How does FoldingText relate to TaskPaper and WriteRoom?

FoldingText, TaskPaper, and WriteRoom are all based on the idea of using text based user interfaces to make productivity apps. The difference is in focus and intended use:

  • WriteRoom — Distraction free writing

  • TaskPaper — Simple list making

  • FoldingText — Plain text productivity

WriteRoom and TaskPaper are focused on solving particular problems. FoldingText is a more open ended app intended to be used in many different ways. If you just want to write with minimal distraction WriteRoom is best. If you have a todo list to maintain then TaskPaper is best. If you want to mix todo lists into other notes using Markdown syntax then FoldingText is best.


I’ve used Taskpaper for years, although this tailed off recently with the possibility of it not continuing. I had assumed (a dangerous thing I know!) that FT would eventually incorporate all the TP goodness. With TP3 in the works does this mean that FT and TP will retain their differences? I’m always looking to reduce the number of apps I use and having TP and FT in one app makes sense. FT task system could really do with TP power.

FoldingText should get all of existing TaskPaper power. In fact under the hood it already has it all plus some in my opinion. What it doesn’t yet have that I know about is a UI for entering node paths (though there is this plugin).

Generally FoldingText should be “everything”. I’m keeping TaskPaper 3 as a separate app because in many cases I think people want something simpler… if you only need to mange tasks then I think TaskPaper’s file format is preferable to FoldingText.

I would be interested to here specific features that you feel are missing in regards to “FT task system could really do with TP power.”.

I was thinking more of the query search that TP has, but FT does not appear to have, unless I’m mistaken?


  • tabs
  • keyboard shortcuts for moving between projects

FoldingText actually has much more powerful querying (under the hood) than TaskPaper. Try Jamie Kowalski’s filter plugin for UI to it:

(and see FoldingText > Help > Nodepaths guide for the query syntax)

Perhaps I have missed it but does FT support notes in the manner that TP does?

FT is essentially an outliner, and any project/heading or list item can have descendant body paragraphs for notes.

Is that what you have in mind ?

I am also one who has been an avid user of TaskPaper that was beginning to look around for alternatives. My issue was more with iOS version and syncing, but since I don’t use one without the other… Having found your post stating that development on iOS has been dropped, I have installed your recommended client (Listacular) and I am happy again.

I have enjoyed playing with FoldingText and look forward to the next release of TP - but here’s the thing…

I really don’t get the distinction between TaskPaper (3) and FoldingText. They seem, conceptually at least, the same. The distinction between a plain text editor that folds and can be used as a todo list, and a todo list that is in plain text, that folds and can be used for notes as well is entirely lost on me.

It’s the same application, available in two different taxonomies (FoldingText | Taskpaper).

FoldingText format fits well into Markdown based toolchains, and lends itself naturally to gathering and outlining thoughts, and shaping documents.

Taskpaper format may suit existing workflows which already have an investment in taskpaper-type files and conventions.

I understand the word taxonomy to mean “a system of classification” - hence I assume the products are determined by a taxonomy of terms.

If I think of WriteRoom as being concerned with the domain of documents and playing around with my thoughts about a document I am writing and TaskPaper as being concerned with projects and todos, with thinking about things I want to get done - Then think of FoldingText as WriteRoom + TaskPaper in one product would that work?

I notice your emphasis on workflows - I’ll use the remaining time of trial in exploring those.

Thanks for your response - please don’t feel you need to spend anymore time on this when you could be continuing to develop your lovely products!

Forgive me - yes, I just meant different schemes for labelling the elements of outline structure.

The underlying model is the same in FoldingText and Taskpaper – a russian doll ‘nesting’ of lines and sub-lines, or ‘nodes’ and ‘child nodes’.

FT and TP differ only in their surface scheme of marking and naming these:

The special lines are called ‘## Headings’ in FT, and ‘Projects:’ in TP, while their ‘descendants’ might be ‘tasks’ in TP, or list items (‘ordered’ or ‘unordered’) in FT

etc etc

You can see that the FT taxonomy is a bit richer by entering the script line:

return Object.keys(editor.tree().taxonomy.types());

first in TaskPaper, which classifies lines into four types:

["project", "task", "note", "empty"]

and then in FoldingText, which has a more finely divided scheme:

["fencedcode", "fencedcodetopboundary", "fencedcodebottomboundary", "empty", "codeblock", "heading", "headingunderline", "blockquote", "horizontalrule", "linkdefinition", "term", "definition", "unordered", "task", "ordered", "body"]

@jessegrosjean is your plan to give FoldingText “all of existing TaskPaper power” still active? I know that in terms of infrastructure FT is more powerful but the built-in querying and saved searches of TaskPaper are too attractive to ignore.

@mutahhir is developing and making FoldingText decisions now. I do know that he’s thinking about building in a search field, but I don’t think he’s started work on that or really decide that it’s the “next” thing that he will do.

The one thing that’s changed since I made the above statements is that I had thought that the next TaskPaper would be build on the same foundation as FoldingText. This turned out to not be true. TaskPaper 3 is built on a similar JavaScript model, but it also differers in quite a few ways, especially at the UI level where TaskPaper 3 used native Cocoa components while FoldingText uses HTML/DOM.

Right now most of the difference are in that native UI layer. But Mutahhir is working to port some of those features into FoldingText right now. For example TaskPaper 3 adds a sidebar, and in the current preview release FoldingText is also getting a similar (but separately implemented and thus different) sidebar.

I’m curious why FoldingText doesn’t appear at I know it’s a different developer at this point, but isn’t it still under the HogBay Software umbrella?

No particular reason other than I never added it. Previously I had put all of my product pages at With FoldingText (and now with TaskPaper) I wanted to set the product up with its own website. Eventually, I’d like the website to just be a simple pointer list to the websites… but I guess I’ve never quite got around to that yet. But eventually I will, having to much fun programming at the moment to worry about it now though :slight_smile: