Due dates in OmniFocus

Yesterday I discovered what I think is a bug in OmniFocus’s handling of due dates in sequential projects. I’m sure Omni can defend the choice they made, but it still seems wrong to me.

Let me start by saying that this bug, if it is one, doesn’t really affect me, because I almost never use due dates. I found it as I was going through several viewing scenarios while writing this post.

The bug arises when assigning a due date to a task in a sequential project. Sequential projects are those that have to be done step by step: first task before second, second before third, etc. Sequential projects are contrasted with parallel projects, in which the tasks can be done in any order.

If you assign a due date to one of the later tasks in a sequential project, the due dates of the tasks that fall before it remain unassigned. My first guess was that OmniFocus was going to automatically assign that same due date to the preceding tasks. Failing that, I expected some warning or alert telling me that due dates were needed on these other tasks. Neither happened.

There are two reasons I think this is a bug: First, its just logical that if Task 3 of a sequential project is due next Monday, then Tasks 1 and 2 are also due by, at the latest, Monday. Second, the practical problem with the current behavior is that Tasks 1 and 2 will not show up when I look at actions that are Due Soon.

I nosed around in the Omni Forums for the reasoning behind this behavior, but didn’t find anything. Perhaps Omni thinks automatic assigning of due dates is too intrusive, that users should have the freedom to do whatever they want with their tasks, regardless of logic.