FacileThings

New Features: Dependencies, Duplicates and More

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
Improvements Clarify List Management Project Management Collaboration Work-flow

This weekend we have updated the FacileThings web application with some very interesting improvements. Let’s see them!

1. Predecessor actions

Have you ever had a next action that you can’t do until someone finishes a delegated task, until an event occurs, or until another next action on your list is completed by yourself?

Now you can define this kind of dependencies in FacileThings: you can assign a predecessor action to any next action. When you do this, the next action will disappear from the Next Actions list until the action you’ve defined as its predecessor is done (or trashed).

The predecessor action can be anything: a next action, an event or action that is on the Calendar, or a delegated task that is on the Waiting For list. Also, the predecessor action can belong to the same project as the successor action, to a different project, or to no project at all. This allows you to link any two actions from your inventory.

If you try to edit any item you will see a new menu “more” on the top right, which contains two new options (we will talk about the second one below). If the item is a Next Action, the first menu option, “Set predecessor” will be enabled.

set predecessor option

When you click on this option, an action search box will appear. You only have to write some word of the text of the action that you need to find. If several actions appear, you can filter the result according to the list they are in (Next Actions, Calendar, Waiting For) or the project they belong to.

searching actions

Once you have located the correct action, select it and click the Set button. The selection window will close and you will see a message at the top of the task editor indicating that the action is now blocked by the action you assigned as its predecessor.

blocked message

Since this action cannot be executed until the predecessor is done, it will now not appear in the Next Actions list. How can you find it to make changes or even remove the dependency if it is no longer needed? Very simple, within the list of Next Actions there is a sublist of Blocked Actions that you can access by clicking on the “Blocked Actions” checkbox:

blocked actions

To remove the dependency, edit a blocked action, enter the “more” menu and click on the “Remove predecessor” option.

remove predecessor

This new option allows you to set all kinds of dependencies, for example:

  • An action that cannot be carried out until a material arrives or someone finishes a previous step (actions that you will have on your Waiting For list).
  • An action that cannot be carried out until a certain event (which you will have on your calendar) takes place.
  • A project that cannot start until another project finishes (just assign the last action in one project as the predecessor to the first action in another project).
  • A side project that cannot start until the third action of another project is executed, etc.

It is possible to assign the same predecessor to multiple actions, although it is not possible (at the moment) to make an action dependent on several predecessors.

If an action that has a predecessor assigned is moved out of the Next Actions list, the dependency will be automatically removed.

You can also assign a dependency to any action in the Clarify stage. It works exactly the same as in action lists. Just keep in mind that if you assign a dependency and then don’t clarify the element as a Next Action, the dependency will be removed. These dependencies only make sense if they apply to next actions.

2. Duplicates

The second option in the “more” menu, “Duplicate item”, allows you to duplicate any item in your lists. Sometimes it’s useful when you need an action that’s almost identical to one you’ve already captured, clarified, and organized.

duplicate item

The duplicate item will appear in the same list as the source item, and will have all the data that the source item had, including notes, files, and checkpoints. To save space, the files are not duplicated, just a link to the original file is created (keep this in mind, because if you delete the file from one of the two items, it will disappear in both).

If you create a duplicate of a Next Action that belongs to a sequential project, the duplicated action will be added to the end of the project’s next actions list. Keep this in mind, because if you do it from the general Next Actions list or from the Engage stage, the duplicate will be created but you won’t see it in the list (only the first action of each project appears).

You can also duplicate tasks when you are clarifying stuff. The duplicate task will be added to the inbox and thus you will end up clarifying it as well.

3. Agendas with inactive actions

We’ve improved the Agendas in the Collaborators section so that the collaborator’s “inactive” actions also appear.

Let me explain: up to now, a collaborator’s Agenda showed all the delegated actions (those that you have in your Waiting For list), all the actions that imply any conversation (those that you have in your Next Actions list) and all the events that include your collaborator (those that you have in your Calendar). We could say that these are all the actions related to the collaborator that are “active”.

But you may have other actions related to a collaborator that, although they are not active at the moment, you may want to have on hand when you meet with him or her. These “inactive” actions can be:

  • Next actions to which you have assigned a predecessor action.
  • Next actions that you have in a sequential project and are not the first action.
  • Next actions that you have in a kanban project, in the “To Do” column.
  • Actions you have in the Tickler File.

We could say that inactive actions are actions that are somehow blocked, either by another action, or because the activation date has not yet arrived. The agenda now includes all these actions, which are identified with a striped background:

agendas

4. List of active projects with deadlines

A tick (a clock-shaped icon) now appears in the list of active projects for projects that have a close deadline (less than two weeks):

projects with deadlines

If you hover your mouse over the icon you will be able to see exactly the project deadline.

