Long has Apple been driven by development that places simplicity over functionality, the iPod being an excellent example. The iPod doesn't do everything–sometimes not even functions one might associate strongly with a music player, like a built-in FM radio–but it does music playing right. At Hog Bay Software, Jesse Grosjean takes that simplicity concept to a new level. His previous work includes Mori (now owned by Apokalypse Software), a note-taking application, and WriteRoom, a full-screen text editor. His latest application, TaskPaper, a GTD (Get Things Done) task list, similarly concentrates on doing one thing well. Before you say "OmniFocus," Jesse Grosjean did, saying that if "you are looking for a larger more structured application then check out OmniFocus." So why use TaskPaper?
TaskPaper is fast–fast, as in enabling the thought process for creating lists. It's designed with using the keyboard in mind. In the text editor interface, you hit 'Return' and go:
Create a new project (list) by ending a line with ':'Create a task (to-do item) by starting a line '- 'Assign a tag (category) by typing '@' and the tag in the task's line Command-D marks a task done
That could pretty much be the user manual. Using TaskPaper, I started doing my grocery list. While such a project is hardly complex, I was surprised at how pleasant it was using TaskPaper. First, I wrote out some lists, all of which appear in the 'Home' list, then I clicked on a list which appeared in its own tab. From there it was simply a matter of adding items and tagging them with the stores where I buy the items.
TaskPaper Search UI
If I want a list of all items I purchase at Whole Foods Market, I just click on the tag. Nice. TaskPaper is a database that looks like a text file because it is a text file, which means maximum compatibility. Completed items can be archived; they are moved to a list by that name when archiving is invoked. If TaskPaper sounds neat, it is, but as someone who uses to-do lists I found some basic functionality missing:
SortingCollapsible ListsShow/Hide Done Tasks Export Options
You pretty much print or not print lists, or use TaskPaper on your Mac. Hopefully that will change someday.
Jade: TaskPaper would be awesome on the iPhone, like it's almost designed for the iPhone already. TaskPaper 1.0 is only 2.4MB, so have you given any thought to a port once the iPhone SDK becomes available?
Jesse Grosjean: I have certainly thought about it, but not very deeply. I don't have an iPhone (or cell of any sort) and so the platform didn't interest me much until the SDK announcement. Now it's a lot more interesting, but I'm going to need to wait and see the SDK, and maybe get a iPod touch to play with before I make a real decision.
My feelings are that TaskPaper does pretty well at everything it does, which, by design, is not a lot. It is the pencil and paper of task list software, with all that metaphorically implies, both good and bad. If that's what you are looking for, you should download the trial version. It's $18.95 to buy—let's not hear any crap about price from people who pay the Apple Tax—and I intend to buy it in the hope that come next year I will be checking off groceries on my iPhone using TaskPaper.