One of the trendies of new companies is 37 Signals. They have three claims to fame:

  • They’re one of the early AJAX pioneers.
  • They take a delightfully minimalist approach to software design: they figure out a set of core features giving you the value, and make those features as useable as possible.
  • They wrote Ruby on Rails.

So I’d been looking for an excuse to give their stuff a try for a while, but nothing had really clicked. But then I was at work, and thought of a blog post that I wanted to write. But I didn’t want to write it at work, or even log into the blog from work, and I don’t really like e-mailing stuff to my personal account to then be transferred to the “future blog topics” list. Normally, when this happens, I just trust myself to remember the topic, which works well enough, but this time I thought about ways to set up a list which I could easily access from both home and work. Which one of their free products, Ta-da Lists, is suited for, so I decided to give it a try.

And it’s totally charming! All you can do is add entries, check them off, and edit them or move them around; I have yet to use the latter, and the UI for it is correspondingly less intrusive. It requires a minimum of mouse clicks. (Well, almost a minimum: I wish there were a keyboard shortcut to get to the “add new entries” mode, but once you’re in that mode, you don’t have to click on the mouse again to add multiple entries.) It’s nice and responsive, and a single click of the back button (or alt-left-arrow, in my case), and I’m out of it.

Like I said above, I’d been looking for an excuse to try their software; I didn’t honestly think that the result would be superior to other alternatives I could come up with. But I really like it; now I not only have a forthcoming blog topics list, but also a miscellaneous to-do list for stuff that I’m thinking of at home or at work to do in the other place. And I may well add other lists as well. I don’t have any current needs that seem like a fit for any of their more complicated software, but if I did, I wouldn’t hesitate to use it, and to pay money for it. They also seem to be suitably non-possessive of your data, providing XML export of your data and web services APIs to manipulate it.

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