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Omnifocus 2 Projects and Contexts need to be sortable Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
In my party example, I want you to finally add the requirement that the party is to happen tonight. And therefore at the point that Jill does not reply at all Bob doesn't get asked either and the calls to the caterer, the taxi for my grandmother, and the call to my wife must all now go ahead. In this scenario I don't think it would be good if I was to look at a phone context which did not mention calling my wife or the caterer because I had an action on "Waiting for", namely waiting to hear if Jill is coming to the party. But that is what will happen in Omnifocus currently if I have a "waiting for" on Jill's response.

However I think that there is a solution to this. I am happy to see no urgent phone calls in the phone context but only if it's possible to set the Dinner Party project to be reviewed at not just a date but a time as well (after all the party is happening tonight). The project should come up for review on both my iPhone and Mac in the form of a notification (optionally) ensuring that I do not miss it if I am working in another app. Because after all, what I need to do if I don't hear from Jill, is to give up on having both Jill and Bob at the party and go ahead with just my grandmother and my wife. Its CRUCIAL that the project I am working on be prompted for review at a very specific moment so that the tonight's party can go ahead as it must.

But that only deals with the dinner party project. What if there are phone calls to be made as the next action for a number of projects. Shouldn't I in that scenario be able to spend time considering the priority of those calls and sort them in Omnifocus so that I do them in a planned order.

Last edited by usertech; 2013-02-14 at 01:38 PM..
It's quite clear that OmniFocus isn't for you. As mentioned earlier, why not look for an application that meets your needs instead of complaining about something that doesn't? To be honest, I think your example is a bit of a joke and you are just trolling but, hey, that's just my opinion.
It would be quite clear that Omnifocus isn't for me if it was quite clear that Omnigroup aren't interested in potential and existing customers (I am existing one) giving feedback as to how task management ideally work. Do you know that they are not?

And are you saying that you don't face situations like the one I have described with the dinner party?

I want to suggest what kind of interface would be needed to effectively handle the sorting of contexts. I think that a context should BY DEFAULT be sorted first by project then by project due date then by the manual sort order the actions appear within their projects. If new actions are added to a project then, within a context, they should appear at the bottom of their place in the sort order. I don't mean they should appear at the bottom of ALL the context's actions. If for example a new action was added which was due today it should appear at the bottom of the actions due today (awaiting more accurate placement if required within the context).

It's important to elegantly handle sorting if both projects and contexts are to be manually sortable. If an action in a context is raised above an action which shares the same project and yet in the project the two actions are sorted in the opposite order they should be reversed within the project so that the moved action is moved to just below the list of actions that share the same due date and time, or if the affected actions have no due date and time, the moved action should be located immediately above of below the other action. I know that this adds complexity for the developers but I am sure that it provides greater utility for the users!
In my party example, I want you to finally add the requirement that the party is to happen tonight.
Now w'ere just piling it higher and deeper to create a situation of "what ifs" and "maybe this could happen".

This is the time to get a virtual assistant and it appears no task manager will do it for you unless it has artificial intelligence. There will never be a perfect task management program because everyone's needs are quite different.

Whenever I wanted to focus on a project, I would create a project perspective focused on just this one project. Then I can view all the tasks in the grand scheme of things and make decisions based on what the current status. Then I get busy and try to burn through all these tasks if the party is tonight as you suggested.

The sorting action suggested may suit you but it won't suit everyone else's needs or what they expect the behaviour to be.

It would be quite clear that Omnifocus isn't for me if it was quite clear that Omnigroup aren't interested in potential and existing customers (I am existing one) giving feedback as to how task management ideally work. Do you know that they are not?
Yes, this argument has been debated about thousands of times over with just about every program that has even been developed/released.

This argument is a repeat of the "Why isn't OmniFocus on Android yet?" It makes it sound like OmniGroup is leaving money on the table. They are committed to existing and potential customers and readily accept your feedback.

I've also seen similar statements in almost every other software forum I care to visit. When I hear the statement quoted above, it sounds to me like "If you don't support this feature, I'm going to say that you just lost my business and the business of others. And I'm gonna spread the bad word about you. Ah, pooh pooh."

Send an e-mail to OmniGroup (via the OmniFocus app > Help menu > Send Feedback) regarding your particular needs about "projects and contexts need to be sortable". That way, it will be filed in the feature request database. If this feature request get enough votes, it will probably get a closer look. So far, it looks like there is just one vote for this feature (if you sent the feature request). The Omni tech support has to wade through all the forum posts and may possibly miss this if you don't e-mail them.

