Review of The Hit List: It came with a Bundle

In Episode 2 @iKitty mentioned that she was using Things as a GTD/TODO app based on a recommendation from me. I used to use Things as my choice for quite a while but have now switched over to The Hit List and thought I’d give you a run down of the features. While this started as a case for The Hit List read the conclusion for my thoughts by the end of writing this article.

It’s Beautiful

Yeah the first item that makes it work for me might be a bit vain but the reality is that I like beautiful things and The Hit List is very well designed. The interface is simple to understand right away. Even when you start digging and reveal the features of the application nothing ever seems cluttered or out-of-place.

The Hit List Interface
The Hit List Interface

Multiple TODO Levels

It’s been a while since I’ve used Things but at one point you could only have single level TODO item depth, though I’m not sure if this is still the case. The Hit list lets you easily create multiple depth TODO items as well as letting you have multiple folder and list levels to organize the project as you see fit.

iCal Sync

I’m personally still deciding about adding this to my workflow but if you want to have your TODO items show up on your calendar it can be done with The Hit List. The control of the sync is also very fine-grained. You can choose exactly how to sync it. If you take it a step further you could also create matching Google Calendars which would let you sync it online then to any device supported by Google Calendar.

Sync The Hit List with iCal
Sync The Hit List with iCal

Multiple TODO Views

I prefer to view my TODO items in the normal list view but if you find that multiple TODO items in your view at once is distracting there is a nice single note card style TODO view. This removes the clutter and lets you see and focus on a single TODO item.

Single note card view of your TODO item
Single note card view of your TODO item

Never Leave the Keyboard

Face it, a mouse is often not something that really adds to your productivity. If your hands are already sitting on the keyboard moving them off to grab some other device and perform a simple function is slow. Luckily The Hit List has a huge slew of keyboard navigation items. You can easily navigate between the sidebar and main window, mark things as done, tag…really you can perform any action in the application from the keyboard.

Keyboard navigation hints can be activated by clicking hints in the bottom menu
Keyboard navigation hints can be activated by clicking hints in the bottom menu

System Wide TODO entry

The extensive keyboard navigation also extends to the entry of TODO items and not only while the application is in focus. You can set the new TODO entry to a keyboard shortcut of your choice and enter a new item whenever you want. Not having to focus back on The Hit List means you don’t break the flow of your work on other applications. You can enter a new TODO item while working on anything from design to coding.

Quick entry box for tasks
Quick entry box for tasks

This is a Nice Touch

While this doesn’t truly contribute to making your TODO management easier, it’s still a pretty thoughtful little feature. If you start running The Hit List outside of your Applications folder it will know it’s not in the proper spot and ask if you want it to move itself to your applications folder. Of course you can also decide that no you want it to stay where it is and dismiss the dialogue never to be seen again.

It’s Missing Stuff Though

Despite the things I love about it there are things it’s missing. As I said in a previous post I think that desktop applications are broken if they don’t sync to something offsite. The Hit List has no online component, though I really have seen few applications outside of Evernote that sync online.

While The Hit List is fully Apple Scriptable which means this could be done, but currently I don’t see anyone that has put the time into setting up LaunchBar so you can create a new TODO item without even having The Hit List open. There do appear to be scripts for both OmniFocus and Things that will allow this integration with QuickSilver.

If you look at older reviews you’ll see that people have been citing the iPhone/iPod touch app as coming soon for a long time. Currently if you look in the application preferences there is an apology for the delay in producing the application but still we see no time frame or promise of a due date.

iPod/iPhone app apology
iPod/iPhone app apology

The reality is that it’s taken way too long for this to come to the market. For many people the lack of a way to enter TODO items into The Hit List from your iPhone/iPod Touch is a big failure. Not all of your ideas for items TODO come while sitting at your desktop so not all can be entered right away if you’re away from it. Unfortunately this also does bring the future of the whole product into question. If they aren’t putting the development time into the iPhone app what is the future of the whole product?

There have been updates to the desktop application but this fact that there is a hanging empty promise does make you wonder about investing in the application.

Conclusion

So at the end of it all I use The Hit List instead of Things. My choice, at the beginning of the article, was based on the fact that I got The Hit List with a MacHeist bundle. Although I have used Things, my former employer purchased it for me so I’d have to buy my own copy.

In research for this article I looked on the Google Group a fair bit to see about answers and notes on the application and it seems that the users of The Hit List are pretty upset with the developer. With the lack of development and the beta expiration issues I’m re-evaluating my decision not to just purchase Things. I certainly don’t want to be in the spot where I rely on a software only to find that the beta expires and I can’t even just keep using it or even view the TODO items inside the application. In fact my plan now is to try Omnifocus and EasyTask. If either application doesn’t suit I’ll move back over to Things. I just can’t take the risk that software I rely on will just disappear.

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