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ToDoList 8.2 - An Effective and Flexible Way to Keep on Top of Your Tasks

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17 Sep 2023Eclipse12 min read 65.9M   441.5K   3.6K   32.8K
A hierarchical task manager with native XML support for custom reporting


3rd Party

Note: Please contact the respective authors directly with comments and questions


Latest Update (8.2 Feature Release)

  • Added 'Markdown' comments
  • Added highlighting of 'Circular Dependencies'
  • Added 'Calculations' to 'Custom Attributes'
  • Added 'Custom Date' attributes to 'Week Planner'
  • Added 'Custom Date' attributes to 'Calendar'
  • Added 'Drag and Drop' from 'Explorer' to 'Spreadsheet' comments
  • Added dedicated toolbar button for creating 'ToDoLIst UDTs'
  • Added 'Recurrence' options to 'Filter Bar'
  • Added '-mp' command line switch to use first decryption password as a 'Master Password'
  • Added toolbar button to 'Find Tasks' dialog to allow closing when docked
  • Added 'Calendar' preferences to show 'Week Number' in cell header
  • Added 'Straight Line Connections' option to 'Mind Map'
  • Added 'Completed Date' to 'Attribute Inheritance'
  • Improved layout of overlapping 'Calendar' tasks
  • Improved handling of 'Due Task Notification' hyperlinks
  • Improved 'Time Tracker' task selection
  • Improved 'Edit Dependency' task selection
  • Improved performance of 'flat' tasklists


You know how it is - you start work on one project and halfway through, you find one or two side-projects crop up that have to be solved before you can continue on the original project.

This is one such project with the added twist that it too started its life as a side-project. Here's what happened:

<Cue wavy screen effect>

I can only imagine that the planets must have been in (mis-)alignment or something, because at one point a few months ago, I was suddenly fielding emails on four or five separate articles I had previously submitted to CodeProject, some asking for features and others for bug fixes.

Foolishly or otherwise, I largely agreed with all the points raised, and subsequently found myself with fourteen or fifteen separate issues to resolve.

The situation was also made worse because I was trying to use CodeProject to keep track of all the things I had agreed to do, meaning that I had to continuously trawl the comments section of each article to remind myself of what I was supposed to be working on.

It even got to the stage where I was worrying that I'd fail to deliver on something - silly I know, but there you are!

Keeping a list on paper was a definite step in the right direction, but since I do all my coding on the same machine, it seemed somewhat inelegant, and anyway, we all know what happens to crucial bits of paper left lying around on desks and such.

The next step was to hunt around on the web for a tool to meet the following requirements:

  • Simple interface
  • Support for hierarchical data
  • Numbered items/subitems
  • Open file format
  • Freeware

Simple, huh! not!

I will admit that I did not spend weeks searching, but I am still surprised at the general lack of software matching my needs.

On reflection, I think that the reason may be simple: people are so used to commercial software being 'feature-rich' that when they come to design software themselves, they (not unreasonably) think they too need to cram as much in as possible, often leading to software where a lot of essential functionality is hidden away in the menu bar.

So, surprise, surprise, I decided to write something myself.

However, it's fair to say that I did not originally intend to post it on CodeProject and am only really doing so because I had a heap of fun solving some very interesting problems and these are what I think make it worth it.

Using the Software

There's really very little I need to say here since every feature/function is explicitly visible in the interface.

Nevertheless, the following list of basic capabilities and omissions may go someway to answering any questions that arise:

  • Files are stored in XML format with .xml file extension.
  • Trying to load a non-tasklist file will generally fail (unless you read the code to see how to circumvent it).
  • The number of items/subitems is limited only by memory (although performance may be the deciding factor before you exhaust memory).
  • Marking a parent item as 'done' will also gray-out child items, but they are not disabled or automatically marked as 'done'.
  • An ellipsis (...) indicates that an item has sub-items.
  • All items can be expanded or collapsed (by double-clicking).
  • Top-level items and sub-items are created using different toolbar buttons.
  • There are task-specific context-menus.
  • The previously open tasklists are re-opened on startup.
  • The tasklist is automatically saved when closing the software or minimizing it to the system tray.
  • The priority of a task is shown as a grayscale box to the left of the item.

Points of Interest

Here's where we come to the side-projects I was talking about, the first two of which I intend to work up into follow-up articles.

