ToDoList, an excellent, open source project management tool I almost missed

Discussion in 'Indie Related Chat' started by PaulModz, Sep 7, 2006.

  1. PaulModz

    Original Member

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    A few months ago this thread led me to the application ToDoList. It only got a short mention by Fost, and the bland name makes it easy to miss. I gave it a try on a lark, then decided to use it instead of a commercial product I planning to buy when the trial ran out. I thought I'd give others another shot by sharing my experience. Thanks for the mention, Fost.

    Written in MFC/C++, (the link above includes source code, binaries and a Code Project article covering the app's internals), it's a flexible, lightweight application meant to fit into your process, not the other way around. I always find screen caps most informative, so I attached an image of my setup (slightly squished to keep image size down).

    Tasks are stored in a single .tdl file, which I added to my game's Visual Studio Solution. This makes changes to the file (and the file itself) easier to keep track of, since we version it with SourceSafe within the VS IDE. I also changed the default behavior for .tdl files in Visual Studio so they are opened in ToDoList by default.

    Here's a list of the features I find most useful:
    • Nested trees of tasks and sub-tasks, with lots of options for summing the state of all sub-tasks sharing the same parent. This is standard in project management apps, but one of the most unique and useful things about ToDoList is that it's part incident manager, part project manager.
    • Each task can be assigned to multiple categories, you can create dependencies between any two tasks, and file refs can be linked to any task.
    • Launches External Tools, passing formatted task data as commandline parameters. This includes things like the full path of the .tdl file, the FileRef linked to a task, task name, task id, task state, current date, etc... (much like VS External Tools).
    • Export .tdl files to HTML, with an optional transform using a CSS stylesheet. Great for meetings.
    • A dozen property pages jam-packed with hundreds of preference settings and simple, XML data files mean you can create a highly cusomized solution without touching the C++ source code.
    There's more that I haven't covered or don't use. If you need a simple tool to help wrangle smallish software projects, give it a shot. Its surely better than what you are probably using right now...nothing ;)

    Fost, you (or anyone else) actually using it? I'd like to hear about mods to the source as well.
     

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  2. ggambett

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I haven't used this program (and I can't since it's for Windows), but I've recently started using a Wiki to organize a lot of my information - not only ToDo lists but everything from phone numbers, recipes, moves I want to see, ideas for games, and so on. Until now I was using a Gnumeric spreadsheet with lots of pages but I think a Wiki is a better tool to organize random data. The other programmer has also installed a Wiki in his machine and will attempt to use it for issue tracking.
     
  3. PaulModz

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    Hola Gabriel,

    Just curious, why do you choose to develop on Linux when you don't sell games for it? Are you planning to in the future? Does the extra abstraction layer of developing on a third OS help keep you on your cross-platform toes?

    Did you know the original version of Doom was developed by id on the NextStep OS in 92-93. This really honed their x-platform chops, and DOOM was probably the most x-platform game ever written, since there was a lot more variety back then. With the exception of two blitters written in CPU specific assembly, DOOM was written in ANSI C and included little-big endian detection and handling so the same C code could use the same binary WAD files almost anywhere.

    Sadly, Carmack and id were never heard from again after releasing Doom, so this may be a cautionary tale. ;)

    FYI, here's a youtube video of Steve Jobs giving demo of NeXTstep in 91 or 92. It's pretty cool to see him explaining concepts that even my Mom takes for granted now.
     
    #3 PaulModz, Sep 7, 2006
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2006
  4. Benevolent

    Benevolent New Member

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    I normally use spreadsheets to manage a project, but this looks much better :) And I've been looking out for a low-cost/free project management tools for a while...
     
  5. lapskaus

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    This is pretty sweet :D Definitly gonna give it a try for a while. Thanks!
     
  6. GBGames

    Indie Author

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    I don't know about Gabriel, but even if I didn't try to sell games on the platform, I use Gnu/Linux as my main desktop, so there is no point in having a different OS just to develop on.
     
  7. ggambett

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Exactly. I use Linux all the time, not only for developing. I started in 1999 and I believe I made my full transition in 1999 or 2000, and yes, that has helped me a lot to be very aware of portability issues. The way I have everything set up I can develop in Linux, Windows or Mac interchangeably. In fact the other programmer uses Windows.
     
  8. voodooshaman

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    This is something I'm interested in. Do you use a GNU/Linux cross-compiler for compiling three different binaries? How do you test a compiled version? In a virtual machine or do you have testers?
     
  9. electronicStar

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    Mmhh...I don't know, this program seems a bit too complicated, I prefer to keep my todo lists simple, that's why I use windows' notepad. For my next project I'll see if I can find as simple a tool with HTML capabilities.
    One of the problems with Todo lists is that it' very easy to waste a lot of time managing the list and making it look pretty instead of actually getting to work. LOL.
     
