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RobTrew 2010-08-11 01:34 PM

"Stalled" vs "without any available actions"
I notice that there is some tension, at least in documentation, between the concept of "stalled" projects (as in the project view sidebar filter) and that of "projects where the number of available tasks is 0" as in the OF 1.8 Applescript library.

An applescript search for "projects where the number of available tasks is 0" currently yields 25 matches in my database.

In contrast, clearing all other filters and activating the sidebar "stalled" filter only yields 2 matching projects.

It turns out that[I] projects where the number of available tasks is 0[/I] finds projects which simply have no actions, are marked as completed, are on hold, or are dropped. I find this useful, and a good match for the OF help file's account of "stalled" which is "projects without any available actions"

The sidebar "stalled" filter, however, seems to implement a much less inclusive definition of what "lacks available actions" - in my database it is only finding the two projects assigned to a context which has been placed on hold. It misses many of the projects identified by the applescript property as having no available tasks. I personally find this less useful.

Is this difference by design ?

If so, perhaps there is room for a slightly more specific definition of "stalled" in the help file ?


whpalmer4 2010-08-11 03:15 PM

It's a bit difficult to exactly describe the behavior of the stalled filter in the applescript language because there are some missing pieces!

Try coming up with a query that shows just those projects treated as dropped because they are in a folder which is marked dropped, the project otherwise being active. The stalled filter will not show these.

If you solve that, then come up with a query for projects which have no available actions but do have future actions (number of tasks - number of completed tasks > 0). I didn't succeed in getting such an expression through your script, but I didn't spend much time at it.

I think what the stalled filter gives you is this:

projects where (completed is false) and ((status is not dropped) and (not contained in dropped folder)) and (status is not on hold) and (status is not pending) and (number of available tasks is 0) and (number of remaining tasks > 0)

The first 5 clauses (through "not pending") collect the subset of projects yielded by the position of Stalled in the sidebar filter: remaining - on hold - pending. The remaining 2 clauses are the meat: which projects are stuck because I can't work any of their actions?

RobTrew 2010-08-12 01:31 AM

Thank you !

That's very helpful, and an impressive exercise in inductive reasoning :-)

The four words defining stalled projects in the help file ("without any available actions") probably do need a bit of expansion. They don't reveal much of what the filter really does, let alone of the distinction between it and the applescript library's [I]number of available tasks is 0[/I]

Your draft query already reveals much more, and I am empirically getting the same results as [B]stalled[/B] (in my database, and this morning's build of OF 1.8) by expanding your search to include active projects which simply lack any kind of task at all, and restricting it to exclude singleton holders. Thus, in applescript, the fairly baroque:
[INDENT][I]projects where status is active and ((number of tasks is 0) or ((its number of tasks > its number of completed tasks) and (its number of available tasks is 0))) and singleton action holder is false and ((hidden of its folder is false) or (its folder is missing value))[/I][/INDENT]
or in English, for the help file, something like:

"Active projects which have no tasks, or which have remaining tasks which are unavailable. (Does not include empty single action lists, or projects in dropped folders)."

I can see the value of the 'stalled' filter, and I might be more inclined to make use of it now that (I think) I understand it, but I suspect that I will personally be sticking with simpler and clearer filters for my own day to day work :-)


RobTrew 2010-08-12 04:35 AM

As a PS to this, I have added a simplified 'stalled' search:
[INDENT][I]projects where status is active and ((number of completed tasks < number of tasks) and (number of available tasks is 0))[/I][/INDENT]
to my search library in [URL=""]Where in OF[/URL]
I'm finding it a useful complement to a couple of other simple and specific house-keeping searches:[INDENT][I]projects where number of available tasks is 0[/I][/INDENT]and[INDENT][I]projects where number of tasks is 0[/I][/INDENT]
(All enabled by the excellent enhancements in support for Applescript which Omni has made in OF 1.8)

More generally, I think it might be very helpful to be able to see (and adjust, or reset to default, if necessary) the definitions of the drop-down filters in the OF graphic user interface.


SpiralOcean 2010-08-12 05:49 AM

One point of contention (for some) is the definition of available.

Is a project stalled that has one action, with a future start date?

OmniFocus considers this a stalled project.

RobTrew 2010-08-12 06:53 AM

[QUOTE=SpiralOcean;83300]One point of contention (for some) is the definition of available.

Is a project stalled that has one action, with a future start date?

OmniFocus considers this a stalled project.[/QUOTE]

What would you really like to be able to list ? Is it mainly projects with a context that is dropped or on hold ?

SpiralOcean 2010-08-12 07:11 AM

In my opinion, projects with contexts or actions on hold are not stalled. A decision has been made on the project to place it on hold. Stalled to me is a project that has no next actions defined. Hence it is stalled because if you are in context mode and working/doing/completing actions, that project will never be completed.

(this has changed slightly because now projects can appear in the context mode)

However, I still consider a project with no actions stalled because there are no actions defined to move the project to completion.

When a project is stalled, one of two things need to happen:
1. Project is complete and should be marked completed.
2. Actions are added to project.

If a project has an action with a future start date, or a context on hold, the project is not stalled because at some future date, that action will become available. The project is still moving forward.

If a project is dropped then it will never be stalled because the user has decided it is no longer in their things to do.

To sum up, a stalled project is a project with 0 non-completed actions.
A stalled action group is an action group with 0 non-completed child actions.

RobTrew 2010-08-12 11:17 AM

To sum up, a stalled project is a project with 0 non-completed actions.
A stalled action group is an action group with 0 non-completed child actions.[/QUOTE]

In [URL=""]Where in OF[/URL] you could experiment with saving and using the following two custom searches, which will generate lists from which you can automatically focus on particular projects or select particular action groups:
[INDENT][I]projects where (status is active) and ((number of tasks is 0) or (number of completed tasks is number of tasks)) -- stalled projects[/I][/INDENT][INDENT][I]tasks where ((number of tasks > 0) and (number of completed tasks is number of tasks)) and status of its containing project is active -- stalled action groups[/I][/INDENT]

RobTrew 2010-08-12 02:48 PM

The 'stalled' filter for contexts is currently described in the help file by four words: "contexts without any actions"

This might well suggest something like 'contexts where number of tasks is 0' but its actual behaviour seems to be closer to:
[INDENT][I]contexts where available task count is 0 and allows next action is true and hidden is false[/I][/INDENT]
So for the help file, I might suggest something like:
[INDENT]"Contexts which are neither on hold nor dropped, but have no available tasks."[/INDENT]

Ken Case 2010-08-12 04:22 PM

Today's sneaky peeks update the implementation of stalled for both project and context modes:

Projects are now considered stalled when they are active but have no remaining actions.

Contexts are no longer considered stalled when they contain an actionable project or group.

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