which I guess in turn could fit in with other online apps) rather than be forced into any other online app. RTM is a great app, but it just doesn't work for me, I'd hate to be forced to use it in order to get tudumo connected online.

    *I AM trying to think hard of a justification for it though - it's just so elegant.

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  3. Hi Catherine, I'll add online features in chunks so as to get out some benefit quickly and then build it out as the risk drops. Also, I'd prefer to do one thing properly and then move to the next. Let me not say too much until we're further along the path!

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  4. Hi Richard!

    I think the problem you'd have developing the application on AppEngine is that it only supports it's own "database" (BigTable). So, unless the other services (i.e. Remember The Milk, et. al.) provide proper APIs that you can invoke over HTTP, you'd probably depend on *them* synchronizing from your list. But I don't see why they'd want to do that.

    I was actually thinking on developing a proper GTD application, making it portable (between OSs *and* on detachable media) and provide an online backend. Then I found Tudumo...

    I quite like it. I think you got the main concepts right (simple interface, keeping contexts separate, etc.) but I think there's still some length of way to go. I'm going to give it a go though :)

    Cheers,
    David

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  5. Actually, just thinking aloud here, something that would be nice is being able send an SMS with a particular list to a pre-defined phone number. That would allow people without a fancy cellphone to get their lists on their phones. It would be brilliant to get reminders or being able to send yourself a list of things to do before switching contexts (i.e. before going to the supermarket, office, etc.)

    But then, that has a cost...

    Cheers,
    David

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  6. Hi David. I hear you. The DB aspect doesn't affect who has to poll who, but the lack of cron jobs would. Similarly, GAE has no incoming mail gateway, so incoming mails will need something. I can handle the former by doing a sync when the GAE app is polled, the latter will likely need another solution.

    To me, there are so many other benefits that I'm willing to work around these types of issues. My main aim is to get Tudumo-Tudumo sync as seamless as possible and make sure the cost is irrelevant. Many other services can be hung off that - e.g. your SMS idea.

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  7. BTW, I got one more reason for Tudumo to be a desktop solution. See, with that bad case of ADD I have I prefer to do as much work as possible in a special distraction-free, internet-stripped account. So I fiddled with Remember The Milk for some time but firstly, I've found it not a good habit to start my working day in a browser. And secondly I needed access to my tasks from both accounts, including the network-disabled one.
    That said, online service would be nice too, if only for backup/emergency's sake.

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  8. Anonymous31.8.08

    Hi Richard,

    Since I discovered last week ago your so easy to use and efficient solution, I make dreams with it, waiting next days to complete my experience and use it...

    I already presented Tudumo to my startup's team to get their feelings : Tudumo is going to be our favorite application to organize our to-do list.

    We haven't really any needs to sync, exepted for backup or emergency's case with perhaps an online service, but we do need a version for PDA/PDAphone (Windows mobile ?)to use Tudumo anywhere and anytime, without any PC with me...

    I thank you anyway for this wonderfull app I certainly gooing to buy soon !

    Dominique
    from Montpellier-France.

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  9. Hi Dominique,

    Thanks for a really nice message! I have built Tudumo on .net specifically so I can extend it to Windows Mobile. It will take some work though, so I'll only take that challenge on when I have time to do it justice...

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  10. Sergei - yes, I never thought of the issue that starting the day in a browser is a bad idea, but I agree. It's something I have to watch myself - the web can soak up lots of time.

    "To get things done - start your browser". Sounds absolutely mad :)

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  11. I would like to second the suggestion that Tudumo be available in a webapp. Although I am sympathetic to the risk of starting the day in a browser, I work in a federal government environment and our desktops are absolutely locked down. We are unable to install any non-standard software. I believe this is becoming mandatory for all federal agencies, which means that my browser is the only way to access additional functionality above the basis windows/microsoft suite.

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  12. It definitely will be. The sync is usable but I'm just tightening up some things (e.g. security/setup) and testing. A web view is planned but it'll come down to resources and priority.

    The single-user basic version would be free because I'm making money on the downloadable app and this increases the value of it, so the current priority model is:
    "Features that more people need, that help them more, that I/someone can build sooner" get moved to the front.

    I do have to tie the web to some revenue model (it costs to build it out), so maybe charge some small figure per year for web-only usage or have basic free and advanced X$ per month/year, or more features for registered users, etc. Will see.

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  13. Hey All,

    Here is a potential solution that is simple and likely won't take much for Richard to implement:

    Richard, would you be able to create the ability to change the location of a user's Tudumo settings file? This would allow users to change where Tudumo saves their information.

    With that functionality, it would be possible to change your saved information to the My Dropbox folder, which is a great cloud computing storage service. That way everyone could start using the program with their choice of online storage.

    I don't think you would have to support simultaneous instances of Tudumo. Just the one at a time functionality will do. I have a laptop and a desktop PC and will only use Tudumo on one device at a time.

    Cheers,
    Nick

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  14. Hi Nick,

    I'm almost there (after three back-end implementations :) but luckily much of the front-end work (pushing updates through the UI when the list changes) would help the use case for DropBox-type storage.

    I'm keen to support both methods, because some users would like Tudumo to extend to devices that can view the web (phones, Macs etc) and others would prefer to use a 3rd party sync such as DropBox or Microsoft's Mesh.

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  15. Hi Richard,

    That is awesome news. I didn't know about Microsoft Mesh, so thanks for that info as well. Mesh definitely had to happen. I think Google is up to something similar, likely based on it's new Chrome OS. Ars Technica has a writeup about it:
    http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2009/07/googles-chrome-os-coming-to-netbooks-in-late-2010.ars

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  16. Looking forward to the web version as well as the Windows Mobile version! Tudumo is the best.

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  17. Hi, great product, the only reason why I don't use it as my single GTD app is that it doesn't have a timer like Grindstone2, but in all other aspects it's much better.

    My question is: could you please add an option of changing how the Enter works, when editing notes? I am used to write drafts and ideas for articles, in the notes area for the task about said article. However this is VERY distracting, when Enter just closes the note altogether.

    Not asking for a change that would affect users, just place a small checkbox in the Options, that when checked would reverse Enter and Shift+Enter in the notes? Default off, so nobody is affected without them wanting it.

    Possible?

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  18. Hi Barbarian - yeah, the enter issue bothers me as well, but I haven't found a perfect solution. Mail me and let's look at it. richard (at) tudumo.com.

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