Things 1.3 Brings Support for Mixed Projects

The new feature in Things 1.3 has become known to us internally as “Mixed Projects”. This feature is quite simple and once you have used it, it is hard to believe it hasn’t been there all along.

Previously, we required any given project to only contain items of the same type. This was a deliberate design decision, and one of the few we came to regret though. Still, it has shaped both the structure of the database and the logic that was implemented in both the Mac and the iPhone and iPod touch apps. No more. Having removed this restriction not only makes Things more flexible, it also prepares the ground for bigger things to come like cloud sync and other projects (“Troy”, I am looking at you). ;)

So what is new? Before Things 1.3, an active project, for example, could only contain next action steps. Of course, those would all show up in the Next list. Now, active projects can have someday and scheduled to-dos as well. Someday or scheduled items of active projects will not show up in Next, giving users the ability to add nice-to-have but not strictly required items to a projects, or to-dos that cannot be started until a certain date.

Mixed Projects

All scheduled to-dos, whether contained in a project or not, will appear in the Scheduled list, giving you the complete timeline of all to-dos that have a start date. Similarly for someday items in active projects. These will appear in the Someday list in a new collapsable section. To create someday and scheduled to-dos in active projects, simply use drag and drop or the commands from the “Items” menu.

When you cannot or do not want to continue working on a certain project, you can deactivate it, e.g., by moving it to the Someday list. Even if you do so, the project will retain its structure. Next time you’ll re-activate it, your previous choice of what should be a next action step, someday, or scheduled to-do will be preserved.

Inactive projects will be removed from the source list, but they will still appear both in the Someday list and the Projects list just as they always did. This way, projects you cannot do something about anyway, will no longer clutter up your source list. Similarly for to-dos contained in inactive projects, they will no longer appear in any list until the project is re-activated again.

58 Comments

  1. Jordan Kay Mar 13, 2010

    Beautiful!

    Cultured Code serves as a model for how software development should be with Things, an application that serves as the backbone for managing all productive work in my daily life. Staying grounded on solid design principles, and refusing to rush out functionality to add more “features” until the day comes when it is implemented perfectly, Cultured Code represents a paragon of software development which in this day of touting of meaningless notions of “openness” and “features” is more important than ever. You have no idea how grateful I am for everything you have done.

    Excellent work, Cultured Code! Thank you so much, and keep it up!

  2. Travis Mar 13, 2010

    Nice work guys. I’m so into your company and your approach to business. So refreshing!

    I’m sure you’ve probably heard it before, but I’d love to see a group task-management app from you guys (so we can assign / accomplish tasks as a group.)

  3. Richard Frost Mar 13, 2010

    This is great, and really useful functionality. Look forward to the other developments you are working on too!

  4. Thibault Le Cornec Mar 13, 2010

    Thanks for this new feature I had waited it since a long time.

  5. Chris Newton Mar 13, 2010

    Am I to understand this correctly, but you’ve allowed there to be items within a project to be placed as “Someday” or will allow you to schedule a start date? Great idea and I’ve figured out how to implement it, but UX-wise it’s the absolute worst experience ever!!! After playing around for a minute, I was finally able to find that there is only 1 way to implement these new features and that’s under the “Items” pane in the menubar (or I memorize the shortcut key, which I have). Shame on you for not making it easy to find and in the actual GUI of the app. I’ve always loved that Things was easy to use, but I’m starting to believe my gut more and more when I realize that Things is for the absent-minded causal task manager and not the heavy hitter I think of myself as; I’m getting closer and closer everyday to pulling the trigger on OmniFocus as their tasks have always had the different flows that tasks can have, dependency, list of tasks, etc. This starting on a due date is a step in the right direction toward have actual dependency, but in my opinion, horribly implemented. The problem with Things is that it only allows the use case of a list of tasks under 1 group. Sorry guys, keep trying.

  6. Matt Mar 13, 2010

    This is really great — you guys did a fantastic job making this a totally seamless transition. It really feels like this has been a feature all along, even though I know it involved completely re-doing your database structure.

