I’ve been using “Ta-da List”:http://www.tadalist.com/ for the last couple of years for all my to-do lists. I have about 100 lists and love the speed of adding new items and some of the subtle smarts it applies to sorting recent lists and cleaning up completed ones.
But I’ve been on the lookout for a desktop app. OmniOutliner has become a bit bloated and all the Getting Things Done apps seem so structured. Along comes “TaskPaper”:http://hogbaysoftware.com/projects/taskpaper today and there’s a lot to like. The plain text file format is refreshing and nicely open.
I wrote a Ruby script to export all my lists from Ta-da into TaskPaper so that I can give it a proper workout. It makes a new document (with a single project) for each list it finds. Make sure to install “Hpricot”:http://code.whytheluckystiff.net/hpricot/ first — there’s no official Ta-da List API so we need to parse HTML a little.
- Open the file in your favorite text editor and change TADALIST_HOST to whatever your account is.
Make sure Safari is running and you have logged into Ta-da. The script reads the cookie value from Safari’s Cookies.plist so that it doesn’t need to simulate a real sign-in.
Run from the command line. It will create the new files in the current directory.
You will see short status messages for what it is doing. It’s broken if there are any Ruby exceptions.
A few years ago I used “VoodooPad Lite”:http://www.flyingmeat.com/voodoopad/ extensively. Every note, to-do list, and feature description went into it. At some point I migrated away from VoodooPad to a combination of text files and “Ta-da list”:http://www.tadalist.com/, perhaps fearing I would have too much data in a weird format that would be difficult to get at later.
But I was always on the lookout for a problem that would best be solved with VoodooPad again. With our localized help files for “Bookshelf 4.1”:http://www.vitalsource.com/, I tried for most of a day to use VoodooPad to manage the help. I even experimented with Gus’s dead “project for remote wiki editing”:http://www.flyingmeat.com/fs/flystashweb.cgi?space=3ec82d22-c72a-01d9-1639-c0cbe4c4c32b, thinking I would write my own web-based help-specific wiki system and plug “Boomerang”:http://www.flyingmeat.com/fs/flystashweb.cgi/348c223e-0512-01da-1c41-c0cbe4c4fc75 into it. In the end it was too difficult to force the existing static help files into VoodooPad.
Fast-forward to a few nights ago. “Wii Transfer”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/ 1.5 has no Apple Help at all, and it needs some. A perfect opportunity for VoodooPad, and I’m happy to report that the solution works beautifully. I knew I could make it work because clearly VoodooPad’s own help files are managed with VoodooPad. After a bit of experimentation I bought a new VoodooPad license and all was well in the world.
Here’s how it works:
- I manage the help content in VoodooPad, creating pages for different help sections and generally just typing away and getting stuff done.
The HTML export template lives inside the VoodooPad document itself, so everything is in one place.
Also inside the VoodooPad document is a post-processing script (written in Ruby) that looks for a comment in index.html and inserts the appropriate AppleTitle and AppleIcon meta tags that Apple Help needs to get its work done.
The only part I haven’t finished yet is that the script should also send the files off to Help Indexer to update the search index. I coded that part but it doesn’t work yet — there is something different about how VoodooPad executes these scripts that prevents other applications from launching. (Maybe. I’ll sort it out eventually.)
You can “watch a screencast of the process here”:http://www.manton.org/screencasts/2007/voodoopad.mov. I add a new page, enter some filler text, export the VoodooPad document, then re-run the Xcode project and view the changes in Apple Help. Fun!