I got a bug report today from someone who is evaluating Tasks Pro™ for use with his business. This fellow is actually a friend from school that I’d done some development work with, so his report had much more of a ‘what the heck is going on?’ tone than a ‘THIS IS BROKEN DAMNIT!’ tone. It turned out not to be a bug after all, but it is a design decision that is a little complicated to understand.
The problem: I created a bunch of sub-tasks, then went back to the home screen. The sub-tasks are all there at the top level instead of being under the task I put them under. In fact, the task I put them under isn’t there at all.
The explanation: This is actually a feature. This occurs when you don’t own the task you put the sub-tasks under, and you are viewing the Home screen with your name selected in the filter drop-down list. I promote all tasks that you own, but that are under a task you don’t own, to top level tasks in your view on the Home screen so that you don’t miss something that is assigned to you. To see the proper tree structure, select the appropriate group view (or All Groups Combined) in that filter list.
This is one of those situations where I think I’ve made the right decision with this behavior, but it isn’t transparent to the user what is going on.
What are some ways I could improve this? Perhaps showing the hierarchy (the same as is done in lists if the feature is enabled) for those tasks so the user can see they are not top level tasks would help?
Post your ideas in the comments…
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I would say that the only other way to do it is to show the parentage, but have most of the actions disabled on that parent, like a read-only item. But I would still do it the way it is, as this is also suboptimal from a “Why can’t I do that?” perspective.
You could always use a color code to distinguish the different taks, perhaps highlighting those in question in red and then providing a key at the foot of the page…
To be perfectly honest, I’ve never tried Tasks Pro, so I’m just guessing at what this looks like, but it sounds like you could show the parent task but gray it out so it is obvious that you don’t own it. If there are editing controls they could be hidden or disabled.
Also, if you do something like this, make sure to include text indicating that the task is not yours, so users of non-visual browsers aren’t left in the dark.
The only possibility that I see is “ghosting” in the parent [and child] tasks that aren’t owned by the user. It would be a modification to the build of index.php, but I think it could work.
My default view is set up to see tasks for All Users & Groups to limit my confusion in this regard, though.
Showing the parent can be tricky, because the level at which to show the parent isn’t clear. If I have a task 8 levels deep, do I show all 8 levels? If I don’t show all 8 levels (only show the direct parent), what do I do about showing the proper relationship between the level 8 task another task that is at level 6? To make things worse, there is no reason to believe the user has access to the parent tasks. The parent tasks could be in different groups or marked as Private.
I experimented w/ showing parents and it really got messy.
I noticed this feature when I was first setting up TasksPro. I actually thought it was rather clever AND correct. I can however, see where some people might not like it. I would suggest flagging the sub-tasks in this situation with a color, or a little icon or something like that.
Ooooh, so *that’s* why I used to see that happening on the WP Tasks….
I’d think that you could just sort the self-owned top-level tasks from the sub-tasks that belong to others, and put in a separator/header that says something like “Sub-tasks for Tasks Owned by Other Users”.
My stance on this is: if a user is assigned a task, (s)he’s most likely also o.k. to at least see the parent tasks – at the very least the task titles.
I’d show the tasks in the regular hierarchy, but without the option to view or edit the tasks that the user usually wouldn’t see. Ideally, those tasks should be displayed in a different style (greyed out, italic, or similar), maybe also some icon to indicate the read-only state.
When the user browses those parent tasks (which are only visible, because some child task is assigned to the user), (s)he only sees the tasks that are assigned to him/her, or contain tasks that are assigned to him/her.
That way the user can put the tasks into context, but it’s also obvious that the parent tasks are displayed purely for informational purpose.
I personally find the current implementation a little awkward, since tasks are not necessarily found at the point in the hierarchy where they belong, which kind of rips them out of context, and it makes it harder to communicate about tasks (“Can you please fix task A in project B?” – “Huuh, I can’t see any project B!?”)
I like Dougal’s suggestion. I think it’s helpful to know that your task is just part of a whole…and to whom that whole belongs, I think, as well.
I’ve made it so the hierarchy is shown in breacrumb form on tasks that have been promoted. We’ll see how it tests when I release the 1.5 alpha.