Tinderbox Forum

External task planners to use with Tinderbox

The thread was started with a discussion of updates in 2Do – and using its export with Tinderbox. The topic is open for discussion about other task planners that work with Tinderbox.

A few questions:

  1. What apps do you use for task planning
  2. Do you use it in conjunction with Tinderbox – how?
  3. What challenges do you encounter with this arrangement? What benefits?

The popular task tracking app 2Do recently issued version 2.3.3 that includes a feature for exporting lists to CSV. This plays well with Tinderbox, since when the list is imported, Tinderbox will create (or use, if already created) attributes for each line item in the import. The 2Do attribute list is

Task, List, Startdate, Duedate, Duetime, Repeat, Priority, Tag, Location, Completed, Star, Note

A little pre-import editing in Numbers is a good idea, since 2Do’s export has the column headings (the attributes) in all caps, and you might want to adjust some column names to match existing attribute names in your Tinderbox document.

I’m finding this update might tip the balance back to 2Do for me, since it is much easier than getting tasks from OmniFocus into Tinderbox.

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Thank you. 2DO is a potent application. You are right, it is much more practical than OF (and more powerful than Things). I liked it a lot except that scheduling requires a lot of clicks. I use Tinderbox for planning my weeks and months. For planning the day, too many notes clutter my document. I end up using FoldingText for daily planning and lotting. I find FT much more efficient for this task(http://www.foldingtext.com/#watchmovie).

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@Desalegn’s comment about Folding Text – a sibling of TaskPaper – led me to open this thread to a discussion of any “external task planners to use with Tinderbox”.

Some related conversations – I know I missed your favorites when I compiled this list – so pile on!

Please join in. What do you do?

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I completely changed my point of view about project management apps since I tried to use Tinderbox as my main Todo tool. I told a part of that experience in this video dedicated to the organisation of an exhibition project entirely conceived using Tinderbox views: https://vimeo.com/197048045
But as I have to synchronize some specific tasks with my phone, I had to reintegrate Omnifocus in my daily workflow. Today, I use Tinderbox as a main file or as a big box where I gather and incubate every little idea I have. I created an Inbox section, which is the first box I use to write down on the fly my ideas and use the $Container to send my notes into the right section. And I review my daily tasks in OF.
Tinderbox helps me visualize some of my projects in a timeline and elaborate too my current projects, two tasks that I can’t do with OF since there is no Map view in OF nor timeline.

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Wow, that was a great video and very promising application of Tinderbox. I’m heavily invested in OmniFocus but feels that it lacks the capacity for macro views of my tasks. Your video demonstrated exactly the sorts of views I’d like. I can see how your attributes would map to attributes of tasks in OmniFocus. So far so good.

However, how do you get things out of Tinderbox into OmniFocus, as you seem to indicate your are doing? Applescript?

Thank you for the video and screenshot, it has been so inspiring.


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I don’t use any script to combine Omnifocus with Tinderbox. I capture, collect, process and plan my tasks in OF and elaborate and visualize my projects with Tinderbox. For instance, the two screenshots below show how Tinderbox lets me visualize my projects from two different points of view : Map and Timeline. In so far as OF has no timeline unlike Omniplan, I need to have an overview of some urgent tasks at one point.

“Getting things into Tinderbox” “Getting things out of Tinderbox” are never simple actions, though there are different ways depending on the external task planner you are using. You can export CSV from OmniFocus or 2Do (and other apps) and use the imported data in Tinderbox. You can export in a variety of ways from Tinderbox, but it’s not simple to get that data into OF or other apps – wait! @derekvan pointed out it is simple to get info from Tinderbox to OF. See here.

I use the same rubric. OF excels at managing near term, Tinderbox excels at designing the overall vision and relationships – and that statement can be turned on its head because the near term/long term roles can easily be flipped. So, I think the point is to step back and decide how you want to use tools together – and stick with that method until it needs adjusting.

My map of how these activities fit together:


Thanks to @dominiquerenauld and @PaulWalters for these beautiful illustrations, which suggest a lot of possibilities.

