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Craig 2010-07-22 10:43 AM

Great idea for Today list, but hindered by filter bug
Here's the idea for creating a Today list in my morning review. It employs the "estimated minutes" field, which to this point I have not used at all.

At the weekly review, I flag tasks and/or items that I think deserve attention during the following week.

At the beginning of the daily review, I first view a perspective that shows all unflagged available actions and flag as many as I feel are plausible candidates for doing today.

Then I view a perspective that shows all flagged available actions with no duration set. This is a master list from which to choose today's actions. I choose ~9 tasks that I see as today's tasks, and for each I enter an estimated minutes (<60). I can then Cmd-K to clean up (ridding the list of the already-chosen today tasks), and then choose three more tasks which I see as "tomorrow" tasks that, if I have extra time, I should start on today. For each of these, I assign an estimated minutes value of 61.

(I should mention that I have an applescript clear all previously assigned estimated minutes values before I do what was described in the previous paragraph, to start from scratch for every morning review.)

Okay, now I should be set. I have a "Today" perspective with these settings:
Mode: Context
Contexts: Active
Grouping: Context
Sorting: Duration
Availability: Available
Status: Any
Estimated time: 1 hour.

With this last filter setting, I think this SHOULD give me just my list of ~9 tasks which have estimates under 60m, i.e. a manageable list of just what I want to get done today.

And then I have a "Tomorrow" perspective which has the same settings except with Estimated time at >1 hour. That successfully brings up those three tomorrow tasks since they were set to 61 minutes.

Okay, here's the problem: that "Today" perspective doesn't work the way I expect. I think it should just show the ~9 tasks to which I have just assigned durations. But for some reason my OmniFocus also shows a ton of tasks for which there is no estimated minutes set.

This seems like a bug to me. Has anyone else come across this? Or have I just misunderstood what the estimated time filter is supposed to do?

I'm excited about the potential of this tweak to my workflow, so I sure hope that this is something that will get fixed. (I have submitted my feedback to Omni.)

Greg Jones 2010-07-22 01:01 PM

I expect the problem is with your script that resets the estimated time for all tasks. If your script is changing the time to '0', then the task's time field in OmniFocus will be blank, however it now has a value assigned to it so the task is no longer considered to be unestimated.

Craig 2010-07-22 01:15 PM

Aha, you may be onto something.

Does anyone know what the proper applescript command for [B]removing[/B] the estimated minutes would be? Here's what I am using:
[CODE]set estimated minutes of (every flattened task whose estimated minutes is greater than 0) to 0[/CODE]

whpalmer4 2010-07-22 01:59 PM

Did you try setting it instead to missing value?

Craig 2010-07-22 03:00 PM

Okay, now I've changed it to
[CODE]set estimated minutes of (every flattened task whose estimated minutes is greater than 0) to missing value[/CODE]
I still am getting some unassigned-duration tasks appearing in that perspective.

curt.clifton 2010-07-23 07:11 AM

I've seen a bug where perspectives don't always update after a script executes. The particular problem I saw had to do with the display of flagged items. Switching to a different perspective and switching back worked around that problem.

Craig 2010-07-23 07:52 AM

Switching perspectives and switching back doesn't clear the unwanted items in this case.

But I think you're right that this bug may have to do with updating after a script is run. It appears that I'm having difficulty clearing the estimated times from tasks, even with that improved applescript language above.

Here's some more quirky evidence. Tasks in the Inspector sometimes show a Duration of [blank] and sometimes "None." I think I haven't yet hit on the right script language for zapping those estimated minutes fields. I just tried this:
[CODE]set estimated minutes of every flattened task to missing value[/CODE]
and now setting the estimated time filter to "Unestimated" shows no tasks and setting it to "1 hour" shows all tasks - quite opposite of what I expected!

Greg Jones 2010-07-23 08:07 AM

Yes, I tried running the 'missing value' parameter myself yesterday and it would not work. I also tried setting the value to "" and that did not work either. Out of curiosity I also tried setting the value to an alpha character, and the script aborted with an error that the field cannot be set to non-numeric. Strangely enough, one can enter an alpha character in the column field for time (but not in the info window), the field is set to blank, and the record is reset to unestimated.

Craig 2010-07-23 09:18 AM

For completeness's sake, I should say I tried "remove estimated minutes of..." and "delete estimated minutes of..." in my script, and both failed with errors.

More weirdness: I can look at each task in a project and confirm there's nothing in the duration field in the inspector, but if I select all tasks in that project, it reports "Multiple Selection" there.

Brian 2010-07-23 01:07 PM

This is a little beyond my OmniFocus-AppleScript-Fu, but I know that the v1.8 [URL=""]sneaky peek builds[/URL] include some fixes related to missing value support in AppleScript.

Might want to try your script with that version and submit bug reports if it doesn't do what you expect...

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