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Author Topic: NANY 2011 Release: TaskDaddy Release  (Read 36547 times)
daddydave
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« on: May 13, 2010, 09:53:52 AM »

    NANY 2011 Entry Information

    Application Name TaskDaddy
    VersionRelease
    Short Description TaskDaddy takes a single line of input from you and turns it into an Outlook task without having to open the full interface of Outlook. It's intended to be a quick way to input tasks. It is inspired by Bob Menke's Add Task script, written in VBScript. TaskDaddy, however, is written in AutoIt3. It works as both a GUI and a command line tool.
    Supported OSes Windows 2000, XP, Vista, or 7 (32 or 64bit)
    Web Page http://daddydave.dcmembers.com
    Download LinkSeptember 19, 2010 Release (formerly known as Pre Release): * TaskDaddy.2010.09.19.zip (530.38 KB - downloaded 1337 times.)
    System Requirements
    • Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, or 7 (32 or 64bit)
    • Microsoft Outlook 2007 or 2010. Outlook Express doesn't use the Outlook object model and will not work.
    Version History
    • September 19, 2010 Pre Release: * TaskDaddy.2010.09.19.zip (530.38 KB - downloaded 1337 times.)
      • Fixed label wrapping bug.
      • Fixed duplicate GUI window bug.
      • "Skip" and "Cancel All" buttons added to the GUI window when confirming individual tasks in file input (using /f and /p).
      • Blank lines now ignored when using file input.
      • Help file completely reorganized and rewritten, some of the changes include (1) the command line interface de-emphasized; (2) removal of screenshots with old name LaserTask, including the examples of command line use within shortcuts; and (3) removal of version number from help file.
    • June 26, 2010 Pre Pre Pre Alpha:  Changed UI font from "Segoe UI" to the OS default GUI font (Segoe UI or Tahoma, as needed). Segoe UI is included in Office 2007, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. This is the only difference between this and the June 24 release
    • June 24, 2010 Pre Pre Pre Alpha:
    Author daddydave

    Description
    TaskDaddy takes a single line of input from you and turns it into an Outlook task without having to open the full interface of Outlook. It's intended to be a quick way to input tasks into Outlook. It can be used by anyone who wants to put tasks into Outlook, but power users may want to take advantage of the command line interface which allows input of tasks from the command line. Potential applications of the command line interface are Windows shortcuts, Task Scheduler, adding tasks from FARR or Launchy, etc.

    Features
    You can create Outlook tasks from a compact GUI, from the command line, or from an input file.

    Planned Features
    The interface for the combined use of the -p and -f options could use some work. For example, Skip and Cancel buttons and a progress indicator would be nice.
    At some point I want to put in a merge option so that you can have a list of "things" instead of a list of tasks, and a user specified template is used to convert those things to tasks. I'm still thinking about the syntax.

    Screenshots
    See under the Using the Application section.

    Usage
    Installation
    For now: Unzip the .exe and the .chm file to the same folder. Make sure that subfolder is not a subdirectory of %ProgramFiles% or %ProgramFiles(x86)% in case it needs an .ini file at some point in its evolution. Although by that time, hopefully I have an installer.

    Using the Application

    Please excuse for now the fact that the screenshots reflect the old name LaserTask.

    TaskDaddy has both a graphical user interface (GUI) and a command line interface. If you launch TaskDaddy by double clicking on the executable file or a simple shortcut, you will get the GUI interface.



    By pressing Enter, you instruct TaskDaddy to create an Outlook task called "Call cellphone company" in the @Calls category, with "call from landline" in the body of the task.

    You can also use a similar syntax on the command line. It is recommended to put the task description in double quotation marks, unless the actual task contains double quotation marks:

    taskdaddy "@@Calls Call cellphone company :call from land line #1/1/2010"

    Here I have added a due date of 1/1/2010 using the # character. TaskDaddy should respect the shortdate syntax of your region.

