Coté pointed to Mylar a couple weeks ago and I gave it a shot. So far, so good.

Mylar is a sort of overlay on the Eclipse UI that lets you focus on and manage tasks. This is something I’ve struggled with for what seems like forever: how to manage my to-do list without breaking my workflow. Basecamp was never a good fit. Remember the Milk is a great little web app, but after a few months I found myself going there less and less, especially as I used Bugzilla more and more to drive my daily development work. Over the years I keep coming back to paper, but I kept feeling like bigger-picture to-do items got lost. For some reason I never became a GTD geek.

Mylar lets you manage personal tasks as well as those in a bug-tracking system. If I used it for nothing else, it would be the really nice face that it puts on Bugzilla, whose default web interface is pretty much crap. While working in Eclipse, all the bugs assigned to me are right there, accessible at a glance. I’m notified of any incoming bugs without having to switch context. This is what IDEs are for.

But the genius in Mylar is how it focuses the UI on the task at hand, hiding from view everything but the files you’re working on. If you’re editing a Java file, it shows only the relevant methods. Just not having to scroll up and down all the time looking for a particular file saves time. Or if it doesn’t save time, it saves frustration. Best of all, Mylar keeps track of what you are working on for a given task, so when you come back to a task, all the context is right there and you can focus in quickly. This context can even be committed back as an attachment to the bug-tracking system, to be shared with others. Cool! It can also support interaction with your version control system, but I haven’t played with that yet.
Mylar is not nearly so great for JSP as Java, but that could be because I’m using the MyEclipse JSP editor instead of the Web Tools Platform‘s. I’ll figure that out when it becomes painful enough.

Each feature in Mylar is small, but together they add up to a compelling overall experience. Since I’m already a to-do list kind of guy, it wasn’t that hard to make the transition to task-driven development, so I felt at home in Mylar right away. Try it!