Moving to a new todo app

I’ve been a GetFlow customer since the beginning of 2012. But I’ve been growing exceedingly unsatisfied with the experience, especially since it’s not the cheapest of apps (I was paying 10 dollars per month, now it became more expensive).

Specifically:

  • It’s too slow. Loading the app takes a couple seconds; loading the Android app takes a couple seconds.
  • On Android specifically there is no offline capability. It has to load the whole thing every time, cannot add or check items without a connection, might even have to reload after a screen lock. Terrible if you want to use your shopping list, and the supermarket has bad reception.
  • The Android app doesn’t event let you access subfolders.
  • The search feature is slow, too, and doesn’t seem to find everything.
  • They used to have a section to add long-form text, which I used a lot. But some years back they changed their system to have uneditable comments only, which has been bothering me ever since. It’s just not at all helpful for a single user.

I looked at both Wunderlist and Todoist.

  • Wunderlist has a better Android app; though Todoist is not particularly bad.
  • Todoist’s web interface just looks more attractive to me. Wunderlist does not seem good on a big screen.
  • Both have their UI warts: I hate having to double click in Wunderlist to see the task details, which seems completely unnecessary. Neither do I like how a single click in Todoist enters into a disruptive edit-mode.
  • Both have editable notes, and both don’t implement those in a great way. It’s too uncomfortable to use this for more than short notes. But at least it’s there. In Wunderlist it is better than in Todoist. Hint: The notes should be easy to edit with a single click, ideally support formatting, and not be in a tiny window.
  • Wunderlist has a more traditional approach, with subtasks being an explicit feature. Todoist has a very cool indentation system. However, it has it’s downsides, because “subtasks” are really just their own tasks: They don’t repeat with the parent,
  • Todoist’s “after” repetition mode is pretty cool.

I wrote two scripts to export my GetFlow data and import it into Todoist.

Here is what I found lacking in Todoist so far:

  • Getflow could move a task to a different project by typing the name. This was often easier than using drag&drop.
  • When drag&dropping tasks, the project list left doesn’t scroll up and down as necessary.
  • It doesn’t really want you to keep old tasks around.
  • Todoist does not seem to expose obvious metadata like “when was this task created”. This seems like a small thing, but feels depper. In Todoist, tasks have a more ephemeral feel, less like real “objects” that are a matter of record. The fluid indentation, the easily accessible permanent delete feature, and most importantly the fact that the UI at times seems to encourage you to use the delete feature to clean up contribute to that.
  • In particular, the fact that completing a subtasks does not make that subtasks disappear until the parent task is completed bothers me a lot, and seems clearly not to be a design decision, but a limitation of the data structure – namely that it really is not a subtask, just a task with an indent value assigned.

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