December 13, 2005
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Travel Notes: Making A List

We've been talking a lot about long-range planning. Let's look at improving some short-range matters: making sure we bring what we need on each trip, without wasted time or unnecessary anxiety. What we need, of course, is a packing list.

To begin, I make a BIG list of everything I might want to take along on the kinds of trips I usually take. This is the prototype packing list, and it's just a typical prototype.

Now, when I want to plan what should be packed for a specific trip, I just make a new packing list, based on the prototype. It starts out with the same text as the prototype list -- everything I'm likely to need.

Travel Notes: Making A List

I won't need everything on every trip, of course. I can quickly delete the items I don't want to pack, and add the extraordinary things I'll want to bring only on this trip.

As I revise the list, I may discover things I want to add to the prototype packing list, so they'll be on the next packing list I make. That only takes a moment. It's another example of incremental formalization in Tinderbox; I don't have to worry about getting the prototype exactly right, because I can always change it later.

What could be easier? I just double-click on the trip, tell Tinderbox I want a packing list, and I'm all set.

Because I'm feeling very lazy today, I added a rule to the packing list prototype: if(Name=untitled){Name="pack list";Width=2;}. Now, I don't even need to name the packing lists -- Tinderbox will name it automatically. If I do give the packing list a name -- if, for example, I make separate packing lists for Linda and for me -- Tinderbox respects it.