ZenTasktic – The Pivot

It’s always nice to look back at your life and see that some of your actions are still making sense, so to speak. Or, to be more precise, it’s nice to revisit some projects that you put on hold and get that feeling of “well, there’s something about this project, you know?”.

That’s the feeling I got when I revisited ZenTasktic at the beginning of this month. It’s a project I started more than 3 years ago, a productivity app. Not your regular “to do” thing, because it’s built on top of a productivity framework called “Assess – Decide – Do”. If you’re new to this blog, then you must know I even wrote a book about this framework, called Natural Productivity (link will take it to the Amazon Kindle version).

To make a (potentially) very long story, short, I restarted the project, but with a twist. Here are the value proposition and the roadmap.

  • ZenTasktic implements 100% the Assess – Decide – Do framework, which means it will generate a specific flow of your activity, one allegedly better than a regular to-do app
  • ZenTasktic will offer meta-information about your activity, based on how you implement the framework (it can tell you if you’re spending too much time planning and too little doing, and so on)
  • ZenTasktic will be offered as a subscription, across the entire Apple ecosystem, which means it will have versions for iPhone, iPad and Mac, all sharing the same data.
  • ZenTasktic will allow to share data with other users, starting with 3.0 versions (since it replaces iAdd, it will be launched with a 2.0 tag version). ETA for this feature is 6 – 18 months, though, at the moment of writing
  • ZenTasktic aims to be in AppStore at the end of 2019, beginning of 2020, pending nothing major will happen in my life (which I can never be sure of, obviously)

ZenTasktic – The Technical Box

The app is a complete and thorough rewrite of iAdd, which will also replace in the AppStore. So if you happen to download iAdd before my Apple developer membership expired, you will see it replaced by ZenTasktic.

The codebase is in Swift, and it uses – as the previous version – Core Data for local storage. There is a new tech layer, though, on top of that, called iCloudKit, which will make the Core Data stack available (almost magically) to all the devices signed in the same iCloud account. So, if you are signed in on a Mac, on an iPad and on an iPhone, with the same iCloud credentials, you will get the exact same information, in real time.

Another tech layer that made my life way easier is Catalyst. This framework allows the same code base to be compiled, almost hassle-free, on all Apple hardware platforms, including Mac. That was a big challenge for me back when I started iAdd, because I always wanted a way to share my data across the entire ecosystem. Back then, this wasn’t easy at all.

iCloudKit with Core Data is a relatively new tech on the Apple ecosystem, and, paired with Catalyst, made me quite optimistic about delivering significant value with this new pivot of ZenTasktic.

There are also a few challenges, one of them being the “lock-in” problem. Meaning I am addressing a limited market: these tech layers are available only in the Apple ecosystem, and, as strange as it this may seem to me, there are people out there who are not using Apple devices (I’m joking, I’m not that much of a fanboy). Anyway, it looks like iCloudKit offers a JavaScript API, which, in theory, means that I can write web / android / windows apps that can talk to the same backend. I have no idea about the size of the challenge, about the reliability of these APIs and if they can replicate the same user experience on other ecosystems, but at least there’s hope.

I’m planning to post frequent updates about this project, so if you’re interested in becoming a beta tester, please leave me a comment with your email, so I can send you a TestFlight invite.

I’m ending the posts with some screenshots, all of them taken after about 10 days of development (they’re not mockups, these are iPhone, iPad simulators and a real Mac app).

If you want to signup for the beta tester newsletter, have a look at this page.

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