Looking for a shared checklist/todo list thingdoo.
December 2, 2013 5:38 PM   Subscribe

I have a little project that I'd like to make a little website for. Does not have to be fancy. This could be a WordPress module, a standalone website, or something else. Here's what I need: a checklist where multiple people can maintain, over time, their own version of a single list of items todo/completed. I have looked but I'm not finding what I want.

Without explaining this in too much detail, here's the short form: I have a "Have you visited all the X-es?" project. My website will have a list of all the X-es (with addresses and maybe some other info) and I'd like to have a publicly viewable checklist of these items. I'd also like other people to be able to maintain their own version of this list on the same site. I have between 100 and 200 items. A few options I've looked at

- ListChallenges has a lot of what I want but would have to originally add entries by hand which would be a slog. This with an import feature would be fine.
- BucketList looks perfect for a single user
- Actionable is basically what I want but it's not current and when I installed it with my version of WordPress, it would not work.

I'm wondering if I can do better. How best to do this?

- List is editable only by me (i.e set it up once and then others can use it but not edit it)
- My list and other people's lists are viewable at some stable URL
- Can add extra info to individual entries like a URL or a Google map link
- I can admin the site in case there is abuse/weirdness
- Simple for end users to use, don't care if set up is a hassle.

- Progress bar? "You have been to 10 Xes out of 100, you are 10% done!" sort of thing
- Ability for other people to add notes on their own pages & maybe have a profile?
- Ability to import initial list in CSV or XLS format
- Ability to sort this list by various attributes (all X-es in this county, for example)
- Map? Badges? I don't know.

Don't Care
- As long as there is a stable URL, don't care if I host it or someone else does.
- Social anything
- Small fee would be okay, big fee not okay, hiring a developer probably outside of my budget
- Does not need to be checklist format

Don't Want
- Something that is only available in an app or on facebook (so no Foursquare lists)
- Hacked project management software
- Hacked shopping list software (unless it's really clever and works)
- Hacked weird SEO/affiliate marketing stuff (again unless it's the perfect thing)

I am good with Google and have looked at most of the obvious solutions so "I found this by Googling, maybe it will work?" is not the sort of help I am looking for. Would be fine with "I think you can adapt this thing you may not have thought of for this use" advice. It's possible the answer is "I don't think this exists" also in which case I can decide if I need to build it or not. Thanks for looking through my nitpicky list and offering suggestions!
posted by jessamyn to Technology (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
You could use listchallenges plus MechanicalTurk to populate it relatively inexpensively...
posted by softlord at 5:57 PM on December 2, 2013

If I were doing this with fairly web-savvy users I'd be inclined to do it with a wiki, creating the list as a template - the sort of thing at the top of most Wikipedia pages that generates a sidebar from a little blob of code with slots to fill in information. I like JAMWiki but there are multitudes. I haven't looked recently but some wiki software may be able to present the template as a web form that the user fills in, like Wikia's hosted sites appear to be able to, as a more straightforward interface.
posted by XMLicious at 6:20 PM on December 2, 2013

Tables on Wikia pages can also be coded to be sortable. However, I'm not sure the first Need is attainable through Wikia. As far as I'm aware, a Wikia page is either locked so only users with certain rights can edit it, or unlocked so anyone can—the notion of a checklist that's user-checkable but not user-editable on a Wikia page is not one that I can envision. Maybe I've missed too many Wikia software updates to know of any such functionality.
posted by Z. Aurelius Fraught at 7:35 AM on December 3, 2013

I'm not sure that Trello does exactly what you want, but it's free and might be worth a look.
posted by oulipian at 8:26 AM on December 3, 2013

As far as I'm aware, a Wikia page is either locked so only users with certain rights can edit it, or unlocked so anyone can—the notion of a checklist that's user-checkable but not user-editable on a Wikia page is not one that I can envision.

The template that forms the list would be locked, the pages that contain instances of it would not be. Not all wiki software allows templates but MediaWiki/Wikipedia/Wikia and JAMWiki do.

For example, if you look at this Wikipedia article:


you can edit it and fill in values in the copy of the "infobox settlement" template at the top. But if you go to the actual template's page:


It's protected, so unless you're logged in and a member of the correct user groups all you can do is "view source", not edit it.

