Asana Productivity Todoist Trello Zenkit

Comparing Trello, Asana, Zenkit and Todoist

These are the four platforms where I have data. I hope to one day move it to a single platform.

Kanban uses the term card, Todoist says task. I use both.

Beauty5/10 – has a few backgrounds to choose from. Images attached to cards become small thumbnails.9/10 – An ever-growing number of pretty backgrounds thanks to Unsplash. Attached images become medium thumbnails on corresponding cards.5/10 – has a few backgrounds to choose from. Images attached to cards become small thumbnails.
TagsColored background and globalColored font and global; paidColored background and siloed per boardColored background and siloed per board; can have multiple categories. Can be used to color the whole card. See below.
AttachmentsCan be attached to cards or commentsCan only be attached to comments; paidCan be attached to cards or commentsCan be attached to cards or comments
Repeating tasks☑️☑️❌ – Power-up. Appears on due day.☑️
Reminders☑️☑️☑️ – Added as a separate field, but you can add many such fields
Links between cards/boardsPaste the URL yourself.Paste the URL yourself.☑️ – Add it as an attachment. No URL pasting requiredPaste the URL yourself.

Zenkit does really interesting things with tags that I think are worth addressing in greater depth. You can have different batches of tags. For example, each task might want a group of tags that refer to its location, then a separate group of tags to represent times of day.

It doesn’t make a distinction between a list heading and a category, so you can see the tasks organized by any batch of tags. Let’s expound on the list above with the two batches of tags. Suppose your headings are the classic to-do, doing and done. You created the two batches of tags described above, but the column heads are a third batch. By default, I walk in and see the do-doing-done columns. I can choose a filter and organize it by time of day, then the do/doing/done columns will appear on the cards like any other tag.

Another interesting thing it does with tags is that it’ll let you define a batch that will color the task itself. Again, suppose you want your morning tasks red, midday, orange, evening, yellow, and night, green. There’s a setting where you select which batch of tasks you want to define the color of the cards. If there are multiple tags from that field applied (say something can be done morning or midday), it guesses which color you want.

I think Zenkit is the most interesting, but it’s missing global tags. I recently turned my attention from it to Todoist, which is a little like going from a luxury car to a compact sedan. I may be able to split the difference with something like Zapier or IFTTT.

Asana also has global tags, but there are a handful of features the other three have that it lacks. The one that comes to mind is that you can’t copy lists to other boards, you can only copy whole boards.

The reason I’m so hung up on this global tags business is that I always have like 30 boards going. If I have a couple hours off work during the middle of conventional working hours, I want to easily pull up a list of all the things that can only be done during hours I’m normally working.

PHP Programming Todoist Zenkit

Zenkit API to Todoist CSV

I’m of two minds about posting this. The code is ugly. I’m posting it anyway because there aren’t a lot of resource for this this and was kind of a bear. I hope to save somebody else some trouble.

As is well-documented, I’m a fan of productivity tools. Todoist added boards to support a kanban format and let me tell you, I am here for it.

My productivity software journey of the past couple years goes like this: Trello and Todoist -> Asana -> Trello alone -> Zenkit -> Todoist alone. I have data living in all four places. I’m trying to move as much as I can to Todoist (it has global tags which Trello lacks, but its missing some other features I’m pretty fond of). Definitely Todoist will last forever and I won’t come running back to Trello.

Don’t forget to put in your API key.

 * Create a Todoist CSV file from the Zenkit API. Resulting file requires some
 * manual work.
 * @license: GPL
 * @author KJ Coop
 * Zenkit is more complicated then Todoist, so we kind of have to wedge things
 * in. For example, Zenkit only has groups of labels, and you decide which ones
 * you want to use a section heads at any given moment. Consequently, when
 * Zenkit hands off its data, it's not easy to see which labels Todoist should
 * use as section heads and which it should use as labels. It's probably
 * possible to detect which labels are grouped together in the Zenkit output,
 * but I haven't put any effort into it (yet?).
 * In Todoist, to add a label, you append the title with @Desired_Label. Because
 * we don't know whether we want Todoist to show any given label as a label or
 * a section head, it appends all the label-like strings as labels.
 * Consequently, if you want to keep your kanban format and of course you do or
 * what is even the point of being alive, you have to open up the finished
 * CSV file an manually manipulate it.
 * @todo Things I haven't put any work into:
 *    - Descriptions - Zenkit has them whereas Todoist does not
 *    - Attachments - in Zenkit, they can be on a file. In Todoist, they're
 *      necessarily in a comment
 *    - Comments
 *    - Users
 * Links:
 *    -
 *    -
 *    -

