A (Very) Early Look at Hub List: A Simple Task Manager

Let’s be honest, there has been a flurry of activity in the task manager/list space over the last couple years. For better or worse, there seems to be an endless stream of such apps making their way to the market. Some are very complicated and almost do too much, while others are incredibly simple and cover just the basics.

Hub List is a very new piece of software that has just made an entry into this cramped space, falling very much into the latter category of a super-simple task manager. A “super early adopter beta” version has been released recently.

Beta versions—let alone “super early adopter” beta versions—can be pretty buggy, but I’ve been playing around with the software for a few days, so read on to get my first take!

Design

The first thing that you will notice is that it is very basic. As I’m assuming was planned, it is reminiscent of jotting down a to do list in a paper notebook. Overall, the design has a nice feel to it.

There aren’t too many buttons and spaces to convolute the experience, and it is very clear how Hub List works from the time you first open it. It is designed in such a way that it feels at home with other Mac software.

The Main Window

The Main Window

Layout & Functionality

The layout is remarkably simple. It all happens on one screen with a couple buttons. That is it. The left hand side is where you can organize your task lists. Lists can be organized into folders, and folders can be organized within sub folders.

Folders and task lists can be dragged around to organize them differently. This is a very useful feature to keep you organized and feels like a natural interaction with the application.

One minor gripe I have is that it appears that the only way to create new task lists or folders is by using control-click (or right-click) to bring up a menu. Personally, I’m a control-click kind of person so it doesn’t bother me too much, but a couple of simple “add task” and “add folder” buttons would be a welcome addition for the majority of users.

The right side of the application is where the task lists actually display. As I mentioned earlier, it looks like the lists are displayed on a piece of notebook paper. Double-clicking on a new line will let you add a task, and you can also press the enter key to accomplish this. Double clicking on an existing task will edit it.

The tasks show up with a check box next to them. If a task is completed (checked) it will dim slightly. You can also uncheck tasks as needed as well. It is possible to delete tasks (or lists or folders) by either using a control-click option, the delete key on your keyboard, or using the Hub List menu.

Task order is also easily adjustable by dragging them into the order you would like. If you drag and drop one task on another you can create a sub-task—a nice little touch to help organize a bit better. It is also possible to drag and drop tasks to other lists in your navigation panel. Again, another nice touch that can help you make some quick adjustments.

There are two views for displaying task lists. They can be toggled with two corresponding buttons at the top of the application. The default is the “sheet of paper” view and the other is more of a “notecard” type view. Arrows on either side of the card will allow you to flip between tasks.

The "Notecard" Layout

It does seem that there is quite a bit of empty space in this notecard view, and I expect that the developers will add more functionality to this before the final version ships.

Conclusion

This is a minimalist task manager (at least it is right now). Hub List is very simple and basic and, depending on your school of thought when it comes to task management, this could be a perfect tool. It really strips away all the frills.

This is just a flat out desktop application at this point, something that will be an immediate interest-killer for many readers. I know a lot of task managers do work in the cloud, and many also have companion iPhone or iPad applications as well. Hub List is also a single person task management system—there are no collaborative features available at this point.

Hub List is still in “super early adopter beta” phase so I’m sure that plenty more tuning and adjusting will be done in the coming months. Truthfully, I haven’t come across any “bugs” as such when using it, and to be honest, I’m not sure I’d add a great deal more functionality. If the goal is to create a super-basic, easy to use Mac task editor, they have achieved this goal pretty well. For the most part it has all of the core features a task manager should have, and interactions with the application seem very natural.

The choice made for an application of this type relies heavily on your task management methodology. If you’re exploring applications in this area, I’d say you should keep your eye on Hub List. Native mobile editions are coming for iPhone and Android by year-end (supposedly), so we’ll soon see how their syncing system works.

Don’t let the beta version scare you away from taking it for a spin either! From what I’ve experienced it runs quite smoothly, and I look forward to seeing the final product.


Summary

Hub List is a super-simple task manager, still in the early stages of development. It's worth keeping an eye on if you're looking for a really slimmed down to-do list app, and various mobile versions are reportedly coming soon.

