Moving from Trello to Things

In my continual quest for finding a reasonable task management tool, I’ve stopped my quest at Things. In a previous post, I shared I moved from ToDo to Trello. I didn’t like Trello, wasn’t for me, but I know it works for so many, so I thought I’d be nice and cover migrating from ToDo to Trello using a flow.

Things is a little different

Things is a beautiful app that runs on the Apple ecosystem. It’s very similar to ToDo, with a few small differences (I can specify a due date and a start date now, that’s a nice plus!). This is the model I like: lists and tasks with easy roll up views of what’s due Today, Upcoming, etc. ToDo did it well, Things does as well. But as previously mentioned ToDo was giving me some headaches.

Things does back up to the cloud but there isn’t a web interface for it. The only way to manage my tasks is through apps. I’m okay with that since I was doing that with ToDo, and installed the Trello app for a hot minute. I prefer apps over web when available: they usually have more features and allow me to quickly jump from app to app vs tab to tab in a browser. But I digress…

This model is interesting because there are no traditional APIs, as one might expect, for accessing the data in Things. Instead, it uses a defined URL scheme as its API. Opening a URL like things:///add?title=new task opens the Things app, and then adds the task. It’s all client side. Pretty neat idea.

I am finding this model makes integration easier since I just have to create a link, and not deal with API calls, authorizations, etc. Certainly not an enterprise friendly app, you couldn’t easily migrate a company from ToDo or Trello to Things, as far as I can tell, but one on one is quite doable.

I think this is acceptable, since I want a task management tool for me, not a team. Maybe I’ll share a list or task here or there, but 99% of the time I don’t, these are all mine… my sweet precious…

Because I do live my life by tasks, I rely on it a lot, and send a lot to it. Things does have the ability to convert emails to tasks, which knocks out most integration use cases easily. Given this URL scheme approach, it promises to make further integrations faster and easier from other apps like Outlook, Chrome, CLI, etc. I’m sure I’ll be sharing more soon!

Migrating into Things

Things has some native import options, but Trello isn’t an option, and Trello’s exported JSON isn’t supported. So I explored Microsoft Power Automate, like I did for the move from ToDo to Trello, but there were no actions for Things and even Trello didn’t have the right actions needed to properly get all the data. I also checked out Zapier, no luck.

Ok, fine, no no-code options: Time to get my hands dirty.

I created a Javascript file to run with Node to import the data. I was going to go down using shell, but found this much faster for me to build. If a shell option is desired, I can explore that, or you can write it ;). My script is up at Github.

I had to leverage their URL scheme, fortunately it’s well documented and they even have a link builder on their site. The script loops through all of the data from Trello, does some massaging, and then opens the URL for each list and task. It runs quite easily and quickly. I have over 240 tasks to import, and it took under a minute. See the Github project for details on how to run it.

This script could be easily modified to import any data into Things as needed. I look forward to exploring more integration options.

Let me know what you think!

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