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Selecting a Child Context Should Show Parent's Actions, Not Vice-Versa Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I think OmniFocus handles context hierarchies backwards.

As you know, OmniFocus contexts can have child contexts. For example, I might have a context called computer with a child context called computer:online. Currently, if I select computer, I can see actions that belong to both the computer (parent) context and the computer:online (child) context.

This behavior -- showing the actions of child contexts along with those of the parent when a parent context is selected -- is actually backwards, since anytime I am in the computer:online (child) context I am also in the computer (parent) context -- but not vice versa. The child context is a subset of the parent context, so any action that belongs to the parent context can be performed in the child. Right? Yet OmniFocus shows the children's actions when a parent is selected, which is backwards. Instead, it ought to show the parent's actions when any of its children is selected.

I think OmniFocus' context display needs to work opposite how it currently works: selecting a child context should show both the child and its parent's actions, and selecting a parent context should show just the parent's actions.

Here is some ASCII art of context mode, to explain what I mean.

Current OmniFocus behavior (nonsensical, because it shows online tasks when I am not online but merely at the computer):

Code:
    Contexts       | Puter
   ->   Puter      |     calculate pi
            Online |
                   | Puter:Online
                   |     do web research
Code:
    Contexts       | Puter:Online
        Puter      |     do web research
   ->       Online |
                   |
                   |
The way I think OmniFocus should work (sensible, because anytime I am online, I am also at the computer):

Code:
    Contexts       | Puter
   ->   Puter      |     calculate pi
            Online |
                   |
                   |
Code:
    Contexts       | Puter
        Puter      |     calculate pi
   ->       Online |
                   | Puter:Online
                   |     do web research
What do you think? Will somebody have to re-write a bunch of outliner code?
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by david.kreindler View Post
The child context is a subset of the parent context, so any action that belongs to the parent context can be performed in the child. Right?
To me the only thing that is confusing/frustrating about this, is that there is no way to show the tasks that have been assigned directly to the parent (without showing all the children).

The best you can do for this is a group by context. A pretty minor annoyance for me.

But I completely expect that when I select a child, it shows me ONLY things in that child context.

While I see your point from a strict logic point of view, I'm not sure it is what most users would expect for choosing to see something specific.

-P
 
It is a bit more than a minor annoyance for me. There are two principles being violated by OF's current behavior:
  1. Selecting a context should show only actions that can be performed in the selected context.
  2. Selecting a context should show every [next] action that can be performed in the selected context.
The first principal is violated when a parent context is selected -- OF shows actions in all of that context's children, which are probably unavailable. The second principal is violated when a child context is selected -- OF fails to show actions in the context's parent, which is (by definition) available.

It is not really a matter of strict abstract logic, for me. When I select a context, I really do not want to see things that I cannot do, and I really want to see every action that I can do.

The only reason we are not surprised by OF's current behavior is that it is the behavior of the outliners that we are accustomed to using. But OF is not an outliner, and I think it should abide by the principles above.
 
David has articulated exactly what I have been thinking. So far, my work around has been to define an :Other child context.

For example, I have
Mac : Online
Mac : Email
Mac : Printing
Mac : Other

where Mac : Other catches all the tasks I can do on my mac that do not require me to be online or near a printer.

It's not pretty - especially because occasionally actions fall into the Mac context (and not the :Other) and I forget to look for them there.
 
I disagree. But that's only because I'm interpreting the hierarchy differently. If I am in the computer context, I expect to see everything related to computer work. The child node, online, is a subset, a special situation to the computer context. If I look at actions for online, I want to see only online tasks that are a subset of computer tasks.

I think that my take on this comes from being a computer scientist and mathematician, where subnodes are subsets.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pvonk View Post
I disagree. But that's only because I'm interpreting the hierarchy differently. If I am in the computer context, I expect to see everything related to computer work. The child node, online, is a subset, a special situation to the computer context. If I look at actions for online, I want to see only online tasks that are a subset of computer tasks.

I think that my take on this comes from being a computer scientist and mathematician, where subnodes are subsets.
I agree that when I look at actions for :Online, I only want to see online tasks that are a subset of computer tasks. And, that is exactly how OF behaves (for me).

But, I think the original point was aimed at whether you want to be able to see tasks that you do not have the resources to achieve. Everytime I look at my Mac context, but am not online, I don't want to see a list of tasks I can't accomplish. If I want to see *everything* related to my mac, I would rather select the multiple contexts that are relevant.
 
 


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