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Sub-subtasks



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Peter Scott

Posted: Oct 18, 2013
Score: 1



I know, I and others have only been bringing this up for the last five years, but oh Lord, how I need it. Not a day goes by when I don't keenly feel the absence of multilevel tasks now. Yes, I know it's difficult, but it's also really, really useful and important

Would a donation fund help? An extra service level past Gold for people to pay more into and get sub-subtasks before everyone else? I'd consider a serious contribution here if others would pitch in, if it would get this train moving.
Jake

Toodledo Admin
Posted: Oct 18, 2013
Score: 0



If you want sub-sub tasks, please try using the Outlines section. It was designed expressly for this purpose.
Peter Scott

Posted: Oct 23, 2013
Score: 1



What? They're not remotely related. Outlines are a separate data repository with the semantics for arranging strings in a hierarchy and attaching a checked status to them. They're not tasks, they don't have attributes like start and due dates, they can't be filtered by status or tag, they can't be searched by folder or context, they can't be reassigned, they don't count towards the statistics, they can't have alarms attached, they're not accessible via the mobile app or the API, they can't have independent notes or files. What are you talking about? A subsubtask would be a sub task of a sub task.
Salgud

Posted: Oct 23, 2013
Score: 0



Posted by Peter Scott:
What? They're not remotely related. Outlines are a separate data repository with the semantics for arranging strings in a hierarchy and attaching a checked status to them. They're not tasks, they don't have attributes like start and due dates, they can't be filtered by status or tag, they can't be searched by folder or context, they can't be reassigned, they don't count towards the statistics, they can't have alarms attached, they're not accessible via the mobile app or the API, they can't have independent notes or files. What are you talking about? A subsubtask would be a sub task of a sub task.


Exactly. The two are unrelated, both literally and figuratively.
Jake

Toodledo Admin
Posted: Oct 23, 2013
Score: 0



Adding sub-sub tasks to Tasks would make our already complex Tasks section even more complex and confusing. We may do it in the future if we can figure out how to do it elegantly, but not in the near or medium term future. I know that is not the answer some people want to hear.

If you need to break a project down into sub-sub tasks, my recommendation is to create an Outline for the project and attach that outline to the task. You can quickly go to the outline and view/edit/check off the sub-sub-sub tasks. Yes, you won't have filters and due-dates and whatnot, so it's not perfect, but it is the best we can do right now and hopefully good enough.
Purveyor

Posted: Oct 24, 2013
Score: 0



Peter, there are several task managers that offer multiple levels of tasks. Have you tried them?

For example, MyLifeOrganized is available for Windows, iOS and Android. There's Omnifocus for Mac and iOS. Todoist has web-based access, as well as Windows, Mac, Android and iOS apps.
I'd consider a serious contribution here if others would pitch in, if it would get this train moving.
Sometimes it's better to get on a train that is already moving ... especially if you're willing to pay a higher fare. But, it depends on the journey and the destination.
;-)


This message was edited Oct 24, 2013.
Peter Scott

Posted: Oct 24, 2013
Score: 0



I've started looking. I have a very dense task list (using half a dozen metadata per task on 7,000+ incomplete tasks) and most tools are optimized for simpler lives. ToDoist has limits on number of projects and tasks per project that I can't live with. I depend on several workflows worked out based on complex searches and do mutual delegation with a partner, so any migration is going to be a big deal in terms of my time. Toodledo has a very good focus on tasks... had... and could easily lead the pack in that respect if it just kept that focus instead of spreading thinner.

Point taken, though. I remember how I once thought that ThinkingRock would do the job with a minor change and offered to help pay for it... that was as you say swimming upstream.


