To say that you support HTML5 may seem like a marketing gimmick nowadays and a way to put the little HTML5 banner on your site, but HTML5 is a great technology that allows developers deliver rich and powerful web applications. These applications can be so powerful inside of the browser that they can look and feel like native desktop applications.
When I got the email about the new Todoist being rebuilt using HTML5 technologies, I was nothing but excited. There are some apps online that can get away with taking time and posting back to a server as well as have the possibility of the server being unreachable at times that won’t be too disrupting to a service. Task and project managers are not one of them. Let’s take a look at the new Todoist, what it has to offer, and what it feels like to use.
One of the new Todoist’s selling points is its speed. I will say it does feel like using a native app. This is done by making the interface highly responsive while doing all of the data transfer of creating, updating, and deleting data asynchronously. You don’t have to wait for data to be passed from the your web client to the Todoist server and vice versa.
Moving, creating, updating, and deleting tasks is simple and works well. Even all of the searching and sorting is done client side making filtering of your lists and tasks nice and fast.
Another killer feature of the new Todoist is its use of HTML5’s local storage API. This allows the app to go offline if the Todoist server isn’t available and use local storage to create and modify your data. When the server comes back, all of your data is pushed back to the cloud and synced up. Like I said in the intro, this is an excellent feature for a task and project management application because of the nature of its use. People tend to use their project management application day-in and day-out, so having it available at any time, regardless if a server is up is crucial.
In my limited use of the Todoist beta, I didn’t experience the server going offline so I disabled my WiFi instead to force Todoist into offline mode. Once my WiFi was off I started adding project and tasks and then was notified by a little yield symbol that I was working offline and that Todoist would check for connectivity soon. Either that, or I could force a sync. I manipulated some of my data (deleted and added things, edited some todos, etc.) and then flipped on WiFi. In about 20 seconds I was back online with Todoist in sync.
The use of the local storage API is fantastic and will be a precedent setter for any other web based task and project management apps in the future.
Another key feature of the new Todoist is its mobile support. The ideas is to have one app that supports a desktop browser as well as a mobile browser to ensure that your todos are available anywhere, anytime.
The mobile app is relatively fast on an iPhone, but you can feel the “webapp” lag that accompanies any non-native app on a mobile device. It does work well though and manipulating tasks seems fast enough and responsive. To be completely honest though, I’d rather have a native iPhone app than a mobile web app. The web app for desktop doesn’t bother me because my computer’s browser has enough horsepower, but using it on a limited mobile device, you can really feel the difference.
Another issue that I had with the mobile app is its use of non-retina graphics for the refresh and add task buttons as well as the Todoist logo itself. It’s a small detail, but something that takes away from the user experience.