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iCal Event in Sneaky Peak 1.8, only 2 weeks out? Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Hi All,

I want what seems to me a very simple feature:
  • Make OF Actions that have due dates appear as iCal events.

I have spent several hours reading forum posts.
I have seen the religious arguments complete with GTD bible citations.
I have downloaded and installed the latest 1.8 sneaky peak.
I've played with numerous permutations of iPhone OF / Mac OF / OF iCal Sync / "Publish Due Reminders as a calendar" / OF MobileMe Sync / iSync iCal Sync / iPhone push sync / Mac CalDAV sync / iPhone CalDAV sync etc etc....

I am not confused about the difference between tasks and and events like meetings. I am not expecting to schedule meetings in OF and have them show up in iCal. I put meetings into iCal separately anyway.
However I do need to see all of my task due dates overlaid on a calendar.

The best outcome I can get so far is:
  • OF Actions that are due in the next 2 weeks appear as iCal events.
  • 2 copies of each iCal event show up on the iPhone.
    (One subscribed directly by the iPhone, and one synced from Mac iCal via MobileMe push, ...which doesn't update properly)

I assume that the duplicate events is something that will be fixed before 1.8 goes public. I'm reasonably happy to work around that for now.

But why the arbitrary restriction to only export OF Actions due in the next 2 weeks to iCal?

I would very much like to be able to see _All_ future OF Action due dates in iCal.

There are two use cases for this:

Use case 1: Due date sanity checking...
I have a bunch of tasks with due dates, some are self imposed, some are "the date the client needs the proposal". When I overlay the due dates with my calendar I can see things like: "I've got a bunch of stuff all due in the same week that my wife's friend will be staying in out spare room / home office" -- not going to get much done that week... or "This thing is due the day after I come back from a trip" -- I need to get that done before I leave.
or "There is nothing in the calendar for this two week block" -- good opportunity to schedule due date for some catch-up reading tasks.

Use case 2: Scheduling things around tasks...
I have a client on the phone saying "I'll be in town on these days, can we meet up to discuss a new project". I can look in iCal to pick a time when no other meetings are scheduled, However unless my task due dates are in iCal I can't see that "I have a quarterly report due later that week, so I'll be too busy".
My wife looks in iCal to find a good time to book a week at the family beach house. She can see a week with no meetings, but she needs to be able to see tasks due as well to get an idea of my workload. There is no point going to the beach and spending the whole time writing code for a demo that is due to be mailed to the customer the following monday.

It seems so close.
1.8 has "Publish Due Reminders as a calendar".
I would be happy if there was a checkbox for "Publish all future due dates as a calendar". I would be even happier to have another one called "Publish all future start dates as a calendar".

Looking at "Due Soon" on my iPhone is a great way to get things done over then next few days without getting stressed out. What's missing is a way to see "what will be Due Soon in the week before Christmas" so I can avoid committing to too many tasks and plan to keep the stress down on an ongoing basis.

Sam
 
One thing to be aware of if you are going to do this is that you will not get an accurate view of future repeating events, because only the current event is present in your database, with the next one created when the current one is completed.

If you aren't attaching duration information to your tasks, so that they actually occupy some space in the calendar, how is just a list of due dates generally useful, especially to someone who isn't familiar with the tasks?
 
Sam, the duplicate reminders issue is a MobileMe problem - it's not something we can fix in our code.

The current calendar publishing was implemented as a means to an end - folks wanted reminder alerts on their iPhone OS 3 devices. The calendar app was the only way to get those reminders onto their devices.

(Apple didn't make the code that Calendar uses to pop up notifications available to third party developers, and push notifications don't work for the 40% of the marketplace that has an iPod touch.)

Bill's post about repeating actions is why the notifications are only pushed out for a couple of weeks. Farther than that, the events you need to be notified about may not have been created yet...
 
Needless to say, the current situation Calendar/ToDo situation is a little muddy. Some of the features that Apple's adding in iPhone OS 4 will help us clean this up a bit. (You won't be forced to create a calendar to get reminder alerts, for example.)

Mac OS X: has a ToDo database, and a Calendar event database, which are both shown in iCal, though the ToDos are separate from the calendar.

iPhone OS: Calendar app shows calendar events, but not ToDos. If you want to pop up reminder alerts, you have to create calendar events to do it.

Meanwhile, Blackberries and other Non-iPhone smartphones sync with both ToDo and Event databases through third-party utilities. (We added the to-do support as a way for folks to sync OmniFocus with a Treo, for example.)

If what you need is the ability to see your ToDos in the calendar view on your Mac, though, you may want to look at BusyCal - it does that.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
One thing to be aware of if you are going to do this is that you will not get an accurate view of future repeating events, because only the current event is present in your database, with the next one created when the current one is completed.
Thanks for the warning. However, I don't see why OF couldn't use a com.apple.calendars.Recurrence record to express the recurrence in the the iCal database. (See Apple Applications Schema Reference)

Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
If you aren't attaching duration information to your tasks, so that they actually occupy some space in the calendar, how is just a list of due dates generally useful,
It is useful because "busyness" at a given point in time is likely to be proportional to the number (and nature) of upcoming due dates.

I don't have the time or the inclination to maintain a full MS-Project style project plan that tries to tell me what I'll be working on each day. The attraction of OF is that it is light-weight but won't let things fall between the cracks.

