pen calendar to do checklist

Sticking with Todoist: Nextcloud Tasks Isn’t For Me (Yet)

This week I have been playing with swapping Todoist with Tasks.Org on android and syncing it with Nextcloud Tasks via CalDav. The idea was to see if I could switch my todo list to a self-hosted solution and just because it’s been a while since I played around in this space.

After a week I have decided to stick with Todoist. In summary, Tasks.Org is great but the poor desktop experience meant that many of my use cases that involve moving between desktop and moble were negatively impacted.

Desktop Experience

This is the biggest and broadest problem that kind of leads to the issues below. Essentially, Tasks.Org is a really nice app with a great UX that is quite similar to todoist. However, I can’t find an equivalent desktop client that offers the same smooth UX anywhere. I tried:

  • Planner but it struggled to load and sync tasks from Nextcloud
  • Thunderbird Lightning/Calendar – quite a retro/00s UX with some strange and inconsistent behaviours that left me feeling that I couldn’t trust it
  • Evolution – will happily report that it’s connected to Nextcloud and that it can see my calendars but fails to actually load any tasks.
  • I have read good things about Kalendar but I couldn’t get it to build or run in Ubuntu 22.04 even after lots of hassle and in the end I gave up.

I couldn’t find any other actively maintained, todo list apps that will happily run on Ubuntu 22.04 and that have interoperability with CalDav.

Repeating Tasks

One of my favourite Todoist use cases is the ability to add repeating tasks. E.g. “water the roses every day at 7pm”. I can go down my todo list a few times a day, systematically ticking things off and feel confident that I remembered everything. Whilst Tasks.Org does support this, support for repeating tasks in Nextcloud is very limited:

  • I can’t find a way to create a new repeating task from Nextcloud so I had to set them up from my phone even if I’m sat at my desk looking at my Nextcloud dashboard which is kind of frustrating.
  • If I mark a repeating task as complete in Nextcloud it kind of just goes away forever (presumably because the Nextcloud Tasks interface doesn’t really support repeating tasks as per above)

Attachments and comments

Again this is something that Tasks.Org supports really well as a client but that does not work in the Nextcloud web UI. Within Nextcloud you can add a description to a task, so I suppose I could manually thread my comments/discussion within the description box but I really like the idea of having a timeline so that I can see how my thinking about a particular thing evolves over time.

As far as I can tell Nextcloud Tasks doesn’t support attachments at all. I can’t even see that I attached something in from the web UI which means I can’t quickly paste files from my PC into a task for review on the go later (or vice versa).

It’s not you, its… CalDav?

From what I can tell one of the big sticking points in this story is CalDav I think. It seems like a bit of a wild west in terms of different implementations of the standard and how they interoperate. One big advantage that Todoist has is that they don’t even try to offer interoperability with Caldav (although they do offer a read-only calendar feed that you can import into a calendar app to see which tasks you scheduled and they do 2-way sync with google calendar). This allows them to keep things simple and not worry too much about different interoperability issues.

An open source app taking a similar approach is Vikunja which offers web and mobile clients with CalDav integration so that people can “use the tools [they] already use and love.” I am quite tempted to try Vikunja for a little bit and see how I get on with that compared to Todoist given that it is fully open and self-hostable.

On the other hand, although Todoist is a proprietary app, Doist, the team behind it, have a pretty solid ethical framework – i.e. they’re not a boom or bust, growth obsessed startup so I am pretty happy to give them a small amount of money each year for the awesome service that they provide.