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-   -   Do dates in iCal show up in OF, only when... (http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=10969)

Flexattend 2009-01-06 01:08 AM

Do dates in iCal show up in OF, only when...
 
Are all actions on dates in iCal supposed to always show up in OF, or only when they are new actions entered first in iCal? In other words, after synching OF with iCal, and then dragging the resultant To-do items imported by the sync from OF, ie., dragging them from their column list in iCal, to particular iCal calendar dates, are the dates thus specified for these OF actions then supposed to appear back in OF, once a sync is again performed in OF?

I find no documentation for this. I do see that new actions entered into iCal ARE supposed to then populate back to OF. There's no mention of whether existing OF actions, for which dates are specified in iCal, are supposed to populate back with their new dates into OF.

Anybody know?

Absent the ability to specify OF dates in iCal, what good is syncing the two applications, if all you can do is one-way date specification for brand new actions from iCal to OF?

Anybody know? Hello! Is anyone there?

Greg Jones 2009-01-06 01:36 AM

iCal can work with 2 types of data-calendar events and actions (to-do items, or tasks) while OmniFocus works exclusively with actions. Actions in OmniFocus will sync both ways with to-do items in iCal. However, once you change the to-do in iCal to an calendar event by dragging over to a date on the calendar, it will no longer sync to OmniFocus as it is no longer an action.

Flexattend 2009-01-06 10:44 AM

Greg, thanks very much for your quick reply and helpful information. I must say, though, the information you shared is disappointing. What OF would greatly benefit from is a GUI showing a calendar or some form of timeline, in which actions that are sequentially scheduled by their due dates could be seen in overview. The benefit is that one could thereby through a quick visual overview assess all the work to be done over, say, one week; and know confidently that it is proportional to one's available time and energy; and visualize with greater clarity and enthusiasm the completion/outcome of the scheduled work. Visualizatioin is a key skill that David Allen emphasizes. It is a pity that OF is so "monochromatic" in this regard.

Where's the OF moderator? You should add this to the development team's customer wish list: that this application, of the things, by the things, for the things to be done, shall not perish from requiring users excessively focus visually on such a granular, time-bereft graphical interface. Columnar lists of due dates does not pack the PUNCH!!!!!!

Anyone else have an opinion on this? Wouldn't it be good if one could drag and drop actions into a calendar's date as a way of scheduling due dates (or start dates, or both!) ?

I'd like to see some conversation around this, or some pointers/links to other messages that address this. Any takers?

whpalmer4 2009-01-06 12:39 PM

[quote]
Where's the OF moderator? You should add this to the development team's customer wish list: that this application, of the things, by the things, for the things to be done, shall not perish from requiring users excessively focus visually on such a granular, time-bereft graphical interface. Columnar lists of due dates does not pack the PUNCH!!!!!!
[/quote]
Discuss it on the forum all you like, and Omni employees will occasionally join in the fray, but to have your votes reliably counted, you need to use Help->Send Feedback or email to [email]omnifocus@omnigroup.com[/email] to make your suggestions and requests. If you feel strongly about (pro [b]or[/b] con) any suggestion made on the forums, make sure they know about it by using one of those two mechanisms. They do take such feedback into account when planning future development.

While I agree it is good to be able to judge whether one is overcommitted, and that a calendar view might be a nice way to assess one's commitments, my readings of DA's book don't give me the impression that he is in favor of preplanning a substantial chunk of time like this, except perhaps if your "hard landscape" does fill the week. From pp. 142-143 of [b]Getting Things Done[/b]:

[quote]
What many people [i]want[/i] to do, however, based on old habits of writing daily to-do lists, is put actions on the calendar that they think they'd really [i]like[/i] to get done next Monday, say, but that then actually might not, and that might then have to be taken over to following days. [i]Resist this impulse.[/i] You need to trust your calendar as sacred territory, reflecting the exact hard edges of your day's commitments, which should be noticeable at a glance while you're on the run. That'll be much easier if the only things in there are those that you absolutely [i]have[/i] to get done on that day. When the calendar is relegated to its proper role in organizing, the majority of the actions that you need to do are left in the category of "as soon as possible, against all the other things I have to do."
[/quote]

However, I think it is fair to point out that OmniFocus is not intended [b]only[/b] as a GTD application, and furthermore, a graphical representation of the expected workload over a given period might be quite useful. Unfortunately, iCal is, well, let's be polite and say that it might be possible to build something better :-)

Greg Jones 2009-01-06 12:53 PM

[QUOTE=Flexattend;53239]Anyone else have an opinion on this? Wouldn't it be good if one could drag and drop actions into a calendar's date as a way of scheduling due dates (or start dates, or both!) ?[/QUOTE]

I agree with what whpalmer4 posted above. Allen is very clear that the "Hard Edges" of a calendar and a task list must be observed to keep a trusted system, and once those edges are blurred, much of the value of GTD as a system is lost.

Personally, I'd be against a calendar in OmniFocus; not necessarily because of what David Allen says, but because I want a task manager-not a PIM. Add a calendar and then the next natural extension is to add an address book and pretty soon you have a full-blown PIM that does a lot of things, but doesn't necessarily do anything especially well. I'm happy with Mail for my email (I don't use the notes or tasks there either), Address book for contact info, and iCal for events that must be on a calendar.