    I have one small bug report: I have an active project with two “next action”/active items and one “someday” item. If I look in the Someday list for Things Mac, that someday item from my active project is there (correctly). But if I look in the Someday list for Things Touch, only the someday items from my Areas or standalone someday items are there, not the item from the active project.

    Thanks, and I’m excited to see such a great team!

  7. Michael Mar 13, 2010

    @Chris Newton: You can indeed drag and drop tasks to the Scheduled and Someday lists. If this isn’t working for you, please contact support right away and give us more details.

  8. Michael Mar 13, 2010

    @Matt: Thanks for the feedback! We are aware of this issue and we left it for now, because we didn’t want to make this list on the iPhone even longer than it has to be. We will improve this in the future.

  9. Matt Mar 13, 2010

    @Michael – Thanks for the response!

    When I move a todo from an active project to Scheduled on my Mac, it shows up correctly (still nested in the project, and displayed correctly on the Mac and the Touch versions).

    However, when I do the same thing on Things Touch, it disassociates that todo from the active project, so it shows up as a standalone item in Scheduled. I think this is a bug.

  10. Michael Mar 13, 2010

    @Matt: No problem! Please contact support with more details and we’ll look into this.

  11. Chris Lloyd Mar 13, 2010

    I think that “Hide someday and scheduled” sounds a bit awkward. Perhaps the order could be swapped — “Hide scheduled and someday”. It reads more naturally and the items look like they display in that order.

  12. Michaël Mar 13, 2010

    At last! I’ve been waiting for this since the dialog from the beta (remember that?) that said that we would be able to add project tasks to scheduled items in a soon to come version.

    I thought it would never be implemented but it’s there at last! And I largely prefer a good implementation to a quick fix so thanks for the hard work and keep it up! :)

  13. Simon Nielsen Mar 13, 2010

    Man this rox. I use the schedule task feature alot! I only have 3-4 projects active at one time. This is awesome because now i can schedule indivual tasks instead of just the non project ones.

    Great work guys! <3

  14. Steve Mar 13, 2010

    I’ve been a daily user since early in the beta period, but I’ve never been able to use it for serious task management. I think this will solve what I didn’t know was really missing. It already looks great!

  15. Nuno Godinho Mar 13, 2010

    Hi,

    This is good news but can you please explain me what’s the best approach for the following situation:

    I have a project with 10 items which are to be done sequentially. The first one can only be done next week so, using the new functionality, I schedule that first item to one week from now.

    I believe all items except the first one will now show up in the Next list, right? But this doesn’t make sense. So, since Things doesn’t implement item dependencies yet, how do you suggest this should be done?

    a) Manually assign a special tag to all items that are dependent on others and then try to ignore them, even though they insist in appearing in Next and Today lists. (This is what I do today but it’s far from practical);

    b) Also schedule all the other items to that same date so that they all move away from the Next list. But this way they will all show up in Today list once that day comes which makes it more or less similar to what happens today when I schedule the whole project;

    c) any other ideas?

    I’m really looking forward to seeing item dependencies implemented. I understand it’s not an easy thing to get right without corrupting Things usability. But I don’t even see this functionality listed in the Arrivals… is it not being planned?

    Thanks,
    Nuno

  16. George Coghill Mar 13, 2010

    I have the same problem as Matt. Will send a bug report from Things.

    Otherwise, great update!

  17. Kevin Mar 13, 2010

    Amazing, thank you so much!!

  18. Tamrat Mar 13, 2010

    I also ran into the same problem as @Matt above. Scheduling on TT dissociates the task from the project

  19. Rick Holzer Mar 13, 2010

    I have been waiting for this enhancement above all others! Awesome! Thanks!

    I was surprised when my action moved, after scheduling it, from the nice ordered position I had placed it in in my multi-action project to a separate scheduled list within the project. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but I’ll keep working with it and get used to it, I’m sure.

  20. Andrew Mar 13, 2010

    Is there a way for repeating tasks to be associated with a project?

  21. Ben Mar 13, 2010

    Why are you wasting your time on anything but getting Things to sync between an iPhone and the Mac “over the air”? I stopped using Things a while ago for soley that reason. You have a more friendly interface than OmniFocus, but I never use wifi and therefore cannot deal with Things any more.

