LivelyNotes 1.1 for iPhone - bringing tasks and notes together

Jul 23, 2014

We released LivelyNotes 1.1! Its been a huge step compared to version 1.0 - we could have well called it 2.0.
The biggest thing we added is tasks. You can now manage both your text notes and tasks related to a project.
We spent a lot of time trying out different ways to manage these two item types. How to quickly add either a note or a task from the start screen? How to visually present them in projects?

We finally came up with this slick start screen:

livelynotes-overview

It allows you to quickly add new notes, create new projects or rearrange and archive projects.
Yes, archiving is another feature we find really useful. Once you have finished a project, you can now archive it. It will then appear in the Archive section and can always be restored or permanently deleted.

But lets have a look at how tasks show up in a projects detail screen:

livelynotes-project

We have split the project screen into a tasks and notes section. When I start out in a project, the goals are often still vague and it helps to first write down some thoughts and ideas. Once I got a clear picture I extract the next tasks out of my notes.
I find it extremely helpful not being forced to immediately write down an actionable task. In pure task managers I used in the past, I often cluttered my projects with 'tasks' which were often just vague ideas.
The section headers for tasks and notes stick to the top as you scroll down. So you don't have to scroll up again to create notes.
We also added a button to hide and show finished tasks.

The actual task view is quite simple - just a title and an optional due date:

livelynotes-project

We have some nice visual indicators for the checkbox - orange for due tasks, red for overdue tasks. In the list of projects we show you the number of due tasks as well. This way you can see at a glance which projects have priority.
We are working on a much more powerful way to see whats next up and what you have worked on in the last days. But more on that in the next post...

One final feature, I don't want to miss is search. Thanks to the Apple frameworks, this one was almost trivial to implement. Search is super fast and works across all projects.

This release brought us quite a few downloads. LivelyNotes has become an essential tool for me every day - I currently use it to manage about 20 projects, including hundreds of tasks and notes.

This is how LivelyNotes looks for me today:

livelynotes-mirko-project livelynotes-mirko-overview

Our focus for the last weeks was to get a limited version of LivelyNotes for Mac to a usable state. We want to have at least a minimal version for the Mac so that we can start learning about the typical workflows we need to optimize for. We are really happy with our iterative approach for the iPhone. If we wouldn't have been able to use LivelyNotes from week one, it would not nearly have become as good.
We do now have a usable Mac version and will test it in the next weeks.
But before we release it, we still want to do at least two large feature releases for the iPhone. I will write more about it in the next post.

You can find the latest version of LivelyNotes on www.livelynotes.com.

Getting to LivelyNotes 1.0 for iPhone

Apr 23, 2014

We wanted to be able to use a first version of our note-taking app as fast as possible. So we decided to focus only on taking plain text notes. No tasks, no attachments, no photos and definitely no encryption. We also picked the iPhone as our first target platform. Eventually merging both note-taking and task management into an integrated app is a challenging task. But it will be much more challening to do on the limited screen of a mobile device than on a Mac. So by starting with mobile we will avoid adding features that will simply not work on an iPhone screen.

Our goal for the first version is to just be a step ahead of the built-in Notes app on the iPhone:

notes-app

Apple's Notes app lacks any features for organizing notes. So LivelyNotes 1.0 will allow you to group your notes in projects. We further add a sharing feature for notes, that allows you to quickly send your notes as emails, share them via Facebook etc... Crucial for us to be able to use the app was a simple note export feature. While working on the app we delete and re-install the app all the time - so we need to be able to easily backup all our notes. Most users will probably not use this feature frequently - but we think all apps should give the user a simple way to get all their data out.

Taking this app from idea to AppStore submission took us less than four weeks of part-time work. We are quite happy with the result:

livelynotes-take-note

livelynotes-organize

You can find the latest version of LivelyNotes on www.livelynotes.com.

Why just another productivity app?

Apr 14, 2014

productivity apps

This is what the productivity app space looks like on the iPhone. A ton of task management apps at varying levels of complexity. Still, Johannes and I got very frustrated by not being able to find a single productivity app that fulfills our simple set of needs. Tasks very often start with some unstructured notes. Be it during a meeting, a phone call or on the go. We do not always have the time to write down a precise list of tasks from the top of our head. So the app has to support quick capture of plain text notes.
It should always be possible to add details to notes and to translate notes into tasks.
There needs to be a simple way to organize notes and tasks in projects.
We want to be able to attach files and photos to notes.
The app needs to work at least on the iPhone and Mac.
It should synchronize our data via iCloud so we don't have to create another account.
The app should be paid for once - so no monthly premium plans.

Continued...

Announcing LivelyCode and LivelyNotes

Apr 7, 2014

Heidelberg Johannes Auer and I are both from the beautiful city of Heidelberg, in the south of Germany. We have been good friends for years and worked together on various side-projects. Johannes is raising his twins while finishing his computer science degree at the University of Heidelberg. He does freelance work building iOS apps from time to time if he is not working on his own programming language implementation.

A few months back we incorporated LivelyCode to publish our latest side-project - LivelyNotes, an exciting productivity app. We have been working on LivelyNotes in our spare time since November 2013. Getting to where we are with the app now, was a lot of work going through multiple iterations. Trying out ideas, embracing some and throwing away many others... We managed to release a first version with the bare essentials after just three weeks (working on it 2-3 evenings a week). Its available as LivelyNotes 1.0 on the iPhone AppStore. I will follow up with detailed posts about what motivated us to build LivelyNotes and the many iterations we went through already.

CMake by Example

Mar 9, 2013

When trying to learn CMake I could not find any good introduction. The CMake documentation is quite comprehensive but not suitable for a beginner.
There are some useful tutorials linked on the CMake Wiki but most of them only cover very specific problems or are too basic.
So I wrote this short CMake introduction as a distilled version of what I found out after working through the docs and following stackoverflow questions.

Its a work in progress and I will try to continuously improve it.

CMake is a meta build tool that allows you to generate native build scripts for a range of platforms:

  • Unix Makefiles
  • Xcode
  • Visual Studio
  • CodeBlocks
  • Eclipse
  • and more...

Continued...

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