Michael Koehler

Exploring the intersection of productivity, technology, and life.

Archive for the ‘GTD’ Category

Export Nozbe to CSV (and Excel), XML and JSON – ReVuDo 0.3.7!

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It is amazing what the focus of a vacation can do.

The day after tomorrow I will disconnect and spend a few days celebrating the wedding of a beautiful young couple. So, of course, the push was on to finish a new version of ReVuDo for Nozbe. I left work late, spent my commute through the NYC subway in design mode for the remaining features, and settled onto a crowded commuter train to bang out the code. All the prior planning, design and coding came together smoothly and I am happy to announce a new version!  Get ReVuDo 0.3.7 here.

A Missing Feature

First let me thank Alan Cochran for pointing out, earlier today, that I had not yet provided a way to undo selecting Auto Login on the login window. This is now available in the Options window. Thanks Alan!


Second, a Tools button is now available on the Projects window tool bar that lets you export all your Nozbe data to CSV, XML, or JSON.  For each one, you will be asked what folder to export the files to. After selecting the folder, the data will be exported.

The CSV format creates one .csv file for each Nozbe table; one for projects, one for contexts, one for labels, one for tasks, etc.  In addition, a sub-folder will be created for each project that you have uploaded files for.  All those files will be stored in the project sub-folders.  This is the ideal file for export to Excel.  Just double click a CSV file to open it in Excel.

The XML format will create just one Nozbe.xml file, but will also store uploaded files to project sub-folders.

The JSON format is the native format for Nozbe, so the Nozbe.json file it creates is probably the closest thing to a backup of Nozbe.  The uploaded files will be saved in the same project sub-folders as the other two formats.

This checks off another feature that I wished Nozbe had.  It’s exciting to see my goals getting checked off one by one.  I hope you find it as useful as I do!

What’s Next

The other exciting thing about this new version is, it marks the last read only, no way to make any changes, version of ReVuDo for Nozbe.  The next version you see will let you change something!  Hopefully it will allow a lot of changes, but that will depend on my available time over the next few weeks.  My goal is a complete weekly review in Nozbe. Wish me luck!

What Do You Think?

Let me know in the comments.  And if it is helping you, let others using Nozbe know.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.


Written by mwkoehler

2011/08/16 at 1:01 am

Posted in GTD, Nozbe, ReVuDo, Windows

Exporting Nozbe to CSV

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I just finished writing and testing exporting Nozbe data to CSV.  I know at least one person has commented that he needs to report in Excel, so I hope this will help.

Next step is export to XML, as well as saving in Nozbe’s native JSON format (should make for a good backup).

Once those two are added I will turn my attention to my ultimate goal: adding and editing things and syncing the changes with Nozbe.  That is when ReVuDo is really going to shine!

In the meantime, I hope you are taking advantage of what ReVuDo can already help you with in keeping Nozbe up to date.  My weekly review already starts with sorting projects on Labels to make sure that all my projects have a label.  Then I sort on actions to be sure that all projects have at least one action defined.  Then I walk through my projects one by one using ReVuDo’s next project feature.  For now I have to jump to either the Nozbe web site or the Nozbe Windows app to make changes, but the day when that is no longer true is coming.

Written by mwkoehler

2011/08/12 at 11:27 pm

Posted in GTD, Nozbe, ReVuDo, Windows


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ReVuDo Projects Window

In the comments, Dudley reported a crash when opening the Inbox. Crashes bother me at a deep level, so I immediately started trying to find the cause. After awhile, I concluded that all I knew was that there was something in Dudley’s Inbox that ReVuDo did not know how to handle and I needed to know more. So, I created some fake data and I filled it with gibberish. Basically I create a set of projects, tasks and contexts that made no sense and I made ReVuDo open it. It crashed.

This to a programmer is a joyful thing. A bug that can be reproduced. I started digging. By the time I was done I had deleted a bunch of ReVuDo and moved that chunk down into Nozbe.Net where I rewrote it. ReVuDo can now read gibberish claiming to be from Nozbe without a crash and I hope that means that I fixed Dudley’s problem. Not that I think there was gibberish in his Nozbe Inbox, just that if the program can now handle the unexpected, it will probably do a better job at handling valid information. I had mentioned in a previous post that I was putting Nozbe.Net aside to write ReVuDo because I needed to write ReVuDo in order to better understand how Nozbe.Net should handle updating Nozbe. Apparently I needed it to better understand how to read from Nozbe as well.

Right before that bug report came in I was finishing up some small updates and preparing to start on printing which was to be in this version. Printing didn’t make it (although I did start on it), but some of those other things did:

  • There is now a [No Context] context, so you can locate the tasks that do not have a context assigned. And of course sorting projects by labels will quickly show you the ones that don’t have a label.
  • Icons everywhere. All the buttons that were just plain text are now both icons and text. It looks so much better.
  • And just today John asked for a button on the filter to clear it, so I added that as this went to press. I should note that pressing Esc in the filter field also clears it.

