Quick Add Syntax Proposal
This proposal outlines a simple, unified syntax for adding tasks in GTG via the Quick Add box. This simple syntax would allow power users to add multiple tasks more quickly and efficiently - but doesn't require any extra UI, so won't clutter the interface, confuse new users or be onerous to implement.
The proposed syntax has only three elements: | for multiple tasks, >> for subtasks and @ for tags.
Multiple Tasks Syntax
Entering the following text into the Add box:
Task One|Task Two|task3|Task Last
and pressing Enter or clicking 'Add' should create 4 new tasks, called:
Task One Task Two task3 Task Last
Typing this into the Add box:
Task1>>subtask1>>Subtask Two>>Sub-task 3
would create the following task:
with the following subtasks created and assigned:
- subtask1 - Subtask Two - Sub-task 3
Typing this into the Add box:
would create this task:
with the following tags attached:
Putting it all together
Ideally these features would all be implemented, so that entering this into the Add bar:
Task One@follow-up>>Sub Task One@pr>>Sub Task Two|Task 2|Task Three>>Subtask One|Task-the-last@personal
creates these tasks, with the indicated tags attached:
Task One @follow-up - Sub Task One @follow-up, @pr - Sub Task Two @follow-up Task 2 Task Three - Subtask One Task-the-last @personal
Note the tag inheritance to subtasks, with additional tags also applied.
Character choices & possible clashes
If you're using characters from the standard International 101 keyboard set (i.e. general ascii type stuff) and you're intending to mix this with general text (i.e. more general ascii stuff) then you need to acknowledge that this can't be done without an occasional clash, where someone wants to use one of your special characters in their text. There are several ways round this, none of them ideal: escaping, quoting, or syntax rules. Of these, Syntax Rules - i.e. special characters are always special, you just have to learn not to use them, seems to be the best choice for this application. It's a very simple syntax and I'm only proposing to use two extra special characters: '|' and '>>', as '@' is already special in GTG. These characters are very rarely used in normal human language but have long precedent as special characters in command line interfaces - where they've been used successfully for many years.
I've tried to stick with established command line norms for the syntax, with one eye on using chars that probably won't occur in task titles very often. This is why I suggested '>>' for subtasks rather than '>' or '-'. Both of those would probably occur in task titles at least occasionally, and '>>' is unix for append to file. It seems unlikely to me that lots of people are using either '>>' or '|' in task titles very often (if ever) and even if they are, would probably be willing to change in exchange for this functionality - I know I would, if I was using them (which I'm not).