An OPML like exportable format for Todo Lists?

Another month, another Todo list app tried and given up on. The latest candidate is The Hit List, a beautifully designed Mac application. However, it lacks any online component and as I move between different machines, the lack of being able to add/remove items from some web interface finally got to me. Pretty sad, since I really liked the interface.

I have now lost track of the number of Todo lists I have tried. I liked different ones for different reasons. For example:

  • GMail tasks: is awesome because its right there within GMail where I go multiple times a day
  • Remember the milk: I love the simple natural language way you can add tasks
  • The Hit List: Really polished UI
  • Epic Win: Completely useless as a todo list app but really fun to use 😉
  • Teux Deux: Elegant design, iPhone app is a plus (well not anymore since I moved to Android)

While todo lists like the ones mentioned above are cited frequently, I feel enterprise project management and issue tracking solutions are little more than glorified todo lists are they? Working at Comcast. I have gone through quite a few of them, like Trac, RedMine or Rally.

So why isn’t there an OPML like exportable format for todo lists? I jump between todo list apps much more frequently than my feed readers and from what I read, so do most people.

Since most todo lists seem to always work with the same data an exportable/importable specification to define them would reduce the friction of trying out a particular tool a lot. Moreover, an agreed to format would also allow interoperability. For example, at work while we are all mandated to use the same “enterprise app” to manage the work, its conceivable that you could work with the same server while choosing different clients.

I imagine a spec like this to define todo lists:

This is of course completely not thought through completely, so I am sure there could be other items that would need to be represented, but hey, its a first stab.

For extra points if we could define an RSS-like spec for tasks that would be even better. That way clients could subscribe to tasks from services like mentioned above. If you are developing a better UI for task management, you could just build the UI part and leave the data management to some other service.

Author: Arpit Mathur

Arpit Mathur is a Principal Engineer at Comcast Labs where he is currently working on a variety of topics including Machine Learning, Affective Computing, and Blockchain applications. Arpit has also worked extensively on Android and iOS applications, Virtual Reality apps as well as with web technologies like JavaScript, HTML and Ruby on Rails. He also spent a couple of years in the User Experience team as a Creative Technologist.

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