We all have ideas of what the perfect task manager is. But that's why there are other valid competitors who might tackle task management from a viewpoint more similar to yours. Take a look and see if the grass is greener on the other side. I don't recall some of the other task managers having this particular sort feature you want.
Someone has to be the first person to have an idea. Why not spend the rest of this thread arguing whether people would be wise to consider the order in which they do actions within a context and whether they may need to store the results of their decisions?

I reckon that it can be a flawed assumption that you need to make a task management program in such a way as to allow lots of people to use it differently. I think that it's the job of a developer to write a program in such a way to not only serve the current mindset of their customer but possibly to also influence how the customer ought to think if they are to be productive. And my suggestion is being made consistent with that belief.

Why wouldn't it be good, if a customer would be better off thinking about how to order the items in a context, to provide them the chance to do that and to store the results? Does it matter that up to now they have yet to realise that the order of items completed in a context matters?

Last edited by usertech; 2013-02-14 at 03:06 PM..
Originally Posted by usertech View Post
In my party example, I want you to finally add the requirement that the party is to happen tonight.
So put a due date for the whole thing as tonight, and look at your Due or Forecast perspective instead, showing all the actions whether 'available' or not (due to needing to finish something else first). If I recall, they should be sorted already into the order they can be done based on the project structure.

It really seems like you're digging for reasons that you can't use Omnifocus in it's current state - so don't. And frankly, you're already overdue for the caterer - they're not going to be happy about same-day changes in guest count.
LOL re the caterer!

Has anyone noticed that I am being told to find another app whilst also being told that no other app will do what I am asking for because it's just me that wants this feature?

Has anyone also noticed that I am being criticised for trolling and for being negative about Omnifocus whilst no-one has yet argued that considering the order of a context's tasks is a waste of time? And I'm doing more than argue that it should be possible to consider the order of tasks within a context. I'm arguing that not considering changing the order of a context's tasks would be unwise.

There isn't much point in hoping that some app that already does a lot of things wrong implement context action sorting because such apps never have a hope of delivering. And that is why I am suggesting that Omnigroup (be the first to?) implement this feature! Their product is, in this coming release, moving in a very sensible direction in so many areas, and in so doing makes arguments towards refining its design more worthwhile.

My approach to completing tasks within a context (to do them in a particular order when doing so would or could have advantages) is not some kind of idealogy, its just common sense. And if it's common sense, what use is a context screen that does not allow it to be considered? Or why would one argue that a program, when a single view that's supposed to support working in a context doesn't do it adequately, provide an additional one to make up the difference?

In case ordering phone calls isn't your thing, would it be trolling to raise the example of a context for purchases requiring a car? Could such a context require trips to 7 or 8 stores? If you are over 35 you won't be able to remember the order of the 8 stores. So it's not just complex decisions relating to the order of a context's tasks that are hard to recall, it's the fact that you will, in many circumstances, need a record of your decisions because the number of items is too large to remember. Is anyone on this forum going to argue that you should go to the stores without consideration of where they are, or is anyone going to argue that Omnifocus shouldn't be viewed as a substitute for an every ready note pad and pen?

I have some suggestions for how the view bar (which allows you to automatically sort and filter - when I say 'automatically' I mean as opposed to dragging actions up and down which is what I mean by manual sorting). Of course the challenge when it comes to implementing manual sorting in Context Mode is how to allow manual sorting to exist when there are so many important automatic sorting and filtering options that are available and necessary and when those options change the actions that are visible and how they are sorted. My suggestion is that there be a togglable icon on the toolbar which switches between automatic and manual sorting. If it's set to automatic sorting then the settings of the view bar govern what is displayed. If however it is set to Manual sorting, the view bar sets the Context Filter to Remaining and locks its setting (visually dimming it), the Group and Sort popups should be locked, the Availability Filter should be locked, dimmed and set to Remaining, the Status Filter should be locked, dimmed and set to Any Status, and the Estimated Time Filter be locked to Any Duration. If these restrictions were not used manual sorting would cause chaos the second that any view bar setting was changed because the number of visible actions would be changing all the time.

Of course you then allow the automatic sorting options subsort by the manual sort order where appropriate and possible.

The task of manually sorting actions could be made easier by first automatically sorting them by some sort field (due date?).

