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Task Dependencies: Let's brainstorm how it would actually look


Posted: Aug 16, 2008
Score: 0

I've noticed fairly widespread support for the idea of making one task dependent on another. However, it's not immediately obvious how the interface should look in practice. Maybe we can help speed this along by brainstorming together for some viable ideas.

In no particular order...

1) Let's say B logically depends on A, and you have B on your screen. How do you indicate this relationship with A? Some kind of search dialogue would obviously be the most versatile, but it would necessarily be multi-step and therefore slow (thus, less desirable in practice). If A and B are on the same page, there's already a great mechanism for indicating a relationship: the drag-and-drop mechanism for subtasks. What we should have is an additional icon (besides the "hand" icon), call it the "dep" icon. When you drag B's "dep" icon over task "A", this tells the software that task B depends on task A.

2) Saving lots of steps: With the current setup, I might have task "B" set to status "Waiting", and its note field would tell me what task I'm waiting on (i.e. "A"). Once A's complete and checked off, I have to find task B, remove the text in the note field, and change the status from "Waiting" to "Next Action".

By contrast, if B is entered as a dependency of A, we could have a Filter such as "Hide Dependent Tasks". Once A is checked off, B is no longer dependent, and it will automatically show up.

This should be separate from the "Status" field, I think, since that allows for more sophisticated behaviour. Example: "B" might depend on task A, and also on some other external condition. We could set the status to "Waiting" based on that other condition, and also have it be "dependent" on A. Once A is complete, it would automatically show up in the "Waiting" folder (whereas before, the Filter "Hide Dependent Tasks" would have kept it out of view).

3) Actually, come to think of it, this might best be handled by allowing multiple dependencies. Any task can depend on any number of other tasks. Of course, every time a dependency is added, the tree would have to be explored to make sure there are no cyclical dependencies. But that should be a relatively quick operation in most cases, I would think.


Anyway, I just wanted to get the ball rolling on this, on having people brainstorm ideas for this feature, to help out the devs (if they need it). I think the benefits to task dependencies are clear, and most people seem to want them, but the devil is in the details.


Posted: Aug 18, 2008
Score: 0

I wrote up some stuff about dependencies at the forum message

could you please review and tell me if my ideas are hot water or just all washed up?


Posted: Aug 20, 2008
Score: 0

I use Projity (SaaS for an open source alternative to MS Project) for complex projects. But for basic, daily, task list I just want to be able to automate the Next Action concept of GTD.

When I complete a task, I want to be prompted to have the next task created.

I realize that this can get complicated. What if you want multiple next actions created?

Perhaps you could use the existing subtask model but have an option to hide them until a preceding task is created.

I would also be nice to be able to save a project with its sequenced tasks as a template which would give you a pretty good work flow tool.
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