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-   -   Date Parsing: Natural Language, Relative Date Options (http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=3600)

xmas 2007-05-22 11:14 AM

Date Parsing: Natural Language, Relative Date Options
 
The entering of dates using natural languages is something we've worked on hard for the release of OmniFocus. The ability to quickly enter a date using both exact and inexact notation to get a meaningful date is very important to being able to both trust your system, and record your thoughts and tasks quickly and intuitively. In addition to supporting some common natural language terminology we've also added some very powerful shorthand notation to allow you to be precise relative to the current day.

In OmniFocus you have dates in 2 different places, columns in the main view:
[img]http://people.omnigroup.com/xmas/blog/start_due_content.png[/img]
And in the date section of the inspectors:
[img]http://people.omnigroup.com/xmas/blog/dates_inspector.png[/img]

Clicking on a calender icon:
[img]http://people.omnigroup.com/xmas/blog/dates_inspector_highlight.png[/img]
in any of these fields will pop open the system calendar widget. There is some difference in this action for 10.4 vs 10.5, and we'll fix some of the issue that we don't like with this widget in an upcoming OmniFocus release.


However, this document details text-only entry.

Lets say you have something due tomorrow, so you type "tomorrrow". Well, now lets say you have something due in 2 days... there isn't really a word for that. Lucky for you though you can use a shorthand notation and type in "2d", and you'll get 2 days from now. Keep in mind that this will return an actual date, NOT a duration (unlike the column that has the little clock icon in it).

In general we try to pick the most conservative estimate, so that at worst you'll see something overdue sooner than later, and can deal with it as needed.

You can use any combination that matches the folllowing:

[(+)/-][#][hdmwy]

(Hour, Month, Day, Week, Year only supported, minutes are not supported in this format.)

Examples:

2w - 2 weeks
-1d - yesterday
1m - next month
-1y - last year
1d1w - a day and a week

Recent changes to how we handle "this/next/last/[no modfier]" for weekday names is show in this diagram:
[img]http://people.omnigroup.com/xmas/blog/this_next_last_no.png[/img]

You can also use common names:

[day name]
[month name]
['][2 digit year]
[4 digit year]
[day of month]

And any of these can be used in any order, and with abbreviations

Examples:
march - next march
tuesday - next tuesday
march 2001 - march 2001
sept '05 - september 2005

Or you can use a short date format:

5/23/79
5-23-79
5.23.79

In the form:
[day]/[month]/[year] (or month/day/year if your system pref is set to that)

(We look at your system date format and determine the order of your month/day/year, so if you're seeing something odd, look at what your date format is.)

And you can do times:

[hour]:[minute]:[second](am/pm)
[hour]:[minute](am/pm)
[hour][am/pm]

(or just "a" or "p")

As an added bonus, mix and match.

Examples:

2w sat
4d @ 5p
tues 6a
aug 6 tues 5p

It should be fairly predictable, and I'd love to hear the feedback you have. If you have feed back either post here (will probably be read in a timely fashion) or send it in using Send Feedback (will be read in a timely fashion). And please include what you typed, what you expected, and your date format.

(date format found by going to: System Prefs -> International -> Formats, then click "customize", and copy and paste the blue lozenges. You should get something like "d/MM/yy".)

Craig 2007-05-22 11:29 AM

[QUOTE=xmas]Examples:

2w - 2 weeks
1m - next month
-1y - last year
1d1w - a day and a week[/QUOTE]

Does 1m mean "next month" (first of June) or "one month from now" (22nd of June)? Does -1y mean "last year" any date, or "one year ago" (May 22, 2006)?

xmas 2007-05-22 11:37 AM

"one month from now"(22nd of June) and "one year ago"(may 22, 2006)

brianogilvie 2007-05-22 12:26 PM

Wow! Well done! I'll give it a more thorough testing when my brain is not fried.

Any idea how soon "start" dates will be taken into account when deciding whether a project or task is "available"? It would help me immensely if the "available" filter, at least in context view, excluded tasks whose time has not yet come.

xmas 2007-05-22 01:55 PM

[QUOTE=brianogilvie]Wow! Well done! I'll give it a more thorough testing when my brain is not fried.

Any idea how soon "start" dates will be taken into account when deciding whether a project or task is "available"? It would help me immensely if the "available" filter, at least in context view, excluded tasks whose time has not yet come.[/QUOTE]

It's under discussion now. (Ambiguous noises about when it will ready)

SpiralOcean 2007-05-22 04:43 PM

My main reason for not testing this in force is the lack of recurring actions...

I'm only noodling around in OF, because I use another system with around 2k items. I don't want to do the double work of entering in two different systems and hoping that they match. The main function that keeps me from moving into OF is the recurring task. Once that is in... look out.

smew 2007-05-22 06:27 PM

I'm just 1 hr into the alpha test, so I haven't tested this out yet very thoroughly. I do remember, though, that the similar functionality in kGTD had this problem: If in System Preferences, under International -> Format, I changed the region to something other than US (specifically Romanian, haven't tested others), the smart date recognition stopped working.

I changed it back to US, becuase iCal has some issues with showing the weekday name in that situation as well, but maybe you'll want to keep this in mind.

xmas 2007-05-22 07:31 PM

[QUOTE=smew]I'm just 1 hr into the alpha test, so I haven't tested this out yet very thoroughly. I do remember, though, that the similar functionality in kGTD had this problem: If in System Preferences, under International -> Format, I changed the region to something other than US (specifically Romanian, haven't tested others), the smart date recognition stopped working.

I changed it back to US, becuase iCal has some issues with showing the weekday name in that situation as well, but maybe you'll want to keep this in mind.[/QUOTE]

if you can let me know the ICU date format that you want to use, or just a sample date, I'll add it to the test suite.

Athanasius 2007-05-22 11:54 PM

[QUOTE=xmas]It's under discussion now. (Ambiguous noises about when it will ready)[/QUOTE]

That's lovely, but the whole point of start dates is that tasks which haven't started yet don't appear in contexts. This one's a no-brainer, guys.

Ken Case 2007-05-23 02:05 AM

[QUOTE=Athanasius]That's lovely, but the whole point of start dates is that tasks which haven't started yet don't appear in contexts. This one's a no-brainer, guys.[/QUOTE]

Oh, absolutely—no question! Hiding tasks which start in the future has always been planned, because yes, that is the whole point of assigning start dates.

The only reason it hasn't been done yet is that the we're working on start date propagation first, so that setting a start date on a project effectively sets that start date for all its tasks and setting a start date on a task in a sequential project effectively sets it to all subsequent tasks (unless they have a start date of their own).


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