require_once(__DIR__ . "/vendor/autoload.php");

use idoit\zenkit\API;

function appendToCsv($filename, $type, $content) {

    $array = [
        '4', // Priority
        '1', // Indent
        '',  // Author
        '',  // Responsible
        '',  // Date
        '',  // Date lang
        '',  // Timezone


    $csv_file = __DIR__.'/'.$filename.'.csv';

    $fp = fopen($csv_file, 'a');

    // Loop through file pointer and a line
    fputcsv($fp, $array);


function listWorkspacesAndBoards() {
    $apiKey = '';

    $api = new API($apiKey);

    $count = 0;

    // Some of the arrays Zenkit returns are like this and we can ignore them.
    $emptyArray = [
        'text' => '',
        'searchText' => '',
        'textType' => 'plain'

    // Output data as array - workspaces and their collections/lists.
    $workspaces = $api->getWorkspaceService()->getAllWorkspacesAndLists();
    foreach ($workspaces as $key => $workspace) {
        $filename = $workspace->id;

        foreach ($workspace->lists as $list_key => $list_item) {
            $elements = $api->getElementService()

            $entries = $api->getEntryService()
            //    ->getEntry($list_item->shortId, 1);

            $listEntries = $entries->listEntries;

            $distinctTitles = [];
            $distinctWholeStrings = [];

            if (!is_array($listEntries)) {

            foreach ($listEntries as $entry) {
                if (isset($entry->displayString)) {
                    $title = '';

                    foreach ($entry->elements as $element) {
                            Don't reset the title at each iteration of this
                            loop. We append labels in subsequent iterations.
                            Fesetting the title resets the whole task. Consider:
                            In Zenkit, you have something like the following:
                                Task 1
                                    * Label A
                                    * Label B
                                Task 2

                            The best sense of the API I can get is that it gives
                                Task 1
                                Label A
                                Label B
                                Task 2

                            The code can see that Task 1 is a task and that the
                            labels are a different kind of string that relates
                            to the last thing it encountered. If doesn't know
                            until Task 2 comes along that it's finished with
                            Task 1. Until it sees a task, it has to keep
                            appending tasks to the last title it encountered.

                        if (isset($element['text']) && $element['text'] != '' && !strpos($element['text'], 'http')) {
                            // Remember that this is a title
                            $title = $element['text'];
                            $distinctTitles[md5($element['text'])] = $element['text'];

                        } else if (isset($element['categoriesSort']) && isset($element['categoriesSort'])) {
                            foreach ($element['categoriesSort'] as $cat) {
                                if (isset($distinctTitles[md5($title)])) {
                                        Add categories as labels. This is an not
                                        ideal map - Zenkit sees no distinction
                                        between labels and column heads,
                                        wbereas Todoist does. We add them all as
                                        labels if you want to change it to a
                                        section head, you must alter the
                                        resulting CSV manually :(
                                    $distinctTitles[md5($title)] .= ' @'.str_replace(' ', '_', $cat->name);
                        } else if ($element == $emptyArray) {
                            // Silence it
                        } else if (isset($element['persons'])) {
                            // Silence it - I'm the only person who matters, obviously
                        } else if (isset($element['files']) && isset($element['filesData'])) {
                            // Not worried about files right now.
                        } else {
                            // IDK LOL OMG

                        // Remember the whole string.
                        $distinctWholeStrings[md5($title)] = $title;


    echo "Distinct Titles: \n";

    foreach ($distinctTitles as $title) {
        appendToCsv($filename, 'task', $title);

try {
    echo "\n";
} catch (idoit\zenkit\BadResponseException $e) {
    echo 'Exception! The status was ' . $e->getCode() . ', response: ' . $e->getResponse()->getBody()->getContents();
} catch (Exception $e) {
    echo 'Exception! Something else went wrong: ' . $e->getMessage();

Databases MySQL Productivity sqlite

Ill-Fated Attempt at Importing Quick Notes Data to Joplin

As you may have learned from the title, my attempt at importing data from Quick Notes to Joplin failed. I leave my notes here in case they save trouble for the next person.


