Today, we’re thrilled to introduce you to the newest member of our team and our first ever full-time Todoist for Windows developer, Jan Kratochvil.
A long-time Microsoft-enthusiast, experienced .Net developer and die-hard Battlefield 4 aficionado, Jan will be wholly dedicated to making the Todoist user experience in Windows and Outlook as awesome as possible. In fact, he’s already hit the ground running on key bug fixes and several new, highly-requested features.
How do we know he’s up for the task (pun very much intended;)? Jan already single-handedly built TaskCrunch — the most popular Todoist client available for Windows Phone, and Todoist’s first ever acquisition! With this gorgeous WP app and it’s talented founder onboard, it’s safe to say our users can expect exciting things to happen on our Microsoft platforms in the near future.
Read on to learn more about Jan’s thoughts on developing for Windows, the upcoming release of Windows 10, his top priorities for Todoist for Windows and Outlook, and the future of TaskCrunch for Windows Phone…
What made you want to specialize in software development for Windows?
When starting your programming career, there are many technology choices you have to make, some of them will have profound consequences. You are not only choosing a technology, but also a community you will belong to. In the Czech Republic, where I’m from, Microsoft is very active in building a technical community, frequently organizes meeting and lectures and proactively offers free tools and books to students.
Then there is Channel9, which contains a ton of deep technical conversations that drive you to learn even more. In short, when you look at Steve Ballmer’s infamous “Developers” video, that’s not marketing, but one of Microsoft’s core values. And as a developer, that’s tremendously appealing, I know of no other company that puts such strong focus on continually investing in making sure that Windows developers have what they need to get the job done.
What do you think are the biggest advantages Windows has over other platforms?
I think that the biggest advantage of Windows is its tremendous partner ecosystem. From hardware makers to indie game developers to enterprise solution vendors, the scope of the ecosystem is incredible.
The other thing closely connected to this is that Windows is increasingly able to run anywhere, from XBOX to tiny sensor-based devices. When you add the ability to write apps once and run them anywhere using awesome tools that are really easy to use, I think that you have a winner.
What excites you most about the new Windows 10 and the future of Windows platforms in general?
I think Windows 10 represents the realization of the “One Microsoft” vision laid out a couple of years ago by Steve Ballmer. The fact that a single OS will be used on traditional PCs, smartphone, XBOX and many other is tremendously exciting in its own right, as it will enable developers to create new cross-device experiences.
By making an OS that is able to adapt to these very different form factors, I expect this to enable a new wave of “hybrid” form factors. I currently use the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga, which had a significant impact on my workflow as I can choose the form factor that is most suitable for any given situation. This is the class of devices that is unique to Windows and Windows 10 will make them even easier and more comfortable to use, thanks to features like Continuum.
As a long time Windows Phone fan, I’m glad that a lot of the WP features I love, will come become available on other platforms, such as Cortana and the notification center. I hope that the phone skew of Windows will be able to retain the uniqueness of Windows Phone which I’ve always found very attractive and functional.
Lastly, Project Spartan. Although in the last couple of years Internet Explorer has improved tremendously, it seems that a fresh start is what Windows need in this space. And as a big believer of inking, which I think is one of Windows’ biggest hidden gems, I’m excited to be able to easily annotate web pages with ink and then share them with my friends and colleagues.
What features are you most excited about bringing to Todoist’s Windows desktop client? Outlook? Windows Phone?
For the Windows Desktop app and the Outlook app, the number one priority right now is to fix bugs and make the apps behave in a way users expect. Also key is that we want to add some features that, while not cool or groundbreaking, will make the app more comfortable to use, such as high DPI support and manual proxy settings.
TaskCrunch will continue to be evolved and supported to provide a good experience for Windows Phone 8.1 users. Becoming a part of Doist will enable me to more effectively solve issues related to interacting with Todoist APIs as I now have access to their developers. Also, we will be watching closely the development of Windows 10 and react appropriately :-) I hope we will have more to share soon in this regard.
What are your goals for Todoist for Windows platforms in the coming year?
Sounds like you’re asking about Windows 10 :-)
There are no concrete plans yet as there are still many unknowns. We’re excited to hear the Windows 10 developer story at Build in April and we’ll go from there. TaskCrunch is already built as a “Universal” app, which should help us to evolve it for the next generation of Windows more easily.
But generally speaking, we are serious about supporting Windows better going forward and we’ll do our very best to build kickass experiences that take advantage of unique Windows features. Also, who wouldn’t want to organize their tasks using HoloLens, right? :-)
What was your motivation to create TaskCrunch?
I spend daily about two hours commuting, which I actually like, since it gives me time to think about what’s ahead of me in the morning and reflect on the day’s events when going home. When I picked Todoist to manage my day, I quickly realized how crucial it was for me to have access to my tasks on my Windows Phone, even when on the subway, where Internet connection is not available.
So I took a quick look at the APIs Todoist provides and they seemed very simple to use and designed for offline. I talked about how Todoist and other major apps were not available on Windows Phone which I believe the main thing holding it back. So I decided that an app for Todoist is something that is worth doing and developed the first version over the Easter break.
The response from Windows Phone users was awesome and I’m really glad that I could in a small way make WP more attractive for users.
Now that Todoist has acquired TaskCrunch, what are your plans for the app?
First, I’d like to thank all TaskCrunch users for their support, suggestions and encouragement, I couldn’t have built TaskCrunch without you. I would love to stay as close to TaskCrunch users as possible, so write me a mail if you want to discuss something about TaskCrunch or anything else. I suspect that I will eventually hand off the support activities to our great Support team, TaskCrunch users will be in good hands.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, we will continue to evolve TaskCrunch, including new functionality. I plan to work on this after the Desktop and Outlook apps reach a reasonable quality level so we don’t have concrete plans yet, but when we do, I’m looking forward to sharing them.
If you have any other questions about the future of Todoist for Microsoft platforms, feel free to leave a comment below or reach out to Jan directly on Twitter, @jankratochvilcz. He’d love to hear from you!