[TextMate] Tip: metadata and controlled vocabulary

Merlin Mann public at 43folders.com
Mon Oct 18 20:54:10 UTC 2004

This is a just a little tip for folks who run their life in TextMate 
(as I have begun to).

I have a single TextMate project in which I keep and maintain all my 
todo lists, project files, reference notes, etc. I'm a bit of a 
"[Getting Things Done][1]" nerd, so I admit to spending a lot of time 
fiddling around with lists. :)

I've evolved a standard header that I use for most of my txt documents 
that is similar to this example from my "Next Actions" (aka "to-do") 
list :

     ## Next Actions

       * _file_: "next.txt"
       * _purpose_: list of next actions needed for projects
       * _meta_: todo, next actions, task

Nothing too spectacular, but the little metadata line has really 
started to come in handy; I now can do a "`Find in Project`" on all my 
files and pick up any relevant hits--even when the term is not 
expressly mentioned in a given line of text. It's a great way to bubble 
up hidden content--even when it's many layers deep in the Finder.

The other, related tip, which I've mentioned before on [my site][2] is 
to try and standardize your vocabulary for TODOs or anything else 
you'll want to locate in a pile. I try to begin all of my TODOs with a 
verb followed by a fairly detailed phrase. E.g. :

     Buy propane at Albertson's
     Google the best way to run DynDNS on a Linksys; how to retain links?
     Email John about his site updates for Friday

This becomes really useful for GREPing a list of related topics and 
even generating a new one.

TextMate has really made me want to hone my modest shell skills to 
learn what it can do, because it seems pretty limitless. I'm just 
starting to install a few commands that will concatenate related files 
and generate these kinds of searches on the fly. I'd love to hear how 
other folks are using TM and the shell for tasks outside development, 
web design, etc. There's an awful of of power under that hood.


     [1]: http://davidco.com (David Allen Site: Home of GTD, etc.)
     [2]: http://43folders.com (OS X and productivity stuff)

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