    Another way to use the command line interface is by adding the task syntax to a Windows shortcut target.



    From the command line, you can also use a kind of file input interface. Suppose you have a file with a list of tasks in it:

    @@Errand Pick up birthday cake
    @@Errand Pick up balloon kit
    @@Home Blow up balloons


    If the list of tasks is saved in a file called tasklist.txt, the syntax

    taskdaddy -f tasklist.txt


    can be used to add all three tasks at once.

    Of course, all the command line options can be used in Windows shortcuts as well, as shown below.



    To pause or prompt before creating a task, use the -p command line option. This forces TaskDaddy to use the GUI interface. (Note GUI mode will happen automatically if you just double click the TaskDaddy.exe or a simple "drag and drop" shortcut, no -p switch is necessary.)This can also be used in combination with -f option which specifies an input file, so that you are prompted for each task in the file.

    Any command line arguments which are not options are combined into a single task. In practice, this means you can usually either use double quote characters or not, so that for example:

    taskdaddy "@@Home Recycle the bottles #6/2 :in the garage" /p

    is the same as

    taskdaddy @@Home Recycle the bottles #6/2 :in the garage /p


    Options may begin with either the - character or the / character, so -p and /p are equivalent.

    Uninstallation
    Delete the .exe and .chm file from the folder created during installation. If nothing else is in the folder, you may delete the folder.

    Known Issues
    • TaskDaddy currently does not accept spaces in categories.



    [/list]

    * TaskDaddy.2010.06.26.zip (570.43 KB - downloaded 497 times.)
    * TaskDaddySource.2010.06.26.zip (5.93 KB - downloaded 450 times.)
    * TaskDaddySource.2010.09.19.zip (6.27 KB - downloaded 426 times.)
    « Last Edit: January 13, 2011, 08:14:51 PM by daddydave » Logged
    Perry Mowbray
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    « Reply #1 on: May 13, 2010, 06:37:19 PM »

    but I am completely rewriting the command line argument parsing part of it and I may have to change the syntax. If I do, it's better until I wait for that part of it to be done before posting it.

    Certainly... this is also a great place to post a Teaser (which is like a beta version for comments / suggestions) so that other members can have a play and make suggestions, etc (if that's what you're after)

    Thanks  Thmbsup
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    daddydave
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    « Reply #2 on: May 14, 2010, 06:39:59 AM »

    Thanks, Perry.

    My first teaser screen shot (EDITED: moved to Post #1)
    « Last Edit: June 25, 2010, 10:29:33 AM by daddydave » Logged
    daddydave
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    « Reply #3 on: May 18, 2010, 09:20:46 AM »

    For the name, I am now leaning strongly toward TaskDaddy. Any other suggestions are welcome.

    I'm feeling much better about the command line parsing now, and I am rewriting it. There's a nice AutoIt include called _OptParse. The latest version of this is somewhat hard to find (if like me you search for these things in the AutoIt forums).  I happened to click "Some of my scripts in Google Code" in eltorro's signature in the AutoIt3 forums. This version is about 2 years newer than the version he posted in that thread. It keeps the non-option arguments as well. Not everyone will use the command line options, but I wanted to get them right. I'm well on my way, thanks to _OptParse.

    The meat of the Outlook processing is in wooltown's Outlook functions. They saved me a lot of work. There seems to be a bug in the error checking. It seems to always return an error even though the task gets created in Outlook. I may try to fix it, but for now, I've disabled that error check.

    « Last Edit: May 18, 2010, 09:40:43 AM by daddydave » Logged
    daddydave
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    « Reply #4 on: June 01, 2010, 10:08:12 PM »

    EDIT: The help file has been moved to my original pledge post and I am working on filling out the whole NANY template, also to be in the original post.

    I have a teaser draft help file, hopefully this explains what I am trying to do. You'll notice the screenshots still refer to LaserTask instead of the new name TaskDaddy.