    Wish you would have figured it out before I left. Good luck.

    -Ben

  22. Manuel Chakravarty Mar 13, 2010

    I have only ever had two complaints about Things, which is probably the most useful third-party app I ever bought for my Mac. The addition of this feature removes one of these shortcomings. Thank you very much!

    PS: In case you are curious, the second feature I miss is MobileMe-like over the air sync with Things Touch (which I believe you guys are working at).

  23. NightLion Mar 13, 2010

    Just when I thought I was out….. they pulled me back in!

    Nice work guys.

  24. riotrudi Mar 13, 2010

    Finally you brought the mixed projects so it’s possible to use the next-list as it is supposed to be: only showing the next (available) actions. Well done, mates! I was just about to switch focus towards this omni thing ;-) This feature was more than overdue, thanks!

  25. Dave Mar 13, 2010

    This is great, thanks for making the change.
    Is there any talk of adding support for repeating tasks within projects? I tried to make a inside-project-scheduled-task repeating but it was greyed out. That would be very, very useful.

  26. Chris Frampton Mar 13, 2010

    @Chris Newton You wrote, “Shame on you.” Really, shame on you? Righteous indignation should be saved for real travesties, not leveled at hard working software developers who keep sending you free updates, working hard to make a program you’ve already bought better for you. Notice they’re hiring people? Hiring people is not free, and yet they just sent you a free update.

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  27. Max Mar 13, 2010

    Still on the wish list: Sub-folders!

  28. Ras Mar 13, 2010

    :) Now I only need subtasks.

    Question: Why is the title bar so weird? I mean, its height is more than in the rest of apps (Please, don’t say that is because of the “g” of “Things” xD)

  29. goldencrisp87 Mar 13, 2010

    @Nuno

    Make the dependant tasks inactive by dragging them to Someday. That way, they won’t clutter your Next list. Not ideal, but it’s a start.

  30. Simon Mar 13, 2010

    Thanks so much for the terrific update! Keep up the great work, really. You keep me so much organized.

  31. Bogdan Mar 13, 2010

    Thank you for mixed projects!

  32. Tony Mar 13, 2010

    Great to see you folks at Cultured Code are still moving development forwards. A+! Keep it up! :D

  33. Bonobo Mar 13, 2010

    I couldn’t disagree more with Jordan Kay on how “Cultured Code serves as a model for how software development should be” – I still think that you are to way too slow in developing and communicate way too little – but, nonetheless, I am EXTREMELY HAPPY that mixed projects have finally arrived.

    YIPPIEKAYAY!

    This was the number one feature request for so many people for almost two years, and I can’t begin to describe how many times that limitation has bugged me, so thank you very much for finally releasing a fix.

  34. richlyon Mar 13, 2010

    This feature is quite simple and once you have used it, it is hard to believe it hasn’t been there all along.

    Well, to be accurate, it is absurdly simply and it was hard to believe it hasn’t been there all along LONG before using it.

    Feels like the longest software payment/software delivery delay in history. But thanks for getting there in the end.

  35. Geddesign Mar 13, 2010

    Excellent! This is the feature I’ve been looking forward to the most. Thank you so much. CulturedCode is doing software development the way it should be done.

  36. Geddesign Mar 13, 2010

    Wow. After just a few minutes of using this I absolutely love it. Another thing you’ve changed is making it so I can hide ‘logged’ items as well in the project view. Very, very pleased.

  37. Ryan Mar 13, 2010

    You guys are great! I love Things for my iPhone and for my Macs. I’m very thankful for all your hard work and the great free updates. You don’t have to do that but you do. Thanks!

  38. Stuart Mar 13, 2010

    Great to have Scheduled and Someday To Dos in Projects.

    What about Repeating To Dos, like a weekly status report for a project?

  39. Darren Mar 13, 2010

    Great move.

    I’d love to see more focus on the notes section of THINGs sometime. EG: The ability to drop photos into the notes and also the ability to open up URL’s in notes on the iPhone. I know it’s possible to do it on the desktop but it’s a no-go on the TT. But that’s off topic I know.

    Great program and I continue to recommend it to everyone I know

  40. Sam Wong Mar 13, 2010

    Are you planning on adding subfolders?

