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Tasks with subtasks vs. Projects with subprojects Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I've been using OF for a few weeks now and am really liking where Omni is going with this product. I have, however, come to a slight roadblock in how the current implementation handles folders, projects and tasks. Maybe I'm just missing how to create subprojects, since I can easily create subfolders and subtasks.

I'm an experimental scientist (molecular biology, that kind of stuff) and I am often working on what I would consider to be parallel subprojects of a main project to determine which is the best approach solving a particular problem within the main project. At some point, one or more of these parallel subprojects will get dropped or put on hold. Where OF is falling down for me is that ONLY projects and NOT tasks (or folders) can be dropped or put on hold. It appears that tasks can only be "completed or deleted."

I would much prefer an organizational structure of projects with subprojects that contain tasks (without subtasks) than the current lack of subprojects. I think that a structure with subprojects also better matches the GTD definitions of projects and tasks.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thomasgchappell
I would much prefer an organizational structure of projects with subprojects that contain tasks (without subtasks) than the current lack of subprojects. I think that a structure with subprojects also better matches the GTD definitions of projects and tasks.
I second this. Proper subprojects would also have next actions that would show up properly. I don't bother setting up complicated projects right now because the next action filter never works out right. Using folders for the top level of complicated projects is not always helpful either, and here's an example why:

I want to design and sew a baptismal gown for an infant. This kind of a project has a lot of different steps and things to consider, and I used both sequential and parallel projects in putting it together.

Project (sequential): Baptismal Gown
Subproject (parallel): Design
Sub-subproject (sequential): Create Pattern
Tasks
Sub-subproject (sequential): Hem embroidery design
Tasks
Sub-subproject (sequential): Chest embroidery design
Tasks
Sub-subproject (parallel): Supplies & Materials
Tasks
Subproject (sequential): Purchase Fabrics
Tasks
Subproject (sequential): Make Gown
Tasks

Okay. The top level is sequential, because I have to design the gown before I can purchase fabric, and I have to purchase fabric before I can actually sew it together. Because of this sequence, the top level MUST be a project, I can't use a folder. Individual experiments work this way, (generate samples, then do experiment, then analyze data), so folders aren't particularly useful.
The Design subproject is parallel because there are several different design elements that are independent of each other. The two areas of embroidery and the actual gown pattern are sequential, but my supplies and materials are parallel.
Once I finish the design, things are straightforward, of course.

Right now, when I filter by next action for this project, I only get one - the very next step to be done to create the pattern. But while designing the hem and chest embroideries are equally important subprojects, I don't see their next actions. And if I filter by available actions, I get overwhelmed by the full list of supplies and materials.

Thomas can't use a top-level folder containing a bunch of projects, because the entire project he's working on could be deferred or even dropped at some point (God forbid!), and you can't defer or drop folders. And sub projects can't be deferred or dropped individually if he uses one project. Right now he can get one piece of functionality, but only at the expense of the other, but he really needs both.

I'm sorry this was so long, but I couldn't figure out what was driving me crazy about subprojects until his post. There no real subprojects, i.e. things that can be held or dropped, and have their own next actions.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeekLady
I second this. Proper subprojects would also have next actions that would show up properly. I don't bother setting up complicated projects right now because the next action filter never works out right.
Quite right. Having subprojects (plus, in an ideal world, 'hard linked' actions that can appear in several projects simultaneously) would make OF an order of magnitude more powerful than it already is.
 
Yet again, I agree.

Subprojects would neatly solve my Next action issues as well.

GeekLady's example is similar to my life though I would never sew a baptismal gown! Life is complicated, and OF needs to be able to deal with that complexity.

--Liz
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LizPf
Yet again, I agree.

Subprojects would neatly solve my Next action issues as well.

GeekLady's example is similar to my life though I would never sew a baptismal gown! Life is complicated, and OF needs to be able to deal with that complexity.

--Liz
Well, I figured a sewing project would be more approachable complicated project than an actual experiment - Thomas might be the only person that understood what I was talking about!
 
I don't want to list anymore examples, but I have come across this limitation repeatedly.

Sub-projects would be a welcome addition, or conversely, make tasks that contain sub-tasks more flexible. There is definitely something missing in the current system.
 
GL,

When you created your baptismal gown project, were you able to create real sub-projects? If so, how do you do it? All I have been able to enter under a project are actions and sub-actions. When I try to indent a project it becomes an action.

I'd like to be able to break a project into sub-projects too in order to be able to have both sequential and parallel aspects of the task.

School classes would lend themselves to this. Last quarter I had classes with several major assignments going simultaneously.

The Sneaky Peak is great. It is so stable (no crashes or data corruption for me at all) and we can all try out so many different scenarios to test the model.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Butterfly
GL,

When you created your baptismal gown project, were you able to create real sub-projects? If so, how do you do it? All I have been able to enter under a project are actions and sub-actions. When I try to indent a project it becomes an action.

I'd like to be able to break a project into sub-projects too in order to be able to have both sequential and parallel aspects of the task.

School classes would lend themselves to this. Last quarter I had classes with several major assignments going simultaneously.
The gown is still a work in progress, but it needs to be done by Christmas, so I've plotted out all the steps.

I do not have real sub-projects, but I called them subprojects in my description because that's what they are, with or without OF supporting them.

The way I see the containers breaking down is thus:

A Project or a subproject can contain other projects, task groups, and individual tasks in mixture, or just individual tasks that are sequential.
A Task Group contains just individual tasks that are parallel.
 
Sorry to stir up a ghost, but I searched for answers to this question and this went unanswered and remains mostly unaddressed (in my mind). Or maybe I'm just an ignorant newbie. Then again thomasgchappell never returned, and GeekLady hasn't posted since 2007. Maybe they are just quiet experts now?

I can see Contexts are supposed to be (reasonable enough) used for the on-hold part of the question. What about dealing with a parallel project with Actions and/or parallel and/or sequential Groups? Only the top Action (in the list) shows up in next-actions. This seems contrary to both the idea of parallel actions and the idea of grouping. Why would I not want to see and plan to handle perhaps 3-4 parallel next actions from one project just as I would from many projects?

Or am I supposed to use Available rather than Next Action?

Perhaps the whole notion of letting OF (or any other app) decide what I should be able to see (and thus plan to do next) is flawed as most often one needs to be able to make a judgement that is more complex than simply a linear decision?

This brings me back to the desire to more easily be able to select tasks for the day/week and get them into a calendar view so I can schedule time to devote to them.

Any advice would be appreciated.
 
I personally use Available more frequently than I use the next action filter, for the same reasons you cite. That said, I know that there are customers who prefer to see one and only one thing they can do to move their projects forward. (Some folks struggle to decide which equally-important thing they should do first, for example.)

I wouldn't say that you're supposed to use the Available filter, but it does sound like it returns results that are more in line with what you're looking for. :-)

Re: calendars - personally, I do fine with my "due soon" set to 24 hours and with specific due date/time combos attached to the actions in OmniFocus. I don't care when I complete something in a given day, as long as it's before the deadline. Adding those actions to my calendar would just make it harder to see that I need to be at a meeting between X and Y, with another a few hours later.

Opinion on this subject varies greatly though, as several other threads on the forums will illustrate. :-)
 
 


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