Planning mode could have the same automatic and manual sort toggle although it would enable manual sorting of actions not projects (the current functionality).

While we are talking design and sorting an additional popup should be added enabling actions within projects to be subsorted (the primary sort being of the projects as a whole).

I think that there needs to be automatic subsorting of context actions too and I would add a second subsorting popup and place it below not to the right of the existing sort popup on the toolbar.

I don't think that the number of popups on the toolbar cause Omnifocus to be hard to understand. What makes it hard to understand in Context mode is why there are so many popups currently and yet I cannot get my list of actions into the order I want. That having been said, why not omit the Flagged popup and the Duration popup from the toolbar unless you enable them in preferences (won't less people use Flagged if there is manual sorting?)

I think the ideas I have outlined for implementing manual sorting deserve separate attention and focus so I am going to start a new thread which repeats the design suggestion paragraphs above.

Last edited by usertech; 2013-02-15 at 10:36 PM..
usertech, this is not a criticism or me telling you to go away from OF but I have noticed on these forums over the years many threads of discontent/suggestions/feature-requests that come down to the desire for time sensitive task management ("add the requirement that the party is to happen tonight") and OF is just not that. It grew out of an approach that specifically moves such items out to another tool. There are several other features I'd like to have in OF too, it doesn't hurt to ask. I like your thoughtful approach to a toolbar manual/auto toggle (Brian, are you listening?) for example.
I think catrijn has your answer.

If the party is to happen "tonight", then you need a response from Jill by noon -make it due by noon.

_You_ have to make the decision by noon on what to do on the contingencies.

For me, complexity arises mainly when you have two or more complex projects that are interdependent. The sequential dependency of one project depends on something from another project. You can't just jam it all together in one giant project, because that's a mess. (this doesn't imply or mean that "for me" means "for you" and "for everyone")

Ideally something between, or interaction between OmniPlan and OmniFocus solves that problem.

But... most of us do not understand why you need to sort the Contexts. The Project holds your dependencies and availability. The Context is just a way of viewing available slices of each Project.

Context is not a "planning mechanism" it is an "execution mechanism".
Okay, I have to add my two cents here. I believe this is the very first time I have participated in an OmniGroup forum. Please be gentile in your responses.

I haven't checked this forum in a pretty good while, mainly because I'd just about given up on OmniGroup ever implementing the very same context mode sorting in OmniFocus that usertech and others have so patiently asked for. When I got wind of an upcoming new version of OF, I hoped against hope that it would incorporate context sorting and other features related to sorting in general. Based on a cursory check of this thread, it doesn't look like that will happen in version 2 of OF, if ever. I think I am now ready to abandon OF entirely, because I, for one, am tired of wasting anymore time on this software. Looks like context mode sorting ain't gonna happen in OF. Can't get there from here.

For anyone who's curious, here's the meat of my two emails to OmniGroup on this subject starting on 15 Dec 2012:

1) "Not sure if this is the best method to bring a request to your attention, but here goes. *I think Omnifocus (for desktop and iphone) has a lot of value, but it has one major shortcoming that I would like you to address and to fix. *As best as I can determine, the latest version of Omnifocus (as noted in the subject line above) provides the user no capability for sorting action items within context mode. *The need for this capability should be obvious. *In fact, I*have noticed that this lack of context mode sorting has been pointed out by others in your forums on more than one occasion. *Even so,*I can provide specifics on why there is a need for this capability at a later time, if requested. *Omnifocus is severely crippled without context mode sorting.

At the very least, please provide context mode sorting that matches the project mode sorting that already exists. *Even better, all of your sorting should be refined to allow for manual sorting (while continuing to use drag-and-drop as in project mode) with the option to save and restore any given manual sort. *Furthermore, you should add the option for both ascending and descending action item sorts in both project mode and context mode.

Having had some experience with other task management software, I believe that the sorting capabilities requested above would place Omnifocus head and shoulders above all of other task management software of which I am aware. *Therefore, I believe it would be in your own self interest, as well as that of your customers, to pursue this as a top priority."

2) "Your email response looks suspiciously like it came from a template. *Is anybody taking this seriously? *The need for better sorting capability was first brought up in your Omnifocus forum several years ago. *How high a priority has been given to this request up to this point? *I have all but abandoned OF because of this issue, and I'm now ready to ditch it and jump onto any other task management software that is the first to include this capability. *Perhaps another software developer will pay more attention to this need. *The OmniGroup can only rest on its laurels for so long."

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