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Recursive Notes

27 Mar 2021
Progress: Demo

Personally, I'm a fan of whiteboards, but some people swear by post-it notes.

The now-ubiquitous Kanban board, with columns for "to do", "doing" and "done", is often implemented with virtual post-it notes on services such as Trello.

Like any sane human being, I have a certain hatred of management techniques. I've seen them misapplied, misunderstood and used to mask incompetence far too many times. You can't hide behind the tiny post-it notes! But having a healthy hatred of management doesn't mean I reject the techniques entirely. Even for personal projects, managing time is essential.

There's a godawful amount of note-taking and management software out there, so this idea has almost certainly already been done, but what I'd like to have is a recursive trello board, where every post-it note is itself a trello board, ad infinitum.

Diagram of recursive note board. A less lazy illustrator might have made each subnote not so obviously the result of copy and paste, and also perhaps have avoided putting any sub-tasks in the sub-done column when the parent is still in to-do, but the idea is really not that complicated, and overthinking is dangerous.

Since I am a weird person who considers Javascript a form of relaxation, a while back I spent some time playing around with the idea. I built a working prototype, but naturally I got distracted as soon as it stopped being fun.

Screenshot of the recursive note program

In the screenshot above, double-clicking on "Test note two" might show this:

Screenshot of the recursive note program

The trail along the top keeps track of how deep you are:

Screenshot of the recursive note program

To try out the demo, head here. The source code to the demo is on github.

What it's got so far:

Before it could be considered usable there are a few things which would absolutely need to get added:

And ideally, here are some other things that should be added:

The idea of using this recursive project-management tool as a means to finish the outstanding tasks on said tool has not escaped me. There is something infinitely appealing about recursion.