A simple TODO application

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This article describes a TODO application or workflow.


It works like this:

  • Open any text editor.
  • Edit the text.
  • Save it in a file (probably named "TODO").
  • Feel happy about it.

The text format

The text format I use is this:

[indendations]<symbol><SPACE><item text><NEWLINE>

Most of the time an item is just one line. This format is just a general guideline to keep the items somewhat structured.


Items are prefixed with a symbol.

  • - is an item which is planned to be done at some point.
  • x is an item which is done.
  • ? is an item which I'm not (yet) sure about. It can also be an idea.

I use an indendation with a TAB before an item to indicate item dependencies. The items can be nested.

For the prioritization I put the most important items and sections from the top to the bottom. These can be reshuffled as you wish of course.

To delete an item you remove the line. To archive an item you keep the line.


A section is a line which has no symbol. This is like a header to group items.


Checklist for releasing project 0.1:
- Test project with different compilers and check for warnings.
- Documentation:
	- Proofread and make sure it matches all program behaviour.
	- Run mandoc -Tlint on the man pages.
	? Copy useful examples from the README file to the man page?
- Run testsuite and check for failures before release.

project 0.2:
? Investigate if feature mentioned by some user is worth adding.

Example: secure remote cloud-encrypted edit session(tm)

ssh -t host 'ed TODO'

Example: multi-user secure remote cloud-encrypted edit session(tm)

ssh host
tmux or tmux a

Example: version-controlled multi-user secure remote cloud-encrypted edit session(tm)

ssh host
tmux or tmux a
git add TODO
git commit -m 'TODO: update'


  • When you open the TODO file the most important items are at the top.
  • The items are easy to read and modify with any text editor.
  • It is easy to extend the format and use with other text tools.
  • The format is portable: it works on sticky-notes on your CRT monitor too!
  • No monthly online subscription needed and full NO-money-back guarantee.


  • Complex lists with interconnected dependencies might not work, maybe.
  • It's assumed there is one person maintaining the TODO file. Merging items from multiple people at the same time in this workflow is not recommended.
  • It is too simple: noone will be impressed by it.

I hope this is inspirational or something,