Technically the other change to mention was part of the last release, but since I forgot to mention it then, I’ll do so now. When you open a project from the project list, the task window will display the project information. I added this for the Previous and Next buttons that also appear. The combination allows you to double click the first project and then just click the Right arrow or type Alt-N to step through all your projects one by one. Now that’s a weekly review! I can’t wait to add the ability to make changes!

The update can be found on the ReVuDo page along with the updated road map.

Now back to printing!

Written by mwkoehler

2011/07/06 at 9:06 pm

Posted in GTD, Nozbe, ReVuDo

ReVuDo 0.3.4

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I’m going slow on the version numbers, because I have so much I want to do before I hit 1.0, so I’ll call this release 0.3.4.

The first change in this version is a set of changes to stop ReVuDo crashing for some people. Thanks go to phusick and RobM for reporting the problem, and especially to RobM for letting me know that I had guessed correctly on the fix.

Bug fixing is fine, but we need some new stuff too.  For those who saw a previous version, this is the first version that has context icons!  Personally, I’m thankful for the addition of color, but this is really about functionality.  A context icon helps grasp what context is assigned better than the words alone.  And ReVuDo includes the words as well.

In addition to the context icons, the Next Action stars also make their appearance.  Overall I think it looks much better.

The columns that contain text will now wrap the text if the column is too narrow, so you can size the window as you please and all the words will still be visible.

The Contexts window is now only as wide as it needs to be.  Having it larger bothered me.

My next two goals are to add printing, and (or?) to add exporting to XML, JSON or CSV format (I’d really like to offer export to Excel, but the first go is really slow).

So help me out.  I have started to think about what I would want in a printed version of Nozbe.  So far my thoughts are leaning to a dialog that allows you to select printing your project list, your contexts, your next actions, and/or your due dates.  Select what you want printed, click print and go get something done.  Does this sound right to you?  What do you want to see?

For exporting, or if you like, creating a backup, my idea is similar.  Pick one of the formats I mentioned above and provide a file name.  Done.  Do you want something else?

Let me know in the comments below, or go over to the ReVuDo page, download the new version, and leave your comments there.  This is your chance to add features to Nozbe.

Written by mwkoehler

2011/06/30 at 11:14 pm

Posted in GTD, Nozbe, ReVuDo, Windows

ReVuDo 0.3

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It’s been just shy of two weeks since I posted version 0.2, and since then it has felt like a conspiracy has been trying to prevent the release of the next update.  I finally reached a point where I decided it was time to declare version 0.3 and let everyone see the changes. I think two weeks is my limit.

Changes in 0.3:

The installation program has been completely re-done.  It will now give you options for where to install, whether to create a desktop icon and other handy features.   It will even check if the required Microsoft .Net 4 is installed, and install it for you if it is not (a reboot is required in this case, but not otherwise).

I added an About button to the main projects window, which will display information about ReVuDo like the version and web site.  With a long stream of updates to come I wanted to give you a clear way to determine what version you are running.

I knew that options would be a big part of ReVuDo, so I added an Options button to the main projects window next to the About button.  There is only one option right now: to always open ReVuDo’s windows maximized.  I find this very useful when I am reviewing my projects as it gives me a clear view with no distractions.

Closing the main projects window will now close all the other windows you may have opened and close the program.  I have found that I can wind up with a lot of windows open and this provides a way to close everything.

In the contexts windows, if you double click a context, a window will open showing all the tasks for that context.

The change I like the most is visible when you are viewing a project’s tasks: a Prev (previous) and Next button at the top.  Clicking them allows you to move to the previous or next project on your project list.  This is great for weekly reviews.

If you are viewing tasks that are not all for the same project (Next Actions, Context, or tasks with Due Dates) the project name has been added so you know what project the task is for, and if you press Ctrl-Enter, or right click on one of those tasks and select Jump to Project, the view will switch to showing all the tasks for that project.

Get the latest version on my ReVuDo page, and let me know what you think in the comments!

Written by mwkoehler

2011/06/21 at 9:58 pm

Posted in GTD, Nozbe, ReVuDo, Windows

More Ways to View Your Nozbe Projects – ReVuDo 0.2

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Tonight I fixed some problems and added more views to ReVuDo.  Inbox, Next Actions, Due Dates and Contexts are now available.

There is more to do, but even this early release is giving me great new ways to see my projects and actions.

To see the changes, and the road map as well as download the program go check out the ReVuDo page where everything lives.

Written by mwkoehler

2011/06/08 at 10:20 pm

Posted in GTD, ReVuDo

How to see Nozbe in a whole new way – ReVuDo

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Almost two months ago I announced both the release of an open source .Net library for writing programs and scripts that access Nozbe, and something that I had code named WinNozbe until I could think of a real name.  My intention was to develop this Windows client for Nozbe publicly so that anyone could comment and steer its development.

