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What do you guys think about having some kind of in progress indicator for tasks? Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I can't help but think that having some kind of indicator for "In Progress" at the task level would be helpful. Some will say that it would confuse/complicate/clutter the interface, but I say not necessarily, if it's implemented carefully.

One tap on a checkbox would mark an item complete as it always has. Nothing would change with that. But two taps could simply shade the box so that it stands out as being in progress. FireTask uses a squiggly line in the box instead of a check. That would be distracting but shading the box light gray would be easier on the eyes. Chris mentioned in another post improving the forecast screen, that the tasks that are started remain on the forecast screen on subsequent days. I think this would be great. This In Progress feature would tie in with that in the sense that a task marked as in progress by double tapping would then acquire this behavior that it would remain visible on subsequent days until marked complete. I am sure there are other implications to this but I think it would be a great feature.

If we don't have this ability then how else can we handle tasks that take longer to complete? Some will say to break them down further in to more tasks but this becomes impractical in many cases.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeV View Post
I can't help but think that having some kind of indicator for "In Progress" at the task level would be helpful.
How does it help? You've still got a task to complete, it just isn't quite as big as when you started.

If you need some indication that you've started, why not put "IP:" at the start of the action name? With that, you can search to see if there are any incomplete in-progress tasks that you are overlooking.
Quote:
Chris mentioned in another post improving the forecast screen, that the tasks that are started remain on the forecast screen on subsequent days. I think this would be great. This In Progress feature would tie in with that in the sense that a task marked as in progress by double tapping would then acquire this behavior that it would remain visible on subsequent days until marked complete.
Okay, this makes some sense if you use start dates to schedule when you are going to work on something instead of when you are first able to work on something. But I would argue that a task so large that you need to work on other tasks before you finish it is really something that should be broken down into more digestible chunks.
Quote:
If we don't have this ability then how else can we handle tasks that take longer to complete? Some will say to break them down further in to more tasks but this becomes impractical in many cases.
Example?

You don't have to break it down in advance. You work on the task, run out of time that day, add a child task that describes what you have left to do. The next day you see exactly where you pick up. Repeat as many times as needed.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
Example?

You don't have to break it down in advance. You work on the task, run out of time that day, add a child task that describes what you have left to do. The next day you see exactly where you pick up. Repeat as many times as needed.
Ok, this is good. This brings up another point: Where can I read up on the difference between and how to best implement the ideas of projects with single tasks and task groups. I not clear on these. The help file does not really cover implementation details. Thanks whpalmer.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeV View Post
Ok, this is good.
What was the rest, chopped liver? :-)

Quote:
This brings up another point: Where can I read up on the difference between and how to best implement the ideas of projects with single tasks and task groups.
I'd say do whatever makes the structure of the project easiest for you to understand, both from a planning perspective and from an executing perspective. You want to express any necessary structure (these tasks must be done before those tasks), and you want the task names to make sense when you are looking at them as you try to execute the project ("Lutron wall plate? What kind of task name is Lutron wall plate?")

Some portions of the project may involve groups of tasks which must be done in sequence, and other portions may have groups of tasks which can be done in arbitrary order; using a task group as a container allows you to have a mixture in the same project. Maybe you're doing a project to turn a spare bedroom into an office. You need to have some electrical work done (putting in some extra power outlets, another phone line, some Cat-5 cabling for your internet hookup), you want to buy some furniture (bookshelves, a desk, comfortable chair), and the ugly wallpaper the previous owner had in there has to go. Probably your overall order is the do the electrical work and wallpaper first, acquire the furniture, then set up shop. Breaking those down (remember, OmniFocus is an outliner at heart), that electrical work is going to need a block of sequential tasks (find an electrician, obtain any necessary permits, do the work). There will be another block of tasks to deal with the wallpaper (get tools, strip the old, choose and purchase new, hang new, or maybe you have a similar set to the electrical work if you hire someone to do it). Both of those blocks can probably run at the same time, so putting them in a parallel group would make sense. Maybe a 3rd group in that parallel group (this time a parallel group) covers the actions of buying the furniture. When all of those tasks are complete, move in the furniture and set up your office. You might end up with something along these lines:

 
I happen to like chopped liver :) All of it was great. Thanks for your thoughtful reply! I didn't realize it when I posted the thread but I do now, that you can't have nested projects in OF for iPad. But you can simulate this by having an action group inside of a project, which acts like a sub-project. And you can have many levels of this.

In your graphic, I notice there are items in black, gray, and purple. I assume purple is next action. Gray is probably future action, and black is available right now. The hard part to this is understanding the behavior when the groups, whether it's a project or action group, are sequential, parallel, or single action, and their child groups can be independently sequential or parallel. There are 6 possible combinations:

Project/Action Group:

sequential/sequential
parallel/sequential
single actions/sequential

sequential/parallel
parallel/parallel
single actions/parallel

The actions displayed to the user depend upon the availability filter which has four states:

Next Action
Available
Remaining
All

The key to understanding how OF works is in understanding the above and I am still struggling with this.

