Getting Things Done


It’s no secret that I have a passion for productivity, and with that a constant quest for software that allows me to be focused and organised. Before moving to the Mac, I used to love a couple of Windows based programs, “Keep It Real” and “MLO”, the first was a system I designed back in 2005, which is still in use with the company I was working for, the latter is a great tool. The problem is, while I use Windows on my VM, it’s not always running, so I wanted an OS X interface. I’ve looked at online system, some good, some not so, and I’ve tried some ‘hybrid’ applications too, the latest was Todoist, which had a great way of helping you keep focused by using ‘Karma’ points, the more you used the system, the more points you got, attainable levels keep you aiming at becoming ‘Enlightened’.  I recently reached ‘Master’ which was an ego trip, but I still felt there was something lacking from the UI on the Mac app.

todoist

Smartsheet, Wrike & TeamworkPM are all worth a mention, but their primary interfaces are web based, and I’m sorry, (well not sorry), I am yet to find a web ui that is as rich and smooth as desktop, also some of these are designed for collaboration not so much an individual user. I’ve had varying success with some web interfaces, sometimes dragging or moving tasks around cause problems including data loss or things ending up in the wrong place.

My journey begins again, looking for the best tool.  I’m starting out by reviewing ‘Things’ and ‘OmniFocus’, both of which I have licences for. Having just finished reading some reviews and I’m still torn which I should start with.  Things certainly has a nice clean interface, but OmniFocus seems to have some extra features. One boasts better sync than the other, oh man.  Of course it is all daunting when starting from scratch, but then there is something refreshing about a clean page, things that have been hanging around and you really don’t think you will get to are able to be dropped, it’s like a spring clean for your mind and todo list.

… decision made … I will run OmniFocus for a minimum one month, along with the companion apps for iPhone and iPad. After that I’ll write a mini review (so there will be no bias towards Things.) After the month if there are any areas that I believe are weak, then a switch to Things for the same period will be made.

Who knows, maybe in that time Todoist will bring out a new slicker interface? or maybe MLO will announce a Mac version!

How do you test a web UI ?


We all understand the importance of a good testing framework, Test Driven Development (TDD) significantly reduces the maintenance cost of software and provides for cleaner, tidier code, but what about the UI elements of a web site or HTML5/JS Application? what’s involved in running tests on different browsers, different operating systems and devices?

I recently took TestCafe from a spin, it is quite simply the quickest easiest testing tool I have ever used. You can download, install and start creating tests on any browser, any operating system in less than 15 minutes! Compared to some of the competitor packages that I looked into that is lightning fast!

TestCafe

So what makes it such a winner?

Well to start with it’s “plugin free”, and by that I mean NO extra bits to download for your browser. Seem like a small thing? WRONG, you can run TestCafe on ANY mainstream browser without installing anything extra, you can swap machines and run tests from any machine, any operating system or device. This is a HUGE difference to the other packages I looked at, one in particular took me thirty minutes just to get working, I had to install additional extensions and I was limited to Firefox for recording tests!

Within minutes of installation I was up and running, the visual test recorder was simple and intuitive, and after I finished my test I could edit it right there in the browser with an API set that made sense. In fact, I could almost memorise the whole API.

TestCafe really has to be seen to be believed, so I’m going to do an online presentation on May 19, where I will show you just how easy it is to deploy, record a test, explore the API inside the script editor and display true browser independence with Chrome, IE, Firefox and Safari.

Register here and in the meantime download TestCafe and experience web testing made easy!

The UI is very easy to navigate, use and understand:

Clean UI

Editing a test is simple, the edit window also does a compiler check:

tc2

Blogs for software suggestions


During a meeting today with @AdamCogan (www.adamcogan.com | www.ssw.com.au) we discussed the idea of using a blog to post about software enhancements.  So lets run with it. Feel free to vote or comment on ideas and hopefully with enough feedback we can start to make a difference.