    Everything in the helpfile has been implemented but poorly tested, especially since the big command line argument rewrite. Plus I am thinking how to really test it good, and create thousands of tasks, containing random printable and unprintable characters, in an attempt to break both TaskDaddy and Outlook itself*, otherwise read out of Outlook what it put in.

    (Non-coder types can skip this part: In the back of my mind, I know I am going to have to delve into the object interface to fix the Outlook.au3 bug which forced me to turn off error checking. Dreading that part a little bit, or postponing it rather until I have some clarity in my mind. It may be something as simple as a method being called that doesn't exist in the Outlook object.)

    Anyway, enjoy the help file! I hope someone takes a glance at it. Any feedback on my help file style is welcome, too. I think this is the first help file I ever made.

    * On a non-production system, of course. smiley

    « Last Edit: June 02, 2010, 08:06:01 AM by daddydave » Logged
    Perry Mowbray
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    « Reply #5 on: June 01, 2010, 11:33:41 PM »

    I think it would be best for you to update your original post with the updated bits (help file, etc) so that the first post always gives all the information.

    Once you get to something you think is a TEASER you can rename your post to that (so people know what's in the Thread).

    When you're ready you can use the NANY Template for the standard text bits.
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    daddydave
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    « Reply #6 on: June 02, 2010, 03:55:51 PM »

    Updated original post with helpfile and abbreviated user guide including screenshots (which didn't seem to bump the topic to recent posts, hence this post).
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    « Reply #7 on: June 02, 2010, 09:30:50 PM »

     Thmbsup

    Always a good idea to add a post to describe what's changed  smiley
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    daddydave
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    « Reply #8 on: June 13, 2010, 02:45:08 PM »

    I found some information that sheds some light on why Outlook object always returns an error when I create a task.
    Quote
        
    Sue Mosher     11-Jan-2007  21:10    
    You shouldn't call Close for a Close or Write event. It has always been a source of problems.

    Can you provide a link to the security update you applied? That will make it easier ofr us to see if more info is available.
    Tom Dougherty   12-Jan-2007  07:09  
    Security Update for Outlook 2003 (KB924085) is the item listed in Microsft Update history but a search at microsoft.com retruns no records yet.

    I took your advice and switched the line code in item_close from item.close 0 to item.save and the behavior is back to normal.


    Sue Mosher is a well-known Microsoft Outlook MVP.

    So I can fix this in Outlook.au3 and turn error checking back on. Yea!

    EDIT: Well, I "fixed" it but I am still getting the error for some reason..hmm.

    EDIT 2: Got it sorted now I think. The default StartDate, DueDate, and Importance are all set to "" in the Outlook.au3 function. Outlook COM doesn't like it. Discovered by temporarily replacing the author's COM error handler with the one in the AutoIt help file.
    « Last Edit: June 13, 2010, 08:21:41 PM by daddydave » Logged
    sgtevmckay
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    « Reply #9 on: June 14, 2010, 11:44:42 AM »

    Nice  Thmbsup
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    daddydave
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    « Reply #10 on: June 15, 2010, 03:04:47 PM »

    My random test data for TaskDaddy is a little more random than I expected:

    Quote
    @¨¾DÒo*ŽÏSÇ,TaskDaddyTest ?ǍðªÈÄTæ¢Õ‚l•GC(äÑélкëqÏ”!{‚í†VN“EÀæXã :„#Õ®"Ì6UfŠ‹Ô°ªîËkc¸uve¡±y¦àwr‰“¸ü›yóxþi´»nÆþT†§ÌõñÃ>­·F4åÓd«fË}h)ƒ+üÿ6ùÞrT¹5¸Æ~©²î©LĈG2“‹_–/³wèÅÚ´M÷¿@€¬¾{L_'Z„0%9¾ª7Dé…sªYºØ„“ÒÙV×ýCvõ­ en.Nç©áñd?ÂvÄƱB®:.'ŽúõÔTØ&ÊlwNŠ¢1Ô5Äz!üÀ7¡’½Qß®–£Ø®Œ
    @Ž N‚;7Ëö€,TaskDaddyTest á2PBËgë‹%==Ž-•lU³åÌãQ;àqÉêÜû·¢ãq%­­ºhS\àãÇÕ…ïÝe
    @ØóÚêZ|—0Eÿ,TaskDaddyTest !\ILlEŨ‹³ÜƒI/Šh¦êì+õúþùd½gª.ë‡y5¥ù1oéßU :È%¼'×½2ï¿¿íèÇÉ·ÒÙî21)ë쀭±íkôùëx¡^¿\~È­2þ£ªÓ+VQœÐ°µz´‚q×ùÛ†4G´rž0Wû´‚ôÂÝ;4Ï?ÕÀ…B:±~[¨WÎv˜¡/1Y§@µCìn*ŠáøúÐ@A3à·M1ÔJ¹–Faa¤‚Ö'§FŒtÎÞ°Z5Zêϵ¾ÂõucÈT;ëò¢ÍUœA(Æ=!H½ž1ý®ý¶`“r%Ù{ÛÜšË.ôjíñ_¦Áî'7ÅiQ

    However, every line is in the format @Category1,Category2 This is the task :this is the task body where Category2 is TaskDaddyTest. Can you see it? stars

    Some characters won't show up right on the internet..

    I could make it even more random, but this is a good start for my TaskDaddyTester tool.
    « Last Edit: June 15, 2010, 03:16:11 PM by daddydave » Logged
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    « Reply #11 on: June 20, 2010, 06:01:38 PM »

    Something that came up in writing a tester program for TaskDaddy.

    It turns out there is something very special about the date 1/1/4501. A task item with no due date does not have an empty due date property, it has that date.
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    daddydave
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    « Reply #12 on: June 22, 2010, 03:39:46 PM »

    I wanted to be able to stress-test the core functions of TaskDaddy, and thus TaskDaddyTester was born. It creates tasks and then tries to find them in Outlook, logging lots of data along the way. Then I can visually inspect the tasks in Outlook if needed and then delete tasks manually.

    The tester itself is not bug free, but works well enough that it is doing its job and finding anomalies, and giving me some confidence that I will posting a release soon. After reviewing errors in the log, I then have to figure out whether the anomaly can be attributed to TaskDaddy core functions, the TaskDaddyTester, some issue that would only occur in the tester but not TaskDaddy itself, or even Outlook itself.

    Regarding the latter, because I am pumping tasks into Outlook as fast as I can, I am seeing Outlook messages I haven't seen before:

    « Last Edit: June 22, 2010, 03:44:38 PM by daddydave » Logged
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    « Reply #13 on: June 24, 2010, 07:15:41 AM »

    I feel pretty good about the automated tests, so I'm doing some manual tests to see if I broke anything in the process of breaking out core functions needed by the tester to a separate file. Which I did. And when I fixed it then put all the error checking back in, I'm getting COM errors for everything now even though, again, all the tasks are getting created just fine. (EDITED: FIXED - it was a logic error of mine, as usual)  But one of my manual tests went pretty well:

    [copy or print]
    taskdaddy -f unitasks.txt

    where unitasks.txt is a Unicode (UCS2 Big Endian) file.

    The result (btw if any of the non-English ligatures are garbled, it was probably the same in the Firefox on Windows source, copied from Wikipedia.)




    EDIT: I just resaved the file as UCS2 Little Endian and that works too. Still hating those COM errors (EDITED: which now seem to be fixed). Debating whether I should turn off that error check again so I can put an alpha release out.
    « Last Edit: June 24, 2010, 11:14:24 AM by daddydave » Logged
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    « Reply #14 on: June 24, 2010, 11:32:23 AM »

    Despite popular demand, I have attached what I am calling a pre-pre-pre-alpha release of TaskDaddy. If there is any interest in testing this, please let me know of any glaring bugs or anything that is unclear so I can fix it. I have only tested it with Outlook 2007 on Windows 7 x64.

