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Feature Request: task prioritization! Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Whenever someone suggests that a requested enhancement is trivial to implement, I'm left wondering if they think the developer is:
  • too clueless to think of the idea (but able to implement the idea once suggested)
  • too clueless to realize it is trivial to implement (but able to implement once encouraged)
  • just waiting for a few more people to say they want it
or some combination. Are there any other good reasons why the requested enhancement is still only a requested enhancement, and not a shipped one?

Maybe it isn't so trivial? After all, it requires:
  • UI work in 3 applications
  • Modification to the data file format
  • Documentation
  • Testing (including interoperability with older versions)
  • A coordinated release on 3 platforms
and we haven't even touched on questions such as the semantics of multiple flag colors under grouping, sorting and filtering, exposing the new dimension of flag state to the scripting interface, etc.

But yeah, a sloppy implementation of something might not be so hard to implement, only to live with :-)
This trivial feature has been on the boards for several years. It could have been added while doing release 1.10 for example when adding "Flexible repeats" (which required the 5 points you mentioned), or 1.9.3, when updating the schema.

Missing a trivial feature like this is means someone in the programming department wants to do things 'right', while he should stick his head out the window and listen to what people are _actually_ asking for. Paying customers usually prefer being listened to above getting the coolest feature ever. No one, except a few geeks, will use the free-form-metadata approach you are looking at right now (same for flexible repeats). And if, the multi-colour-flagging would be of use in tandem with that feature.

So, again, in what month can we expect this? Or never?
Sure, it could have been done any of those times. Which features would you prefer it to have displaced?

We see some old posts here, yes. What we don't see is the request counts in Omni's database for other features. If customers are asking for feature A in great numbers, why would Omni instead build feature B? Here's a theory: Brian pushes engineering to develop feature B instead of A because Brian runs the support ninja group, and he'll continue to get lots of requests from the customers who want A which will allow him to further expand his empire. Sorry to blow your cover, Brian :-)

You think no one uses the flexible repeat feature they put in? Your crystal ball might be in need of repair...

Good news, though! As this is all trivial (by induction), and Omni isn't listening to its customers, the field is wide open for your competing offering. In what month will you have it ready?

[I'm not an Omni employee, by the way, so it is incorrect to say that I am looking at the free-form-metadata approach. I'm not, and the feature in general holds very little direct interest for me.]
Task prioritization is not a "trivial" thing to add when its effects can have a domino effect on the entire workflow.

Any developer worth their grain of salt knows that once they had down a path, it is extremely hard to turn back. It requires a thoughtful and deliberate plan to integrate into an already complicated program. I laugh when customers think that it should be easy without realizing that just duct-taping features on to something and thinking it will work is a piece of cake.

If task prioritization is an important part of your workflow, there are also a wide variety of task managers that are available.

Take a look at how long Mac OS X or Windows has been in development.

I see Windows 8 and see the path they are heading down with their tile-based interface. That's a radical departure that have left many seasoned Windows veterans baffled.

Be careful of what you ask for... I'd rather make sure that Omni gets it right...
Originally Posted by NickHibma View Post
So, again, in what month can we expect this? Or never?
I'd never say "never", but I'm not aware of any plans for a prioritization feature in the foreseeable future. To the best of my knowledge that's never been part of our vision for the app. We've tried to be clear about that vision over the years, including on the first page of this thread.

However, if anyone (now or in the future) reading this feels that they purchased the wrong tool on this basis and regrets their purchase of OmniFocus, email our sales folks and we can issue a refund. We really, really don't want to be in the business of selling folks tools that they don't find useful. If your particular workflow requires priorities, we want to make sure you have a tool that supports that workflow. That doesn't mean that OmniFocus will be that tool, though.
I personally don't use priorities as a label in my workflow. After a long time of trying to use "priorities" in my Franklin-Covey Day Planner and never really getting it to work, I've been able to break free of the priorities label. I've read lots of time management books or task management books and was never able to really use it.

I know that many books tries to tell us that priorities do work. But oftentimes, life is so dynamic, it will change the priorities of everything within minutes or seconds of a new event that just occurred.

I've had to finally rid myself of the notion that labelling tasks with priorities somehow motivates me to finish the important tasks. Now I've switched priorities to one of two statuses:

1. High priority items that have been flagged or are due within the next 7 days. I've gotta get this done. This is the basis for my "Today" perspective.

2. All my other tasks/projects that I'd like to keep in my future plans but there is no real due date.

The first thing I look at in OmniFocus is the Due Soon perspective to see what needs to be done ASAP. Then I'll look at my Today perspective which shows Flagged and Due Soon tasks. When I've finished as much of my tasks in my Today Perspective, I'll look at my Next Actions perspective which shows all my available tasks.

