Keep Tabs on Your Data with Pygmynote

Dmitri Popov

Productivity Sauce

Jul 22, 2010 GMT
Dmitri Popov

When it comes to filers and pilers, I firmly belong to the latter category. I do like to keep all my disparate data -- notes, links, to-dos, etc. -- in one application, so when I need to find something, I have to look in one place. That's why I wrote a simple Python command-line tool that acts as my personal data manager. While there are many open source applications out there that provide this type of functionality, none of them scratch my particular itches. So I wrote my dead-simple script that does pretty much anything I need. The first version of Pygmynote was released in August 2008, followed by a major update in January 2009. A few days ago, I released version 0.5.1 which fixes a few annoying bugs and adds a couple of new features.

Pygmynote allows you to save any type of text-based data in an SQLite database. The script provides just a handful of easy to remember commands, so you can learn to use it in a matter of minutes. The h command provides a list of all available commands with their descriptions. Despite its simplicity, Pygmynote has a couple of nifty tricks up its sleeve. For example, if you specify a due date for the record, you can treat it as a task, and the tl command lists all active tasks in the database. Once the task is complete, you can mark it as hidden using the u command, so it doesn't appear in the list of active tasks. When you run the script, it automatically displays the current deadlines. When adding a record, you have an option to insert text from a text file. This can come in handy when you want to import existing notes to Pygmynote, or when you want to insert a multi-line note.

Instead of using Pygmynote on my production machine, I run the script on my home server, so I can access it from anywhere using an SSH connection. And using the ConnectBot SSH client, I can access my data from my Android device.

Pygmynote can also export records in a text or CSV file (the w command). You can use this feature to display the tasks on your desktop with Conky. By default, Pygmynote exports all existing records, so you have to tweak the code a bit to export only active tasks:

# Save all notes as pygmynote.txt
  cursor.execute("SELECT due, note, tags FROM notes WHERE due <> '' AND type = 'A' ORDER BY due ASC")
  rows = cursor.fetchall()
  if os.path.exists('pygmynote.txt'):
  for row in rows:
   filename = 'pygmynote.txt'
   file = open(filename, 'a')
   file.write('%s -- %s [%s]\n' % (row[0], row[1], row[2]))
  print _(u'\nRecords have been saved in the pygmynote.txt file.')

Add the following command to my .conkyrc file, and you are done:

${execi 30 cat /path/to/pygmynote.txt}

Pygmynote is a simple script that was developed for rather specific purposes. But I'm open to suggestions and ideas. The script is released under GPLv3, so you are free to hack it to your liking.

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