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  41. Steve Walker Mar 14, 2010

    @the CC team – congratulations and keep up the great work!

  42. George Mar 14, 2010

    awesome awesome awesome. having just upgraded, i’m pretty sure this singlehandedly doubles (or more) the usefulness of Things (which was pretty great already) for me. way to go, guys…

  43. Shadokart Mar 14, 2010

    At last !! You created the mixed projects feature, so it is finally possible to use the next-list for only showing the very next action (and not having all the actions one thinks about in a project).

    THANK-YOU, even though it took you a little long !

    Now i really wish you would enable SUB-FOLDERS, as a long list of projects becomes hard to handle and i would like to gather groups of projects in a clear way (the areas of responsibility a great but i still see a very long list of projects and can’t gather them under the “Active projects” folder.

  44. Reza Mar 14, 2010

    Pretty useful feature. cheers for that

  45. Malcolm Cooke Mar 14, 2010

    Things is fantastic but until it has notification and alarms it is sort of little use especially on the iPhone todos need notifications for the tasks etc

  46. Rob Mar 14, 2010

    Darren, I’ve been able to copy url’s into the notes section of the Iphone Things, and open the link there. I had to include the http:// part.

    Photos would be nice. It would be great if Things for iPhone worked liked the app “Pastebot” in terms of copying and pasting. Ya gotta check that app out. Totally cool.

  47. Steven Lewis Mar 14, 2010

    I came here to say exactly what @Chris Frampton said. I bought the desktop and iPhone apps; I thought they were great then and that I’d got my money’s worth; so it’s amazing to me that I continue to get new features without paying any extra. I’m very grateful for that.

    Looking forward to the new features but VERY happy with what I’ve got already.

    Thanks, guys.

  48. Chris Hastings Mar 14, 2010

    Is there any news on sub-projects/folders?

    Any links or news about a due date would be appreciated.

    Thanks

  49. RA Mar 14, 2010

    Seems great, but as a relatively new user, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the difference between:

    (a) A task with a due date

    …versus…

    (b) A scheduled task

    I think I get the general concept—that you may not want to see or worry about scheduled tasks until they are due—but it’s not totally clear to me (yet).

    R

  50. jayare Mar 14, 2010

    RA, a scheduled task would be something you can’t do until the date that it’s scheduled. A task with a due date is something you could (and should!) start working on before it’s due.

    For me, a dentist appointment would be a scheduled task, and doing my taxes would be a task with a due date.

  51. sm8500 Mar 14, 2010

    Thanks a lot for this release. It doubles the value of Things. – And I guess, with one stroke it (more than) halves the accumulated amount of frustration of all those who had to wait for so long for a life sign of CC.

    Please keep going! But don’t hesitate to also improve your communication policy.

  52. Lantrix Mar 15, 2010

    Will there be any change to the Keyboard Shortcuts or is it just wording on the page referring to the to-dos from projects that can’t be scheduled.

  53. MrSteveee Mar 15, 2010

    Thanks for the update! This is a very welcome addition to the project management implementation of Things.

  54. Step Mar 15, 2010

    Wonderful! It’s very likely I’ll use these new features thoroughly today, and if not certainly in the coming week. Glad to see the explanation in the blog as well. Thanks CC.

  55. RA Mar 15, 2010

    @jayare—got it. Thanks.

  56. Joel Anderson Mar 16, 2010

    I’m delighted with the “Mixed Project” functionality. Its absence was my only misgiving about Things (and I’ve been asking for it for a while now). Very nice not only to see the change arrive, but also to read Jürgen’s mea culpa about regretting not doing it before. You all not only deliver a great product; you’ve got real class. “CulturedCode” indeed!

  57. Nic Mar 16, 2010

    The mixed project feature is great but there is still no option to add repeating tasks to a project, is this a planned feature? I was kind of expecting it to be included in this release as it is of type “scheduled task”

  58. Jürgen Mar 16, 2010

    @Stuart, Dave, Andrew, Nic: Yes we plan to add repeating tasks to projects as well.

    @Lantrix: Thanks for pointing this out. We will update the keyboard shortcuts pdf asap.