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Hello folks,

Every few months I pop my head up from using OmniFocus to consider *how* I'm using OmniFocus, and inevitably I find something that I'm not quite understanding but managed to live with for a while.

Today's installment is Stalled Contexts. I've done some searches here, and found some discussions, but nothing that gave me an explanation I can really understand.

The situation: What is the Stalled Context Filter, and why does it continue to show me actions in the list?

For example, I have a project "OF Test Project", with one action "OF Test Action", in my "Computer" context.

The Project is Active, the action is the Next Action and the Context is Active. There is no Start or Due date on either the Project or the Action.

The Action shows up as, well, actionable in the Computer context, yet *also* shows up when I switch my Context filter to Stalled.

Clearly I'm missing what the Stalled Context represents.

Can someone enlighten me?
 
A stalled context is a context which has no available or pending actions. This can mean that the context has no uncompleted actions at all (not really a problem, but might be a candidate for removal if it has outlived its usefulness to you) or there are actions which cannot be worked because something else is blocking them, a situation which might merit investigation. For example, a steady build-up of actions in your context for a colleague might be a signal that it is time to visit that colleague. Note that a context with only actions with future start dates (pending) is not considered stalled, just as a project with a next action with a future start date is not considered stalled. However, a context with one action which is the second uncompleted action in a sequential project (not the next action, but the one following) would be considered stalled.

One especially confusing aspect of the stalled context display is the behavior with nested contexts. If you have a stalled context which is nested inside another context, actions in the parent context will be shown in the stalled context display even though neither the parent context nor the actions may be stalled! For this reason, I think it only makes sense to look at individual stalled contexts, and then only to look at the leaves of the tree.

Do you perhaps have a context nested beneath your Computer context? I believe that could explain the behavior you are seeing, if that nested context didn't have any available or pending actions.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
A stalled context is a context which has no available or pending actions. [...]

One especially confusing aspect of the stalled context display is the behavior with nested contexts. If you have a stalled context which is nested inside another context, actions in the parent context will be shown in the stalled context display even though neither the parent context nor the actions may be stalled! For this reason, I think it only makes sense to look at individual stalled contexts, and then only to look at the leaves of the tree.

Do you perhaps have a context nested beneath your Computer context? I believe that could explain the behavior you are seeing, if that nested context didn't have any available or pending actions.
Yep, that's it. That seems like bug. Would you agree, or is there a logic to it.
 
Well, if there's a reason why the confusing part is desirable, I haven't figured out what it is, yet. About the only time I ever use it is when verifying my answers to questions about the stalled context :-)

Send in a query to the support ninjas and ask them why it works the way it does. My suspicion is that it was put in for symmetry and doesn't really get much use (or is used by people who only use it on leaf contexts). If the nesting behavior bothers you, but you want to use the stalled context filter, I think you could make yourself a perspective that simply selects nothing but the leaf contexts. Grouping by project, showing remaining actions, any status, with the column display enabled would give you a view that would let you quickly spot projects hung up because of stalled contexts. Or group by context if you want to go directly to seeing which contexts are stalled. Group by added if you want to see what has been moldering longest.

If you do end up making some lasting use of the stalled context filter, I'd be interested in hearing about it...
 
Checked the development database re: the handling of parent contexts - I don't see anything that would make a case for either answer to the "bug or feature" question.

Just to be safe, I'll file this as "behavior is confusing" so we can take another look in the future.
 
I found this thread while trying to understand what I was seeing with the Stalled contexts filter. Now that I'm looking into it further, the same thing happens with all the context filters. This is very confusing to me. I understand that parent contexts might need to be displayed to show the complete hierarchy, but could they not be grayed out or unselectable or something to show they don't match the filter?
 
 


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