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Asymmetric design goals ? (an asymmetric bug ...) Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Came across an asymmetric bug last week - the 'perspective name' property of a window (in the Applescript library) works well for setting a perspective, and is listed as read/write, but proves unreadable (always returns a missing value) and doesn't work for clearing a perspective.

Ironically, I discovered this while writing a script in response to a sense that Ver 1 of OmniFocus has a rather asymmetric (almost ratcheted) feel - offering a smooth and automated journey into narrowed focus, but a rougher, less intuitive and more manual climb out of it.

(The theme tune here is something like "Find your own way home", and the video is of users being able to focus with a single click, but needing to find a 3-key combo to shed that focus, or failing to find a buried Perspectives > All Items option to clear all the filters that a visually foregrounded view bar encourages them to set, and then sending off another one of those worried "where's my data ?" posts.)

I think this is worth some attention, because the pumping heart of productive work is a smooth rhythm of alternately diving in and stepping back to take an overview. Any asymmetry in that rhythm will make us less productive. Either it will stop us from getting our hands dirty (a bias towards stepping back), or it will make us optimise locally rather than globally - (a bias towards getting lost in the details of one tree, and losing sight of the shape of the forest).

Perhaps there's a cultural issue here. A lot of us (including, perhaps, some of the early designers of Ver 1 ?) have a geekish side - perhaps just a little more happy to spend long hours with the technical details (and sweep the rest aside) than we are to stand back and take stock ?

In any case, I'm hoping that Ver 2 will encourage and support a more symmetrical mental rhythm.

In the meanwhile, still tinkering from time to time with writing a Home Page button - which sheds all filters and focus with one click and lets you step straight back to see everything, before you dive back in again to deal with some particular task.

A work in progress, but faster now - toggles between two windows - a home-page window and the last remembered narrow view window (creating them if they don't yet exist, but otherwise just bringing them to the foreground).

(Because of the perspective name bug, it can't detect or clear perspectives)

I can't help feeling that OmniFocus should have had something like this, visually foregrounded, and prominent in the presentations, from day one ...

It could even be labelled: "Where's my data ?" :-)


Last edited by RobTrew; 2010-09-19 at 11:21 AM..

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