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"Show full hierarchy" setting does not work Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I have a question about the "Show full hierarchy" setting in OmniFocus preferences. My expectation of this setting is that, when enabled, it makes an action's project, parent project, grandparent project, etc. appear in the Project column in Context mode. For example, if I have a project structure like this:

Parent Project
----> Child Project
--------> Action 1
--------> Action 2

Then I would expect the Project column for Action 1 to be this:

"Parent Project : Child Project"

But that's not what's happening. All I see is this:

"Parent Project"

Am I misunderstanding how this setting is supposed to work?
 
What you're referring to as a "Child Project" is actually an action group in OmniFocus. From page 13 of the manual:

Quote:
Using action groups

The actions in a project can be organized hierarchically. This is useful for keeping track of complicated projects, or breaking actions into smaller actions without creating a whole separate project.
So the "Show full hierarchy" setting in OmniFocus preferences is actually working as expected, showing only the hierarchy of projects or contexts.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toadling View Post
So the "Show full hierarchy" setting in OmniFocus preferences is actually working as expected, showing only the hierarchy of projects or contexts.
I guess I don't understand why "full hierarchy" in OmniFocus only applies to folders. To me, a full hierarchy would include...well...the full hierarchy of the library. Action groups should be part of that hierarchy because they're actually just projects that happen to be children of other projects.

The way it is now, confusing situations can arise. For example, I have two projects for editing two different home movies:

Edit Home Movies (Project)
---> Home Movie 1 (Action Group)
---> Home Movie 2 (Action Group)

The problem is that when I switch to context view, I will see an action such as this:

Action: Edit the movie
Project: Edit Home Movies

Which movie does that action apply to? There's no way to tell unless I jump back to planning mode. If OmniFocus would display the "full" hierarchy, including action groups, it would be obvious. For example:

Action: Edit the movie
Project: Edit Home Movies : Home Movie 1
 
I think there's some merit to the change you're suggesting. I find myself being repetitively explicit in wording actions to avoid the ambiguity you're talking about, as in:
Code:
> grant application
  > letters of recommendation
    > Jane Johnson
      - ask Jane Johnson for rec @calls
      - from Jane Johnson, grant rec @waitingfor
    > Joe Smith
      - ask Joe Smith for rec @calls
      - from Joe Smith, grant rec @waitingfor
Besides lessening the typing, if I could avoid repeating the names in the action it would allow much easier copying and pasting when setting the project up.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vocaro View Post
The way it is now, confusing situations can arise. For example, I have two projects for editing two different home movies:

Edit Home Movies (Project)
---> Home Movie 1 (Action Group)
---> Home Movie 2 (Action Group)
But you're diagram shows only *one* project with two action groups. Since action groups are not projects in OmniFocus (at least not currently), I'd move both up a level and make them real projects, perhaps enclosing them in a "Home Movies" folder.

Having each movie as an action group in the Edit Home Movies project seems to unnecessarily complicate things. With each as a real project, you'll have a lot more control (e.g. they can be placed on hold or dropped independently, organized in different folders, individually focused on, sorted in planning mode, etc).

Action groups are better used for organizing collections of actions for visual clarity (allowing a large series of actions to be collapsed) or to allow switching from serial to parallel execution. For example:

Home Movie 1 (Project in serial execution)
---- Shoot footage (Action)
---> Buy supplies (Action Group in parallel execution)
-------- Buy Final Cut Pro license (Action)
-------- Buy new hard drive (Action)
-------- Buy new FireWire cable (Action)
---- Edit video (Action)

