BSD, Computer, iPhone, Linux, Productivity

Some plaintext-productivity love with Taskpaper

I finally got my plaintext-todo-system together. It was a bit cumbersome because I did and could not want to use Dropbox, but it works now. The problem is that some of my machines either run FreeBSD or OpenBSD and all the plaintext-productivity apps on iOS either require Dropbox or iCloud1. I have a Nextcloud but the Nextcloud-client on iOS does not really integrate into iOS and nearly no one offers to sync with something else than iCloud or Dropbox on iOS.

But there is a really good git-client on iOS: Working Copy. And there is a really good markdown-editor, that also has taskpaper-support and integrates with some workarounds with Working Copy: Editorial2.

The final piece that was missing where some reminders which work somehow automagically. There is a way to create iOS-reminders in Editorial from Taskpaper-files but there I would need to run a workflow in Editorial manually to create them. And I wouldn’t get a mail in the morning with a summary of tasks that are due, overdue etc. But I have now some scripts and cronjobs which create the mail and will send out push notifications via Pushover3.

How does it work?

I created a git-repo on my server. And have it checked out on my clients and in the home-directory of my user on the server. When I change something on the clients, I commit and push to the server. On the server there is cronjob in the crontab of my user running every minute to pull the repo. Additionally there is a cronjob running a python-script that checks if a task has an alarm set. If one is set, it will send the task as message to pushover, which sends a push notification to my iPhone. At 4 am in the morning there is an additional cronjob that runs a script that will generate a summary mail and sends it to me via e-mail.

The scripts expect the following tags, so that they can work:

  • @today or @due[YYYY-MM-DD]
  • @alarm[YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM]

The basis is the Taskpaper-Parser from github-user kmarchand. My push-script is a derivate from the script4:

 

from datetime import datetime, timedelta
from collections import namedtuple
from dateutil import parser
import sys
import re
import httplib
import urllib


tpfile = sys.argv[1]

with open(tpfile, 'rb') as f:
    tplines = f.readlines()

Flagged = namedtuple('Flagged', ['type', 'tasktime', 'taskdate', 'project', 'task'])
flaglist = []
errlist = []

project = ''

for line in tplines:
    try:
        if '@done' in line:
            continue
        if ':\n' in line:
            project = line.strip()[:-1]
        if '@alarm' in line:
            alarmtag = re.search(r'\@alarm\((.*?)\)', line).group(1)
            tasktime = datetime.time(parser.parse(alarmtag))
            taskdate = datetime.date(parser.parse(alarmtag))
            #print(tasktime)
            #print(taskdate)
            flaglist.append(
                    Flagged('alarm', tasktime, taskdate, project, line.strip()))
    except Exception, e:
        errlist.append((line, e))

today = alarm = overdue = duethisweek = startthisweek = None
today_date = datetime.date(datetime.now())
today_time = datetime.time(datetime.now())
time_tmp = datetime.now() - timedelta(minutes = 1)
today_time_less1min = time_tmp.time()

for task in flaglist:
    if task.type == 'alarm' and today_date == task.taskdate and today_time > task.tasktime and today_time_less1min < task.tasktime:
        alarm = True
        #print '\t[%s] %s' % (task.project, task.task)
        conn = httplib.HTTPSConnection("api.pushover.net:443")
        conn.request("POST", "/1/messages.json",
          urllib.urlencode({
            "token": "APP-Token",
            "user": "User-Token",
            "message": task.project + " " + task.task,
          }), { "Content-type": "application/x-www-form-urlencoded" })
        conn.getresponse()
if not alarm:
    print '\t (none)'

It is simple, it could be probably far more elegant but it works for me™.

In addition there is a simple shell-script5:

#!/bin/sh
/usr/local/bin/python2 /home/user/python/tpp.py /home/user/taskpaper/Work.taskpaper > /tmp/taskpaper.mail
/usr/local/bin/python2 /home/user/python/tpp.py /home/user/taskpaper/Personal.taskpaper >> /tmp/taskpaper.mail
mail -s 'Your Daily Taskpaper Summary' my@mailaddress.org < /tmp/taskpaper.mail

And here is my crontab:

* * * * * /bin/sh -c 'cd ~user/taskpaper && /usr/local/bin/git pull -q origin master' >> ~/git.log
* * * * * /usr/local/bin/python2 /home/user/bin/tpp_alarms.py /home/user/taskpaper/Work.taskpaper
* * * * * /usr/local/bin/python2 /home/user/bin/tpp_alarms.py /home/user/taskpaper/Personal.taskpaper
0 4 * * * /home/user/bin/taskpaper_mail.sh

Since I am running FreeBSD on my server I have to rely on a crontab and cannot use systemd-timers.

On my computers I am an avid vim-user and I use taskpaper.vim for having syntax highlighting and some additional shortcuts for marking tasks as done or today etc.

In Editorial I use the Working Copy-workflow.

It is all very simple and not very elegant. But it works and brings me the funtcionality I was missing from using apps like Todoist or on the “local” level Taskmator. And everything runs on my own machines except the delivery for the push notifications. But the only chance to get there my own solution would be to develop an iOS-app because you can’t get in any other way push notifications to your iOS-device. And if I should switch back to Android at any point, I still can use pushover. I pushover goes down, I hope there are alternatives… 😉


  1. To be honest, I do not understand why so many iOS-apps expect a Mac on the desktop. Do so many iOS-owners also own a Mac? I would expect that most actually own a Windows-machine

  2. It does not integrate as Textastic but that might come in the future

  3. I use Pushover because our Icinga2, the monitoring system we use at work, already uses pushover to send notifications when an alert is coming up.

  4. Please forgive me since I am not very knowledgable in the arts of programming and just hacked around to get a works-for-me-thing

  5. I am running it on my FreeBSD-server, thus the path to python is /usr/local/bin/python2 – when you are running Linux the path is probably /usr/bin/python2