I was a Quick Notes user (which, to be clear, is mighty fine software, just not quite what I was looking for) for like two days. During that time I entered as many as ten notes. Obviously I’m not going to manually move such an enormous quantity of data, so I started for looking for ways to automate it.

“Not a problem!” I said to myself, “I’ll just dump the contents of one table into the other.” Well. Quick Notes uses MySQL and Joplin uses sqlite. That complicated things a bit.

“But,” you may be saying, “Wouldn’t you spend less time manually copying the notes over?” I refer you to xkcd.

Step 1 – Data from Quick Notes/MySQL to sqlite

Quick Notes uses MySQL whereas Joplin uses sqlite. The first order of business was to take the data dump from Quick Notes/MySQL and convert it into a sqlite file.

I tried a few things here. I ultimately wound up on an existing script to do the job for me, aptly named mysql2sqlite.

I saw instructions on RebaseData to make the change with curl. I found this resulted in a 4.6 MB file, but didn’t seem to have any tables. I leave the command here in case you want to pursue completing the conversion without downloading another script.

curl -F files[]=@file.sql 'file://[path to your mysql dump]?outputFormat=sqlite&errorResponse=zip' -o output.sqlite

Step 2 – the Joplin Database

Next you need a copy of the Joplin database. I found it in ~/.config/joplin-desktop/database.sqlite. If you go into the Joplin desktop app -> Options -> General, the location of the database is about the first line there. It’s easy to miss. I was not the only person who tried to locate it the hard way.

If you poke around in the databases you’ll find Joplin has a table called notes, which is fairly straightforward. Quick Notes has one called oc_quicknotes_notes.

Step 3 – Realize this Is More Complicated Than I Thought and Throw My Hands in the Air But Don’t Wave Them Like I Just Don’t Care

It was easy enough to insert from oc_quicknotes_notes into notes (attach then insert sub-select). Joplin has a table where it keeps track of what it’s synced and that’s what did in my efforts. I wasn’t able to cram the table full of guesswork well enough for Joplin not to choke on it.

Some other notes

  • The tags tables on both systems really only need an ID and a name. That in itself looks like an easy port. It looks like Joplin uses some kind of hash for the IDs, so the odds of an ID collision seem slim. That simplifies populating the pivot table.
  • Joplin is in Markdown but Quick Notes is HTML.
  • Attachments are probably a big job. In Quick Notes requires you to have uploaded a file to Next Cloud first, there’s no file upload dialog. Joplin has no such restriction.

Happy hacking!


Productivity Software Wishlist

I have a fever for productivity software. I haven’t found anything perfect (the nerve of other people not to think of exactly what I want!). This is wishlist of things ideal software would have. I wrote this both as a checklist for myself and as a guide of what to mention when I review other productivity software.

So, my nearly-true love is ❤️ Trello ❤️. Next best is Asana. This review is based on the things I found pleasing and displeasing about each.


  • I use the terms tag and label interchangeably.
  • I use the terms card and task interchangeably. I realize that the Official Kanban Term is card, but I’m not bent on it.

Yes, Please


  • Kanban
  • The ability to copy and move boards, lists and tasks
  • The ability to do nearly anything in the app that you can do on the desktop and vice versa.
  • The ability to use other boards and cards as attachments. Pasting URLs will do in a pinch, but I’d like it to be able to grab the board’s name without me having to enter it.
  • Can see a list of all tasks assigned to me, regardless of board. Can sort these tasks by due date (among other things?). It remembers the sort.
  • Open source LOL yeah right
  • Native calendaring
  • Reminders on my phone. I’m not really pleased with how this is done in Trello, but I’m not sure what I would like. In Asana, reminders disappear after a day or so. I’d prefer they stick around until dismissed. This is useful if I’m waiting on some other party to complete a step.
  • The app should have basic functionality without an internet connection; it should sync automatically once the connection is restored.
  • Global IDs for each task so I can put ID-123 in a description or comment and it automatically links to that card, again regardless of board.
  • Attachments, including the ability to set an image as a cover on both cards and a list.
  • The ability to create templates from boards, lists or tasks
  • A library of ready-made templates.


