"what next?" - simple command-line task-interdependency tracker
Lua Emacs Lisp
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"what next?" - simple command-line task-interdependency tracker

To run wn, you need Lua. That's it.

Think of wn as make for your to-do list. It automatically tracks what should be worked on next when switching between several ongoing projects.

wn reads a text file of tasks and dependencies, then prioritizes your to-do list according to the other tasks that would be doable upon completion.

wn checks (in order) for a wn file given on the command line, a file called ".wn" in the current directory, then the $WN_FILE environment variable, then "~/.wn". The file should be structured like so:

shoes socks find-shoes
@desc shoes Put on shoes   (descriptions are optional)

The first token on a line is a task name, any following are dependencies for that task. Task names can contain alphanumeric chars and [_.-].

The line can also begin with some special commands, all of which begin with @:

@desc taskname Add a description for a task
@done taskname (mark tags as complete)
@cost taskname cost (change task cost, defaults to 10)
@value taskname value (change task priority, defaults to 10)
@wait taskname [timestamp] (keep leaf inactive until provided date)

Lines that begin with anything else (or are empty) are ignored as comments.

For a larger example, see examples/lebowski (spoiler alert).

Command line options:

  • -v / --verbose: Print actions taken while reading input file
  • -h / --help: Print commands
  • -f / --file: Use the filename given as the wn file


  • add: Add a new task (with optional description), creating wn file if not present
  • dep: Add new dependencies to a task (wn.lua dep task dep1 dep2 ...)
  • done: Flag a task as done (wn.lua done taskname)
  • graph: Generate .dot of dependency graph for Graphviz
  • help: Print this info
  • info: Print info about a task (wn.lua info taskname)
  • leaves: Print all leaves, sorted alphabetically
  • next: (default) Print next actionable tasks, sorted by score
  • tasks: Print all incomplete tasks, sorted alphabetically

To build a nice dependency graph, use e.g. wn.lua graph | neato -Tpng > foo.png . (which requires Graphviz)