Posted on Tue 05 April 2011

The Joy of Text

After I posted yesterday’s post on time management I realised that I failed to give sufficient emphasis to one of the main reasons I enjoy using TodoPaper and Taskpaper. That is that they use plain text files to store lists.

This means that the underlying data is not locked-in to a proprietary file format or database but can be edited on any platform using a text editor. With a good text editor it’s possible to create syntax definitions that will colour code the date in a similar way to how they are normally presented. As the ‘rules’ for what defines a project, a task, tab or whether a task is completed are very simple it’s very easy to work with these files directly if needed.

Here are some pictures of a single file (not quite if you look carefully) opened using different tools.

The original file in TodoPaper

Joy of text 1

TaskPaper running on OS X

Joy of text 2

TodoPaper in a text editor on Windows

Joy of text 3

This file is open in EditPad Pro, a Windows text editor for which I’ve developed a syntax definition file to colour code the file. As EditPad’s rules for doing this are based on regular expressions this was pretty straightforward to create.

TodoPaper in a text editor on Mac OS X

Joy of text 4

In this case the file is opened with Barebones text editor BBEdit which uses a ‘Codeless Language Module’ to colour code the file.

Use plain text files. Never go out of style!

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