~

I hope you find these improvements useful. They have been implemented in response to a multitude of support tickets in which, in one way or another, you have expressed needs that these options can solve.

Thank you very much to all. Please comment below what you think!

Francisco Sáez
@franciscojsaez

Francisco is the founder and CEO of FacileThings. He is also a Software Engineer who is passionate about personal productivity and the GTD philosophy as a means to a better life.

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14 comments

Commented 2 months ago Anders

Very useful new features, I love them already by just reading about them, because they do address challenges I've experienced this far when using FT. Bravo! :-)

Anders

Very useful new features, I love them already by just reading about them, because they do address challenges I've experienced this far when using FT. Bravo! :-)

Commented 2 months ago Emil

Agree with Anders, very nice to see these small but significant improvements to the FT workflow and functionality. I'm looking forwards to trying out the Predecessor actions especially!

Emil

Agree with Anders, very nice to see these small but significant improvements to the FT workflow and functionality. I'm looking forwards to trying out the Predecessor actions especially!

Commented 2 months ago Lee

Nice updates, Francisco. Most appreciated. Predecessor tasks will be very helpful. And the visibility to inactive items for collaborators is great.

Lee

Nice updates, Francisco. Most appreciated. Predecessor tasks will be very helpful. And the visibility to inactive items for collaborators is great.

Commented 2 months ago Cameron

Great improvements. Looking forward to using them?

Cameron

Great improvements. Looking forward to using them?

Commented 2 months ago Cameron

"Great improvements. Looking forward to using them"..... should be a statement, not a question. :)

Cameron

"Great improvements. Looking forward to using them"..... should be a statement, not a question. :)

Commented 2 months ago Francisco Sáez

Thank you guys!

The possibility of including items of the Calendar and the Waiting For list in the sequence of actions of a project was one of the most requested improvements. The predecessor actions feature solves that issue and also allows you to set dependencies outside of a project.

Francisco Sáez

Thank you guys!

The possibility of including items of the Calendar and the Waiting For list in the sequence of actions of a project was one of the most requested improvements. The predecessor actions feature solves that issue and also allows you to set dependencies outside of a project.

Commented 2 months ago Anders

After a couple of hours of actually using the new features, I can say that my expecations were spot on: This is a huge improvement for my personal workflow :-)

Thank you very much, dear FT-team!

Anders

After a couple of hours of actually using the new features, I can say that my expecations were spot on: This is a huge improvement for my personal workflow :-)

Thank you very much, dear FT-team!

Commented 2 months ago Sunil

Agree with everyone before me, great features, a significant improvement in workflow. Thanks FT-Team

Sunil

Agree with everyone before me, great features, a significant improvement in workflow. Thanks FT-Team

Commented 2 months ago Nilton

Great improvements!
Thank you!

Nilton

Great improvements!
Thank you!

Commented 2 months ago Gary

The duplicate function should be renamed mirror to emphasise the second item depends upon the continuing existence of the first

Gary

The duplicate function should be renamed mirror to emphasise the second item depends upon the continuing existence of the first

Commented 2 months ago Cyrus

Great improvements. Getting ever closer to perfection.

Cyrus

Great improvements. Getting ever closer to perfection.

Commented 2 months ago Francisco Sáez

Thank you all for your encouragement!

Hello Gary. When using the duplicate option the item generated is closer to a duplicate than a mirror. Actually, it's a new and independent item in which all the data is duplicated, except for the files. Files is the only part of the item that is "mirrored" (which shouldn't be a problem in most cases, since when you duplicate an item it's because you want to keep all the information from the source item). Even so, the new item does not depend on the older to exist.

Francisco Sáez

Thank you all for your encouragement!

Hello Gary. When using the duplicate option the item generated is closer to a duplicate than a mirror. Actually, it's a new and independent item in which all the data is duplicated, except for the files. Files is the only part of the item that is "mirrored" (which shouldn't be a problem in most cases, since when you duplicate an item it's because you want to keep all the information from the source item). Even so, the new item does not depend on the older to exist.

Commented about 2 months ago Emil

Also let me add that the new question box which pops up when you delete a calendar item in an imported meeting series from Outlook or Google calendar is perfect - it finally allows us to delete old "stuck" meeting series and gives the control needed. Great new unannounced feature!

Emil

Also let me add that the new question box which pops up when you delete a calendar item in an imported meeting series from Outlook or Google calendar is perfect - it finally allows us to delete old "stuck" meeting series and gives the control needed. Great new unannounced feature!

Commented about 2 months ago Francisco Sáez

Hi Emil,

That improvement was added after publishing this post, that's why I didn't talk about it. We will discuss it in a future post ;)

Francisco Sáez

Hi Emil,

That improvement was added after publishing this post, that's why I didn't talk about it. We will discuss it in a future post ;)

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