So, I won't be wasting time attaching duration meta-data to every sub-task. However, given that I do have due-dates attached to some tasks, I would like to see those ones overlaid on the calendar. This gives me a rough idea what will be happening, for example, during a given week 2 months from now. My OF data can't tell me exactly what I'll be doing 2 months from now (in fact any system that tries to know exactly what I'll be doing 2 months from now will almost certainly be wrong). But, my OF data contains information that could help me to try to avoid clashes between calendar events and due dates 2 months from now; and help avoid piling up due-dates at the same time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
especially to someone who isn't familiar with the tasks?
This is about having a prompt as a staring point. If someone else is looking at due dates in my calendar, they can say "It looks like you'll be doing late nights to meet due dates in the last week of June", or "How about we head to the beach the week after all these due dates here". The resulting discussion will handle the actual importance and likely impact of the tasks in question.

In my case, my wife has a fair idea of what I am working on anyway because we each organise our separate consulting jobs around the other's workload and looking after a 2-yearold. If she sees "Due: Acme Co. Final Report" she knows that I'll be busy for a few days before that. If I made a nice gantt chart, it would show me having the report gradually completed over the previous month, but the reality is that I'll do most of it in the last few days. I tend to be busiest just before due dates.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian View Post
Sam, the duplicate reminders issue is a MobileMe problem - it's not something we can fix in our code.
I agree that it is something you can't fix in your code (I am a little familiar with the iPhone SDK / CalDAV etc...). However I'm guessing that Omni has better access to the relevant Apple engineers than I do and that an Omni ticket in the apple bug system would carry more weight than mine. So it is an issue that you could fix through your relationship with apple. Given that Omni advertises "Calendar notifications let you know when a task is coming due" on the App Store, it seems to me that Omni is responsible for making it work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian View Post
The current calendar publishing was implemented as a means to an end - folks wanted reminder alerts on their iPhone OS 3 devices. The calendar app was the only way to get those reminders onto their devices.

(Apple didn't make the code that Calendar uses to pop up notifications available to third party developers, and push notifications don't work for the 40% of the marketplace that has an iPod touch.)
It is interesting to know the history of the feature and I understand how that has lead to the current implementation. But I still have the issue that the advertised "Calendar notifications let you know when a task is coming due" led me to expect that I would be able to look in the calendar to see when tasks were due. The current situation is that I can only see tasks that are due in the next ~14 days.

BTW, push should work on a iPod that is in Wi-Fi range...

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3576
"When the iPod touch screen is on and has a Wi-Fi connection, push notifications are received at any time. If the iPod touch screen is asleep, it will check every 15 minutes for a notification."


... but that wouldn't help achieve my aim anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian View Post
Bill's post about repeating actions is why the notifications are only pushed out for a couple of weeks. Farther than that, the events you need to be notified about may not have been created yet...
Is there a reason you can't just express repeating action's due dates are recurring events in the iCal schema? iCal has no problem showing me events that recur for ever (according to iCal our cleaner will still be turning up twice a month in 2099)
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian View Post
If what you need is the ability to see your ToDos in the calendar view on your Mac, though, you may want to look at BusyCal - it does that.
It looks like BusyCal might do what I want (not sure about how re-curring todos will work out...) but having just spent > $100 on OF I'm reluctant to shell out another $50 to get a feature is advertised on the App Store (as I understood it).

I could write an Applescript to create iCal events for OF due dates, but then that's one more piece of local patch code to maintain every time the upstream software is updated.

Ideally I would like the following additional checkbox under "iCal Preferences" in OF:
"Add calendar events for actions that have due dates".
 
I've just tried the trial version of BusyCal in conjunction with OF "iCal Preferences" (not WebDAV). This does what I want except that (and Brian and whpalmer4 warned) repeating OF actions are not translated into repeating iCal events.

One viewpoint would be to say that apple should fix iCal to display todos in the calendar the way that BusyCal does. But if they did then busycal would be out of business. And if apple improves the todo functionality in iCal too much then OmniFocus would be redundant.
So while I can see that some of the integration problems I'm having are "apples fault" it seems that Omni's whole existence is based on providing improvements on what apple offers. (I was an OmniWeb user back in the day for exactly this reason) So it is Omni's job to find work-arounds for problems in the apple apps they integrate with.
 
Sam, we considered the Push approach, but we didn't feel that notifications would be reliable enough for the folks on iPod touches if they weren't near an open WiFi point.

I'm sorry for any confusion about the way the notification feature works - I'll talk to some folks here and see if we can make the "in the next two weeks" aspect clearer.

We are taking another look at this area of the application, but most folks seem happy with how the feature currently works. Since I can't promise you we'll change the feature to work the way you want, I wanted to be sure you know that you can get a refund on both versions of OmniFocus if you want one.

If that's the case, email sales@omnigroup.com a link to this thread and we can get that taken care of for you. Again, sorry for any confusion.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by samoconnor View Post
But I still have the issue that the advertised "Calendar notifications let you know when a task is coming due" led me to expect that I would be able to look in the calendar to see when tasks were due. The current situation is that I can only see tasks that are due in the next ~14 days.
I'm sorry for any confusion: the purpose for the reminder calendar is not to help you see the dates on which tasks which will be coming due—the built-in Due perspective is designed to help with that—but simply to give you at-the-moment notifications about tasks which are coming due.

The larger the notification calendar is, the longer it takes to send across the wire each time you sync (and each time your calendar app checks it for changes). We chose 14 days as the limit under the assumption that people who actively use OmniFocus would typically launch OmniFocus at least once a week—so looking ahead two weeks ought to be long enough to avoid missing any notifications.

I can certainly see how seeing upcoming tasks on a calendar would be useful for visualization, and agree that that would also be useful for many people—but I'm afraid that wasn't the goal for our "calendar notifications" feature. (In fact, we may eliminate the calendar altogether when iPhone OS 4.0 gives apps the ability to schedule local notifications.)

So, once again, I apologize for any confusion! If the lack of this calendar visualization means that OmniFocus doesn't meet your needs, we'll happily give you a refund for either or both apps—just contact sales@omnigroup.com.
 
 


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