Todo.txt, vimtodo, vimoutliner, vimwiki, taskpaper.vim, oh my.

Warning, I am going to ramble a bit. This is slightly edited stream of consciousness.

As part of my ongoing struggle to organize my life so that I can stop worrying about missing deadlines and goals, I decided to take a hard look at the issue/task/project tracking ( or lack thereof ) that I have for my job.

For the most part I have been using Todo.txt both in a shell on a linux box and on my Android phone to keep track of and update my todo list. This has worked pretty well. And while I have been using it for work stuff as well, it isn't ideal. I have to ssh out to my home server to update my todo list from work, or make the update on my personal phone. So my work todo list doesn't exist in my work environment. I also like to keep personal and work separate, it's part of how I strive to achieve some kind of balance between the two.

Keeping indvidual todos that have a binary state, either "done" or "not done" is easy with the script or andriod app. That is really all I need for most of my personal stuff. For work though, I desire something that handles multiple projects with multiple parts in a sane way. I can't install software on my workstation, so most of the random tools that people have written that run on windows are out of the question. I do have a couple of linux boxes that I can run stuff on, so that is going to be where I aim to put stuff. It's also faster to open up a file and edit it over an ssh connection than to open a file on my workstation to edit, don't ask, I'm not allowed to fix that problem.

The contenders:

Most of these are vim or editor agnostic, I know about emacs OrgMode, and while I have used emacs in the past, it doesn't appeal to me

vimoutliner is available from the vim-addons debian/ubuntu package. I've tried to use it in the past, normally for about a week and then it gets dropped. It often feels too heavy for what I am wanting to do, too structured., like I have been using, but I have already given some of my issues with that.

vimtodo started life as a way to work with the todo.txt file from and went on to have a life of it's own. This one has great potential.

vimwiki could be awesome for documentation, but I don't think it will be able to make the cut for general task/project management. In theory the exported HTML files could be dropped onto our sharepoint, although not into what Microsoft has optimistically called a wiki on sharepoint, just a folder.

taskpaper.vim like vimtodo has great potential. It offers some basic syntax highlighting and the ability to track projects and also sub-projects. It does seem to be a little buggy in a couple of spots, like with indenting to make a subtask every time I hit enter.

Of course, I could always just roll my own formatted text file. And that does have it's own appeal as well. But before I do that I want to at least look at and poke the other possibilities out there. I need something simple enough that I can just open it up and start editing, even if I don't have vim or the custom syntax/plugin files handy. I'd also like it to be something that I can just shove into an email to send to my boss or someone on my team so that they have an idea of where I am on a particular project.

No matter what script/plugin/format I end up using, I think I am going to have to paraphrase Voltaire and put "Perfect is the enemy of good enough" at the beginning of it as a reminder to myself that this is a constant battle, it will never be totally won. Even if I could design the perfect format and corresponding scripts and syntax files for what I need, or think I need, today, in the future that WILL change.