This message was edited Oct 24, 2013.
DSM

Posted: Oct 27, 2013
Score: 0



Jake,

Sub-sub-tasks is really a part of the general idea of a many-to-many relationship between tasks. That would have to be added to Toodledo as a separate table and that might be far easier to add than trying to shoe-horn sub-sub tasks into the current Toodledo interface. The requirements would be:

1. Every task added to Toodledo would be given a unique ID.
2. A separate table consisting of two IDs would show which tasks are related.
3. The separate table might include a reason for the relationship (parent/child, sibling, Just4Info).
4. Tools could then be added to Toodledo for traversing the task dependency tree and having things happen based upon that.
5. For instance, if all dependent tasks are completed, then the current task is moved to NextAction.
Purveyor

Posted: Oct 27, 2013
Score: 0



DSM:
It is obvious that each task in Toodledo already has a unique ID.
Each sub-subtask will be related to just one other task, a one-to-many relationship. In a many-to-many relationship, each subtask could belong to more than one task.
The "reason" for the relationship is determined by the data structure and by the ID number.

With your last two points, you've gone from multiple levels of subtasks to task dependency, which is a different issue.

In any case, there's the issue of how to manage, filter and display the related tasks on a website. Perhaps you have some suggestions.


This message was edited Oct 28, 2013.
Jake

Toodledo Admin
Posted: Oct 28, 2013
Score: 0



The technical side of implementing sub-sub-subtasks in the database is straight forwards. We did it this way in the Outlines section. The part that is challenging is the UI. How do you present a list that contains sub-sub-sub tasks? Do columns still line up?
DSM

Posted: Oct 28, 2013
Score: 0



I view subtasks as a specific instance of the more general task relationships. Having a general definition for task relationships implemented in Toodledo should allow the users to implement parent-child relationships, task dependencies, sibling relationships, task ordering, and so on with no change to the form.

Visualizing this as a single list is probably not possible. A many-to-many relationship (of which 1-m and 1-1 are subsets) is not possible in a single list (unless your list contains items that are themselves lists). Even an outline cannot represent well many-to-many relationships. You might be able to do a 3D list, but visualizing that is very complicated and probably not easily comprehended by the users.

The simple approach is probably to represent it as two tables in the interface where you enter the task, click on the relationship button, then enter a list of relationships. For most people, this may be enough as the added value of more flexible relationships might outweigh the simplistic nature of entering the information. As you can, you can provide other ways of visualizing the information (generated outline or mindmap anchored at a particular task, task chains, etc.). If each relationship has a type (parent/child, dependent, sibling, etc.), your visualization tool can choose the relationship that is appropriate for what the user wants to see.

The issue here is that task management at home is not always representable as a hierachy (ie. outline). Users will create tasks as needed and then realize (perhaps much) later that the task is related to other tasks they have already setup. Re-arranging into a hierarchy might not work with their thinking, so a general relationship is needed.

Complicated, yes, but I think you're seeing that users are running into issues that need the many-to-many relationship.
homerrigby

Posted: Oct 31, 2013
Score: 0



Jake,

Understand the limitations of visualizing subtasks in a single browser list view. One possible way to visualize the subtasks in a single list view may be to use background colors on the row(s).

For example, the highest parent may have a different background color for columns star, actions, subtasks, and task. The child tasks for that parent could have a different background color for actions, subtasks, and task. The star column does not have a different background color for the child. This creates a visual indication of subtask and indention. Created a sample image that I could send if it would help.

The limit with the current list view would be 4 subtasks deep but creating a new, additional list view oriented toward subtasks may add additional columns for subtask visualization.

My use case is that I use Toodledo product for both work and personal. Personal tasks rarely require subtasks. Work /project/task management would greatly benefit from multiple levels of subtasks. For work, I mainly use Toodledo as a cloud repository for tasks and remote access from mobile devices. I use third party tools for detailed planning of the tasks.
DSM

Posted: Oct 31, 2013
Score: 0



Actually, I would use task dependencies for personal projects all the time, but not subtasks (ie. hierarchy). Subtasks imply some deep thought on how a task goes together and, for personal tasks, I rarely go to even one level in that type of thinking. However, as I put together personal projects, I'll often say I have to do OtherTask before I do ThisTask. There may be no other (hierarchical) relationship between the tasks in my mind requiring me to think any more deeply than this. Also, task dependencies are often m-m whereas subtasks are 1-m, so there is a disconnect. Having a task management system that takes this information in and can later use it to tell me what can be done next would be very powerful.
Peter Scott

Posted: Nov 01, 2013
Score: 0



I for one am neither requesting nor envisaging relationships more complicated than a tree (DAG). A sub task with multiple parents would not map into any use case I have ever had.