I’ll say that I haven’t done this often or regularly, but I have had success at various times exporting Taskpaper format text from Tinderbox. Now that Omnifocus allows you to paste in Taskpaper format (even on macOS, although most of the documentation focuses on iOS, it should be mostly painless to get project/task data into Omnifocus.

Absolutely! Thanks for pointing that out.

If you have this project (which relevant attributes defined).

and these templates (tpProject at the top and tpDetail at the bottom) assigned to the project header and task details, respectively:

Then copy this Preview from Tinderbox and paste it into the Inbox in OmniFocus 2.9+ (Copy and Paste works better than exporting to a .taskpaper plain text file and dragging it into OF.)

BTW, that project was originally created in OF, exported to CSV, and dragged into Tinderbox 7 – which created all the attributes relevant to the tasks in OF – and where I modified it according to my overall plan. :smile: So the loop between OF and Tinderbox can be closed with CSV and .taskpaper formats. As can the loop with 2Do and other CSV-aware applications.

If you use the @context() tag, you’ll need to first make sure the context you use already exists in OF – pasting @context(something) will not create something – the context something needs to exist before pasting.

These are some of the tags you can use in a Tinderbox TaskPaper export template, with a typical form of @tag(^value($attribute)^)

@flagged -- this is interpreted by OF as "TRUE"
@parallel (TRUE) or @parallel(FALSE) -- TRUE and FALSE can be read from a boolean attribute
@autodone(TRUE) or @autodone(FALSE) -- TRUE and FALSE can be read from a boolean attribute

$Text can be exported by including a separate line in your version of the tpDetail template, prefix the line with an exported tab character and then $Text

Rather than copying the TaskPaper-formatted Preview, the data can be exported, obviously, as “text” with a .taskpaper extension and used in the actual TaskPaper app, or the Editorial app on iOS.

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Thank you for the further detail. I had noted the TaskPaper option and had used it in another context. But now I see that the export template is not too hairy, I can see how to give it a shot. Thanks again, David.

Nice, thank you.

Two questions:

  1. How does one create an “exported tab character” and then combine this – in which way – with $Text?

  2. Is there a way of including a backlink (Tinderbox calls it: “Copy Note URL”) in order to get from OF back to respective task at the very position in Tinderbox.


There are several methods, here is one:


The code emits one tab character ("\t"), and then the note’s text. If you omit the numeric parameter (i.e., “1”) you will get a tab character for each outline level – which might not be what you want here. Make sure this code does not have curly quotes otherwise it will fail – use the built-in Code note prototype for your template to ensure only straight quotes are used.

Yes, but you have to build this link manually for each note – at this time. Put the link on the clipboard then paste the tinderbox:// into the note’s $Text. (I’ve submitted a proposal to add the export code syntax to automate this.) It is somewhat painful to do this repeatedly, unfortunately.

I am referring back to the Workflow map earlier in this thread, which really is elegant. It’s replicated below.

@PaulWalters, would you mind saying a little more about how you made this? In specific: the fonts for both the notes on the map, and the labels on the links (“Administer Structure” etc). It appears that they might be the default, but I’m interested.

Also, how did you make those blue/green swooshy links in the bottom half of the map? And, which color palette are you using?

Part of the learning-by-sharing tradition. Thank you!

  • $NameFont for notes on the map is IdealSansSSm-Book (the default - also used for Link Labels)
  • $TextFont for the text shown in the notes is MercurySSm-Book (the default)
  • $CaptionFont is SketchnoteSquare (the default? not sure)
  • Caption color is Tinderbox “blue”
  • Arrows are notes with $Name=;, the “arrow” shape, and interior color Tinderbox “bright green - lightest”
  • Swooshy links are links set to “broad” in the Links inspector, color is Tinderbox “cyan - lighter”
  • Background is a custom color set: “Color 1” is R234 G233 B186 (Hex EBE6BC), “Color 2” is R242G242B237 (Hex F2F2ED)

I don’t know – I don’t use the color palette settings – too difficult to undo if I make a mistake selecting the wrong one and want to reverse the error. :slight_frown:

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Thanks very much! Appreciate it.