At this point, I don't see the difference between Parallel and Single Actions. What is the behavior of actions between these two types of projects. Note that Single Actions are not available to action groups for some reason that I don't know.

Thanks!
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeV View Post
I happen to like chopped liver :) All of it was great. Thanks for your thoughtful reply!
Just giving you a hard time, of course :-)
Quote:
I didn't realize it when I posted the thread but I do now, that you can't have nested projects in OF for iPad.
Not sure I know what you mean by this. I'm not aware of any structures you can create on the Mac that are not allowed by the iPad.

Here's my sample plan, after some work has been done:



Notice that the initial group is done, and now we are executing a parallel group containing two sequential groups, and one of them has reached a parallel group. I'm showing all actions in the image, but a remaining actions view would show all actions not yet completed, an available actions view would just show the items in black, and a next actions view just the "Ask on town forum" action, as it is the uppermost available action.

Quote:
But you can simulate this by having an action group inside of a project, which acts like a sub-project. And you can have many levels of this.
I prefer the official nomenclature of folders, projects (and single-action lists, which are just a special sort of project), action groups, and actions. Here's a breakdown of the hierarchy showing what can contain what, and which features are supported:



The key difference to my mind between a project and an action group is the ability to review, drop, and put on hold for the former; as there is no ability to do all of those project attributes with an action group, I find calling it a sub-project to be a route to confusion and delay. A nested project? Is that a project with action groups inside, or a project inside a folder hierarchy?

Quote:
In your graphic, I notice there are items in black, gray, and purple. I assume purple is next action. Gray is probably future action, and black is available right now.
That's correct. Orange means "Due Soon", red means overdue, and blue means action from a single-action list. The blue and purple colors aren't used on the iPad or iPhone app. The future connotation of the gray color means not available now, not that there is necessarily a specific time in the future at which it will become available. The project might be on hold, or dropped, or that action is assigned to a context which is on hold, or there's a future start date on the action or project, or simply it isn't the leading action in a sequential project or group.

Quote:
The hard part to this is understanding the behavior when the groups, whether it's a project or action group, are sequential, parallel, or single action, and their child groups can be independently sequential or parallel. There are 6 possible combinations:

Project/Action Group:

sequential/sequential
parallel/sequential
single actions/sequential

sequential/parallel
parallel/parallel
single actions/parallel
More combinations than that, as you can have groups inside groups inside groups...it's turtles all the way down :-)
Quote:
The actions displayed to the user depend upon the availability filter which has four states:

Next Action
Available
Remaining
All
Don't forget about Completed.
Quote:
The key to understanding how OF works is in understanding the above and I am still struggling with this.

At this point, I don't see the difference between Parallel and Single Actions. What is the behavior of actions between these two types of projects. Note that Single Actions are not available to action groups for some reason that I don't know.
When I answered your question last night, I wondered if you were asking the question I answered, or this one. I decided that no matter which one I answered, it would turn out you meant the other one, so I went with the one that was more fun, and I'm glad I didn't immediately delete the sample project! :-)

There are a number of differences between SAL and parallel project. Perhaps the most obvious at first glance is the icon assigned. Next, actions in SAL's are styled blue by default on the Mac, unless overridden by due soon, overdue, or unavailable styling. All available actions in a SAL are treated as if they are next actions, whereas only the first available action in a parallel project or group is treated as if a next action.

So what is the practical bottom line? Well, if the container really is a catch-all bucket of independent items, you might want to see all of them in your context lists, and a SAL would be an appropriate choice. Projects have outcomes, and SALs do not, so some of use SALs to contain collections of tasks which are related but have no near-term outcome. I have one for taking care of my pets, for example. "Feed the cats until they are dead" just doesn't have the right ring to it :-) Despite the name, you can have action groups in a SAL, so it could be used as an area of responsibility structure, although as you see in my chart above, you don't get the same level of control as you do with a collection of projects.

There are few irrevocable choices made when using OmniFocus. If you set something up as a parallel project and after a few days you think it might be better as a SAL, just bring it up in the inspector and change it! On occasion I've temporarily changed SALs to projects and later back again just to slim down the otherwise overwhelming list of choices. If it works for you, that's all that really matters. Try it both ways, see what you like. The right answer now may not be the right answer later, so take a little time now and then to reflect on what works well and what has a bit too much friction, and alter your approach accordingly. One of my favorite aspects of being a forum participant here is seeing the different approaches people use, and I'm always looking to add some clever new twist that someone else thinks is completely obvious but never occurred to me!
 
Wow, thank you Whpalmer. I'll go over this carefully over the next day or two.
 
Hehe Palmer has so far procrastinated any real work and only did the "think about it" and "read about it" part :D
 
Hey, I had to write that #$@% post 3 times because OmniWeb kept running out of memory and crashing! Checking off tasks in my Omni Group Forums project isn't always easy, you know :-)

(That bedroom into office project was created as an example for the post, but there has been some discussion of the feasibility of replacing some "eye-catching" wallpaper around the house, a prospect which appeals to me about as much as do-it-yourself hemorrhoid surgery!)
 
 


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