They are:

  1. The 'ordered' tree control, which incorporates a non-client gutter for displaying the item numbers.

    The idea stemmed from research I did into alternative designs for a tree-list control, which did not solve it by creating a hybrid control incorporating a tree and a list.

    The hybrid control seems such an obvious solution that I suspect few people have stopped to question it, but it has still always struck me as looking far too much like hard work to be truly elegant ('square pegs' and 'round holes' spring to mind).

    One possible idea is to implement the 'list' portion entirely in the non-client area of the tree. I.e., shift the right hand client edge to the left and then render the list portion in the resulting non-client area.

    Whilst I've yet to get round to building a proof of concept, it was nevertheless this ongoing mental debate which prompted me to try to solve the requirement for numbered items and subitems by rendering the item/subitem numbers in the non-client area.

    Without going into too much detail (as this will subsequently be an article of its own), this is how I got it to work:

    • Handle TVM_INSERTITEM and TVM_DELETEITEM to know exactly when items are added and removed.
    • In these handlers recalculate the width of the gutter required to display the widest 'dotted' item/subitem number. (Note: this is not necessarily simply the deepest subitem.)
    • If the required gutter width changes, call SetWindowPos(NULL, 0, 0, 0, 0, SWP_FRAMECHANGED | SWP_NOMOVE | SWP_NOSIZE | SWP_NOZORDER) to force Windows to recalculate the non-client area of the control.
    • Handle WM_NCCALCSIZE when it does, and offset the left border by the required gutter width.
    • Handle WM_NCPAINT for painting the numbers.

    This is necessarily an over-simplification, but it captures the essence of the solution, and all that essentially remains is lots of fiddling about to ensure the non-client area gets redrawn at the the right times to stay synchronized with the client area.

  2. Embedding .RC control definition data directly in a .cpp file to break the dependency on binary resources (a.k.a. 'Runtime Dialogs').

    This is an idea that has been floating about for quite some time and which has only recently gelled into a workable solution.

    The problem, put simply, is that if you want to take advantage of the resource editor in Visual Studio (and who doesn't), then you very quickly find yourself stuck with having to load dialog templates from resources compiled into the binary file.

    This further means that if you want to make use of a dialog across multiple projects, then either you need to copy and paste the dialog template between project .RC files, or you need to build the dialog into a DLL from which it can be accessed.

    'Runtime Dialogs' (a snappy title I coined myself) is a solution that neatly sidesteps both the nuisance of copying dialog resources between resource files and the extra work (and maintenance) involved in packaging dialogs in DLLs.

    And it works like this:

    • First, you design your dialog template in the resource editor, create a CDialog derived class using class wizard, and wire up all the controls just as you normally would.
    • Next, you #include "runtimedlg.h" and change all instances of CDialog to CRuntimeDlg.
    • Then, you cut and paste the control definition section from the appropriate section in the .RC file and embed it directly in the dialog's .cpp file as a static string (with a bit of tweaking to handle double quotes and such like).
    • Finally, in the constructor of your dialog, you simply call CRuntimeDlg::AddRCControls(...) passing the control definitions as a string.
    • And CRuntimeDlg takes care of the rest including, if required, auto-sizing the dialog to suit the control layout.

    I'm certainly not suggesting that this is a 'win-win' solution for all situations but it certainly has merits in its closer coupling of dialog template to dialog code which makes sharing dialogs across multiple projects a breeze.

    P.S.: In case it's not clear here, I used CRuntimeDlg to create CToDoCtrl which encapsulates the ordered tree together with the priority, date and comments controls as a single simple-to-instantiate control.

    I'm also proposing to use them in the .NET port of my ProjectZip add-in for VC6.

  3. Embedding the XML file in a web page.

    This is possibly the most satisfying aspect of the whole project because it was completely unexpected.

    What I mean is that, until recently, my knowledge of DOM and XMLDOM was virtually non-existent, as it's only since I've become more interested in the presentation of AbstractSpoon that I've been forced to get to grips with the various implementations of DOM and XMLDOM out there.

    I'm pleased to say that the code on my site works under IE 6.0, Netscape 7.1, and Mozilla, although custom code was required to achieve this.

Generic MFC Classes that may prove Useful to You

The following table lists a wide range of utility classes written for this project. They can all be included in any MFC project provided you include any class dependencies too. Feel free to ask any questions relating to these specific classes and how to use them.