  • Boards should be scoped to private by default.
  • The ability to create a template from a board
  • Alphabetical sorting on list of boards
  • Many pretty board backgrounds
  • Detailed notes on boards, lists or tasks. It would be nice if this integrates with Evernote or Google Keep or the like. Trello has board and task descriptions, but I’d like it to allow for more detailed notes. I think Notion has this.
  • The ability to see something as a board or a list with section headings.


  • Per-list notes
  • Per-list attachment


  • Assign a task to multiple boards.
  • Multiple batches of checkboxes per task; the ability to promote a list item to a task
  • Per task detailed notes


  • Global
  • Color-coded
  • The ability to see a list of all tags, regardless of board – when I click on a tag, it should show me all the tasks across all the boards.


  • No time limit on the free tier. Although I’m willing to pay for a service I love, a limited time trial period is inevitably too short to get a sense of whether or not a service works for me.
  • Analytics

What it Doesn’t Need But I’ll Tolerate

  • The ability to share things with other people
  • The ability to color-code tasks themselves

No, Thank You

  • Boards shared by default

Drop me a line if you have a lead on something like this –

Asana Productivity Trello

Productivity Review: Asana

I almost switched from 💌 Trello 💌 (not affiliated, just a fan) because it has global tags. Board-scoped tags is the one feature that’s keeping me from joining 💑 Trello 💑 in a union of holy matrimony. Ultimately, Asana was missing a lot of features that prevented me from fully embracing it.

What it Has Going for it

  • Covers basic kanban functionality nicely.
  • Aforementioned global and color-coded tags.
  • Can see a list of all tasks assigned to me, regardless of board. This is another thing 🌸 Trello 🌸 omits on the desktop.
  • It has the ability to see something as a board or a list with section headings. Scrolling down as opposed to over (and down) doesn’t really have a specific benefit, it’s just nice to see things displayed the way I think about them.
  • Native calendaring – 💖 Trello 💖 has plenty of plugins for this, but it doesn’t do it on its own
  • You can assign a task to multiple boards.
  • Occasional fun animations when you click done.
  • A nice library of templates
  • Its task notifications are pretty good.
  • Progress view, even at the free tier.
  • No time limit on the free tier. Although I’m willing to pay for a service I love (I pay for 💛 Trello 💛), a limited time trial period is inevitably too short to get a sense of whether or not a service works for me.

What it Lacks

  • The ability to duplicate a list to another board. While repeating oneself is bad practice (particularly in code), sometimes when you’re an end user of somebody else’s software, you just have to accept it.
  • Only a few pretty backgrounds to choose from. 💜 Trello 💜 must have some kind of intellectual property dibs on this.
  • Tag problems:
    • Can’t create a new tag in the app on Android.
    • No list of tags. If I want to see everything in the tag I used for things to be done during work hours, I have to go into a task with that tag, then click on the tag there.
    • Using them is buggy in the app. I once accidentally created two of the same tag (same name, same color). In my browser, I moved everything to one and deleted the other. The app still shows them both and fails silently when I guess incorrectly about which one is still there.
  • App won’t even show a complete list of boards without an internet connection.
  • Sorting options aren’t retained in the app. When you pull up a list, it’s not sorted in any way. It doesn’t want to guess what you want, that’s fine. I sort it by due date and I’m happy. I go away and come back. For a minute, it’s still sorted by due date, but then the list refreshes and returns to unsorted.
  • The ability to use other boards/tasks as attachments.

Not Lacking But Distasteful

  • Boards are default scoped to public within organization.
  • Although it’s theoretically nice that on the website you can change the board sort, it comes at the expense of having Asana alphabetize them.


I’m still contemplating getting a 😍 Trello 😍 tattoo; running out of ❤️ emojis.


Productivity Review: 🌈 Trello 🌈

I have mentioned my love for Trello. I’ve also been trying to work around the lack of global tags since about the time I began using it on Dec 31, 2018.

