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{March 19, 2011}   ContextJournal: an activity-aware app

Well, I haven’t blogged in quite a while, have I? I almost blogged about fosdem, but I was too busy having fun there. ;)

I, well, I’m actually on hiatus at the moment. That was (and is) an incredibly hard decision, but… well, it wasn’t fun any more, it felt more like a job. And when someone’s asshat regressions cause you physical pain, it’s time to take a step back. I’m sure Ivan and Marco will fix up whatever bugs are found, and add new awesome activities stuff too. :) I miss lots of KDE people (hugs!!!) but there’s some stuff I need to do for myself right now.

Anyways, that’s not what I’m here to talk about. There’s a little project I did in january that I never got around to blogging about. It’s part personal tool, part experimental sandbox. I suck at names, so I called it ContextJournal. :)

What is this? it’s a neat little app that automates away the tedium of my personal journal system. Running KDE trunk, and having a strange knack for hitting freaky PIM bugs, I end up with my most important things stored in plain text. It’s grown into quite a system, one file per day with ascii todolists and stuff – add to that the need to do timetracking on one project, and, well, a bit of automation does wonders. :)

Contextjournal allows me to keep the plaintext system – if I trash my kde or X I can still go back to using vim – but it adds improved organization, and context awareness (this is where the cool experimental bit comes in). It timestamps every line, and keeps a separate journal for each activity – naturally it switches when I switch activities. :) Once the journal part was stable I added the todolist on the right, which is controlled by irc-like commands. The commands are logged too, so finding out when I finished something is just a matter of grepping. :) Oh, and it starts on all activities by default, since it’s designed to be a systemwide thing.

Obviously the program isn’t much use as a journal to anybody but me. A normal person would probably want it to link into akonadi and/or nepomuk, and share the data with other apps, so that the todolist shows up in korganizer’s calendar n’stuff. :) However, it is useful as example code: it shows how to make an app activity-aware. It’s actually a pure-qt app at the moment too; I wanted to show that you don’t need any kde dependencies to write activity-aware code (*cough*firefox*cough*). I also wanted to have a testbed for some strange XSMP problems that only qt – not kde – has. I’m still not sure whether the bugs lie in Qt or in kde’s xsmp handling or in kwin, but my bet is on QApplication. :/

I have plans to add other shiny things, like an overview screen (or just “what now?” suggestions from the todolists) and grouped todos, but something distracted me and I haven’t gotten around to it yet. Maybe when I don’t have any essays to write. :P

Anyways, the ContextJournal source is here; if you’re thinking about adding activity support to something, check it out. And keep in mind that by now, the API for working with activities is probably in kdelibs; it’s a lot more convenient than having to make all those dbus calls yourself. :)



[…] ContextJournal: an activity-aware app What is this? it’s a neat little app that automates away the tedium of my personal journal system. Running KDE trunk, and having a strange knack for hitting freaky PIM bugs, I end up with my most important things stored in plain text. It’s grown into quite a system, one file per day with ascii todolists and stuff – add to that the need to do timetracking on one project, and, well, a bit of automation does wonders. […]



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