Last edited by Toadling; 2008-03-24 at 12:49 PM.. Reason: Clarified my example
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toadling View Post
But you're diagram shows only *one* project with two action groups.
That's because it's a greatly simplified example. I have other projects such as "Finish thesis". It's a large and complex project with sub-projects (er... "action groups"), each with sub-sub-projects, and so on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toadling View Post
I'd move both up a level and make them real projects, perhaps enclosing them in a "Home Movies" folder.
Doesn't that break the definition of folders? They're supposed to be "areas of responsibility", not projects to complete.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toadling View Post
Having each movie as an action group in the Edit Home Movies project seems to unnecessarily complicate things.
It's no more complicated than putting them into folders. And it's quite natural, at least to me, for larger projects to have sub-projects and even sub-sub-projects.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toadling View Post
With each as a real project, you'll have a lot more control (e.g. they can be placed on hold or dropped independently, organized in different folders, individually focused on, sorted in planning mode, etc).
I think this simply reveals a limitation of OmniFocus. Why should it prevent me from being able to do all those things to sub-projects (oops! I mean "action groups")? It's an artificial constraint that serves no purpose I can see. If OmniFocus would just treat action groups as sub-projects, then all these problems and complications would go away.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vocaro View Post
Doesn't that break the definition of folders? They're supposed to be "areas of responsibility", not projects to complete.
The top level item, "Edit Home Movies", isn't really a distinct project with a focused goal. I see it more as a collection of projects, which fits better with OmniFocus' folder concept. If you want to broaden it into an "area of responsibility", you could call it "Media Production" or "Home Studio" or whatever you like. The point is that each movie is a project, and a series of movies is a collection of individual projects. And a collection translates best into a folder.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vocaro View Post
It's no more complicated than putting them into folders. And it's quite natural, at least to me, for larger projects to have sub-projects and even sub-sub-projects. [snip] I think this simply reveals a limitation of OmniFocus.
I agree that it's sometimes helpful to break things up. But the simple fact of the matter is, for better or worse, OmniFocus doesn't currently support nested projects (i.e. sub-projects), only action groups.

But I've found that breaking my larger projects into individual OmniFocus projects and then grouping/organizing them with folders to show relationships works better than trying to force action groups to be something they're not.

The only advantage to nested sub-projects that I can think of is the ability to create dependencies. For example, when one project needs to be completed before the next can begin. With the individual projects and folders approach, you'd have to manage such dependencies manually by placing the dependent project on hold until ready.

If you don't want to try the project/folder organization approach, I'd suggest sending feedback to Omni Group and make a formal feature request (Help->Send Feeback...).
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toadling View Post
But I've found that breaking my larger projects into individual OmniFocus projects and then grouping/organizing them with folders to show relationships works better than trying to force action groups to be something they're not.
For me, making folders act as super-projects is trying to force them to be something they're not. For example, you can't "complete" a folder as you can a project.

So it doesn't really work with action groups or with folders. The very concept of sub-projects seems to have been simply neglected in OmniFocus 1.0. Maybe 1.5 or 2.0 will be better.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vocaro View Post
The very concept of sub-projects seems to have been simply neglected in OmniFocus 1.0. Maybe 1.5 or 2.0 will be better.
Neglected, perhaps, or deemed unnecessary. Either way, that's what I've been trying to say: there currently is no concept of a sub-project in OmniFocus, and trying to make folders or action groups behave like sub-projects is likely to fail because they're simply not sub-projects.

But again, I'd like to clarify that I'm not proposing you use folders as "super-projects" either. Instead, I'm suggesting they're an excellent tool for grouping related projects, like a collection of home movies that you're planning to produce. In many cases, I think folders largely mitigate the need for sub-projects if you break your projects up into clearly-defined, individual units.

But, as I mentioned in my previous post, if you aren't interested in trying this approach, my advice would be to log a feature request with Omni Group. That's the best way to get official support for sub-projects in a future release.
 
Since I love restarting old discussions rather than starting new ones, any more thoughts on this? It's become frustrating to use OF with sub-projects when I can't see those sub-projects in my Contexts view. I'm left with stuff like

* arrange visit
* schedule appointment

because these happen to be actions of a sub-project, and the sub-project's name is nowhere to be found.
 
 


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