How I Use TaskPaper

TaskPaper is another great buy from BundleHunt. I'd seen it referenced dozens of times as a solid choice for managing tasks and creating ToDo lists. It was easy to use, had a very short learning curve, and supported plain text so the list could be viewed on anything. When I came across the sale, I was quick to give it a go.

At first I didn't put TaskPaper to use. It was another, "one day…" app. But now it's open all day, every day. It's proven to be very effective and gives me a quick overview of what I'm working on, what I've completed and what's coming up next.

My main use is to track my Jira tickets related to the current sprint. Each ticket is a bullet item in the summary list, such as:

  • ABC-1234 – Submit button not working as expected
  • ABC-1235 – Dollar figure not formatted as currrency

These tickets are then created as separate TaskPaper files using the ticket number. In each file is the Title, Description, Requirements, and Acceptance Criteria. This gives me all the details at a glance without having to go back to Jira each time.

My file contains test data such as SKU, customer, branch, cash amounts, and formulas. I then have a list of scenarios I want to test such as:

  • Phone number displays (123)-456-7890
  • First and Last name are required fields
  • Ship date cannot occur in the past
  • Text field limited to 255 characters
  • Company address listed in header

This gives me a running tally of what I'm working with, the tests I've completed and any issues I've come across. It also shows when I completed that item. So if I checked off the item 2 days ago and now there's an error, we have a starting place of where to look.

If I discover an issue, that bug ticket is added to main summary and noted as a line item within my test ticket. I can see how items relate to each other and what pieces need to pass for the whole ticket to pass.

I also use this as a guide for the daily stand up meeting. No scrambling to retrace my steps. "Here is what I worked on yesterday. Here is what I'm working on today." Also, if there was an issue from the day before, it's easy to recap, "Here is my example, here is what I saw." Very quick and concise.

When my work is done, I save my notes to PDF and attach it to Jira. If it's only a few steps, they're pasted into the Comment section. Either way, I can show my work and there is no mystery on what was tested.

All of these TaskPaper files are logged in DevonThink Office Pro. This gives me a history and lets me search through them. I can find my examples, see what was tested, I can use a previous test as a template, and everything is grouped together.

TaskPaper is also my main source for creating Test Plans. I know people go the route of Excel, but I find TaskPaper to be the right tool for the job. It's easy to make collapsable headings in TaskPaper that correspond to sections of a site. Each section then has a list of items to check. As each passes, they're checked off.

These headers are their own Projects in the sidebar. Indent line items under a header and you have a project. Easily done.

It's then simply a matter of clicking the section to work with. TaskPaper is incredibly efficient in switching between these projects and giving me the details.

If the project warrants, the TaskPaper files can be linked together from a master list by dragging them into a document. Each link will open the parent document when clicked. This makes much more sense than trying to use Excel as a ToDo list.

The main benefit here is that TaskPaper is far more responsive, far less cluttered, and far more efficient for creating lists and managing tasks than trying to use a giant calculator.

Apart from testing, I also use TaskPaper as a master list of blog articles I want to write. Following the same process as above, there is a list of blog titles and topics. Each topic gets a separate TaskPaper file. In that file are the bullet points I want to cover, links, and other reference material.

TaskPaper also acts a standard checklist when I go away on a weekend visit to my cabin. I list things like water, machete, toilet paper, folding chairs, extra socks, gloves, bug spray, etc. I check off each item as it's packed away, then reset the list for next time. It may seem silly, but this ounce of prevention has worked wonders. There is nothing worse than being 20 miles from a grocery store when you forget the toiletry essentials.

When first approaching TaskPaper, I considered it a way to make a bullet list. What's the big deal? Tons of apps do that. But, now that I've dug in and gone through the process, I understand the benefit of using an purpose built app for the task. I've become a big fan and a big believer in the way it works. Most things I do now start off as a list in TaskPaper. It's an essential tool for my testing process and working with Jira. It's now a part of writing blog articles like this one and is always open, ready to make the next list of tasks I want to complete.

It's bad luck to be superstitious.

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