2 Task Manager Apps: Choose the Features You Can Live Without
Aug 25, 2010 5:00 AM PT
Today, if you're in need of a task manager application, you're looking at a category filled -- perhaps even overfilled -- with options. If you carry a smartphone, you probably have a to-do list app in your pocket already.
Gone are the days when Linux users had to panic over finding a suitable clone for Microsoft Outlook like Evolution. Web-based services like Google provide calendars and to-do lists that sync with multiple computers and smartphones.
The gToDo List, a Gnome desktop app, creates multiple lists, sets alarm notifications when tasks are due, automatically purges completed tasks if you desire, exports tasks to HTML format and sorts them according to priority. This app also shows the upcoming due date or status of tasks and can highlight or hide your tasks until their due time is reached.
It runs in other Linux desktop environments as well. But if you are a Gnome fan, place the launch icon in a panel for quick access and easy retrieval.
Tasque, while also a Gnome app, is much different. It links to some popular online task manager services like Remember the Milk.
Despite some of its other simple features, Tasque can be a real cow to configure. Remember the Milk is the only embedded option. You have to manually configure the links to other services.
The qTodo Rundown
The real beauty behind gTodo List is its simple interface. What you see is all there is. It has little more than a single pane that shows tasks and related information
The interface also shows add/remove buttons and a category filter drop down box. Otherwise, it is devoid of overlapping right-click menus.
All you need is contained in a few drop-down menus. The design is simple. The functionality is high.
Sounds Like Task
Tasque is an equally simple app with a bare-bones interface. Considering how space is its menu, the feature set is remarkably surprising.
Tasque synchronizes with Evolution and Remember the Milk. You can also use it with SQLite.
Tasque works well with the Avant Window Navigator (AWN) dock. See my review here . This means you have fast and direct access to your ToDo list from the dock.
Looking at qTodo
I like what this apps does and how it does them. For example, gTodo automatically purges old tasks. It also highlights past due items and upcoming tasks.
Hovering over the tray icon displays due tasks and provides for quick updates. It is easy to set up several different categories within a list.
But if you prefer to keep separate lists for different activities, you can. And it is just as easy to set alarms and priority notifications regardless of how you configure one or more lists.
Sizing Up Tasque
Tasque could be one of those apps you try out only to regret it. That is what I first thought about it. But as I worked my way through its few features, I became more pleased with it.
However, there's one feature I cannot live without, and Tasque doesn't have it. It has no way in the basic program to set alarms or reminders. Using the Web-based Remember the Milk service partially solves that weakness.
Still, I do not like the tie-in to using Remember the Milk. Setting the app to local file instead RTM eliminates that tie-in, but it also nixes those additional features not available in the local file option.
Like gTodo List, the Tasque menu is sparse and simple. It has no menu bar or any other miscellaneous features.
All you see is an input field to enter your tasks. Oh yeah, you right click on the icon that sits on the panel at launch to access a scanty dropdown menu box.
As I said, I much prefer the local file-saving instead of moving to the cloud with Tasque. But here is how that feature works.
The setup includes an option to go to the Remember the Milk website. Once there, you create an account with user name and password and allow API access.
This gives you access to the list of tasks to choose. Plus you can create your own. Then add a due date and notes.
Using RTM is a bit like using Google's offline email reader function. The RTM feature lets you access your task list offline.
But to do this you must install the Google Gears plug-in for your browser. That is fairly simple to accomplish. Just click the Install button from the RTM website.
For my money, however (actually, being open source software, Tasque and qTodo List are free), I prefer Google Calendar and Todo List option to Tasque's Remember the Milk tie-in.
Kudos and Drawbacks
I like the ability to quickly add and update tasks in these two task managers. Particularly neat is how both of these apps let me add detailed notes.
After playing with both of them, it became a toss-up as to which one I would use all the time. For most things, I am partial to qTodo List. It generally suits my work style better.
But Tasque has right-click menu access to tasks in the list. I do like that convenience over clicking on the drop-down menu. Also, the right-click options on the qTodo icon menu from the panel does not as many options.
Do not plan on taking a printed copy of your to do list with you. Neither of these two apps has much going for them in terms of exporting and printing full content.
Both qTodo List and Tasque have several useful features. But deciding which app to use regularly comes down to deciding which features to give up.
Another big drawback is the lack of a search function in both apps. With short lists that you quickly act on, not being able to search may not be much of a problem. But come on, Mr. and Ms. Developer -- we are talking computers here. Searching should be a given.
The advanced tasking features in qTodo List partially makes up for the no-search feature. But it is one more compromise in choosing which app to use.