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I have been unsuccessful finding what I want after trying a multitude of keywords, and I am hoping someone might have a suggestion to help me find a task organization tool that fits my requirements. Can someone suggest search terms or a search strategy that will lead me to any existing piece of software that fits the description? I will edit the question if you know of an existing product.

What I need: Software that is object-oriented to organize task "objects". All software I have looked at seems to be (to-do) list based, but for organizational purposes I want have 1 object for 1 task, and the ability to move each one around in different spatial arrangements and organization patterns. The objects should be represented by a visual objects (ex- a circle) that I can manipulate in a visual workspace or window. A good analogy would be function icon organization on a computer desktop.

Being object-oriented, I allude to the fact that I want to be able to get and set values for properties of each object instance. I would also like to be able to expand/open any one of these objects (to "see more") and work within it, doing such things as updating property values of the instance, as well as having the ability to create and delete task objects.

Before posing this question, I considered the domain of various SE sites, and believe the two closest fits are Programmers SE and this one. I chose to try here first because at the heart of my question is the topic of a tool to visually manage tasks, with the ultimate goal of productively managing all tasks on my plate.

I predominantly use Windows, but am really just looking for a tool that works well.

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Does it need to be cloud based? Do you need to access it from multiple computers or devices? What operating systems? Etc. – Raystafarian Oct 13 '13 at 0:34
Cloud vs. non-cloud is not important, and no I don't need to access from more than one computer. Windows would be preferable, as that's what I primarily use. – Dallas Oct 16 '13 at 2:53
Nowadays you often find software by putting a good specification on Software Recommendations Stack Exchange ;-) – Jan Doggen Aug 11 '14 at 10:02
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I'm not aware of any such software that already exists. You did not tell what operating system(s) you are using.

There are several options that come to my mind for building such a structure yourself:

Microsoft Visio or similar software

I think, you could build such thing yourself e. g. with Microsoft VISIO or a similar software (there might be free alternatives).

In VISIO you can create graphics (shape objects e. g.) and also add additional information, even in custom fields to them. This creates kind of a database structure and you'd have the objects you need.

see About custom properties
Creating text fields to display information in Visio How to display custom properties as text in Visio

I don't know if the features of free alternatives (like those would be sufficient for what you need but it might be wort a try.

Mindmapping software like Freeplane

I'm a big fan of the free mindmapping software Freeplane, as it is also very powerful and has many advanced interesting features.

The basic structure always is a tree structure somehow (nodes and branches), but you can

  • create many "root" nodes (they are called "Floating nodes").
  • Furthermore, there are "attributes", so you can add to each node additional information like data fields. Similar to what I described for MS Visio above, this could be used to get something database-like and many ways for tagging, searching, grouping and filtering.
    Taken from the Freeplane Documentation Mindmap: Freeplane Attributes Help
  • You can use and create groovy scripts to automate things
  • there is conditional formatting, so nodes can change their appearance automatically according to keywords in the node text or other criteria
  • You can add hyperlinks to nodes which let you easily open URLs and files
  • If you are working with deadlines or start dates, you can also use the built-in calendar and reminder features.

Each node has 5 places for entering information:

  • the node "core text",
  • the "node details" below,
  • the "note" (the yellow icon says, that there is text in the note, it is displayed by a tooltip and can edited in separate window) and
  • the "attributes"
  • the "icons" that you can assign to nodes (also several of them) and use for filtering, etc. 5 ways of adding information to nodes tooltip showing note content

In addition, Freeplane has many other Functions like calculating with formulas (based on node information), using LaTeX for editing of mathematical expressions, etc.

It is indeed visual, even if it is not intended directly to do what you want it to, but I think it could be tweaked.

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I predominantly use Windows, but am really just looking for a tool that works well. I have in fact been using Visio (good call), but haven't discovered how the various tiles can have fields/properties other than a label. I'll check into that more, and will definitely try out Freeplane and it's nodes/branches over the next couple days. I know I have tried various mindmapping software, but they all seem to have just a simple single text field that can be copy&pasted into... but not various fields/properties of the objects. – Dallas Oct 12 '13 at 16:01
@Dallas: I've edited my post and added additional information, especially about Freeplane. If you have more questions or is does not work as you expected, feel free to leave a comment here and I'll have a look at it. You can also upvote answers that you find useful. :-) – MostlyHarmless Oct 13 '13 at 2:56
Did Freeplane or Visio work for you? – MostlyHarmless Oct 24 '13 at 11:26
I was and am still using Visio. Given the narrative on nodes and the little time I spent playing with Freeplane, I still think this would still be the closest solution to what I am looking for, even if you took Visio out. – Dallas Nov 9 '13 at 2:24

Personally I'm using trello for my own tasklist.

