Some people may have heard of Dutch programmer [Wouter Van Oortmerssen] since he’s the creator of the Amiga-E programming language, as well as being involved with several game engines. Heard of SimCity? How about Borderlands 2 or Far Cry? Having had clearly a long and illustrious career as a programmer for a variety of clients — including a long stint at Google, working on Web Assembly — many people will be familiar with at least some of his work. But you may not have heard of his TreeSheets productivity tool. Which would be a shame, as you’ve been missing out on something pretty darn useful.
TreeSheets is described as a hierarchical spreadsheet, which is intended as a replacement for several distinct tools; think spreadsheets, mindmaps and text editors and similar. In [Wouter]’s words:
It’s like a spreadsheet, immediately familiar, but much more suitable for complex data because it’s hierarchical.
It’s like a mind mapper, but more organized and compact.
It’s like an outliner, but in more than one dimension.
It’s like a text editor, but with structure.
Having been in development for about a decade, TreeSheets might look a bit dated here and there, but the design is clear and distraction-free, which is exactly what you need when you’re trying to focus on the task in hand. Why not give it a try and see if it works for you? After the break, you can see a video tutorial by YouTube user [DrilixProject].
No strangers to productivity hacks, here’s Pomodachi, a cute pomodoro timer crossed with a Tamagotchi. Sometimes productivity isn’t solved with software tools, but more to do with your attitude to projects. Finally sometimes the route to greater productivity is a little closer to home, like inside your head.
Thanks to [Paper] for the tip!
42 thoughts on “Organise Your Hacks With TreeSheets: An Open Source Hierarchical Spreadsheet”
Pomodomo ? Like it´s for the domus ?
Ugh. Typo fixed. Thanks!
Wow, thats a great piece of Software!
Is there a web application of this available?
Well, you could store the saved files in a git repo instead. You would still need to install it on every device, but at least you will own your data.
wxWidgets? Ugh… people need to just let wxWidgets die already and move on to Qt or GTK.
Good News! It’s Free (as in speech), so you are welcome to rewrite it to use Qt or GTK and submit the pull requests at your leisure!
Uhg… people need to let Qt and GTK die already and move on to Compose Multiplatform.
I love the old school look. More vram to play with.
Shoehorning every ui into a web browser is not the answer.
Still much much much better than the recent GTK incarnations and their completely illogical placement of controls in the window title bar, including the action buttons, so you read from up to down the contents of the window, then to confirm your choices you have to go back up.
Yeah. I’d take paper and crayons for a UI over GTK any day. Even the C++ wrappers for GTK can’t hid e the ugliness of that api.
Didn’t read the webpage. Does it export in some well-known format? Don’t want to get stuck in a dead end like Visio.
Yes, it exports to several formats (XML, HTML, CSV, indented text…) plus the native files are compatible with 100% of the existing Hierarchical Spreadsheet applications.
Is there a list of Existing hierarchical spreadsheet apps? Please guide/ point as google was not very helpful
That looked awfully out of date.
ah – video 2014
Currently being regularly updated though.
I looked at treesheets several years ago. I liked it a lot, but I couldn’t find a way to integrate it into the workflow of my employer’s systems.
I think I will take another look.
Thanks for bringing this up, Dave.
Ahh yes, fill timesheets at work, come home and fill timesheets at home. /s
Very cool project, I planned to make something similar in the early 2000s but thankfully big tech did it for me
there are a bunch of things about this that make me uneasy but the underlying thing is just that i don’t think it has a use.
for things like a todo list, you don’t really need a lot of structure. i have a note program that works on a flat text file with a very loose structure, just categories within notes. it recognizes a few conventions within the notes to provide nice features like a “today” pop up on android for the calendar i keep in there. it really doesn’t need to be arbitrarily nested, and when i do nest i just use you know indent and * like any other text file.
and spreadsheets are brilliant for the same reason. everything’s a grid. there’s no other kind of hierarchy. just a grid. and there are downsides to that but the simplification to a grid is the only strength of a spreadsheet, it is why i can pop open excel or gnumeric or lotus 123 or oleo or 8-in-1 (does anyone else remember 8-in-1?) and i’m instantly at home. i resent the ridiculous file formats these things have (i really want something closer to undecorated text representation so that the git change history is sensible), but they are all very interchangable. you don’t lose too much converting excelgnumeric.
i really think the secret to these things is to pick a *simplifying* assumption that inevitably makes it really awkward for some tasks. having one thing that is useful as a spreadsheet and as a day planner or whatever doesn’t make a ton of sense to me. and when you have something that does too much and isn’t taking the world by storm, you really are setting yourself up for a lot of headache in the future. it will be abandoned, and you won’t be able to find anything that makes good sense out of the saved datasets you have. you’ll have to convert and that conversion will lose structure or be a pain.