Certainly, someone with nefarious purposes could delete the template and instead cram in tables and text to imitate the checklist... but they could also just fill in checkboxes they haven't achieved yet anyways in any system that worked as described in the OP, so I don't know if that would really be a problem.
posted by XMLicious at 9:11 AM on December 3, 2013

I hadn't really thought about a wiki format. I would be fine doing this in a wiki template somewhere if I knew I could do the following things

- protect a template as indicated above
- create a checklist with boxes that held their checked/unchecked state between sessions for different users

Is this a thing that is actually doable and not just a thing the tools could do? I'll be googling for examples but if anyone has one I'd love a link to it. Thanks for your suggestions so far.
posted by jessamyn at 9:39 AM on December 3, 2013

So you're just looking for one list, made by you, once? No need to scale this? No users sharing lists? Just kindof a fun one off, single serving project?

I don't know of any existing plugin/services like this, but I think the development of this could be very simple. The kind you could beg of a friend/bribe with cookies.

I am no JS master, just a designer/developer, but worked on a project recently that used JS to create a user profile, stored locally on a cookie, that stored form (i.e. checkboxes) selections. We did this specifically to avoid having users register an account. Also we were talking about 6 values, not 600. It might begin to be stupid at that scale.

Obviously, this wouldn't work browser to browser, so if you're looking to have mobile support you'll need a less hacky method. Also, your user can't erase cookies frequently, and needs to accept cookies. And no sharing of lists, generating a unique user URL, etc. Super bare bones.

So, I see the workflow going as such: Get your csv into HTML. Give each record an <input> with a type="checkbox" and an ID with a sequential ID. GREP might work.

Have your JS return each value that is true to your cookie based profile. You could do this on each click for seamless use, but again, this might be stupid at a large scale. On each page load, check your cookie, and populate your form with those values. Bobs your uncle.

You can use some jquery to do some basic math on your DOM to tally/show progress. Heck, you could use jquery and css to have badges become "unlocked" when they hit 5%, 25%, etc. Lots of cool css stuff is coming to mind, but again, I'm a designer first, developer second.
posted by fontophilic at 2:06 PM on December 3, 2013

With a plain, out-of-the box wiki that supports templates you can easily get it working as it does at the links I give above, so that when the user is editing it what they're doing is just typing an "x" into the field to check it in (or anything else; basically you'd write the template so that if it's blank, it's unchecked, but entering any value at all makes it checked) but when the page is being viewed the template either displays "☐" or "☒" so it looks like a list of checkboxes.

If you want it to actually work like the checkboxes in a standard web form when the user is editing it, so that they just click on the box to fill it in, the way I'm aware of doing that is with the Semantic Forms extension for a MediaWiki-based site: if you create a form field with a boolean value it automatically shows up as a checkbox, according to the documentation. This page lists the hosts that allow you to install that extension.

However, the Semantic Forms extension has been around for almost a decade now, so at this point other wiki software may support that sort of functionality too; I haven't researched that recently.
posted by XMLicious at 2:57 PM on December 3, 2013

Thanks XMLicious. Having users go into a wiki editor is a non-starter, but me messing with Semantic Forms might be okay.
posted by jessamyn at 3:59 PM on December 3, 2013

Trello is both incredibly simply and very customizable. It sounds like exactly what you need.
posted by ravioli at 4:12 PM on December 3, 2013

I was curious about the process of setting this up in a recent version of Semantic Forms and it was pretty straightforward. I did it at scratchpad.referata.com, an open demo as mentioned in the list of hosts.

The first checkbox doesn't work for some reason but here are the properties that create each checkbox: 1 2 3 4 5

The template which incorporates those properties, which does appear to simply be a standard wiki template: Template:Itinerary

The form made from the template: Form:itinerary

And a page built from that form, the individual checklist: Bubba's Itinerary

(the form page above has a button to let you create a new checklist page)
posted by XMLicious at 12:20 PM on December 7, 2013

That's neat but I'm a little confused. Is there a way to

- make a checklist, and
- that users don't need to edit wiki templates to be able to use?

I clicked through all your links. It seems like this only lets you update a wiki page (while keeping the templates hidden) but it still involves wiki-editing for end users which is a non-starter. I can't tell if we're talking past each other or if you're seeing a different versions of the page than I am seeing. Can you spell it out a bit more?
posted by jessamyn at 1:28 PM on December 7, 2013

Oops, sorry, I guess the page has to be edited at a different URL than the normal wiki editing link after it's been created:


According to this page in the documentation, there are various ways you can make that link show up, including automatically replacing the normal wiki edit link at the top of the page with the form-editing link. (You'd have to be working on your own site and have full access to all the settings to follow the instructions in that documentation page.)

(Also, BTW, the links for creating all of these things in the first place are on the left-hand side under "Helpful links".)
posted by XMLicious at 4:55 PM on December 7, 2013

And to create a new checklist for someone to fill in, you'd go to the Form:Itinerary page and type in a name (like "Jessamyn's Itinerary" for example) and press the button.
posted by XMLicious at 5:28 PM on December 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

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