    To get started, grab the TaskDaddy.zip file from the first post in the thread. Extract it to somewhere that is not a subfolder of any variant of "Program Files" This is a requirement for now because any logging I do is done in the same folder as the executable. Logging is currently commmented out, though. TaskDaddy is copyrighted but source code is provided, similar to the way a book is copyrighted but you still have access to all the words. I will go into detail later. The source code is not great but if you want to look through it or compile it yourself with AutoIt3, it is attached to the first post as well (TaskDaddySource.zip).

    For some ideas of what to do with it:
    • Just double click on the TaskDaddy.exe file, it will automatically go to GUI mode if there are no command line options. This is kind of the "normal" mode. Press F1 for help.
    • See the extract from the help file in the first post (some of the information is more up-to-date than the helpfile, in particular the -p switch which prompts for confirmation and lets you change it before creating it.)
    • Read the helpfile (let me know of any helpfile bugs or things that are unclear).
    • If you are a FARR or Launchy user, try adding tasks to Outlook using the command line options provided.
    • Try creating Windows shortcuts that use the command line options of taskdaddy, including the -p option
    • Note that TaskDaddy will close after it creates a task or all the tasks in a file. It is believed (and this belief may change) that the target audience would be launching it from something like FARR or Launchy and would just relaunch it as needed.

    All feedback is welcome.
    « Last Edit: June 24, 2010, 11:56:28 AM by daddydave » Logged
    mouser
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    « Reply #15 on: June 24, 2010, 11:39:29 AM »

    Quote
    If you are a FARR or Launchy user, try adding tasks to Outlook using the command line options provided.

    sounds like a perfect opportunity to make a FARR alias to use TaskDaddy.
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    « Reply #16 on: June 24, 2010, 11:43:10 AM »

    is there an official TaskDaddy icon yet? if not, maybe one of the NANY volunteers would volunteer to make one.
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    « Reply #17 on: June 24, 2010, 11:48:15 AM »

    is there an official TaskDaddy icon yet? if not, maybe one of the NANY volunteers would volunteer to make one.

    Not yet - at this point I'm looking for general ideas on what the icon should look like.
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    « Reply #18 on: June 25, 2010, 05:02:22 AM »

    The pre-pre-pre-alpha release of TaskDaddy uses the Segoe UI font which is bundled with Office 2007, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. You may have some problems if you don't have any of those installed. Will fix to check if the font is installed and use Tahoma if not.

    EDIT: An easy fix.

    Formatted for AutoIt with the GeSHI Syntax Highlighter [copy or print]
    1. GUISetFont(9, 400, 0, "Segoe UI")
    to
    Formatted for AutoIt with the GeSHI Syntax Highlighter [copy or print]
    1. GUISetFont(9, 400, 0, "")
    to make it use the "OS default GUI font"

    (The fix is in the June 26 release)
    « Last Edit: June 26, 2010, 04:26:10 PM by daddydave » Logged
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    « Reply #19 on: June 25, 2010, 05:54:52 AM »

    is there an official TaskDaddy icon yet? if not, maybe one of the NANY volunteers would volunteer to make one.

    Not yet - at this point I'm looking for general ideas on what the icon should look like.

    Why not put a request on the Volunteer Board (http://www.donationcoder....index.php?topic=23152.0)?
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    « Reply #20 on: June 25, 2010, 10:34:37 AM »

    Updated Post #1 with download link. Screenshots broke (I think because I initially used the url tag instead of the attachurl tag) and fixed again. Thanks to Perry for assistance.

    So if you were trying to follow and the screenshots didn't make sense, try it again now before I break them again! cheesy
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    « Reply #21 on: June 26, 2010, 04:28:41 PM »

    Updated Post #1 with a very minor release, Segoe UI font is no longer required, so on Outlook 2003 on Windows XP, the UI should default to Tahoma font.

    I removed the old release because I wanted to establish a naming convention for the zip files, in the future I will probably keep old releases in the post in case the new one breaks something.
    « Last Edit: June 26, 2010, 04:30:18 PM by daddydave » Logged
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    « Reply #22 on: June 26, 2010, 04:43:22 PM »

    The icon, well, I may well need to ask for help eventually, I may try to whip something up in IcoFX which I really like, even though I don't have any artistic talent. I'll let you know how that goes, LOL.

    In other news, I decided to use TaskDaddy as a light bug tracker, so I created a shortcut called Bug.lnk, which I launch from Launchy, which is a shortcut to
    [copy or print]
    TaskDaddy.exe /p "@TD "

    This brings up the TaskDaddy GUI with the bug category TD already there. Notice the extra space after the TD within the quotes which puts the cursor ahead a space so I can immediately type the task.  So this is kind of a way to use TaskDaddy shortcuts as templates for similar tasks you want to put in Outlook, because I could have also included part of the task with in the quotes like this: "@@Errand Go shopping for " so you can create a shopping task just by launching the shortcut, typing in the name of what you want, and pressing enter.

    By the way, the only difference between @Category and @@Category  is whether your preference is for the category to be "Category" or "@Category". The GTD folks (with whom I have no affiliation) tend to suggest the @ symbol to make the put GTD categories ahead alphabetically and to help identify them as GTD categories. I have read David Allen's Getting Things Done book but am struggling to implement it. Mr. Allen is keen on writing every task down, and breaking down TODO's into many small next actions. Although I don't describe TaskDaddy as a GTD tool, it often seems to me that non-GTDers don't use tasks at all, or at least use them very sparingly.

    Anyway it's a huge relief to have an executable posted now, I think I will take a break for at least a week and then work on the automated tester some more.

    « Last Edit: June 26, 2010, 05:36:58 PM by daddydave » Logged
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    « Reply #23 on: June 28, 2010, 05:13:17 AM »

    Contrary to what I said in the Known Issues above, TaskDaddy handles double quotes within a task name fine. From the GUI (input box) mode, there's no issue at all. The only time there's an issue is when you want to put the task on the command line, something you might do if you are creating a shortcut to create a specific task, or if you are creating a task from a batch file. The syntax in that case is somewhat tricky. You can't just say
    [copy or print]
    TaskDaddy.exe @Parrot Say "Polly wants a cracker"
    because all the double quotes do in that case is make "Polly wants a cracker" a single parameter, which means TaskDaddy never sees the double quotes. You won't see quotes in the task, it is as if you said TaskDaddy.exe @Parrot Say Polly wants a cracker. Instead put all parameters except for options such as /p inside quotes, and inside those double quotes, use double double quotes like this:

    [copy or print]
    TaskDaddy.exe "@Parrot Say ""Polly wants a cracker"""

    The version using /p looks like this:

    [copy or print]
    TaskDaddy.exe "@Parrot Say ""Polly wants a cracker""" /p

    « Last Edit: June 28, 2010, 05:18:31 AM by daddydave » Logged
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    « Reply #24 on: July 07, 2010, 04:54:23 PM »

    Thinking about what killer feature does TaskDaddy need that it currently is missing..you may see a poll soon. Any other nominees?

    Missing features...
    - support recurring tasks
    - support more built-in task fields
    - support custom task fields
    - support merging a command line with tasks from a file, e.g., taskdaddy "@@Errand Buy _ from Wal-mart" -f groceries.txt
    - support for Thunderbird Lightning
    - a companion program CalendarDaddy
    - a pop-up notification confirming the task has been added to Outlook
    - ability to customize reminder time
    - ability to mark a task as complete
    - support user friendly dates such as #tomorrow or #+3 (for three days from now)
    - support spaces in categories

    « Last Edit: September 19, 2010, 10:38:15 PM by daddydave » Logged
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