Thoughts on Toodledo versus Emacs Org

It’s been a couple of months since I switched to using the Toodledo instead of Emacs Org to manage my tasks. I decided to use Toodledo because I wanted a to-do list that I could access on any computer and on my iPod Touch, so that I could capture tasks from anywhere. I liked Toodledo more than I liked Remember the Milk because Toodledo’s tagging and time-tracking features fit the way I work. I also liked how I could ask my virtual assistant to fill in templates–for example, preparation tasks for upcoming presentations–based on certain dates.

I still like Toodledo, but I feel an unsatisfied itch. Toodle-do is a great Getting Things Done system for capturing and tracking tasks, but even though it has some support for defining short-, medium-, and long-term goals, I wasn’t using them because they were split up on multiple screens. I missed the outlines of Org where I could define my higher-level goals, easily add new ones, and create tasks and subtasks. I missed the close integration with my schedule and the ability to easily see my historical task information. I missed the distinction between scheduled dates and deadlines, and the calculation of days until something is due.

So I think it’s time to switch back, at least temporarily. Maybe I can find a way to seamlessly synchronize my Org files so that changes are reflected on the different computers I’m on, and maybe I can find a way to easily capture or review tasks while I’m on the go. Perhaps I’ll continue working on org-toodledo so that I can export tasks from Org to the web-based interface. That way, I can quickly review today’s tasks while I’m out and about.


  • Ustun

    Why don’t you use Dropbox to sync your org files?

  • Drew

    Ditto, Dropbox is the best thing since sliced bread! I use it to sync org files, dotfiles, scripts and elisp directories between linux and osx machines (4 at the moment). It’s so useful I’d pay for the privilege.

  • rjh

    I’m very happy using “git” to share org files between two laptops and a desktop. I just end up doing lots of commit/push/pull when switching machines. If I forget to synchronize before switching machines, the git delta merging logic sometimes figures things out automatically, and sometimes I have to patch things up by hand. It’s never been hard.

    If you want to share with others via the net, you’ll need to pick a git hosting site or set up one of your own. I don’t have experience doing this. I keep my org files private and I’m only a user of public git sites.

    There are other secondary advantages to having personal files under routine change management.

    There are other change management systems possible. Pick one of the new distributed systems, not one of the older central host based systems. Keeping a master host up to date is too much bother. The distributed systems let the change management shift from machine to machine as you shift.

  • Take a look at which might give you some ideas. I keep my org files in bitbucket and just pull when I get to another computer I need to work from. That article also has some great ideas on using git from a usb drive.

  • Paul

    > Maybe I can find a way to seamlessly synchronize my Org files so that changes are reflected on the different computers I’m on

    Sounds like a job for either DropBox or Mercurial. I do Mercurial myself.

  • There is a product on-line called SpiderOak that I am investigating to use with org-mode. It has both Windows and Linux versions and there is a basic free version. I want to avoid manual steps as I know it would only be a matter of time before I mis-synced somehow.

    I’ll report back if I make any progress on this.

  • So funny, I think we made the same switches and back-switches at roughly the same times. I decided Toodledo was the best of the online tools, and I liked the way the iPhone app worked well enough, so I tried it for a week or two. Then I tried Things for the Mac, and I liked its design generally, but neither really \flowed\ for me. Now I’m back to org-mode too. Still would prefer to find some kind of iPhone integration/interface.

  • jamonation

    djp at the linuxcaffe has been working feverishly on task, check it out, (and a demo here:

  • Frank Dekens

    I’m tried various online tools about a year ago and didn’t like any of them, so I’m sticking to org-mode. My current method is not idea either, but here it goes:
    – Unison to sync all my org and work files to our work server. I do this from my work Macs (desktop and laptop), Ubuntu at home and a NokiaN810 (Thanks for the dropbox link earlier, I may start using that for my personal files, but can’t use that for work)
    – Nokia N810, which runs Maemo Linux and I run emacs + org mode on it, and Unison. It’s fast enough (once it’s up and running) that I take it to most short meetings and takes notes + record action items, etc. If it’s a long meeting, I bring the real laptop.

    There are a few issues:
    – I have to carry around both a phone and the Nokia N810
    – I don’t have a cronned version of Unison, but after seeing the git method, I’ll look into setting that up with Unison
    – the Nokia N810 is slow! It take s good amount of time to start it up, and get emacs/org mode up and running, so I have to make sure it never runs out of power and always stays up.
    – It took a fair amount of getting used to the Nokia and was a lot of work to get everything installed and working properly.

    Maybe the next Nokia upgrade will be faster, and more integrated so I only need 1 device, or maybe some one will write an Emacs version for the iPhone :)
    — Frank D.

  • jai

    Syncing up computers? What about this? Think more in the clouds.

    I use JungleDisk as my “My Documents” folder. (Not literally, but figuratively). I don’t put media there, like my music library and all my video files, but everything else goes there.

    My wife has commandeered my workstation as her photography business gets more and more entrenched in digital formats. I slide on over to my laptop (on wireless) over on the couch. With JungleDisk, I’m device-agnostic. It just doesn’t matter where I am.

  • I just run org-mode and emacs over X11 on all my machines, with my laptop as the “emacs server”, and open additional emacs frames from it on the other displays. I can then walk from room to room and machine to machine and completely retain my existing context in emacs.

    (while this doesn’t require that your X server listen on tcp, it helps. Ssh will work, too, but…)

    As for my handheld, that works in the house, too. On the road, git pull/push suffices. (having only one master server for org-mode helps)

  • I had the same dilemma with org-mode – so I wrote a hack that allows me to push a button on my iPhone, speak something, and know the transcription of that something will be added to the inbox within my that is sync’d across computers (using git, but dropbox could work).

    People liked the idea and made it more official, but I haven’t gotten around to updating from my awk hack since it still works :)

    linK:[email protected]/msg12201.html

  • Raffael Himmelsbach

    There’s an iPhone/iPod touch app that’s called MobileOrg. Haven’t tried it yet, but it certainly fills the mobile gap.