This shortcoming finally lead me on a trip around the world of kanban software. I plan to review some of the stops I made. First off, I’d like to write a love letter to Trello on what may be the eve of our separation.

Some things I love about Trello:

  • The primary functionality: kanban. I didn’t realize that’s what my life was missing until Trello came along. To-do lists just don’t cut it anymore.
  • The pretty background pictures. They call the Unsplash API to allow you to select a pretty background. It is surprisingly pleasant. I assume this hasn’t been copied due to some intellectual property reason. If/When Trello and I part ways, I’ll miss it.
  • The ability to use other boards and cards as attachments. It turns out to be surprisingly handy.
  • The ability to copy lists and move copies to other boards.
  • I have yet to find anything I can do on the website that I can’t do in the app.

The thing I don’t love:

  • It’s very siloed

Things I’d love to see

  • Global tags
  • A dashboard
  • It’s the nature of Trello’s beast to be closed source, but I’d sure love to find an alternative that’s so free rms would approve.

I’ve found a few open source web-based Kanban packages on Github, but none have all the features I’d need to be wooed away. I’m currently scoping out a few to potentially add missing functionality myself, but I’m still in the market.

npm Trello

Tinkering with carlosazaustre / vue-trello

In my continuing effort to find a Trello replacement, I’ve been looking at carlosazaustre / vue-trello. My thanks to carlosazaustre for creating it. After some exploring, I realized it’s more reliant on Google Cloud Platform than I particularly want to go. However, I publish the notes I had so far in the hopes that they’ll help someone else.

`npm install`

`npm install` kept dying on Firebase. I had to uninstall then reinstall. I can’t find the Stack Overflow post that gave me the instructions, but according to my bash history, it looks something like the following:

Chuck GRPC’s data:
rm node_modules/grpc -r

Delete package-lock.json:
rm package-lock.json

Rebuild node-sass:
npm rebuild node-sass

Install the latest version of firebase:
npm i firebase@latest

Install firebase/app:
npm install --save @firebase/app

Settings File

The next error was:
ERROR Failed to compile with 1 errors 11:43:17 PM This relative module was not found: * ./settings in ./src/api/firebase.js

It needs a file called settings.js in src/api/. There’s an example file (settings.js.example) to grab from. You need to add your Firebase details. You can learn your API key at:[project ID]/settings/general/

Next Steps

This is where I got off the train. Presumably it’s now just a matter of filling the correct details into the config file. Best of luck to you.

Asana CLI Linux Productivity Programming Ruby Trello

Working with TrelloToAsana

First off, many thanks to goborrega, the author of TrelloToAsana – a ruby package to help users port their data from 🌹💃 💕 Trello 💕 💃 🌹 to Asana. I love Trello (as you may have gathered from the emojis), but the boards are very siloed. I have like 3 dozen boards, I don’t want to have to dig into each one.

There are a few ways to get data between the two, but none were to my satisfaction until I found this package on Github.

I ran into a couple issues and I wanted to save some other folks the time. Many of these issues stem from not being a Ruby developer Thanks to Google University, I was able to develop a sufficient passing literacy.

Some background that may be helpful to non-Ruby devs may find useful:

  • Install Bundler and other dependencies. On Suse the command was: sudo zypper install ruby2.5-rubygem-bundler ruby-dev ruby2.5-dev ruby2.5-rubygem-rails-5_1
  • Install dependencies defined in the gemfile: bundle install
  • To run a Ruby script: ruby [filename]

There seems to be a version problem with the required versions of Ruby and the gem json. To fix that, I went opened Gemfile and replaced where it calls for json version 1.8.1 with 1.8.5. I haven’t seen any negative consequences of advancing it to a later version.

Between the time of the code’s writing and the time I ran it, Asana evidently changed their property id to gid on workspaces, projects and tasks. A find and replace on all instances of .id with .gid fixed the problem. The error was:

/usr/lib64/ruby/gems/2.5.0/gems/asana-0.10.0/lib/asana/resource_includes/resource.rb:34:in `method_missing': undefined method `id'

It worked like a dream after that.

Having gone to all that trouble, I don’t think I’m going to stick with Asana. There are too many features 💖 Trello 🌈 has that Asana doesn’t. My hunt for a 🌼 Trello 🥰 alternative that has global tags continues.