Coming back to taskpaper

Now that I have a laptop again I’m thinking of coming back to Taskpaper for managing a lot of the items in my life. I have a few questions;

  1. Is Taskmator reliable? I had a lot of problems with it years ago - but would like something on my phone I can mark as done. I"m also thinking of sending a Today list to the reminders app.

  2. Is there a way of creating saved searches that work against a folder of taskpaper files instead of one file or project?

  3. Is there anything out there with a roadmap for Taskpaper’s future? I’m thinking the next stage would be more quality of life improvements, rather than any major functionality added. I think the appeal remains the simple concept – while Obsidian is amazing in many respects, there’s also just too much going on with it to keep me distracted.

I have seen the occasional updates on here regarding an outliner, Writeroom and the transition of FoldingText.

By the way – I would love a good local outliner with a simple structure but extensibility. Most outliners I’ve used are either synced or have a rigid structure/layout that I don’t care for. Dynalist is very cool, but I don’t want some of my files to sync (professional courtesy reasons).

And - finally – I LOVED the explored implementation of Folding Text with Atom. I understand why that wasn’t a viable approach going forward, but I thought it was very cool.

I’m not sure, I don’t really use any iOS devices. But it appears that it’s still getting lots of updates, I would certainly give it a try.

I don’t know if this exists. If you wanted to create it you could with some scripting work. Generally you would use GitHub - jessegrosjean/birch-outline: Cross-platform scripting for TaskPaper to parse and run queries against the files. And some node watcher program to figure out what file changed and when to run queries.

So I “think” possible. But I haven’t updated that birch-outline project in a long time (I do think it should still work, just not something that I’m pushing or expect to update in the future). See below for how I hope to solve in future.

I expect about the same as it’s been the last few years. Few new features, but generally I’ll keep TaskPaper nice and working with latest OS.


My focus right now is on a new outliner “Bike”. Bike is very much inspired by the FoldingText for Atom project. Two big differences are:

  1. I’ve tried to address the complaints that I received with regard to that project. In particular it’s less structured feeling than that project was, feels more like a freeform TaskPaper style text editor.

  2. It’s a native macOS App.

I think Bike has a really excellent foundation and great 1.0 feature set. But it will be some time before it has all the features that TaskPaper has. It’s just a really clean outliner in version 1.0, I’ll be adding flexibilities such as scripting, styles, query language over time.

Another big difference is that Bike’s file format is a subset of HTML. This means it’s much easier to programmatically work with Bike files. For example to write a search over a folder of Bike files is a lot easier, because the file format is just HTML. So you can just use standard tools of your preferred programming language to process Bike files, you don’t need special TaskPaper parser or query language.

I’m very close to having public beta of Bike ready. Maybe a week from now.


That’s pretty exciting. Looking forward to getting a look at the pubic beta.

Jesse: Why would someone consider using Bike instead of TaskPaper, and vice-versa. And it sounds like Bike is where you’re going to be putting in most of your development efforts going forward?


I’ll share a lot more on the differences once the public beta is ready. Generally they are similar apps in big picture… outliners that are a bit more flexible and more like a text editor than most other outliners. Today (and for a while yet) TaskPaper is generally more mature and feature filled. Bike on the other hand is a new canvas where I can build out ideas that aren’t really possible in TaskPaper.

My development for the past few years is directed toward Bike (and some failed predecessors) and I expect that to continue. But Bike won’t ever really be a direct TaskPaper replacement, so I expect to keep TaskPaper going similar to what it’s been last few years. That is bug fixes, and updates to latest OS fixes, but not much new feature development.

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Why the name Bike?

The Jonathan Edwards quote may shed some light:

We were promised bicycles for the mind, but we got aircraft carriers instead – Jonathan Edwards

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Will the “subset of HTML” be OPML by any chance? Hope, hope…

No and yes.

Bike’s format really is HTML subset:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
    <meta charset="utf-8"/>
    <ul id="D5JX-pEI">
      <li id="V7">
          <li id="rM">

But Bike can also read/write OPML and plain text as supported file formats.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
    <meta charset="utf-8"/>
  <body id="wCuEawrq">
    <outline id="V7" text="Hello">
      <outline id="rM" text="World"/>
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Reading and writing sounds sufficient :slight_smile: Thanks!