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The ToDo List Fiasco

I posted on Mastodon about a month ago (as of writing this) about my quest to find the perfect to-do application. At the time, I was using the Todoist Electron app and had been for years. I've been a paying Todoist user for over a decade. I like Todoist. But the flatpak of the Electron app stopped working, so I thought I would finally make the jump to something free and open source.

How silly that thought turned out to be.

It's not as if there are no good FOSS To-Do applications. There are. Taskwarrior, task.txt, and many others, both in the terminal and with GUIs, all exist and are probably sufficient for most people.

After all, most people just want a list of things to do, and then they are satisfied. But, I need more. I have gotten so used to the features of Todoist that leaving them behind is damn near impossible. Specifically, Todoist does two things better than any other app I've ever tried: recurring tasks and the ability to add tasks using native language.

It is the second one that I have found to be the hardest to replace. If I want to add a task to "take the dog to the doctor on December 14th at Noon" I can just type that in to Todoist, and it will add a task with the title "Take the dog to the doctor" and add the time "December 14th at noon". I can even add tags and project names to that text.

No other app does this. Or at least does it well. The best part about Todoist is that it removes the time information from the task title. So in the example above, the date and time are put where they are supposed to be and not as part of the title. The apps I found that could do some native language adding of tasks almost always left the date in the task title. I can't stand that, as it makes it so messy.

The thing is, I know that I'm being picky. But I can't undersell just how much I use my to-do list. Without it, I would literally get nothing done. It is one of the apps I open whenever my computer is turned on, and it stays on. When I'm on a window manager, it has its own workspace. It's important.

Over the course of the last month or so, I've tried about a dozen different options. The closest was actually another proprietary option, TickTick, which was pretty good but still had some issues. I tried Taskwarrior. To be honest, I can see why some people like it, but I didn't care for having my to-dos in the terminal at all. I know that sounds odd, given that I am big on using the terminal as much as I can, but for this, I vastly prefer GUIs.

In the end, I found nothing. When I put out the call for ideas, people kept giving me "Try Obsidian" or "Try Joplin". Those are note-taking apps with a ton of other features, one of which is to-do list-making. But both of those apps aren't great for the type of list that I need. They just aren't. They may be great for taking notes, but they're not great to-do list apps.

So, in the end, I was stuck. I wanted a native to-do app, but couldn't find one. So what I ended up doing was using the PWA functionality of Vivaldi and installing Todoist that way. It's not perfect (there's a menu bar that is annoying), but it's better than everything else I tried. I wish there was a FOSS option, but I just can't find one that suits my needs. Maybe as I get better at coding, I'll make one. IDK.

I hope everyone has a great week.