Class Name


Class Dependencies
(apart from MFC)


Customizable "About...' dialog not requiring a dialog resource. Supports html encoded text

CRuntimeDlg, CRCCtrlParser


Adds only unique items to the drop list and shuffles the list so that the last added item is at the top



Encapsulates the setting and unsetting of a boolean variable thru the lifetime of the class instance



Non-ownerdraw button that displays the selected colour on the button face and displays the colour dialog when clicked



Owner-draw combobox for displaying and selecting user defined colours



Encapsulation of various rountines for calculating date spans and for formatting



Encapsulation of the Win32 API



Re-implementation of the CDialog DDX/DDV rountines to avoid the MFC error messages when the user clears a number edit (for instance)



Encapsulates the MapDialogRect Win32 API



Class for managing the docking of one popup window to another.

*CSubclassWnd, CHoldRedraw, CAutoFlag


Encapsulates various rountines for querying about drives, files and disk space



Adds support to CBitmap for loading non-bmp files and resources.


CEnBitmapEx, CColorReplacer, CImageBlurrer, CImageColorizer, CImageContraster, CImageEmbosser, CImageFlipper, CImageGrayer, CImageLightener, CImageNegator, CImageResizer, CImageRotator, CImageSharpener, CImageShearer, CImageSysColorMapper, CImageTinter

Adds image manipulation funationality to CEnBitmap



Adds saving and restoring of custom colours to CColorDialog



Adds functions for extracting and querying commandline switches



Adds user-defined button capabilities to CEdit

CMaskEdit, CThemed, CDlgUnits


Adds support for using alternative resource or file images



Adds buttons for browsing and displaying the file represented by the text in the edit control. Also shows the file's small icon.

CEnEdit, CFolderDialog, CMaskEdit, CDlgUnits, CThemed, CSysImageList


Encapsulates WM_SETREDRAW



Fixes a number of behavioural problems including the handling of certain keypresses



Tracks the cursor movement over user-defined windows and posts event messages as necessary



Provides simple method to detect if another instance of an app is running



Adds simple character masking to CEdit



Allows the UI of standard windows controls to be extended by supporting any number of columns to be added to the non-client area of the window. Favours tabular controls like lists, trees, etc

*CSubclassWnd, CHoldRedraw, CThemed, CDlgUnits


CTreeCtrl implementation of CNcGutter displaying a single column showing the hierarchical position of each tree item in '' notation.

CHoldRedraw, CThemed


Very simple password dialog not requiring a dialog resource

CRuntimeDlg, CRCCtrlParser


Simpler replacement for CPropertySheet allowing easier creation as a child window



Used by CRuntimeDlg for parsing dialog resource-like text



Adds support to CDialog for building dialogs at runtime ie. dialogs do not require a dialog resource



Class for handling application keyboard shortcuts.

*CSubclassWnd, CWinClasses


Spellcheck dialog not requiring a dialog resource, which interfaces with ISpellCheck (interface to Open Office dictionaries)

CRuntimeDlg, CRCCtrlParser, ISpellCheck


Encapsulates the Windows system image list (file/folder images)



Adds post rendering callback for the tabs without using owner-draw



Encapsulates themed (XP) and non-themed (the rest) drawing of windows controls



Adds a button for specifying time units and provided routines for converting time to and from different time units

CEnEdit, CMaskEdit, CThemed, CDlgUnits


Adds support for dialog toolbar tooltips, multiline tooltips and dropbuttons with menus

*CSubclassWnd, CEnBitmap, CEnBitmapEx


Encapsulates the Shell_NotifyIcon Win32 API. Also provides balloon tips and animation



Adds support for recognizing urls, clicking them and setting custom url callbacks



Encapsulates the ::GetClassName Win32 functions


CXmlFile, CXmlItem

Non-Unicode class for reading and writing xml files



Adds encryption capabilities to CXmlFile

CXmlFile, IEncryption

* CSubclassWnd was originally written by Paul DiLascia for MSJ magazine. The version I use has been heavily extended to suit my specific needs. The classes that depend on it here need this extended version.

Further Work

Whilst this tool was originally intended for my personal use only, it is now a 'community' project, so if you find it useful and want to make suggestions for enhancements or bug fixes, please post to our Google Group.


