Manage your tasks with the Microsoft To Do API

One of the challenges of the modern enterprise is task management. How can organizations get visibility into a world of collaborative microwork where tasks are split up into individual toolchains and workflows with very little visible product? Some tasks don’t fit into project plans and often surface in an ad hoc, asynchronous manner. 

That doesn’t stop people from wanting to keep on top of their assignments, no matter how small. What’s needed is a way to programmatically add tasks to a familiar, low-impact tracker that can check off tasks and report completion as necessary. You could build your own from scratch, iterating on any of the myriad distributed “Hello, world” applications out there, or you could work with the APIs of an app that’s likely to be on every user’s desktop—and every user’s phone.

Managing tasks with To Do in the Microsoft Graph

Microsoft 365 includes a subscription to To Do, a desktop task manager that integrates with Teams and Outlook and with iOS and Android clients. It’s the successor to the popular Wunderlist and is built on top of the Microsoft Graph to store and manage lists of tasks. The app is easy to use, with the option of sharing tasks across groups as well as keeping your own task list, but the Graph support and the associated APIs might be its most important feature, as these allow it to interact with other applications and workflows.

If you’re building code to work with the To Do API, it helps to be familiar with the Microsoft Graph and how it works, as a set of REST APIs that require authentication to work effectively. You can use the Graph Explorer tool to experiment with queries before writing code, before using tools such as Postman to verify calls. If you’re interested in exploring what’s next, an experimental version of the next release of the To Do API is in the Microsoft Graph’s beta namespace.

At the heart of the To Do API are four key elements: the task list, the task, the checklist item, and the linked resource. All four navigate To Do resources and construct calls. One key feature of the To Do APIs is an important entity type in the Microsoft Graph: a “linked resource.” The idea is that data should be able to point back to the application that sourced it. For example, a To Do task generated from an email should contain a pointer to that original email.

This gets more interesting: Any source application can be a linked resource. If you have a bespoke application running a key business function that generates a To Do task, that task will contain a link to your application so that a user can go straight from the task to the application.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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