I like the concept of focusing in and out. I could see this being useful for systems engineering activities, or perhaps planning program or logic flows. The problem is, it seems to be limited to blocks of text and lists, whereas the things I mentioned would really want something like a flowchart capability.
I’m regularly nesting stuff into my spreadsheets related to a ‘parent row’ and adding dependent child task. I wish my tasks were so simple all the time I could keep a flat list, but alas it’s not on many an occasion. I usually have to break stuff down, delegate, divide and conquer. I’ve been relying on embedding notes and comments in other spreadsheet products. All work arounds. Standard spreadsheets aren’t going anywhere, but I like this idea for some applications in my workflow… If it lets me link to other nodes in the sheet then I will use it to keep track of some world building/writing projects too. I’m not resistant to the idea of trying it out.
Obsidian.md might be right to your alley?
I like the idea. I’ve been using QOwnNotes because it integrates with an OwnCloud server letting me easily switch between machines, but it’s not great at organizing ideas. (Notes are written in Markdown, and go in named folders, and that’s it. Not that I can’t type a few pipes to whip up a grid in Markdown, but I can’t recursively embed notes in notes like this does; and QOwnNotes doesn’t have a Table of Contents. )
TreeSheets doesn’t need a TOC because of the cool control zooming. I can easily see a “home automation” top level, followed by Home Assistant notes, inside there I’d have notes on z-wave, then z-wave devices, next to z-wave there might be my MQTT integration notes, etc. And it looks like it can export the sheet as very plain JSON, or other simple hierarchical text format. I just have to figure out if it’s worth trying to export my old notes into yet another new editor. :-|
Check out logseq tho
Very cool. I’ve seen a lot of talk about knowledge base systems and I have been waiting for a graphical system.
Any comments as to VirusTotal calling this out as malacious?
As per Greg A., I have similar concerns about using it in a “real” environment.
However, taking it for a test drive, it’s very similar to what I format spreadsheets to for recipes.
Same for many adhoc research notes (on topics too numerous), where I keep sources embedded, and go back and insert new info as that is acquired.
So it provides quick (well, quick-ish), formatting for a subset of my spreadsheet use.
I already have templates for my spreadsheet use, and can customize them as encountered.
Completely undecided if I’ll use this. Likely not, sticking with spreadsheets.
I couldn’t get it to work on my MacBook Pro M1 with macOS 12.5. I guess it’s so outdated that it only runs on macOS X and hasn’t been updated.
I have the same issue.
If you wish to give it a spin, I found that the build available at the link below works on my M2 Macbook Air (note that once you open the zip file, you have to drill down several folders to find the binary):
it’s not FOSS but i use nirvana (nirvanahq.com) but i’m a big fan of Getting Things Done by Dave Allen.
has a mobile app and decent desktop app, you can pull all your data out as json or xml but it works great for me as is. I use it for shopping lists at the local supermarket to multi year projects for my home automation stuff. as with nearly all these systems. You can only choose one, and you have to put EVERYTHING into it otherwise you just end up with n+1 systems you don’t use.
I’ve been using ToDoist for 10 years, but just for personal. I convinced the whole office to use Hive and I love it.
we have to use on prem tools for collaborative stuff so most things like hive and monday are no go for us :0(
I have been using this for years. Very helpful and classic tools.
That video doesn’t show how this is a spreadsheet, just nested tables in that demo. Guess I’ll have to actually try it out to see if it can do spreadsheety things.
Yeah me too, didn’t see a way to reference other cells.
The OSX download does not open, even with CRTL-CLICK on MAC.
Use the latest build artifact from GitHub (commit a962f73). Requires GitHub login. Works fine on this HaD reader’s M2 Mac running Monterey 12.5.
I’ve used this software for many many years. I love it for organizing my creative thinking processes and organizing works building for things like D&D.
I’ve always thought it was a shame it didn’t get the attention it deserves. Seriously go try it out. It’s not new, it’s a diamond in the rough.
I’m trying it out but I’m at a loss as to how to mark TODOs as complete? Or even create them? Any advice would be appreciated!
why not to use “vym – view your mind”?
It took me forever to find a multilevel nested hierarchy software with nearly unlimited nesting levels (since Excel is limited to 8) for making spreadsheet-like static BOMs that don’t require software complexity and expense needed for dynamic BOMs. TreeSheets and Dynalist are the best I’ve found with TreeSheets being the clear winner for my needs.
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