  • History now held here
  • 1.1-7.1 (removed by .dan.g.)
  • 1.0 (4 Nov 2003)


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Eclipse Public License 1.0

Written By
Software Developer Maptek
Australia Australia
.dan.g. is a naturalised Australian and has been developing commercial windows software since 1998.

Comments and Discussions

PraiseThank you Pin
Kestutis Laurinavicius18-Sep-23 23:40
Kestutis Laurinavicius18-Sep-23 23:40 
GeneralRe: Thank you Pin
.dan.g.19-Sep-23 15:02
professional.dan.g.19-Sep-23 15:02 
Bug[Bug](ToDoList Subtasks are lost when archiving Parent via a Filter Pin
cpwolfe15-Sep-23 17:33
cpwolfe15-Sep-23 17:33 
GeneralRe: [Bug](ToDoList Subtasks are lost when archiving Parent via a Filter Pin
.dan.g.16-Sep-23 16:52
professional.dan.g.16-Sep-23 16:52 
GeneralRe: [Bug](ToDoList Subtasks are lost when archiving Parent via a Filter Pin
.dan.g.24-Sep-23 21:02
professional.dan.g.24-Sep-23 21:02 
QuestionToDoList 8.0 and MS Visual C++ (x86) Redistributable Package Pin
MarinaBlu18-Aug-23 13:06
MarinaBlu18-Aug-23 13:06 
AnswerRe: ToDoList 8.0 and MS Visual C++ (x86) Redistributable Package Pin
.dan.g.19-Aug-23 23:27
professional.dan.g.19-Aug-23 23:27 
QuestionDark theme anyone ? Pin
ARCTIC SHINE4-Jul-23 3:46
ARCTIC SHINE4-Jul-23 3:46 
AnswerRe: Dark theme anyone ? Pin
.dan.g.16-Sep-23 16:50
professional.dan.g.16-Sep-23 16:50 
QuestionWhy is Intermittently Numbered List not showing numbers in Comments Pin
Len202027-May-23 4:24
Len202027-May-23 4:24 
AnswerRe: Why is Intermittently Numbered List not showing numbers in Comments Pin
.dan.g.29-May-23 13:46
professional.dan.g.29-May-23 13:46 
SuggestionGenerate A Task From External Source Pin
Member 1489227030-Jan-23 8:49
Member 1489227030-Jan-23 8:49 
GeneralRe: Generate A Task From External Source Pin
.dan.g.30-Jan-23 12:05
professional.dan.g.30-Jan-23 12:05 
GeneralRe: Generate A Task From External Source Pin
Member 1489227031-Jan-23 9:49
Member 1489227031-Jan-23 9:49 
GeneralRe: Generate A Task From External Source Pin
.dan.g.1-Feb-23 13:36
professional.dan.g.1-Feb-23 13:36 
GeneralRe: Generate A Task From External Source Pin
Member 148922702-Feb-23 4:50
Member 148922702-Feb-23 4:50 
GeneralRe: Generate A Task From External Source Pin
.dan.g.2-Feb-23 13:09
professional.dan.g.2-Feb-23 13:09 
GeneralRe: Generate A Task From External Source Pin
.dan.g.8-Feb-23 20:06
professional.dan.g.8-Feb-23 20:06 
QuestionMore flexible recurrence of tasks Pin
Adrian S. 202331-Dec-22 22:12
Adrian S. 202331-Dec-22 22:12 
QuestionToDoList - Dark Theme Pin
Member 1577593122-Sep-22 6:14
Member 1577593122-Sep-22 6:14 
AnswerRe: ToDoList - Dark Theme Pin
QuantumQuacken3-Feb-23 11:32
QuantumQuacken3-Feb-23 11:32 
GeneralRe: ToDoList - Dark Theme Pin
.dan.g.4-Feb-23 13:38
professional.dan.g.4-Feb-23 13:38 
QuestionXSD for task schema? Pin
Anton Sep202213-Sep-22 18:05
Anton Sep202213-Sep-22 18:05 
AnswerRe: XSD for task schema? Pin
.dan.g.14-Sep-22 15:01
professional.dan.g.14-Sep-22 15:01 
GeneralRe: XSD for task schema? Pin
mwSteidl22-Dec-22 5:38
mwSteidl22-Dec-22 5:38 

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