  10. Nexic

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    I actually bought this ages ago and have be using it ever since. Great program :)
     
  11. TMK

    TMK
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    We also use this program, me and my brother, and so far it's been great :)

    We don't add the file it produces to Visual Studio though, but instead just use ToDoList's own checkout system which so far works good :)

    Been looking for other types of programs, but settled for this as I don't want to make the project management too complicated when it at the moment doesn't need to be ;)
     
  12. ggambett

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I use GCC natively on Linux for my everyday Linux builds; I use the Visual C++ command line compiler via Wine and NSIS to make the Windows builds and installers; and I use GCC natively on an iBook for the Mac builds. We do have Windows machines to test, but since we've found very very few platform-specific bugs, almost all debugging is also done in Linux. The other programmer uses Windows so we get testing there too.
     
  13. RinkuHero

    RinkuHero New Member

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    Thanks for the link. I've tried a lot of programs like this, and this one seems pretty impressive in comparison. My only complaint is that it doesn't have a timer/stopwatch -- you can't, say, highlight a task, click "start this task", and have it measure how long you spend doing that task. It's not really designed to do that of course, but it'd have been a nice addition and it's one of the features I most like about a similar program (cratchit.org's Timetool).
     
  14. lapskaus

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    What? I think it does have a stopwatch function. I haven't tested it fully yet, but it's on the upper right of the lower control bar, labelled "time spent". Click it once to start, and again to stop.

    I'm putting my whole game design into a tasklist now, using heavy branching. I have a main group for code, content, art assets and sound. Then code->graphics, code->graphics->sprites, code->sound, code->game and so on and so forth, eventually going down into every little detail. I have just over 200 tasks right now, but i've just gotten started really. Looks like a great way to plan and keep track of your project!
     
  15. JiriNovotny

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    Exactly! That's why I've made Swift To-Do List, which is very user friendly and easy to use. I made it for myself too :). Notepad could be really unsufficient for a developer I think. We've got a free lite version on our website too, you might want to check it out.
     
  16. RinkuHero

    RinkuHero New Member

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    I just found the stopwatch function, it's pretty great. I think this is the best To Do list /organization program I've tried. My only complaint now is that it's a bit bulky as far as window size is concerned -- it's not as small as it could have been (especially the area under the task list).
     
  17. PaulModz

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    Yeah, there's an option to place the comment window under the task list, which frees up more horizontal space, reducing the height of the task detail pane a lot.
     
  18. michalczyk

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    I never understood why people like to complicate their lives with unnecessary tools. A 2do app??

    I use plain text for my 2do list. As plain text is the most compatible file format in existence, I can use the list anywhere (linux, mac, windows, etc) in any program that can deal with text (browsers, text editors, IDEs, Words and the like, etc). I don't need to install any special tool just to use my 2do.txt list, because they are always there on any system. I can put it on a floppy/memstick, and revise it on my laptop, at friends place, on vacation - any place with a computer, old or new.

    Further, I don't have to deal with all the usual maintenance work that needs to be done - downloading and installing new versions, special lib requirements, patching, figuring out why feature x doesn't work, searching the net for info on it, stability bugs, etc, etc.

    So basically, I save a lot of time and effort by relying on plain text format. Text files are small and compact. They open and save in mini seconds. I have my 2do list nicely structured and revise it daily. It's easy, plain and hassle free.
     
  19. Sharpfish

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    I've tried various to-do apps in the past and ALWAYS revert back to a plain text file in my visual studio project (a tabbed click away). I have lists of task broken into actual worked weeks (currently Week 20 for this project)


    and when I complete a task I just add done to it and move it up:

    And I sometimes group sub tasks into Frontend, audio, textures, game logic etc. I currently have around 500 individual lines of "tasks" (with over 400 *DONE*). This is nice to look at to see progress but is not as distracting as a full app with little ticks/cross outs or whatever. And editing is very fast and simple, no clicking fields and no adjust parameters.

    Even though my post is overly complicated the format of my To-Do list isn't. It works great and it's fast and always contained in my VC project. As soon as I start using a nice app like ToDolist I end up messing around for ages, grouping, colouring etc It becomes a distraction to me but of course everyone has different methods so more power to those that increase productivity with it.

    If you are in a team environment and want simple task timing and not something like MS project, then ToDo list looks very nice (if it is networkable so updates are shown to everyone in the team).
     
  20. MibUK

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    I use an openoffice.org spreadsheet and a whiteboard ot do all of my planning.

    You cna see details at http://www.mibgames.co.uk/blog/?p=15 when I blogged about it a while ago.
    It works fine for me, although I've justt this week decided to start doing two week iterations rather than week long iterations, so hopefully I have more tasks on my list at a time.
    I tend to take a couple of hours on the monday at the beginning of the iteration to pick tasks from the global todo list to be done this week, and then breakdown the tasks into approximately 2 -4 hour chunks.
     

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