Brief | Taskade, a new ‘work processing’ app
A promising start, but there’s a lot yet to implement in Taskade
I recently had a chance to speak with John Xie, the founder and CEO of Taskade, a new content-centric work management tool. I mentioned that an earlier problem I had encountered with importing content seemed to have been resolved in a more updated version of the tool.
At its core, Taskade is a competitor to Dropbox Paper, Box Notes, and Salesforce Quip, and has similar features to them. As a nickname, I call these ‘work processing’ tools, based on the notion of ‘word processing’, since you can use them as a lightweight editor for editing documents in the cloud, with the added functionality of task management.
As an example, in the screenshot below I’ve captured I created a document in Taskade called ‘Taskade’, in which I was writing the brief you are now reading. At the bottom of the image you can see a block called ‘actions’ with three tasks defined, and assigned to me.
The task system works pretty much as you’d expect, with attachments, comments, assignment, and deadlines. The only thing lacking in that regard is there is no means to view all the tasks assigned to me (or someone else) across all docs. However, as we’ll see, there are some features to cover some of that.
I found myself comfortable in the editor, although it lacks support for markdown, like ‘>’ at the start of a sentence to create a blockquote. Indeed, there is no blockquote, really, just an indent. But as a simple editor it’s ok, with bolding, italic, underlining, strikethrough, and so on. However, I don’t think I can operate without ‘resolve’ semantics in comments, in which a coeditor can suggest an edit, and then at some point it can be marked resolved. Deleting comments is not a suitable replacement. Perhaps the biggest questionable decision is leaving out hyperlinks, though, which I hadn’t even noticed until writing the tool up today. That is an essential capability.
I haven’t fooled with the chat, video calls, or file-sharing capabilities as displayed in the right-hand panel very much. Although in the call with Xie, the video cut off a few times. I was connected by phone to the chat.
The structural side of the tool is conventional, as shown below:
Workspaces are found in the left margin. I’ve selected ‘gigaom | open research’, and the documents (‘projects’) in that workspace are displayed on the right. Clicking one opens the editor shown in the earlier screenshot.
Selecting ‘Agenda’ displays tasks in the workspace, but only those with defined due dates. I set a due date for one of the tasks in doc ‘Taskade’, but the other two don’t appear.
A simple fix would be to create a new section of the Agenda for undated tasks.
Taskade also includes a Calendar view, and dated tasks appear there. And reminders also popped up once I set a due date for a task.
You can’t add tasks in either Agenda or Calendar views.
One of the more imaginative ideas in Taskade is that documents can be displayed and edited in various views. The version shown in the first screenshot is a so-called ‘list’ view. There are others, such as the ‘mindmap’ view, here:
I’m not sure how rendering a document like I was creating into there other formats makes sense. But I do mindmap from time to time, and so creating a document in mindmap mode could make sense, and perhaps the other views as well.
Here’s a mindmap I created:
And here’s how it looks in ‘list’ view:
Not too bad, really. And when I added things in the ‘list’ view they later were displayed appropriately in the ‘mindmap’ view.
There are several show stoppers that have to be fixed before I can recommend Taskade for serious use.
Better options in Agenda view: It’s essential to be able to see all tasks in a workspace, with various filters: undated v dated/overdue/upcoming, by assignee v unassigned, with and without attachments, and so on.
Hyperlinks in documents: obviously.
Resolve capability in comments: And I’d like the comments to show at the right, a la Dropbox Paper and Google Docs.
The various views might make sense in various use cases. Perhaps Xie and company could provide examples or templates to illustrate.
John was also quite animated about the fact that the tool supports real-time coediting, but that users were generally unaware of it. I admit that I didn’t encounter that situation since I was not coediting with others. But that is a quite sophisticated capability and suggests that Taskade has a strong technical team.
I am going to be watching Taskade’s progress with real interest.