I tend to tinker with software installed on my Mac, iPhone, and iPad more frequently that I should. I'm extremely interested in playing with new applications and testing if they could fit into my workflow.
One of my favourite categories to explore on the iOS & Mac App Stores is Productivity. The App Store is literally littered with hundreds of apps in my favourite sub-genre - task managers. I've got a soft spot for well designed, clean and simple task managers which sync over the air.
Cheddar's lack of features and settings is its top selling point. You're not presented with an area to attach notes, schedule your tasks, or any other 'clutter.' You're presented with a simple type-based (supporting Markdown) interface allowing you to create lists, create tasks within those lists with minimal detail, mark them complete, and archive them. That's it.
Cheddar recently changed hands. Sam Soffes, the original developer for Cheddar, sold off the service to Josh Long. Initially, I was a little disappointed when hearing about Sam's plans to unload Cheddar. Sam was attentive, open, and honest with his users about the current, and future state of Cheddar.
I've been pleasantly pleased to see Josh Long continue to regularly update Cheddar's Twitter account and keep users in the loop. Software wise, not much has changed since the takeover.
Where Cheddar Fits In
You've got three different ways you can interact with your lists and tasks. Via the excellent and clean web interface, on iOS on either the iPhone or iPad, or using the native Mac application available on the Mac App Store.
I haven't found myself launching the Mac application on a regular basis as in its current state (1.0.1) it lacks the same level of polish I've become used to in the iOS version. The application essentially feels like a blank slate, a direct port from iOS if-you-like. Instead - I prefer to interact with my tasks using the web interface or strictly using the iOS application.
I've been a huge fan and relied on Cultured Code's Things as my go-to to-do manager for the past few years. Most of the time I'll tinker and promptly delete task managers I download, however Cheddar changed that. It doesn't replace Things, instead, it complements it quite nicely the way I'm using it.
I'm make good use of the excellent scheduling built in Things, something that's been purposely left out of Cheddar. This means all my recurring tasks and projects are stored in the Things database. Cheddar on the other hand has found its way into my workflow, as a place to write 'daily' task lists of things I need to do, or get done looking ahead at the current day.
Each morning I fire up Cheddar and start ticking away at my list of any tasks I need to complete that said day. At the end of each day I'll archive the completed tasks, and enter in the tasks I need to complete the following day in a list named 'Today.' As this list is emptied and re-written on a daily basis, I've got no way to reschedule tasks the way I can in Things, this has put extra pressure on me to complete these tasks in order to complete the daily list.
It's easy to put too much emphasis and spend too much time entering, tagging, dating, and arranging tasks, rather than just getting things done. I'm often guilty of this practice in Things. I like an organised to-do list (call it my OCD GTD), complete with tags and dates. Though more attractive than a good looking to-do list, is an empty to-do list. Spending a little more time completing tasks, rather than tinkering around tagging and scheduling them, has immensely helped my productivity.
What you can do is create lists, create tasks within these lists, format your tasks using Markdown, while tagging them using hashtags - Twitter style.
An extremely bold move by Sam Soffes, the original developer of Cheddar, was the decision to provide an API from the outset, and make the source code completely open-source.
Obviously for a third-party developer to invest time into creating alternative software to access your Cheddar data, their needs to be something in it for them. I don't think Cheddar has the user base for a top flight developer to make that sort of investment in time/money yet. As of the 22nd June, it was reported there were 45,725 users signed-up with 1,090 third-party apps.
Your only limitation on the free version of Cheddar is the inability to create more than three lists. You're not bugged by protruding ads, there's no limitation to how many tasks you can create, speed of sync, or a limit on the amount of devices you can access your tasks on.
Upgrade to Cheddar Plus for just $1.99 USD per month, and you unlock the ability to create more than three lists. I'm not constrained by this limitation, however it hasn't stopped me becoming a 'Plus' user. At a monthly cost of less than the 250mL Red Bull I drink on a daily basis - it was a complete no brainer to lodge my support to the development.
I'll support any independent developer creating software of this quality without any VC or angel investment, as long as the developer has a clear business model. IE: Let me pay for your service/software - simple as that! Benjamin Brooks has been hugely focal over the years for this old-fashioned way of running a business. Let us pay for your product/service, because I'm not, and refuse to be the product.
Cheddar's business model is based around Cheddar Plus. The software is free (with the aforementioned minor limitations) across all four platforms, charging third-party developers for accessing the open-source API and building their own software which interacts with your database.
Josh is counting on users like you to fall in love with the simple interface, beautiful typeface, blazingly fast sync, and superior support to fund his business.
I'd like to see the ability to delete tasks in a future release. At this present point in time, once you've created a task the only way to make it disappear is to archive it. Tasks can optionally be automatically archived after one day via the preferences screen.
You're not able to delete anything permanently. Create a task by mistake? You must archive it. Created a task in the wrong project? You must archive it. You get the picture.
As I'm accustomed to Things where the 'tapping zone' is just on or around the checklist box, I've found myself a little frustrated that tapping anywhere on the line of a task in Cheddar will mark the task as complete.
These are all minor niggles in the grand scheme, but details like this matter. Ideally - the 'perfect' Cheddar would look almost, if not exactly the same as it does today. While there are a few tweaks I'd like to see added/changed, Cheddar does what it's designed to extremely well.
I’ve been a die-hard fan of Things since day-one. While I’ve tested numerous competitors over the past few years, nothing has replaced my tried and true Things workflow. Cheddar isn't a replacement, it's an addition to an already tried-and-true workflow.
Aside from my concerns during the implementation of Cloud Syncing to Things, I've been a diehard fan since day-one. In saying that, Cheddar has claimed its spot on the home-screen of my iPhone.
I'm most impressed with the sheer speed of the sync between multiple devices, across different platforms. This is blazingly fast. I'm yet to run into any issues with slow sync, lost data, or duplicate tasks/lists. Check out this demo video for an idea of how swiftly syncing happens.
Cheddar really is as bare bones as it gets with tasks management software which is an extremely bold move to make in the world competing with products such as OmniFocus and Things.