johnsu01 (johnsu01) wrote,

Trying out Tracks

I spent a few minutes today fooling around with Tracks, which is a web-based (Rails) application for personal organization by the Getting Things Done method.

I really like the fact that it's free software (GPL). I use Backpack for some things and never feel quite right about it. There's lots of small changes I'd like to make but the source code is not available, and since it's not distributed there is no way for me to run a local version.

Tracks was easy enough to set up running locally with WEBrick, although the rake migrate command didn't work for me. Fortunately they suggest an alternative in the install directions, which worked.

Some positives:

  • It provides a set of RSS, TXT and iCal feeds for various criteria (last 15 actions added, etc.)
  • It archives your completed tasks. This is something that neither Backpack nor PlannerMode do.
  • It has the AJAX goodness that makes Backpack nice to use. Makes it easy to edit and delete tasks and notes.
  • It's clearly designed to do GTD -- with other tools it often feels like forcing the framework on the tool.
  • You can easily change an Action's Project. In Backpack you simply cannot move items between pages, and even moving them between lists on the same page is clunky.
  • Keyboard shortcuts that seem to work (Alt-N to add new actions)

Some negatives:

  • You can't edit the note titles. They are all assigned rather useless titles like Note 1, Note 2.
  • The Notes display page is surely useless after a while. All the notes from all the projects on a single page?
  • Inconvenient placement of things -- why is the Add Action link all the way over to the right, when all of the actions are on the left? To be fair, Backpack's placement of the Add Item links at the bottom of the list isn't great either.
  • A much better model for the Notes would be to allow the user to assign titles to them, and then have them be collapsible like the Project boxes are.
  • AJAX is a little buggy. I edited an action, changing its project, but after clicking Done, the action is still listed there, with the same project. The display isn't properly updated I guess, because the project of the action really was changed.
  • Fugly CSS -- the project name on a page should clearly be more prominent than the subheadings below it.
  • No way to rename a project on the project's page?

I think I'll keep trying it out for a while. Though this is kind of a bad habit -- I end up leaving a trail of discarded tools behind me, with important information stuck in each one that I never quite get around to migrating. But, I guess that's part of the fun of being a geek about these things.

Tags: backpack, free software, gtd, planner, rails, ruby, software, tracks
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