Version 0.8.0: next actions re-imagined, built-in search and much moreJul 20, 2012
We just released version 0.8.0, a new major version of zendone. It contains some great new features:
Next actions re-imagined
We have reworked how next actions work in zendone. Next actions are a key GTD concept. They are related with core GTD aspects like implementing the Do stage and applying the Natural planning model to your projects. Our previous approach to next actions only addressed a small part of the problem. Thanks to a long discussion that took place in our community site we realized that our approach was wrong. Today we are changing that.
New definition for next actions
Next actions are actions:
- To do by yourself (not delegated)
- To do as soon as possible (without due date)
- That are single actions or are the first actions of their project.
In order to remark the project’s nature of a sequence of actions to achieve some outcome, we are now showing a number indicating the position of each action within the project.
This new definition of next actions will affect to the previous next actions filter in the Review and Organize and to a new filter we have introduced in the Do section (see the details below).
Seeing your next actions in the Do section
Until now, the Do section showed:
- Focus (starred) actions
- Actions that were due for today or that were overdue
The Do section still shows those two categories and we have included explicit filters for them. But the biggest change is that there is a new switch for showing/hiding your next actions in the Do section.
Until now, the Review and Organize section was the place where you chose which actions to do, you could mark them as focus them and they will appear in the Do section. Now you can choose what to do next in the Do section itself.
We think this a great addition that will change the natural workflow in zendone. After all, choosing what to do next is what the GTD Do stage is about. Now in zendone you have a place for planning your projects (Review and Organize section) and another place for doing them (Do section). This approach enhances the implementation of what GTD calls vertical and horizontal focus:
- Horizontal focus is about defining projects and the next actions required to move them toward closure. A project in zendone is not a simple bag of actions anymore. It is a sequence of actions where the first step is the next action that will move it forward.
- Vertical focus is about focusing in a project and determining all the required steps. You can now express natural plans for projects in the Review and Organize (see the section below).
We also introduced shortcuts for activating and deactivating the new Do filters:
ALT+f: focus actions
ALT+d: calendar actions
ALT+n: next actions
Groups of actions
Although most projects are simple sequences of actions, there are times when you want to plan parts of a project where the sequential nature is not clear. For example, imagine the project of releasing the version 0.8.0 of zendone. It has 3 actions:
- Writing blog post announcing the version
- Updating docs to reflect new features
- Release version 0.8.0
1) and 2) are actions that don’t need to be performed in order, but that have to be completed before doing 3).
To express situations like this one, you can now create groups of actions within projects in the Review and Organize section. Just select the actions you want to group and press the Group actions button, the option in the popup menu or press the
CTRL+G shortcut. Grouped actions are actions that are not meant to be executed in order.
All the actions of the group will be next actions when the group itself is the first step of the containing project.
There are shortcuts for managing groups with the keyboard:
CTRL+G will create groups with the selected actions and
SHIFT+CTRL+G will ungroup them.
Automatic progression of projects
Next actions are calculated dynamically in every moment. This means projects can now advance automatically as you advance working on them. You can now complete a project action in the Do stage and have the next action in the same project to appear automatically in the Do section.
Since calendar and waiting for (delegated) actions are not next actions, you can now have actions blocking how a project advances. For example, if the first action of a project has a due date, no action will be considered next until that action is completed or deleted.
Continuing with the previous example, you would see the first two grouped actions in the Do section:
Once you complete them, the third action will appear automatically.
One common request we have had since we started has been including a searching mechanism. Today we are introducing a search box for both the Do and Review and organize sections.
The search system acts like any other filter (contexts, areas, next actions) and can be combined with them. Just, type the content you are looking for and only the relevant actions will be showed. zendone will search across the title, comments, delegated user, project and contexts of all the actions and will show the matches instantly.
The search box will stay out of your sight when you are not using it. Also, the color it takes when it is used reinforces the idea of being like any other filter.
You can focus the search box with the keyboard, by pressing the
Filters saved across sessions
The area filter and the new next filter in the Do section are persistent across zendone sessions. This means that, for example, you won’t lose your selected area when zendone is restarted.
Conclusions, iPhone app and next steps
We are very excited with this release. With next actions we have tried hard to implement a simple solution that will have profound consequences. We really think it will change the way you use zendone:
- When you are planning a project, you can express simple plans where you only care about the sequence of actions.
- When you are doing things, you will only see the actions you could be doing in every moment.
Thank you much to Proximo, Dafyren, Folke, David and others who patiently opened our eyes regarding why zendone was failing to implement next actions right. In zendone, we only add features we believe in. Features that we want to use, that we need. This time, our community placed this need in our minds. Talking to them we realized that there were some important aspects of GTD that we were just not getting. In order to digest the solution we are announcing today, we have discussed how to implement these features for weeks and have researched a lot about GTD and what the right approach should be. We really hope you like it.
We also must apologize for the long delay with the iPhone beta. We said we were going to start in the middle of June and we were wrong. We will stop giving ETAs. We are always wrong with them. The beta is very close, the app is almost ready but we need to polish some aspects of the app before we start. You can check the last responses in this thread for more info about the beta.
And finally, what are we working on? Our next steps for zendone are:
- We will launch the beta of the iPhone app and will test and polish it for some time before submitting it to the app store
- We will continue working in our Android app. We want to finish a simple version that will let you perform most common tasks with your droid phone. No release dates, but we are working on this.
- We will release version 0.8.1 of the web app soon. It will include, among other things, a proper trash for your deleted actions (finally!)