What do you think?

Wow… there is quite a debate happening over at thenextweb.com regarding the look & feel of Nirvana vs. Cultured Code’s Things.app.  Over the last 12 hours we’ve received a ton of encouraging emails as well as quite a few, lets say, not so encouraging ones.

Here’s our take. Things.app rules.  Both the desktop and the iPhone apps are brilliant.  Over the years at PLU we’ve used Things, OmniFocus, and TaskPaper with varying degrees of GTD bliss to manage our client projects and personal tasks. For near-realtime collaboration we use IM and email (of course), Backpackit, Basecamp and Mantis – again with varying degrees of bliss.

The problem (and opportunity?) is this – we want to see everything that needs to get done in one system, anywhere and at any time.  Having work tasks in one or more places, and personal tasks in yet another, means checking way too many applications to size up the day, with a risk that something will invariably get overlooked. Some solutions were too much for our needs, others not enough.

A lot of us have multiple computers, some have iPhones, some have Blackberries… and trying to keep them all in sync is frustrating.  So we turned to the web.  We took a look at Vitalist and Remember The Milk and others, but at the end of the day really missed the intuitive user experience of the Mac apps that we’ve grown accustomed to: iTunes, iPhoto, Mail… and Things.  But we also wanted to be able to email or phone in to-dos to our GTD inboxes when we’re on the road, to have an iCal feed that automatically puts Today’s deliverables in the calendar, to be able to delegate tasks with blog-style comments for feedback and collaboration, to have shared projects where tasks can be assigned to different team members, to be able to filter contexts across all projects, work, family and personal to-dos.

That’s what we wanted.  Couldn’t find it.  So we decided to build it.  Don’t a lot of web apps start this way?

Now, having your trusted system in the cloud isn’t for everybody.  But it’s critical for the way we work.  If you’re a Mac user with a single computer and it’s with you at all times, check out Things.  Seriously.  But for everybody else, we think (hope) Nirvana fills a void.

As for the hullabaloo we seem to have created with our current UI… We debated quite a bit internally as to whether or not we should show a screen-shot of our working prototype before we actually launched. Our intent is to let users customize and skin Nirvana as they wish, a la WordPress, Typepad, Blogger and other services.  We hope that there will be a Nirvana look & feel for each person’s taste.

A lot of work goes into building a robust and scalable web service, and that is what we are refining with our closed beta at this time.

So that’s where we’re coming from.  We’re sorry if we offended anyone.

Your feedback is most welcome.  We encourage the discussion.


  1. I like things too, but I need an app in the “cloud” like you said. It’s obvious that your app was designed with the Things UI in mind. But Things was designed with the mail, itunes, etc UI’s in mind. I don’t think it’s a huge deal.

    If this is going to be the deal breaker for you guys, then hey, switch it up a little bit. But I think the crucial issue for me is functionality.

    I would love an invite to the beta.

    Thanks and good luck!

  2. It’s shameful that you would even try to justify a design rip-off by saying that Nirvana runs in the cloud. That’s like saying that my car doesn’t look like your car because I use it only on the freeway. In any case, I guess you will get what you wanted – cheap publicity. After all, no one knows better than you guys how much effort you have put into copying Cultured Code’s work.

  3. Kelly

    I agree with Vin. Its very hard to move away from such simple interfaces and still have “Nirvana” impact. Just look at all the email web apps and Desktop clients are essentially the identical. This also goes for task management tools out there web & desktop versions as well.

    I don’t thing its a big deal.

    Your certainly filling a void that I have been looking for. I too have tried out all the services you list and many more, all with different degrees of success. All of them lacked one feature or another. From what I can see in your tour your plugging the void needed by so many users.

    I can not wait to take it for a test run. I would love to be invited to the beta.

    Keep up the good work!!

  4. I love the idea of being able to have my GTD system backed up online, and have integrated email. Though I also want some kind of ‘gears’ action where it still works if I’m offiline. Can Nirvana do that?

    Another thing I like is having my GTD system on my iPhone, but I wouldn’t want to be running it in the web browser, I need an app, like things or omnifocus on the iPhone. I don’t know if you are thinking of making an actual app for the iPhone the works with you webservice, but I imagine that would be pretty important to others besides just me.

    Currently I run OmniFocus on both my mac and iPhone, and though I’m not running off the cloud, I can install it on my getDropBox account and run it off the cloud, accessable from anywhere (granted with a mac).

  5. It should be interesting to evaluate the product having an opportunity to test it.
    How can we see nirvana design if we can’t use it?
    Can you send me a beta invite please?

  6. fa

    I don’t see NirvanaHQ UI as ripoff. Design of Things is completely based on standard UI patterns followed in Mac community. Look @ any standard Mac application. So stealing design from Things is out of questions IMHO.

    Don’t get me wrong. I am big fan of Things but I can’t move to Mac world from PC just to use Things. So I am eagerly waiting for this product.

    Keep the good word.

  7. Scott

    I guess there’s only so many ways to make a Mac App look like a fully integrated Mac app. I’m more curious about your licensing and/or pricing. Are those like Things too?

    You mentioned skinning, and I know I personally would not be terribly interested in investing my time in skinning a non-free product.

  8. Samo

    Geez, that you guys ever try to “explain” ripping off another app’s UI. It’s not “standard Mac UI”, it’s something that Cultured Code spent a lot of time testing and perfecting and that you guys think it’s “ok” to rip that off is sad.

    It’s unoriginal and pathetic, and trying to explain it with “cloud” is taking the cake. I was looking for a web app to use at http://www.feedmyapp.com/p/a/verb-task-management-and-sharing but you guys definitely won’t get my money. Shame on you.

  9. Andrew

    I seriously can’t wait for your product. I’ve tried Toodledo, Remember the Milk, Things and none of them are fully there.

    To me the perfect world is what I have with Google’s Gmail/Calendar, here is why:

    – The web/cloud interface they have is awesome
    – I can sync to my iPhone (iCal and Mail)
    – I can sync to Apple Mail and iCal
    – I can sync to Outlook on PC

    All my data in one place: Google’s servers
    Access to my data how I want: Web, iPhone apps (still richer and faster than web based iPhone), Windows when I’m at work, OS X when I’m at home.

    Keep up the good work and get me on the beta list please!!! I am willing to pay $30/year for this if it WORKS. Hell I’ve already paid it to Toodledo and RTM in my quest to get the killer GTD setup. Now I’m here.

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