My Today perspective shows my most urgent tasks that are due soon and/or flagged. I don't need an ABC priority label to show me what's urgent and important. I just look at "Today."

Stripping away the priority labels has streamlined my workflow and simplified my life.

Good luck if you still need priorities. Years of books and life coaches tried to teach me about priorities. But, really, anything that is priority should either be flagged or have a due date on it.

It took me a long time to see Omni's and David Allen's viewpoint about the unnecessary need for priority labels when we already prioritized due soon and/or flagged tasks/projects.
In the Oredev talk on 'Going from Mac to iPhone to iPad and back' William van Hecke (OmniGroup) says that you *should* do things right, *except* when you don't. .

'Trivial' indicates a comparison: flags in multiple colours (highlights) versus workflow/perspectives overhaul (prioritisation). I am in favour (in this case) of giving customers a small fraction on a reasonably short timeline and then do the right thing afterwards (if people actually request that).

Another example: I've submitted 10+ feature requests and bug reports over the past 3 years (example: flag a project with Apple-Shift-L; very annoying for keyboard weenies like me). I spent 2h+ on each of them making things as clear as possible. Received excellent responses from the ninja's (NL: schouderklopje!). None have made it into production, nor have been assigned some timeline.

The quality of a feature depends heavily on timing (again, from wvh's talk): Both doing a quick fix and doing it right can give you bad press, or make you a hero.

I would love to see (and participate if that's of use) in a roadmap for OmniFocus for Mac. And I am perfectly happy when 'my feature' has been pushed down by other requests. The 'when' on any of this is what I am looking for. Stepping away from a great tool because I, well, just don't know, is the worst possible option for me.


P.S.: I *fully* agree with the post about no priorities. It would be nice to mark one of 1000+ actions for, say, today (blue), tomorrow (yellow), this weekend (orange). Or use flags to mark energy levels (yellow, orange, red). Or in a large pile of little odds and ends the ones you want to focus on in 'the next 2 hours', without having to drop the 'this week!' flag, or spam the Forecast view on your iPhone.

P.P.S.: A programmer worth his salt? I guess you are one of them. And I am not. Let the flames begin!
The last time I did serious programming was in the old HyperCard days.... But I've worked with several programmers in the past and understand the obstacles that come with the field (crappy software development environment, lack of APIs, limits of the hardware, etc.).

Heck, I use Squarespace for my web site because I just don't want to go back to the days of HTML coding or learning PERL, Javascript, Ruby on Rails or whatever else is out there.

It took me a while to figure out how to create a style that shaded my overdues in red, my due soon in orange, blocked in gray, and available actions in green. So creating your own OmniFocus style might help.

This is my latest attempt at an OmniFocus theme that colors my tasks based on status (available, blocked, due soon, overdue):

I like using colors to indicate status. But I have to concur that creating an OmniFocus style is not an easy task.

Sometimes I focus better when I look at my Next Actions perspective, write down three to five tasks from the screen on to a piece of paper, tape it to my desk lamp and close OmniFocus. Then i just completely focus on what is on that paper. Then I'd also write on another piece of paper for my weekend tasks.

Psychologically, it just seems to get me more focused looking at that paper list instead of looking at OmniFocus all the time. All I see are those tasks that I wrote down.

If I have to look at OmniFocus, I'll be tempted to try to look for something else more pleasant to do instead of just eating the frog and doing the unsavory tasks I actually wrote down.

I've learned to make sure that OmniFocus is just one of many tools to get things done. it's just one of many tools in the arsenal.
When red-flagging was implemented in OF in the early days, I'll bet there was a discussion among developers about whether to add multi-colored flags. Evidently, a decision was made to just have the single red one. Yet, if multi-colored flags (red orange yellow green blue purple gray) had been chosen, mimicking Apple Mail, and sort-by-flag sorted them as Mail does, with red as highest and gray as lowest flag value, I would have a further, multi-part bet: no one would now be asking to have that capability removed; many would just be using the highest priority red flag and none of the others, just as now; many others would use flag color to allow priority-tagging their tasks; and this entire discussion about whether or not to f*king *allow* people to prioritize tasks would not exist.

My world exists for the most part without specific time/date deadlines, yet there are clear priorities and overall, higher priority things have to get done before lower priority things. Just using the existing flagging mechanism is very good; without it, OF would be nearly useless for me. Adding the completely standard (in Mail) system of seven flag colors corresponding to priorities would make it even more useful.
Given that those multi-colored flags showed up in Mail in Lion, I think it is rather more likely that someone said "we ought to have some way of marking things with a flag", and the obvious eye-catching color choice for the flag graphic was red.

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