Toadling 2009-01-06 01:05 PM

This has been discussed many times. I believe Omni Group has an open feature request. Read more here, including lots of participation from Omni in the first thread:
[LIST=1][*][URL="http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=2533"]http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=2533[/URL]
[*][URL="http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=9244"]http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=9244[/URL]
[*][URL="http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=3100"]http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=3100[/URL]
[*][URL="http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=7258"]http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=7258[/URL][/LIST]
-Dennis

jheadway 2009-01-07 09:23 AM

However if I set a call as an action on june 12th and 3pm, I want it to show on the date and time as an event not an action. Is this possible at all?

curt.clifton 2009-01-07 09:30 AM

Not currently. Use Help --> Send Feedback to get your feature request in the database.

pvonk 2009-01-07 10:49 AM

[QUOTE=jheadway;53282]However if I set a call as an action on june 12th and 3pm, I want it to show on the date and time as an event not an action. Is this possible at all?[/QUOTE]

The GTD methodology is to have both a calendar for the hard appointments/tasks and a task manager for things you need to get done when you can get to them.

If I have a call that must be done at 3pm I enter it in iCal and even put an alarm on it. If I need to contact Jane to thank her for past help, then it goes into OF; I try to get it done when I have the time and resources.

Toadling 2009-01-07 11:11 AM

[QUOTE=pvonk;53290]The GTD methodology is to have both a calendar for the hard appointments/tasks and a task manager for things you need to get done when you can get to them.[/QUOTE]

That's exactly what I do. I have no real desire to see my OmniFocus actions represented in iCal as events or as to dos.

[QUOTE=jheadway;53282]However if I set a call as an action on june 12th and 3pm, I want it to show on the date and time as an event not an action.[/QUOTE]

However, if you really must have OmniFocus actions appear as iCal events, I think the biggest obstacle is how to interpret the various OmniFocus dates and logically display them in iCal (or other calendar view).

To represent an OmniFocus action as an iCal event, how would the duration be determined? Would it default to some predetermined time (e.g. 1 hour)? Or maybe use the Estimated Time field? What if no value is set for the Estimated Time field?

Also, keep in mind that the date you're likely setting in OmniFocus, the [I]due date[/I], is the time the action must be [I]completed[/I]. So it doesn't really make a good beginning date for an iCal event. Instead, it seems the OmniFocus [I]start date[/I] should be used for the beginning of the iCal event,

Assuming the OmniFocus start date determines the beginning of the iCal event and the OmniFocus due date determines the end of the event, how would the iCal event be displayed when there are several days between those two times? Wouldn't you end up with a calendar full of huge, colored ribbons spanning multiple days? With more than a couple events, it would quickly become overly cluttered.

So maybe using the OmniFocus start time as the beginning of the event is not a good idea. We could instead use the OmniFocus due date as the [I]end time[/I] for the iCal event and then count backwards by the OmniFocus Estimated Time field to determine the [I]beginning[/I] of the iCal event. This way we'd have an iCal event for each OmniFocus action appearing right before the due date occurs.

But I wonder how useful that would really be. If your OmniFocus start date was a week or two earlier, and you don't see the iCal event until the day it is due, is it really going to be of much help?

-Dennis

focusedphil 2009-01-08 06:12 AM

Yeah, I have to put all my hardlandscape dated steps twice - once in OF and once in iCal - I gave up a while ago on iCal syncing in OF - not sure what use it is. This entering stuff twice getting to be a pain in the butt.

You might want to take a look at LifeBalance. It syncs dated todos as all day events and appointments as blocked out events in iCal. Seems to work pretty well, although it has other issues, like it's iPhone syncing seeming to be more machine specific as opposed to MobileMe syncing (think Palm OS syncing), no tagging and the interface is very mouse driven as it hasn't really changed since system 7 & Newton.

It does have a built in calender, but it's less useful than you'd think (least on the Desktop version - haven't tried the iPhone version yet), it's worth trying out the demo to see how other folks do it.

I've tried to help out Omni with the iCal syncing issues, but I think someone there must have been traumatized by a calender salesman, as their opposition seems to have gone beyond the rational.

Let's hope v2 fixes this issue - might have to go back to LifeBalance (and not for the first time! ;-)

Greg Jones 2009-01-09 07:10 AM

[QUOTE=focusedphil;53339]Yeah, I have to put all my hardlandscape dated steps twice - once in OF and once in iCal - I gave up a while ago on iCal syncing in OF - not sure what use it is. This entering stuff twice getting to be a pain in the butt.[/QUOTE]

As one suggestion, you might want to take a look at some of the scripts posted at the end of [url=http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=5089]this[/url] thread. More than likely the script may need a little tweaking to set it up to fit how you work, but it beats entering everything twice. If I have a task that needs a hard place on my calendar, I run the script, drag and drop the to-do (in iCal) to the appropriate date, add the start time and duration, and then delete the to-do in iCal. The task stays as is in OmniFocus.

PaulBt 2009-01-10 01:32 AM

I like the way OF works with iCal.
I have a set of actions that sync across to iCal, some with start dates a couple of weeks before the due date.
When in iCal planning my week I can drag the to-do multiple times into the spaces between meetings, so that I progress the action through the week.
I have to set some "hard" time for some of these actions otherwise they never get done...

when the action is complete, then tick it in iCal and OF deals with it.

Cheers
Paul


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