Michael Koehler

Exploring the intersection of productivity, technology, and life.

Archive for the ‘Nozbe’ Category

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

ReVuDo version 0.2

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I originally posted this on my ReVuDo page, but with many changes to come, I realized that this belongs on my blog.  So here is the short list of changes that made it into version 0.2 on June 8th, 2011.

Changes in 0.2:

I have added buttons to the main projects window to open windows for Inbox tasks, tasks that have a Due Date, tasks that are Next Actions, and a list of Contexts.

I also cleaned up the display of tasks and fixed a bug where completed projects and tasks were being displayed.

Written by mwkoehler

2011/06/21 at 9:26 pm

Posted in Nozbe, ReVuDo, Windows

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

WinNozbe Status

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Michael Sliwinski, the founder of Nozbe, has said that Nozbe would have been written much faster if only he hadn’t had to stop to learn how to do something so often.  I feel I am following in his footsteps.

When I started work on WinNozbe, I decided that I would use the project to learn Windows Presentation Foundation or WPF.  Not only would I learn something new, but WPF seemed to offer a lot of cool stuff that would make WinNozbe a better, more fun application.  Well, I am learning.  So far I don’t really regret my decision, as the promise of WPF is still there; but, it is really slowing me down.

At this point there is nothing to show you, but I have a stack of WPF articles to read and I hope to make a break through soon.  Sometimes you just have to put in a lot of upfront work before you can see the payoff.

Written by mwkoehler

2011/04/21 at 8:00 am

Posted in GTD, Nozbe, ReVuDo, Windows

Listen to your product

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When you need to make a decision, but you don’t have enough information, you have two options.  Seth Godin suggests flipping a coin, and I agree that sometimes this is the best way to go.  When you are short on time, or there is simply no cost effective way to get the information you need, coin flipping will at least move you forward.  The second option is to get more information.  One of the great things about software is that you can often get more information with the simple investment of time.  Of course, when you can’t afford the necessary time, your back to coin flipping.

As I mentioned last time, I have shifted from Nozbe.Net to what I am calling WinNozbe (at least for now).  The idea is a Windows application that can either operate on it’s own, or sync with Nozbe.  I want it to operate either offline or online as needed.  But all this is work to be done; it is still early days.

The reason for the switch was that I did not feel that I had enough information to finish the part of Nozbe.Net that updates Nozbe itself.  Until I wrote a program that actually wanted to do that, it wasn’t clear how it should work.  So read-only Nozbe.Net was published, and I turned to developing the program I wanted to begin with so I could let the program give me the answers.

Did I learn how I wanted to update Nozbe?  No, I learned that I needed to modify how I provided the information from Nozbe!  Nozbe.Net was originally tested by writing Powershell scripts that sliced and diced the projects and actions, so Nozbe.Net returns arrays of hash tables, the sort of thing Powershell handles with ease (and not incidentally a simple translation of the data as provided by Nozbe).  But, WinNozbe is a more complicated system and hash tables are not exactly what is wants.  So work has shifted into the gray area between the two.  The end result will likely be an update to Nozbe.Net before WinNozbe is ready for publication.

I have heard artists say that a statue is not something they make out of stone, but something they find in the stone.  The structure of the stone constrains what is possible, and the combination of the stone and the sculptor creates the statue.  Working in software is far from working with stone, but that same interaction occurs.  If you can take the time to listen to what you are making, it will tell you what you should do, and the result will be amazing.

Written by mwkoehler

2011/04/13 at 10:33 pm

Nozbe.Net

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Nozbe

 

So far this has all been a long introduction to what I am about to announce.  I wanted to explain where I had come from and where I was trying to go.  Having selected Nozbe as my trusted system, I settled in and decided to stay, but I wanted features that I did not expect Nozbe to produce any time soon.  So, I decided to create those features myself.

With the api documentation in hand, I started to write a program that would speak to Nozbe’s system in its language.  As I started to make the various parts work I realized that what I needed was a class library that the real program could call.  All the Nozbe related details would be in this class library, and the program would just handle doing what it needed to do without worrying about the details.  With that in mind I created Nozbe.Net.

Nozbe.Net is a class library callable from any Microsoft .Net based language.  It is designed as a thin wrapper around the Nozbe web service api, translating those calls into .Net methods, and the data into .Net collections.  In addition, I have begun adding functions to do things like save the data into a local backup.

At this time, Nozbe.Net is read-only, meaning that I have not finished the design of how updates can be made.  That is the next step, but as I started to write that code, I realized that I needed to shift back to writing the program I had started.  The original project was to write a Windows program that would give me the features I wished Nozbe had.  I need to finish writing that program so that I can decide how best to support synchronizing updates with Nozbe.  Once I have that done, I will post an updated version of Nozbe.Net.

In the meantime, there is a lot that can be done with the library as is, especially if you are comfortable with Powershell.  Here are some examples to get us started.

Step one is to access Nozbe.Net:

add-type -path “.\Nozbe.Net.dll”

Step two is to login to Nozbe.  We have two options:

$session = new-object Nozbe.Net.Session “myappkey”, “myuserkey”

or,

$session = new-object Nozbe.Net.Session “myappkey”

$session.Login(“email”, “password”)

Notice that you will need an app key.  This is something that you have to ask Nozbe for.  See the Nozbe api page for details.

Step 3, get all the Nozbe data (except completed projects and tasks)

$data = $session.GetData()

or to get everything including completed items:

$data = $session.GetData(“”, $true)

The “” means all types of information (for example, you could say “project” to just get projects).  The $true means completed items should be included.

Create a local backup

$session.BackupToDisk($data)

Find Projects without a Tag

$data.project | where-object {$_.tag -eq “”}

Find Projects with no Actions

$data.project | foreach-object {$project = $_; $tasks = ($data.task | where-object {$_.project_hash -eq $project.hash}); if ($tasks.count -eq 0) {$project}}

List Project names with number of tasks

$data.project | % {$project = $_; $tasks = ($data.task | where-object {$_.project_hash -eq $p.hash}); “” | select @{Name=”Project”; Expression={$project.name}},@{Name=”Tasks”; Expression={$tasks.Count}}}

Now I know that if computer programming is not your thing, this is a foreign language to you and not apparently helpful.  The good news is that when I have the full program finished, I will be releasing that as well and you will not need an app key, and you will not have to learn to program.  For all those of you that understand Powershell, or C# or VB.Net, please try Nozbe.Net and let me know what you think.  I have published it as open source in order to encourage others to contribute.

Let me know what you think.

Written by mwkoehler

2011/04/07 at 7:09 pm

Posted in GTD, Nozbe, Powershell

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