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  • Jono

    Looks like they’re heading for a look identical to The Hit List – down to the icons, layouts of the list/task pages etc.

    http://www.potionfactory.com/thehitlist/

    • http://www.appforthat.de Julia Altermann

      Well, the app was borne out of desire to keep the spirit of THL alive (if I remember the communication in forums and elsewhere correctly). I myself used THL for a very long time and it was my favorite GTD app, but with little communication from the developer and monthly updates that only extended the expiry period, I too look to The Hub List to fill the gap that will eventually be there.

      • http://davidappleyard.net David Appleyard

        I agree completely, Julia. It’ll be interesting to see how this develops as a Hit List replacement for those that really loved that app.

  • http://www.simplicitybliss.com simplicitybliss

    Can’t help myself, but the UI is a 100% copy cat job from “The Hit List”. How one character makes a difference.

  • http://rtest.ws Richard Testani

    Very strange. This is The Hit List verbatim which has been MIA for over a year now.

    I wonder if it’s the same developer maybe re-branding it, or did he sell off his app?

  • http://hublistapp.com David Feinberg

    Thanks for the early look Matt! Although not mentioned in the post the app is written entirely in JavaScript and skinned to look like a native OSX app. Also I’m planning to open source (GPL) it in Jan/Feb 2011. The mobile editions will also be JavaScript based and open source but the timeline for those got pushed a bit.

  • http://thecocoabots.com/ Tony Arnold

    I actually find this app a bit worrisome. At what point does completely aping another application become OK?

    Hub List is almost an element-for-element copy of Potion Factory’s “The Hit List”, which has been around for much longer and is arguable a more fully-featured task management app (see http://www.potionfactory.com/thehitlist/). I’m not sure commending the developers of Hub List for their UI is in any way appropriate, because it’s not their UI…

    • http://www.twitter.com/evilmeteor Jaime

      At the point where people wont care and boycott the app because it copies the look and feel of the other app. The Hit List is a more complex and featured app then Hub List, but with the bad press the developer has created because of his silence (which I’m fine with since this type of miscommunication is often due to personal issues – health issues generally), people want someone to take on the task of making the vision a reality.

      If I make an open source project, and half way through the life cycle of the app I completely disappear, someone WILL take the project (albeit only if it’s good enough) and make something out of it, while at the same time becoming the ‘owner’ so to speak. The Hit List developer could have just posted a post such as “I’m sorry I have some personal stuff to deal with, the iphone app will be delayed, possibly by more than a year.”, which would have at least created some sympathy (and empathy depending on the the problem), and he would have not lost the hundreds if not thousands of potential customers he did lose.

  • http://kevinsuttle.com Kevin

    Why do designers feel the need to make things on the computer screen look like things that have been around for hundreds of years in the physical world? It’s almost 2011, come up with something new!

  • Ben

    I think it’s great! I can’t wait to see future updates. Looking very promising!!!

  • Dimitar Topalov

    This app looks very promising.

  • Bryan

    Hublist looks neat but it’s indeed a very early look at the moment and is missign some important things . I’m using wunderlist http://6wunderkinder.com/wunderlist by 6wunderkinder and I’m very happy with it. It has cloud sync and the iPhone App is coming in the next days, so they say. It’s beautifully designed and has great usability, the website looks awesome too.

  • Peter Braun

    I absolutely agree with Bryan: wunderlist is finally the solution I was looking for implementing GTD into my life. I hope Apple will approve the App this week!

  • K

    Dude, it’s a complete copy of The Hit List which in my opinion was the greatest GTD app of all time, but the Developer of The Hit List just dropped off the face of the earth and never released an iPhone app.

    I am totally against stealing someone else’s work, but what’s even worse is giving someone the greatest app of all time, promising an iPhone version that syncs with it, and then going AWOL. As far as I’m concerned, Andy deserves this.

    And Andy’s still selling The Hit List while promising an iPhone app. Check his twitter. Twitter.com/thehitlist His last post is from almost 1 year ago and the iPhone app was taking forever BACK THEN.

    It’s all very tragic.

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