struct { pain, discomfort }
April 1, 2008 9:00 AM   Subscribe

Maddening database question- Why are hierarchical/tree databases (seemingly) unavailable to me? Structures of structures of structures.

When I was in high school, I took a programming class. BASIC, Pascal, and C. From "hello world" to data structures and pointers and all that fun stuff. This was all text based on some version of UNIX. (To give a time frame, I started the year they changed out from some giant room filling Big Iron machine serving dumb terminals to the vastly more powerful ... 486 tower sitting on a desk serving twice as many dumb terminals.)

One of the things we did was write a very simple tree database using predefined data structures, and here's the key part, you could "nest" different structures into others arbitrarily. (Basically what XML is now)

The real reason I'm asking is that I'm trying to find a task management program where I can break bigger tasks into smaller, child tasks. And then children of children. It seems like this should be easy, but I'm not finding anything even close.


====Build Shed
-------------Design Floorplan
------------------ Buy paper and pens
------------------ Sit down and design shed
-------------Get materials
------------------ Wood
------------------------ Plywood
------------------------ Beams
-----------------------------2x4, 2x6 and 2x8
------------------ Nails
-------------Construct Shed

Then, some kind of processing that creates a flat, ordered to-do list that I can use to actually do what I need to to fulfill the prerequisites of the parent tasks.

It seems perfectly suited for an XML data format, but I can't find any kind of frontend that thinks the way I do.

Am I missing something? Do I have to build this app myself??
posted by gjc to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: OmniOutliner
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:05 AM on April 1, 2008

It's a common fault amongst todo software - assuming that all tasks are the same size, or having a fixed idea of the level of detail (e.g. projects break down into a single level of tasks). But there are programs that allow arbitrary besting of tasks.

You don't say what platform you're on, so I can only speak for the Mac: iGTD, OmniFocus and Midnight Inbox will allow nesting of tasks. I'm sure there are many others.
posted by outlier at 9:24 AM on April 1, 2008

Response by poster: That looks like exactly what I want. Except I don't use Mac.

Is there something similar in a PC version?
posted by gjc at 9:24 AM on April 1, 2008

Best answer: I think ToDoList will do what you want.
posted by SNACKeR at 10:16 AM on April 1, 2008

Best answer: How about TreeDBNotes, TreePad Lite, or KeyNote (which I personally use when a tree structure seems to apply better than a relational structure)?
posted by notashroom at 10:48 AM on April 1, 2008

Best answer: I find the Bonsai outliner pretty sweet, on Palm and Windows.
posted by okbye at 11:57 AM on April 1, 2008

Your sample format looks like a verbose version of YAML. With YAML libraries available for so many modern programming languages, it'd be trivial to build a nesting to-do app on top of that. So I wondered if one already exists. Yep.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 7:02 PM on April 1, 2008

Any of the *GTD solutions out there should do the job. (iGTD, Inbox, etc...)
posted by TravellingDen at 7:00 AM on April 2, 2008

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