  • Boards - group of interest (Generic TODO, Books to Read, Articles to read, etc.)
  • Tasks (or object in your case) - simple but feature rich entities. You can add checklist, comment, description, etc.

You can use trello at desktop and mobile. Mobile app works even in offline but has degraded functionality.

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Yes, the question made me immediately think of Trello. – Fiona - Jul 18 '14 at 15:30

I don't know if it's what you are looking for, but Droptask is very different from any of the tools I've seen. It has circles for projects and you make additional circles within each project for tasks that are to be done.

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this is more closest thing for you

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I'll try this out. I think I will need to be able to move the icons into more visual arrangements than a grid though. For example, one view might be placing some objects onto a timeline, while others stay in groupings. – Dallas Oct 12 '13 at 15:46

I have been thinking about the same thing- and I want to keep it as simple as possible. Adapting to using new software isn't part of this plan- I have too many programs that I am already learning! I have an idea that I will build a simple spreadsheet, I have Excel in mind for that - an easy to use program (It can be uploaded to Goggle Drive too.) I have used this method for a bill reminder for many many years. I plan to fill the cells with named items that I want to see done (when), in which state of progress (with a date) or to do, or delegated to someone else (with their name & phone#). Every review period, I will put a background color in the appropriate cell with my chosen code color that will show me-at a glance- what stage I have recorded and I will feel relaxed knowing I have a safe place to keep my reminders . I already use my Google calendar (online) to put in repeated tasks to help keep me up to date, and assigned to different calendars to give different text colors in the agenda view , but I want to have more color, local control and active participation by using the spreadsheet idea. ( Soon I am going to find a way to make the spreadsheet cells blink on and off when a certain date is entered globally!)

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I use Trello personally to manage my day. It has org level boards as well that lets me to collaborate easily. Trello allows to have different columns[status - I have ideas, to do, in progress, awaiting, done]. I can easily add deadlines, sync up with my gcal, upload files, etc.

I have tried using mindmapping technique earlier, but then the difficult part for me was to update the mindmap later. It was easier to stick with Trello.

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I loved this question and have been looking for a similar visual organizer of sorts. Having not found it I decided to build a solution that would be cloud based and allow one to visually organize objects within a hierarchical format of canvasses. Objects can have information, websites, files, etc attached to them.

The solution I am calling SolveBoard and it is simple, cloud based, and works on all modern browsers. I designed SolveBoard to be extremely easy for anyone to learn and use, yet robust enough for complex or large amounts of information. Also it is free except for the file upload portion.

I have organized an example "Model" of information to demonstrate SolveBoard's capabilities and simplicity. The link is provided below.

This is the first version of SolveBoard, so I would love to hear any questions, advice, or feedback you can provide as I continue to work on improving the service and the experience.

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Brad - you don't need to add your contact info to your answer, you can put it all in your profile page. – Rory Alsop Jun 9 '14 at 20:03

I think you might want to use XMind at (the free version would do fine).

Below you can find a screenshot of what you can accomplish:

  • Task 1 is a topic formatted as a matrix where the "properties" are subtobics
  • Task 2 is exactly the same except with the subtopics hidden
  • Task 3 is again the same but now a floating topic
  • Task 4 is yet again the same but now formatted as a classic mindmap

Anything can be moved around, drilled down, or hidden.

Hope this helps.

enter image description here

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Results manager from Gyronix sounds like what you're looking for.

It works with Mindmanager Mindmap software

But the combined cost of the two products is substantial.

Some years sago, I used this combination but eventually found it was too involved to keep using when my work responsibilities simplified

I've reverted to task listing type apps since then.

Lately though I've wondered about re-introducing a visual aspect. One thought was using old fashioned physical 'T cards' or in fact one of the many software implementations of this system.

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