Tonight I finally reached the point where the program was useful, even if it is so very far away from version 1.

Version 0.1 of ReVuDo is now available here.

So why did I name it ReVuDo?  First, I did not want Nozbe in the name.  That name is not mine and I did not want to step on someone else’s trademark.  I actually need to ask Michael Sliwinski if he will forgive Nozbe.Net’s name.  If not, I will need to rename it.

The second reason for the name was that I wanted the new name to be as unique as Nozbe’s.  Something that could be found easily in the vastness of the Internet.

Finally, I wanted a name that meant something.  What does ReVuDo mean?  The ultimate lesson of GTD: Review, decide, then do.

So, what should I enhance first?

Written by mwkoehler

2011/06/06 at 11:28 pm

Posted in GTD, ReVuDo, Windows

Why We Need Lists

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In my last post, I discussed work as either a sprint or a marathon and gave a business example; but we are all more likely to experience this on a personal level.  After all, life itself is a marathon, one that we want to be purposeful, successful, and happy, not overstretched and leaving us exhausted before we’ve really begun.

This is why getting all of your commitments out of your head, and out of the stacks and piles of stuff around you, into a list of projects, and into lists of the actions needed to move those projects forward, is essential to having that purposeful, successful and happy life.  If you have those lists, you can review them regularly and know if you are in a sprint or a marathon.  You will know if you need to push hard on something until it is done, even if that means you’ll be exhausted at the end of it, or if you need to spread your effort out in order to be in it for the long haul.

Without lists of all of our commitments, we cannot know what is appropriate.

Written by mwkoehler

2011/05/05 at 7:00 am

Posted in GTD

Sprint or Marathon?

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, Relay Race

U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 3rd Class David P. Coleman via Wikimedia Commons

When faced with a lot of work, it is essential to know if you are about to embark on a sprint, or on a marathon.

A sprint is a lot of work, but it is just small enough that if you put everything you’ve got into it you can get it done.  Exhausted at the end, tired, but you got it done.  The fact that you have no energy left is fine; there’s nothing left to do.

But a marathon is completely different.  With a marathon, when you have given all you’ve got, you’ve barely started.  So, if you treated the marathon like it was a sprint, you have a big problem.

Seems simple right?  But we often see people get this wrong.  Imagine you are running a business, and something really big happens that threatens that business.  There have been a lot of examples in the news lately.  The first thing that always happens is that everyone is called in to work on the problem.  All effort is poured into it.  But big problems like these are not usually a sprint, they tend to be marathons of days or weeks or months.  If you want to handle it well, you need to resist the temptation to call all hand’s on deck.  Instead, your first task is to make sure that your best people go get some rest.  In the first several hours, not much can really be done.  Sure, someone has to stay who can be in charge during those first hours, but you don’t need everyone.  Instead you need to be sure that you will have a second shift ready to pick up from the first shift when the first shift can’t keep their eyes open.  In short, if the marathon is going to be a long one, you need to convert it into a relay race.

Written by mwkoehler

2011/05/03 at 10:22 am

Posted in GTD

Preparing For Dark Clouds

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Jack Delano, photographer. Farm Security Administration.

In an earlier post I described how I had narrowed my GTD software options down to cloud based systems and chose Nozbe.  Amazon’s outage the other day highlights the risk of moving such a critical aspect of one’s work into the cloud: what do you do when the cloud fails you?

Michael Sliwinski talked about this on the Nozbe blog after a bug caused problems for many Nozbe users.  His main point was that Nozbe has been designed with problems, and recovering from them, in mind.  I applaud this, and I am glad that he took the time to describe what they have done to protect our data.  But, for me the right model is to have my own offline copy, ideally one that is more than just a backup.  It should be a copy that I can use.

Evernote does exactly what I want from every cloud based application.  They offer web access, apps for all the major mobile phones, and programs for Windows and Mac that will sync with the cloud, and allow you to work offline.  This means that if Evernote has a problem, as long as I have my laptop I have everything since my last sync (and everything that was ever entered using that laptop).  In short, Evernote could be down for a week, and I would just be inconvenienced.  I would still have all my Evernote data.

WinNozbe is intended first and foremost to solve this problem for Windows users.  It will connect to Nozbe, sync your information so both Nozbe and your PC are in agreement, and let you work offline.  Even if Nozbe is having a problem.  Even if you decide to leave Nozbe.  Even if you never signed up for Nozbe.

I know this is not coming quickly; is probably months away; but I am committed to making it happen.  And there will be some other goodies in WinNozbe as well.

Written by mwkoehler

2011/04/26 at 7:40 am

Posted in GTD, Nozbe, ReVuDo, Windows

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