I've been looking for some software to help me plan my work tasks for some time. Something in between a todo list and a project plan. Oh, and free too.
I'd spent some time searching for this mythical beast a few months ago and came up empty and then my frustration at trying to plan my work using the outliner in Microsoft Word came to the boil again recently so I had another go at finding something. Well what do you know? I found two things that looked like they might fit the bill. The first is ToDoList. Its a fairly simple hierarchical todo list, but what it does it does very well. The second is Free Mind, which shows a graphical representation of a tree of related ideas.
Well, for me at least Todo List is much better suited to project planning – that's what it was written for and it shows. Free Mind, on the other hand displays information in a way that makes it easy to see the big picture and navigate around. Fortunately for me, both applications store their information in XML files so I bit the bullet and wrote a XSL stylesheet to convert from the ToDoList file format to the Free Mind format. I wanted something that would quickly show me the relative priority of each task (so I could jump on the important things) so I took a lead out of the tag cloud book and used color and size to encode that information. This is the result.
The first image is a todo list in ToDoList:
The second image is the same project in Free Mind:
This ZIP contains four stylesheets. Todo2FreeMind.xsl is the one I used above. When you're in ToDoList choose Tools/Transform Active Tasklist…, select this file as the stylesheet and save the file as something ending in .mm. ToDoList will transform the project and run FreeMind for you.
Todo2FreeMind090.xsl will produce a mind map for FreeMind 0.9.0 – it includes the percentdone property from TodoList as an attribute called complete in the mind map – you can filter the display to show nodes based on this value – i.e. show only the complete tasks.
Versions of TodoList prior to 5.0.0 don't include the comment property when you use the Tools/Transform Active Tasklist... These stylesheets will transform a comment to a FreeMind note if it is present. To get this you have to transform the actual .tdl file using some third-party tool. If you do you will get all the tasks, whether they are complete or not. The remaining two stylesheets can be used to transform just the complete tasks or just the incomplete tasks. Rember for TodoList 5.0.0 and greater, you don't need to use these
The other tool I want to convert these files for is Walrus.