Re: Idea For Semantic Text-Based GTD Application

Hello everyone,

This is a draft of the Quick Start part of a tutorial I'm writing for a
data definition language I made.

The language is currently called Idan. It can be used by anyone,
including non-programmers, to define data models (classes, properties,
objects) and then define data accordingly, all in simple syntax and
plain text.

Once the language is ready I'll write the software for it, which can
read files and manipulate them.

*** Motivation: ***

Data models are usually written by the programmer, and a user can't
change them. If you want to have a customized system for outlining and
todo-list or task dependency hierarchies, either you use plain text or
Emacs org-mode.

Org-mode is great, but it means you need to use Emacs key combinations.

TaskJuggler language exists too, but it's aimed at somewhat technical
people who need the tool for serious usage.

Idan is simple enough for anyone to use, with Python-like syntax and
minimal clutter, and the software will allow connection to RDF, and all
kinds of reports and queries, thus allowing to have all the GUI you
want, combined with the ability to alter the model by hand and see
immediate results.

Text formats for task lists already exist, but Idan aims to be a
general-purpose model definition language, and has features for
out-of-the-box export to databases and external languages such as RDF.

If you have a few minutes to go over this file and tell me what you
think, I'll be thankful. It's s short quick-start tutorial. A primer.

Thanks in advance,


On ג', 2013-06-18 at 05:32 +0300, Luc Pionchon wrote:
On 17 June 2013 09:43, אנטולי קרסנר <tombackton gmail com> wrote:
Hey Luc and list,

I've been planning and designing a language for data modeling and
description, somewhat based on concepts borrowed from Python (which I
learned in the process).

I'm now writing a tutorial, and it looks quite simple and
straight-forward, and the language is very simple. Very soon I'll finish
the tutorial and I'd like to have it reviewed and hear comments and
advice. Is anyone interested?

if you publish it somewhere, I'll have a look

With a polished language I'll be able to proceed and write a parser and
command-line tools, which can serve (with their underlying library) as a
base for larger systems and GUI app integration (Gnote, GTG, etc.)


On ד', 2013-05-29 at 21:10 +0300, Luc Pionchon wrote:
Hi Anatoly,

if you really get such simple enough language, you certainly will get
some users.

I see you are planning for more usages, though about TODO apps, did
you see todotxt [1] which is basically a text based todo/GTD. They
have a relatively simple language [2]. Is it similar to what you are
thinking about?


I think you should go ahead and start to write examples, so people
could grasp it, and you will also get a better view of the

Don't care much about "user testing", it's up-side down business
thinking. Do something useful, and you'll get some users.

go ahead!
In any case that is certainly a good learning experience

On 29 May 2013 18:02, אנטולי קרסנר <tombackton gmail com> wrote:
Hello everyone,

I'm an individual not working on any Gnome module. I'll try not to get
into much detail (likely to fail on this one), but here's the idea I

After reading about existing GTD software tools I made the following

* There are GUI tools
* There are plain-text solutions
* There are pen-and-paper solutions
* There are text-based applications

GUI tools have lots of features and visual widgets, but they somehow
fail to satisfy most people. At the same time, plain text seems to
become more and more popular. After reading I made these conclusions:

* Each person has her own way of thinking, her own way of how the brain
works. Therefore, each person should have a personally tailored solution

* GUI tools, and GTD tools in general, tend to make the false assumption
of "everyone is like me" and "one size fits all", which is why most
tools fail to become widely popular.

* Emacs Org-Mode is quite successful as a GTD tool, thanks to its
flexibility and extensibility, but lacks an intuitive interface, which
limits its adoption despite the success of Org-Mode

* A next-generation tool should have the extensibility of a plain-text
system, and the convenience, ease-of-use and efficiency of a visual tool

Therefore, I decided to create a language for definition of properties
and classes, intended for be used for describing tasks, timelines,
projects, etc. This language is easy enough for non-programmers to use,
and yet is expressive enough for practical use. It borrows concepts from
RDF, OWL and scripting languages.

On top of this language there will be a set of text-based tools allowing
easy manipulation of the text. It means users can edit the files in
plain text, but also have convenient tools and utilities for easier
processing and visualization, similar to Org-Mode.

On top of that there may be task/project-related definitions, a
specialized text editor and/or Gedit plugins, and a flexible GUI app
which replaces the "one for all" concept with a "personally tailored to
a user's mental model" concept, which seems to work very successfully
with plain text and Emacs Org-Mode.

Existing free software I found:

- Gedit (Gnome's plain text editor, extensible with plugins)
- Emacs Org-Mode

That's all. All other tools, including all GTD and To-do apps for
Gnome/GNU, are either scripts intended for power users, or have a
limited scope which is not flexible enough to customize.

An existing GUI app for GTD called Getting Things Gnome (GTG) has great
potential, but I'd like to back it up using a flexible text-based
approach which is then used to describe semantic entities and attach
them to program objects. This would supply both the flexibility of text,
the convenience of GUI and automatic translation to RDF, which means
instant Semantic Desktop integration (using Tracker and Zeitgeist).

*** The Question ***

My question is, what do you think? Does this idea sound useful? To me
personally, it seems to fill the gap between plain text (which has no
visualization and productivity utilities) and convenient GUI (which
current is mostly not flexible enough).

NOTE: Non-free software already exists, which uses plain text as a
backend, such as Taskpaper:


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