What I want to do all the time is take a task with children and put it under another task. Or break a project into sub projects. When you're doing GTD and next action steps have to be at a very low level this is extremely common. I could probably live with just one extra level. The display would show one extra level of indentation.

What is the hardest part about implementing this? I'm not the only customer here who's a developer; we can understand.
Purveyor

Posted: Nov 01, 2013
Score: 0



Peter, take a look at this thread:
https://www.toodledo.com/forums/2/13692/-65916/read.html
Peter Scott

Posted: Nov 01, 2013
Score: 0



Thanks, I missed that thread before. Since it's closed, I'll respond here.

I agree that there are probably edge cases with the current sub tasks that aren't handled properly. But they're working fine for me. If the only stumbling block to multilevel tasks is display, I say go for it. If people have 13 levels of task and the indentation looks weird, then they can choose whether it's worth the hassle; they can accept the weirdness as going with the territory.

Being able to drag subtasks with their children sounds hard, but maybe they can be rolled up before the dragging starts. As long as the semantics can be defined to be self-consistent, display shouldn't be a blocker. I would think that a hard one to figure out would be semantics of repeating "with parent" for a subsubtask, but no one else has brought it up yet so maybe not.
DSM

Posted: Nov 12, 2013
Score: 0



If you had functionality that allowed you to completely deal with subtasks, but not display them as subtasks (ie. indents) in the Toodledo task table, could you live with using Outlines for the display of your task hierarchy?

What I suggested elsewhere is adding a scripting capability to Toodledo that would allow a script associated with a task to query the status of another task and set the current task's status. Something like:

If TaskA.status == COMPLETE && TaskB.status == COMPLETE then TaskC.status = NEXTACTION

Using this, you could easily implement subtasks to any number of levels as well as implement sibling tasks, dependencies, and so on. Plus, if Outlines would suffice for display purposes, then there is little that needs to be done to the display of tasks in Toodledo (just add the ID field and Script field). Finally, the scripting could be enhanced to allow querying of all task fields, checking the time, using functions, updating task fields, and so on, but this enhanced functionality could be phased in over time.
Peter Scott

Posted: Nov 14, 2013
Score: 0



Interesting concept, but it wouldn't help me. I have hundreds of tasks that contain subtasks and most of those would have subsubtasks if I could. I regularly drag some of my several thousand tasks in and out of parents. I need to be able to search those parent tasks by folder, context, tag, title, and combination of status and start date. There is no linkage between outlines and tasks that would facilitate that. I could only see outlines helping someone to manage projects if they had no more than a dozen projects and didn't mind copying task titles to outline entries and searching their tasks for the corresponding one for each outline entry.
Peter Scott

Posted: Nov 14, 2013
Score: 0



MyLifeOrganized was looking great until I saw there were no Web, Mac, or Linux versions. Deal breaker.
DSM

Posted: Nov 14, 2013
Score: 0



Interesting point.

How about this? The problem with sub...tasks that the Toodledo developers seem to be having is display. What if they implemented a field similar to the Tag field called TaskIDs. Then they would have a GUI that would allow one to pick other tasks to add to the current task. The user could create a hierarchy or a DAG or a dependency list or combination as he sees fit. For you, moving a hierarchy from one parent to another would simply be adding the new parent to and removing the old parent from the TaskIDs list. This reduces the functionality from the scripting approach I suggested above in that they'd either have to set some assumption on what happens when a dependent task is COMPLETED or leave that to the user (similar to what they have now), but it stays close to the current Toodledo interface.

After that, using the Toodledo API, someone might be able to come up with a display program (like a mindmap) that would visualize the graph of the tasks. This probably wouldn't be that hard to do with some scripting and the open-source GraphViz/InstaViz program.
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